Sunday, October 3, 2010

Who's minding the store? -- exploring SL and wishing I could talk to someone

So the other might I was tending bar in 1920s Berlin (been having a good time there and interesting things are going on--I will tell you more about that soon), and this gent came in whose titler was "Doktor" something. Before long, it became evident that he was roleplaying as the lead character of the BBC's long-running sci-fi dinosaur, "Doctor Who."

Once I caught on to this, I played along (I watched the show pretty regularly back in the 70s-80s, so I knew the basic premise and a good bit of the standard details). We actually had a good little rp session, maybe going on about 20 or 30 minutes, and then I had to close the bar for the night and I suppose he wandered off to some other time period.

I could see how a guy could have fun doing this in SL, visiting various historic and futuristic sims and just having nice little conversations within the context of the Whovian canon. Not big adventures per se, but just casual chats, like the one this fellow and I had: we talked about how WWI got started, positive aspects of human nature, and the universal power of love--no big deal, just silly crap like that.

I could also see how this guy could get himself into some uncomfortable spots, where either people wouldn't understand the Doctor Who shtick and wouldn't know how to respond, or where they'd find the intrusion of this other fictional reality into their own fictional reality to be kind of irritating. So that got me thinking about what other actual Whovian environments might exist in-world...and the one I found to go look at was the "The Doctor Who Experience and Museum," at Katrina 225.217.34.

The gallery about the different Doctors--just look at that smile! I always thought Tom Baker rocked.

It's a splendid build with a big vendor area featuring all sorts of sci-fi and related creative stuff, a sand box, and a museum. I of course, went to the museum, as I always like to see how people make the idea of a "museum" work in SL.

And I tell you what, the folks who did this one didn't do too badly!

You enter the museum space through a recreation of a Tardis interior, and there were galleries with villains and one with all the different doctors, and another about the evolution of the Tardis--the key prop in the show. I had never really thought about how it had changed over time, but there were links to web pages that went into astonishing detail. In other parts of the exhibit you could do things like rez various versions of Daleks and see how they had evolved, and you could get notecarded info as well as links, and it all worked really well--much better than many "serious" museums in SL do, in fact. They didn't try to put a lot of text and small pictures on wall panels or make it simply a prim version of a meatspace exhibition. I actually learned shit I didn't know, and for the most part I had fun.

The exhibit about the evolution of the prop Tardis in the course of the show. I had no fucking idea...

An interesting aspect of this project is that it is not just an in-world effort, but has been done in cooperation with other Doctor Who fan groups that have an online presence. There also seemed to be some kind of connections to various Doctor Who rp activities in-world.

The only thing was...and I guess this is just me, but I really wanted to talk with someone. A long time ago, in a different part of my life, I knew this museum director who used to say things like "I'd rather have an exhibit with one live interpreter in it than a hundred computers." I really understand where he was coming from. When I recently visited the SL Battle of Britain memorial sim, part of what made it work for me was that the sim owner happened to be online and was very gracious about talking with me.

The Doctor Who experience sim owner also happened to be on while I was visiting, but he was busy working on a project, and didn't respond to my polite inquiry. And hey, I'm not being critical--the guy was deeply wrapped up in working on something, and probably didn't even see my IM come in....but the fact is, I guess what I'm looking for in SL isn't just cool shit to look at--it's interaction with other people I'm after.

There is a freakin' boatload of very cool, beautifully-crafted stuff to look at in this Doctor Who sim. It's even a subject that I kinda have an interest in. But after a little bit of looking, I moseyed off, without really being engaged by more than maybe 20% of what was there.

Maybe this goes back to our recent discussion of how it's us, not SL that has really changed. In my old days as a wandering madwoman (2005-07), exploring the virtual was enough: it was "ooh, ah, holyfuck, look at that!" Back in the day, I would have spent hours poring over a build like this, sifting through and examining every prim bit and link and notecard until my fucking brain was bleeding.

I think many of us are just so used to remarkable stuff now, that the stuff isn't enough anymore. The only thing in-world that still has the power to consistently amaze, engage, and surprise us is each other.

Sad to say, here was this great Tardis control panel, the product of hours and hours of someone's hard work and creative thinking and research...and I spent maybe 15 seconds with it. Yeah, I know, I suck.


  1. It's been a privilege and a pleasure to know both Professor Oolon Sputnik (someone I tend to think of as THE Doctor on the grid) and Miss Terry Lightfoot, Companion, designer, and general all-around warped soul (but in great fun ways). Either of them would be happy to help you find other sources of Whovian interest on the grid.

    Past that, though, this post does make a fascinating point--while I've enjoyed talking to people who build great places, for the most part if I'm doing a post on a museum, a gallery, an RP sim, a city--I make sure I'm alone. Half the time these days I'm not even in the pictures.


  2. Weird....I'm still in the "ooh, ah, holyfuck, look at that!" stage, but I prefer travelling the virtual highways alone. Never thought about it before, but I can't help but now wonder if I've been subconsciously reliving the good old days of backpacking round Europe and Asia alone, albeit now in a virtual setting..fascinating!

  3. Hi Emilly and Alex,

    Yeah that's interesting that you both look at exploration as a solitary endeavor--like I said this is just a personal perspective for me, and I really don't think of it as any universal condition or the way that exploration should be done. It's just what I myself am looking for.

    In fact I was really kind of struck by the realization that as I looked at the Dr. Who museum build, I wasn't all that engaged by it. I was kind of asking myself, "so...what's your fucking problem, bitch?"

    Not that long ago I would have been gaga over the quality of things like the rezzing Dalek models--as it was, I was impressed, but more on an intellectual level than a visceral one.

    So anyhow, Emilly, I'm say when you're checking out a build you "make sure" you're alone. May I ask what the rationale for that is?

  4. Next time there's one of the Podshock parties in the Katrina sim I shall make sure you get a personal invite :-)

  5. Thank you Edward, I'll look forward to that