Sunday, July 20, 2008

BlogHer '08 - Virtually There!

We experience some technical difficulties, including a little static in Queen's voice stream, so here are her fingers typing chat. Hee hee!

What did I learn? About blogging, there was noted a struggle to balance blogging and Real Life (tm), but there is also the balancing of Second Life, Real Life, family life, work life, Daughter Life, Married Life, cat life ... it goes on. You have to deal with it. How do you promote your own blog? Network: go into social situations and take an interest in other people's blogs, read them, comment, then shamelessly promote your own. Use to track your traffic and pander to what interests them. Tweet your blogposts. When you post something new, tell your twit friends, your plurk buddies, your fellow powncers it's there and provide the url.

BlogHers, after a long day with our noses to the blogstone, hard at work networking to promote our own blogs.

Lludmila wearing her useless (only at the conference) button.

We were given buttons/badges we could rewrite the code for that a click on would take the clicker to the clickee's blog. Having experience with cut and paste in code, I had no trouble with this. Unfortunately, to protect the conference from possible griefers, scripting had been turned off and I had to go somewhere else to test it. It sort of defeated the purpose of the little badge (you can see the little white oval beneath Lludmila's chin in the photo above) to have it out of commission at the time when it was most likely to be used. I'll have to wear mine for a few weeks more. But, it's all worth it if it prevents some butthead from unleashing a particle bomb on us. Instead, we "speed dated" by introducing ourselves to people nearby and sharing our blog urls.

I learned that alts and auxiliary avs were handy things to have. An avatar is limited to 25 groups. If they want to add to their groups, they have to find some to drop. I must belong to three or four library-related groups (grr! taking up space!) plus the South Carolinians group (SL Library, SC State Library, Palmetto Librarians ...). But, if I add another avatar account, I have 25 more spaces! I could put all the shopping groups on that one! Also, if you've been banned from somewhere for being a butt, all you have to do is open a new account with a new name and you're off and griefing again! Very handy! I had been struggling with the ethics (not to mention the nuisance) of having more than one account for over a year. This might, might push me over the edge.

More, ummm, networking.

SL, the sessions pointed out, is social networking on steroids. You can have as much or as little transparency as you like. Some corporate avatars are required to be totally transparent so that customers can have confidence in dealing with a real person. Others would just as soon be completely anonymous, even without the penchant for cybering. Then there are all the gradations between.

SL and Security covered material for sim owners and just the average Joe or Jane Avie.
At least in SL, if someone is annoying you (you don't like their language, etc.), you can just mute them. I did that today with someone who spammed me. One spam is all it takes and that av is history. If they were naked and dancing in front of me, I could just teleport somewhere else and they would be unable to find me (of course, first I'd have a really good look at them). If they have inconvenienced me with scripting or objects, I can get their name off of them and report them to Linden Labs. I have an incredible amount of control in SL that I never have in RL. (But, then, this blog is not about SL, is it?). One panelist noted that the incidences of bad behavior have been overblown in the press and they don't happen with any more frequency in SL than they do in Real Life. Also, you take a certain amount of responsibility when you enter a virtual world. For instance, you can make the decision to not go into the sex club in SL the same way you'd make that decision in RL.

SL for Education and Training:
For those who are nervous about dipping their toe into the SL pool, it was suggested that they not go it alone, but go with a group or at least one other person. That way, if you accidentally end up without your pants on, it's a funny experience you share with another newbie. Also, two heads are better than one. I went alone my first time. SL has since changed the newbie experience, so I can't vouch for that, but I had seen Michael Steven's powerpoint photos on his entrance into SL and I thought I could handle it. I seem to have done okay, but it would have been more fun comparing experiences, step by step, with someone else.

A little "networking" between sessions. Anyone still feeling sorry for us that we weren't actually in San Francisco?

Using SL for Good, not Evil ... or at least not just for Fun.

Just a note in passing that the Relay for Life in SL brought in around US$200,000. It's a drop in the bucket compared to the over US$1million a day that changes hands (got that from a Reuters page), but it's nothing to sneeze at.
There is more going on in SL than just cybering and selling. Non-Profits are making in-roads into SL, the Non-Profit Commons having already two islands and about to open number three. Concern over SL friends created the Frozen Pea Fund for breast cancer research. Gimp Girls, women with disabilities who started out back-in-the-day chatting on listservs (remember listservs?), now have their own sim where they and their friends can meet. Many of the people who make it to SL are highly motivated and their energy can be channeled into many types of worthwhile endeavors. Then they can go cybering.

Closing Comments: 36 million women blog (or perhaps there are 36 million blogs by women, in which case only about 30 of us are actually blogging - I know I have at least 5 now), some of them post photos of their nieces and label them "little sh1ts" and then their brother gets annoyed but everyone else gets a good laugh. Blogging is preserving a slice of life for posterity ... except that it's ephemeral and won't hang around for millennia like papyrus. If the mainframe storage units go down, all that will disappear into the ether ... forever. I recommend that if you are intent on keeping things for posterity, you back it up on your own computer and print it out ... on acid-free paper. We're already slap-liable to lose a generation of photographs because pixels just don't last, people! I'm as guilty as anyone on this. I don't print things unless I absolutely have to. I can only hope that our printer inks have improved enough to stand the test o' time.
All in all, this conference made me proud to be a blogger, a blogger in SL, a blogger of SL, and a girlie one at that. I'm also glad I got my feet wet at a conference in the virtual format. Now I've got a humongous list of blogs I need to look at and comment on. My work is cut out for me.

No comments: