Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Monday, 28 April 2008

Some time spent in America, more clarity on Second Life

Okay here it goes. I am going to say it.

I just spent 4 days in America and watching the Presidential campaign right now I can see that it is still the case that most Americans, or a large number of Americans still have hoods in their closet somewhere.

This Rev Wright thing is rather strange and shows how the drama of race plays out in American culture and therefore in much of Second Life. I grew up Catholic and would find it very strange if a child molesting priest from Chicago was paraded around to reflect on my character. But if you are black in America that is what happens.

Obama is not be viewed as a man but as a race. Rev. Wright is important because he is black and he is expressing on unease many white people have with blacks.

Americans very deeply want to move past race, but they can not leave the myth that they are the best nation in history. The truth of race works against this myth, and the dysfunction of the myth plays itself out in American civilization.

In Second Life this inability to imagine the African and African based civilization is reflected in the lack of dark skinned Avatars and the whitening I have seen, including myself.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

The SL White Wash and My AV

This is my AV about one year ago, still in the inventory

And this is the result of one year in Second Life, my principle current AV.
Notice how much more white I am.

You can clearly see that in my case a process of whitening has taken place with me also going this new race of white Northern Europeans.

I can report for myself that I wanted to be darker skinned, modeled after an Arab or South American. But despite my INTENTION to be dark skinned I came out looking like this. Looking over these two pictures has given me a lot to think about. How did I allow this to happen to me?
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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

From Flickr

Second Life is giving birth to a new racial type.  I know of no place where people have light gold skin and white hair.  But this strange image of a human is becoming not only an established race in Second Life but the most expressed racial identity.

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The Babbage Myth

Statues of Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The personalities behind a failed project to but a analogue computer.

They myth is that somehow their ideas were not carried through and that if the difference engine of Babbage had been built it would have caused an IT revolution 100 before IBM starting run ads for computers on TV.

Well I have seen a Babbage engine built in London Science Museum when I was working there and spoken to a gentleman who worked on the project. The truth is the difference engine does not work reliably. It can do a few series in a quadratic formula but very soon the parts get caught. In fact the efforts involved in maintaining the machine are far greater than just doing the computations.

Not until Turing learned about vacuum tubes would machine computing as an industry be possible.

My own white washing

Looking over how my AV has evolved I see that unconsciously (I hope unconsciously) my own AV has been slowly but clearly white washed. The above AV is who I was one year ago. Below you see the outcome of gradual changes to my AV which has left me looking far more northern European.

A combination of factors are a play. Some are as simple as finding the blond hair is easy in my inventory, where as the brown and black hair are hard to find (lots of things called brown and black only the hair is called blond). The skin didn't offer one the precisely color I wanted. I wanted to have the skin tone of a South Asian, Hispanic, or Arab. A good friend purchased it for me and its a very very good skin, one of the best you can buy so I keep it.

But I wonder about the influence of Second Life community upon the forming of my AV. Most of my clothing, hair, skins, and eyes were selected with the input of people in RL and SL. My AV is formed in a discourse. And I did get the blond hair because the long black was not appropriate for certain SIMs and kinds of RP.

As I recall I got the short hair when I rented flats in New Babbage, since long black hair did not look right with Victorian clothing. What are the Ideological forces lying unconscious or even conscious in some of these forms of RP? Victorianism produced a society of extreme racism where the racial superiority of certain people was established in their version of science. From the point of view of identity formation the Victorian middle class followed sets of practices on self control and personal life that Mauss called Technologies of the Body and Self.

The Victorian Age created people who saw themselves proper to dominate the world. The effort of Victorianism is to prove to oneself that one is the proper lord of the world. The Victorian gentleman is the master of nature, the master of his house, the master of himself. He is a man of adventure, science, and sound business who is also a public steward of religion and charity. As the Victorians took over what was left of African and Asia they spoke of humanity and charity.

Really there is nothing to Victorianism accept the effort to establish a certain ethnic group as proper world leaders. The ethical systems of Victorianism were undone entirely by the rise of ethnic, racial, and gender liberation movements. Once women and minorities demanded their rights, once Queer movements demanded liberation Victorianism with its strange compulsions and extreme style simply vanished. I live in the UK now and its strange to see the mass of Victorian structures, they are like an extinct lost race. They might as well have been expelled from the country.

Today for most people Victorianism is a dirty word: and probably it should be.

But what is the purpose for the steam-punk genre, the envisioning of Neo-Victorianism?

One must remember the genre is Japanese in origin and therefore was forged in a setting independent of the social meaning it carries in the English speaking world. For Japan the Victorian period was one of emerging nationality and power. For a Japan strip first of its military power and now stripped of its economic lead even in Asia steam-punk promises return to a time when Japan could be more confident and more sure of its future.

But what is it when people from the United States and the EU enter such a RP, how do the ideas that form Victorianism become re-established?

I don't mean to just select the case of Victorianism, other RP genres are probably worse. I hope to do a deconstruction of Capture and Gore at some point.

