Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Newbie on hiatus

If it isn't already obvious, things have gotten really hectic for me these past couple of weeks, with the result that I've completely forgotten about this blog. And the next several weeks look to be about the same, what with work, holidays, and all the festivity associated therewith. So let's call it a holiday-related hiatus, and I'll rejoin the blogosphere in 2008 refreshed and renewed and full of sagacity and fascination for all things digital!

Happy holidays! See you in 08!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Plugging back in, ready to... party with the pervs?

While we were, as my darling husband put it, "vacationing in the 19th century" during our bathroom reno (ie living without internet or TV -- if you call that living!), I missed the episode of CSI:NY that featured Second Life. Luckily, our home is equipped with a PVR, so upon our return to a 21st century lifestyle I fired it up and watched the episode.

Wow. Did anyone else see that piece of dreck? My first impressions are that Gary Sinise is way slumming on this show. Leaving aside Second Life for a moment, the plot relies heavily upon technological contrivances that beg disbelief, and the dialogue ranges from wooden to cliched. But whatever. At first I was mildly excited that Second Life would play such a big role in the plot of such a popular show. "Finally," I thought, "I won't have to explain to people what Second Life is, and how it's not a game, and it's not populated exclusively by weirdos, freaks, and pervs!"

Well, no such luck. Anyone watching CSI:NY that night would be left with the strong impression that Second Life is all about gameplaying (eg fighting monsters, air surfing) or meeting up with weird, freakish, pervy avatars controlled by friendless, loveless losers. What a disappointment.

Disappointing for me especially, not only because the portrayal was wildly inaccurate according to my own experiences within Second Life, but also because the negative impression engendered by the show is going to make it that much more challenging for me to convince various holders of purse strings that Second Life is a worthy markting venture.

I can't help wondering how Linden Labs feels about this!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Newbie Unplugged -- not by choice, but by necessity

The good news is we're having our bathroom renovated -- totally gutted, and rebuilt from the studs up. The bad news is, it's our only bathroom. No powder room, not even a water closet in the basement. So, we've moved in with my mom for the duration; and if you've read my previous posts, you know that her household is not exactly enabled for the 21st century. So if I'm not posting much in the next few weeks... you'll know why!

I'm choosing to look at this as a golden opportunity to catch up on my reading. So if there are any books out there right now that I should be reading, please let me know!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reconnecting with friends... Well, their avatars

Monday October 1st saw another After A Fashion social-shopping get-together in Second Life. Check out the the AAF blog for details of the amazing outfits and free hair fat packs I picked up!

Every time I get together with the AAF girls in Second Life I'm amazed at how the virtual world enables me to reconnect with people that I seldom see in RL (real life). Even though it was ages since the last AAF excursion, we quickly fell into an easy conversation. Of course it helps that the social shopping aspect gives us an activity to share in, so there are few awkward pauses in the conversation; but even when I encounter utter strangers in SL, the chat seems to flow, and folks are just generally more friendly and approachable than anyone I've encountered in RL.

I find myself musing about this more and more, and wishing that I could put my finger on the element of Second Life that makes for such easy interaction. What do you think? Any ideas as to why this is so?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Newbie is now "Second Life expert"

Ironic, isn't it? But true: to a big group of former skeptics, I'm now their go-to person for info on virtual worlds.

On September 25th an event that I've been planning for months finally happened: a live-audio reading and author Q&A in Second Life, organized by me, in a gorgeous sim designed and built by the good folks at purplestripe. By all measures it was a successful event -- attendance was good, and we got some decent blog buzz before and after; but to me, the real measure of success was that the folks I work with are now, finally, starting to get it. A large part of the planning process involved selling the concept of an in-world author event to TPTB where I work -- no small feat considering the deep-seated skepticism around all things digital and SL in particular.

On the day of the event I arranged for my office PC to be moved into a boardroom and hooked up to a projector, so that anyone who wanted to could view the event as it happened, live. I wish you could have been a fly on the wall when people saw SL for the first time and realized its implications. "You mean to tell me that each avatar represents a real person?" "So these people could be anywhere in the world right now? And they're all hearing the same audio we can hear?" "You mean I can chat with more than one person at a time, in real time?"

One small event for an avatar, one giant leap for the Great Unplugged. :)

A few snapshots from the event:
The build:

Chloe looking studious:

Friday, September 21, 2007

Second Toronto Girl Geek Dinner

This past Wednesday saw the second Toronto Girl Geek Dinner. This time I hosted, solo, as Maggie Fox was out of town -- but thanks to her thorough prep work everything went smooth as glass. In my humble opinion, of course. :)

The event's defining principle seems to have engendered quite a lively debate over on the TGGD blog -- interestingly, the most enflamed comments have come from those who weren't able to attend. Huh.

Maybe I'm naive, but when I co-founded the TGGD with Maggie, we weren't thinking of excluding men at all -- having attended a few testosterone-heavy geek dinners, the whole point was to encourage any guys who wanted to attend to bring a girl with them, to encourage the ladies (particularly female students) to come out more and network.

Anyway, the whole thing is a minefield of misread intentions, so I'll say no more. Except to ask this: do YOU think it's exclusionary? If so, what's the solution -- a merge with the ad hoc Geek Dinner crowd? Suggestions welcome!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Speaking of breaks... and tweets

Wow, I'm horrified to realize just how long it has been since I posted last! Talk about taking a break! Oddly, I do have lots of thoughts to share and ideas that I want to seek feedback on -- I just don't have a lot of time these days. Now that summer is over, work is on like Donkey Kong, as the kids say. But I will try to make time to post when I am moved to do so, rather than putting it off and putting it off until I forget what it was I wanted to post about.

One thing that's happened lately is that I finally (FINALLY) signed up for Twitter successfully. Yeah, I know what you're thinking: I'm about 5 months too late. It's true! I was momentarily thrilled that I finally managed to get our corporate IT department to modify my firewall enough so that I could sign up... only to find that Twitter is akin to a desolate ghost town. Maybe I'm just not following the right people. Or maybe I've missed the boat completely. Either way, I gotta say that there doesn't seem to be much action there, and when there is, my reaction is mostly: meh. I think I prefer longform blogs to the micro-thoughts posted on Twitter.

So I'm hoping someone can educate this naive newbie. What am I missing? Has Twitter jumped the shark? Or am I using it wrong?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Breaks and Blogs

Confession time: my "annual unplugging" lasted only 10 days, but my break from blogging has been, well, significantly longer than that. Yes, it's true: I've been back in the land of the Internet-capable for 2 full weeks now, yet haven't blogged. I could say that I was busy getting caught up on work and social duties, but that would be a half-truth. The fact is, I was enjoying my blogging break.

Last night I attended the Geek Dinner organized by the supremely awesome Mr. Mitch Joel and was somewhat surprised to learn how many other dedicated bloggers felt the same way. Both Michael Seaton of The Client Side and Kathryn of That Kathryn Girl copped to also extending their vacays when it came to blogging.

And I say: good on them! Not just because knowing they felt the same way eased my own guilt, but because I think it's too easy to fall into the trap of "blog obligation", which can sap your creativity. If you need to take a break from blogging, so be it. Maybe you'll rediscover your love for the medium; maybe you'll find you don't miss it. Or maybe you'll discover, as one of my formerly-favorite bloggers posted for the final time: "I discovered I hate blogging."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Newbie Unplugged

Doesn't it feel like forever since I posted? It does to me! My excuse is that I was out of town attending a writers' conference in Dallas, then I was back in the office trying desperately to get caught up, and then I was trying to get ahead because I'm going away for 10 days starting this Thursday. Yes, that's right, it's time for The Newbie's Annual Unplugging! We are heading back to the The Farm (ie: the commune) where there are no phones, no TV, no Internet, not a single luxury... Like Robinson Crusoe, it's primitive as can be. *wink*

So naturally I'm ODing on all things digital before I go. My iPod is freshly loaded, my DVR is set, and I just dashed into Second Life for a quick shopping trip and snatched up some lovely ballet flats from Shiny Things! Here's Chloe hovering in mid-air modelling her pinkety-pink outfit:

And here she is contemplating the abyss while showing off the cutey-cute bow on the back of her dress:

Clearly I'm still learning how to use Katicus' modelling stand to its full effectiveness. And I haven't mastered the fine art of lighting, either. But hey, I wouldn't be much of a newbie if I had, would I?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

New Second Life Skin and Swimsuit!