But it is the community in which I rented an apartment and I am speaking for my own experience. When I put on the fancy Victorian clothing and rode upon my English horse I rode as a Master, as a Lord. The name Lord is taken on by so many in the Neo-Victorian estate. Lord of what Peerage? Lord over ourselves, lord over others, lord over the chaotic world of impulses and desires? Lord when in fact you are alone in a room with nothing to do but be glued to the computer?

The danger of all play is narcissism, an effort to establish ourselves as total masters of a world. In this narcissism the assumption forming the world of our play can subtly form us.

I assert that in Second Life this is resulting in a trend of whitening, where AVs are becoming more and more and more white. I have seen it in myself and seen it in another.

I think this trend is very bad for Linden Labs. Given the small per play profit and the small percentage of people who get Second Life the metaverse they are creating needs the developing world to become profitable. I would rather think people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa reject SL if it is too white than that it becomes another instrument extending the myth of white superiority.

Monday, 21 April 2008

The white wash

shy by Ria KamachiZoeiconTwitter

This images of Avatar have evolved rapidly in Second Life, where Whiteness of the most radical forms has been reinforced rapidly. AVs are being washed out in white.

This av embodies the female, entirely white washed out by light.

Second Life is a world of light, everything is made of photons. In western culture and the science of Victorian Europe and America through modern racial thinking white and light is the highest indication of value. This trend has been make stronger as people construct selves in Second Life, they tend to become lighter and lighter and lighter. I have a blonde whig.

Linden Labs established a very white set of entry points to identity and they have gotten more white and more light over time.

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Entering a scary place for us

We sent a viral unit in to the structure before exploring. To command the unit the Lady took on extreme risks, a true commrade.

But sadly the damage we do to this cancer in minimal and we will have to fight a defensive war against such use of space in Second Life.
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Sister to sister in Second Life

A lovely powerful black female and the poster is not bad either.

Selling White in Second Life

Is it people are only selling white identity or people are only buying white identity in Second Life?

If you don't want to be a white Northern European woman you can be a white Northern European mermaid.

But wait, you can have a South Asian look, with pale skin, blond hair and a figure and Eva Braum.

Second Life identities are forged in TV not lived experience

In Second Life blondness is becoming white hair and being an animal is more popular than being a non-European non-White. Where are these identities coming from?

Well simple answers are hard to find but our culture preferences these types producing a media full of images that don't look like most people.

Second Life typical Avatars, count the number of girls with tails vs. the number of non-White girls. I also think less girls would elect to have tails if schools taught more Freud.

Well to start part of issue is the out of the box AVs offered by LL. They lack diversity not just in race, but they are not very rich as identities, the OTB from SL is not an aspiration figure. And all the AVs out of the box from Linden Labs are white accept for 2 which are animals. The pattern starts with the second page on your journey

Even the two animals are white. I mean come Linden Labs, you have not noticed this yet. You got white Kansas, White New York, White Goth, and White Animals.

Linden Labs just adds insult to injury with the girl and boy next door. The girl next door to me in Northern London does not look like this, nor when I lived in Africa or Chicago. Changing these would not be a very difficult issue.

Even city chich is pale as a Christmas day in Alaska.

But Second Life is positioned in a larger culture that values whiteness and blondness. Even granted the whiteness of the initial avs none of them are blond and two look Jewish to me and the 4 Goths could pass for Asian.

Starting from this point of whiteness most people in SL just take it more and more Aryan, confirming to the culture stereotypes of TV.

The following are CNN female broadcasters in America:

Christi Paul
CNN Headline News
Picture of Christi Paul
Adrianna Costa
CNN Headline News
Picture of Adrianna Costa
Richelle Carey
CNN Headline News
Picture of Richelle Carey
Erica Hill
CNN Headline News
Picture of Erica Hill
Holly Firfer
CNN Headline News
Picture of Holly Firfer
Jennifer Westhoven
CNN Headline News
Picture of Jennifer Westhoven
Shanon Cook
CNN Headline News
Picture of Shanon Cook
Brooke Anderson
CNN Headline News
Picture of Brooke Anderson

* Sharon Collins
Picture of Sharon Collins

Robin Meade
CNN Headline News
Picture of Robin Meade
Kathleen Kennedy
CNN Headline News
Picture of Kathleen Kennedy
Judy Fortin
CNN Headline News
Picture of Judy Fortin
Linda Stouffer
CNN Headline News
Picture of Linda Stouffer
Susan Hendricks
CNN Headline News
Picture of Susan Hendricks
Carrie Lee
CNN Headline News
Picture of Carrie Lee
Nancy Grace
CNN Headline News
Picture of Nancy Grace
Mary Jo Mitchell
CNN Headline News
Picture of Mary Jo Mitchell
* Connie Mayberry
Picture of Connie Mayberry

Stop and look at this, its a list of girls Hitler would want to take to the prom. There is ONE non-white, and she is a very light skinned African American with brown hair. Of these 18 woman 13 are blond. None even have curly hair.

The sins of previous media are just being carried out by the new media. Second Life is just continuing to promote the already existing racial stereotypes.

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