If only shopping IRL (in real life) were as easy...

Not happy with your skin tone? Buy a new skin! (Or, if you're an impulsive shopper like me, buy a 4-pack for a volume discount!)

Swimsuit shopping is a breeze when you don't have to use a fitting room, and you can change the size and shape of your *ahem* assets to suit the suit. ;)

Here's a pic of Chloe in her new swimsuit, with platform straw wedges and platinum hair to match:

And here's a pic of Chloe chillin' on the beach at Playboy Island:

As always, thanks to the After a Fashion gang for a fabulously fun shopping excursion!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Redefining Friendship

Last post for today. I promise! I haven't had much time to post lately, so I guess I'm making up for it today.

I'm stoked to be going shopping in Second Life twice in the next few days -- tonight for skins, and Monday with the After a Fashion gang for bikinis. Not just because I've been hankering for a new skin, and a bikini to properly show it off, but because it gives me a chance to socialize with my dear friends Eden and Kate.

This got me thinking some more about how social media and web 2.0 are redefining friendship for a large proportion of the online world. To me, shopping in SL with my After a Fashion friends is the same as shopping in real life (except that I'm much less likely to do it in real life because I hate trying on clothes). To me, the fact that Mitch Joel posted a link to an article in his del.icio.us is the same thing as if he'd emailed me the link or the article directly. To me, my sister posting on her MySpace blog about her house purchase is the same as if she'd IM'd or emailed or phoned me personally to share the news.

My offline friends don't feel the same way, however, and much as I try to explain it to them, they don't get it. To them, my telling them that I have plans tonight to shop online is akin to my telling them that I'm going to move to a small cabin in the woods like Ted Koszinski.

Is it just me? Has anyone else had trouble trying to define, or redefine, the new boundaries of friendship for their loved ones who aren't as plugged in?

Virtual Bargains just as good as Real

A flurry of posts today!

Just wanted to encourage those who are interested to check out the After a Fashion blog -- I just posted with news about a clearance sale at one of my favorite Second Life clothing stores.

Here's a photo of Chloe sporting some of her new duds:

As always, pose and backdrop are courtesy of Katicus!

It's the end of privacy as we know it...and I feel fine

I've been thinking a lot about privacy lately, and the ways in which Web 2.0 is redefining it and its limits in the public space. Not just the public debate and controversy over Google and DoubleClick, or the relative safety of posting personal photos on FaceBook, MySpace, or Flickr, but the broader question of what defines privacy for the individual.

The other day I came across an upcoming conference on marketing in Second Life and decided to download the brochure. To do so I was asked to fill in some fields and give contact info -- not too unusual. About an hour afterwards a kind young man from the organization telephoned me to follow up, make sure I was able to complete the download successfully, and let me know about some group and hotel discounts they had available.

When I relayed this information to a colleague she was shocked at this invasion of my privacy, and indignant on my behalf. I had trouble explaining to her that in my view, I had opted in to get this call by filling in the optional telephone number field, and that this call was not only helpful, but was much preferable to the type of spam calls that I get all the time at home and work from telemarketers.

To my colleague, this call was on par with an unwanted telemarketing call. To me, this call was on par with someone giving me information that I had actually requested directly. Two different ways of viewing the issue, I guess.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Getting My Girl Geek On

This past Wednesday night was the inaugural Toronto Girl Geek Dinner. I've already written about it on the TGGD blog -- check it out!

As a more personal aside, I'm throwing off my carefully constructed mantle of jaded cynicism for a moment to note that I really found the evening very inspiring. Hearing Sandy Kemsley speak about the challenges she's faced and surmounted as a woman working in the male-dominated tech sector made me feel very lucky to have the position that I do, working in an industry (publishing) and at a company (Harlequin) that is populated with strong, smart females, from the front lines all the way up to the executive ranks. I'm also very lucky to work with a small, passionate team of extremely smart women who also happen to enjoy dishing about LiLo, TomKat, and reality TV, and admiring each other's shoes. :)

I'm really very psyched about the future Girl Geek Dinners and am excited about the opportunity to meet and network with more cool chicks!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Getting my Geek On

Spent all day yesterday immersed in learning at the IAB Intensive, One-Day Course in Social Media, listening to the awesomely smart Mitch Joel inaugurate the uninitiated into the world of online social media and Web 2.0. Learned a few new things but mostly just enjoyed being entertained by Mitch (he is an amazing public speaker) and basked in the feeling of being among others who either Get It, or are willing to find out what It Is.

Contrast that with the frustrating conversation I had this morning with my mom and stepfather as they struggle to understand the new online space. My mom discovered one of my four blogs last week (ok, I know that four sounds excessive, but each has its purpose, I swear) and is both mystified by the amount of "private" information I've shared there and concerned about my privacy and my mental health. My stepfather is fond of snorting derisively and loudly dismissing bloggers as "freaks" and "lunatics", yet from what I can tell, he does nothing but read blogs all day. Go figure.

I've blogged in this very space before about my parents' Luddite tendencies, so I guess their reaction to my choices regarding embracing the new online social media is no surprise. This article tagged by Mitch Joel in his del.icio.us (thanks Mitch!) encapsulates the divide pretty well.

I could do without my stepfather's hypocritical pedantism though.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Second Life Encounter at BEA

So I'm at Book Expo America, strolling around the show floor and picking up galleys of this and that. I'm wandering aimlessly through the Wiley booth when a Wiley catalogue on display catches my eye. The cover of the catalogue shows two Second Life avatars and I swear that I know one of them. I check inside the front cover for a photo credit and sure enough, the avatar image is from the cover of this book and the avatar I recognize is fellow After a Fashion-ista Catherine Omega!

So I grab the catalogue and go racing off to tell someone, just as any excitable person would when they find out that an acquaintance's photo is on display. "Hey!" I say when I spy a friend. "Check this out, I know this girl!"

My friend levels her gaze at me. "Jen," she says as if talking to a crazy person, "this is a cartoon."

Is it odd that this didn't occur to me? I only know Catherine from SL and recognizing her avatar, whom I have "met" and interacted with was, to me, the same as recognizing a flesh-and-blood person. Does this make me weird or just hopeless?

Monday, June 4, 2007

Dragging publishing into the 21st Century

Just got back from Book Expo America in NYC. Ever the newbie, this was my first BEA (though not my first time in New York). I was hoping to come back inspired, filled with startling, fresh insights into how publishing can integrate Web 2.0 into the marketing and promotion of authors... But instead I learned that no-one really has any greater insights or ideas than anyone else. Either that, or those that have figured out Web 2.0 are closely guarding this info and won't share with others in the book industry. Shame.

On the plus side, there is a LOT of interest in digital media -- every session on this topic was jam-packed, and many of the meeting rooms reserved for these previously unpopular topics were beyond standing-room-only, with folks crowding the doorways trying to hear the speakers. So, people are starting to "get" the fact that Web 2.0 offers unprecedented marketing and promotion opportunities -- it's just that no-one has figured out how to really take advantage of that fact.

If you want to hear more about Book Expo, they offer a podcast, and many of the presentations and panels are recorded for this purpose. Just imagine yourself in a hot, stuffy, overcrowded room, press play, and it'll be almost like being there.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Second Life Shopping -- Again, and again, and...

I have been so busy with this and that -- working, dipping in and out of various social media platforms, enjoying the fine weather now that summer is finally showing its warm face -- that I have had no time to post in my blog.

I have, however, found time to shop in Second Life.

I have no rational explanation for this.

Smashing dress, though, eh? ;)

Backdrop and pose are courtesy of Katicus Sparrow!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More shoes, more clothes, more shoes...

It's a sickness, I tell you.

But don't I look adorable with my new cherry platform pumps, 40s-style suit, and new hair? ;)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Second Life Shopping Addiction

My name is Chloe -- sorry, no, Jen -- and I'm a Second Life shopaholic.

My first few times in Second Life I played it cool, stuck to the freebies and dollarbies and demos that are abundantly available.

Then my friend Katicus took me to a shoe store. The Shiny Things Boutique. It was amazing... feats of impossible engineering, shoes of magnitude and variety all but impossible in the real world, all for the low low price of a few hundred Lindens... I couldn't help myself -- I bought three pairs of gorgeous shoes, and I figured that was it.

But no, then I had to have outfits to go with the shoes...

First it was the search for the perfect black dress to go with my black stilettos:

Then I snatched up a cute schoolgirl outfit to go with my sapphire retro wedges:

Now I can't stop!! More clothes, more more more!!

Tonight is another After A Fashion shopping trip. This time the whole focus is on shoes!! Which no doubt will lead to the purchase of MORE outfits... OMG, I can't wait!!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

By the power of... Me.

This article neatly describes the implications of what happened to Digg this week. In the world of social media, the balance of power is squarely in the hands of the users. Social media business models are dependent upon users, well, using -- and everyone knows it, from the users to the smart execs like those at Digg, who clearly recognize that to kowtow to legal precedent in this matter means death to their business.

Maybe it's my commune upbringing, but I can't help but see parallels with political theory, specifically the rise of Communism in 1917 and the peace movement of the 70s. One famous slogan of that movement is "what if they gave a war and nobody came?" (I think my hippie parents may have had a bumper sticker to that effect.) My anarchist husband would no doubt explain more eloquently than I can that governments need citizens just as social media platforms need users. The significant difference being, of course, that most governments (excluding those that are new and therefore highly susceptible to coups d'etat) have elaborate systems in place to force citizens to put the interests of the government ahead of their own.

Will this ever happen to Web 2.0? Will access to these platforms become so ingrained and essential that the idea of effecting radical change upon them becomes anathema to the users? Or will the reverse happen, with users calling the shots and businesses changing their models to keep the masses loyal?

In political theory, there's usually one catalystic event that triggers mass uprising and revolt, one "we're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore" moment that forces change. There's already an undercurrent of resentment against DRM and the ongoing Google/YouTube copyright debacle. Maybe that issue will be the focus of the next tipping point for change. Gosh, I hope so.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

...Oh, and a cute belt, too!

The lovely Kate's comment on my last post reminded me that I'd forgotten to even mention the cute multi-colored snakeskin belt pack that I'd bought at Shiny Things, one of which Chloe is modelling in the photo below. A pack of 6 or 8 (I forget) thin wrapped belts for (I think) L$250 -- bargain!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cruel Shoes vs Cool Shoes

I'm so loving my shoes right now! I'm wearing my newest acquisition, an adorable pair of bubblegum-pink canvas stacked platform stilettos. They make my already-small feet look even smaller and super-cute!

Unfortunately, while I am busy spending long minutes gazing lovingly at these shoes and turning my feet this way and that to further admire them when I should be working, my feet themselves are not similarly enamoured. No, my feet are not happy with being squeezed into new shoes that pinch and are really too high; and they are rebelling by going numb, and slowly taking my calves with them.

You see, I have high-maintenance feet. Sure, they are small and cute; but they are also a bit too small at size 6 for my 5-foot-8 height. Compounding the body-mass-to-foot-area ratio problem is the fact that I am not a thin girl. No, my body type is the kind usually generously described as "curvy" or "voluptuous" -- and I don't mean that in the Maxim magazine sense of "having big boobs"; I mean actually curvy, as in big boobs, lovely round belly that I could use to fake pregnancy in order to get preferential transit seating (not that I would ever do that!), and bubble butt worthy of J.Lo. Also I have abnormally high arches.

That's why I love shoe shopping in Second Life. Not only are the shoes on offer super-cute, boasting creative designs rivalling anything I've coveted and/or bought in RL (and happily unhindered by the laws of physics as in RL), but they always fit because you can change the size of your feet, and no matter how far or how long your avatar walks, your tiny SL feet will never get tired!

Thus far I've only gone SL shoe shopping once, to the Shiny Things store in SL with the always-awesome Katicus Sparrow and a couple of new friends, Catherine and Melanie, but I already feel the addiction growing. Must...have...cute...shoes...

Here's a pic of Chloe sporting her new look, plus cute shoes!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Feeling the Love

I have comments!! And not just from anyone -- the supremely cool Kate Trgovac of mynameiskate, Eden of Bargainista, and Michael Seaton of TheClientSide. In other words, basically the stars of my "I heart" section to the left there. The cream in my coffee. The filling in my Oreo. And they're reading me!! I'm feeling the blog love, I tell you.

Also feeling the love for facebook (aka crackbook) these days. Every time I log on I have new friends -- sometimes folks I've met in reality who've just jumped on the facebook train, sometimes folks I've met purely through our common facebook connections; occasionally, like today, someone I used to hang with in high school, roughly 17 (!) years ago, manages to find me and we reconnect. It's like a little friendship hit in the middle of the day! These moments are the food pellets that keep me pressing the new media buttons, to use a hamster analogy.

So now that I know people are reading me, let me ask: what are the food pellets of new media for you?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Double the Thrill

As anyone who's been reading this blog can tell, I love me some TV, and last night provided a treat: an all-new eppy of Gilmore Girls, a show that I continue to love despite its shortcomings and flawed sense of continuity. It was a good episode too, well worth the wait over spring hiatus.

The absolute highlight for me, though, was the moment when Logan -- played by Matt Czuchry, whom I've always thought is terribly cute -- began proselytizing about Web 2.0 and mentioned Second Life. Swoon! I love it when my favorite things combine. So what if the character of Logan is, as Lorelai put it, overcoiffed and overprivileged; he's tall, cute, buff, smart, and rich, and if he's into Web 2.0 on top of all that? Well, let's just say I wouldn't kick him out of bed for eating crackers. (And don't mock -- Matt Czuchry is nearly 30 and therefore entirely demographically appropriate for me to crush on. So there.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

It's freezing in here!

Went to a few Second Life events this week, starting with the After a Fashion outing on Monday night. Didn't buy anything but got to meet the rest of the group and hang with some way cool chicks, and admire the clever, beautiful, amazing, weird shit that people are creating and selling in SL.

Now, I'm not one for fancy lingerie, or gowns, or bling, but MAN ALIVE I gots to get me some shoes. The other ladies in the group were all rocking the stilettos, while I was clumping around in my default shoes, which look like Timberlands. I may be forced to wear sensible footwear in reality, but in SL I should be living out my high-heeled fantasies, right?

Suffered a couple of technical issues during the outing: at Katicus' pad my avatar froze and I had to logout and back in, then when we hit the Hair Fair SL crashed on everybody and I had to bail. I surely hope Linden Labs is working overtime to improve their server capacity because SL is only going to get more crowded.

On Tuesday, Tamara and I hit the Don Tapscott talk at Better World Island. Fortunately I happened to bump into my new friend, fellow Fashion Plate Patrice Primeau, in the holding area, and she got us past the velvet rope into the talk. Thanks Patrice!

Patrice also was very helpful and patient while I bumped around like a drunken moron trying to remember how to sit. I had to laugh out loud at myself at one point when I tried to stop flying and land gracefully next to Patrice... and ended up falling 50 feet onto my face. Sometimes I am the dorkiest dork who ever dorked.

Anyway the talk was ok, most of it sounded a lot like Don's notes for the next updated edition of Wikinomics, and he did kind of brush off some of the more challenging and pointed questions in the Q&A section... I wish he would've referenced Reggio Emilia or the Waldorf methods when asked about how collaborative models could work in education, rather than referring back to how important collaboration is for the next generation, which was so not the point, but whatever -- I was just there to be close to genius. I'm so on board the collaboration train already.

Thursday was the usual Coffee with Crayon, which is getting really popular all of a sudden. I had had the same freezing problems again at Don's Wiki talk so this time I stayed off to the side in case my avatar froze in mid-walk and started bumping into things and people. Always the wallflower, that's me.

I must give props to Cleon for enabling these weekly get-togethers... Much of the chatter goes over my head as I am, after all, The Newbie, and not up on all the latest tech talk, plus I'm not ADD enough to follow the fast flow of conversation -- but I do enjoy eavesdropping to find out what the geeks are hot on this week.

No events scheduled this week but I may pop in and out of SL just to check out a few locations I've heard about. If you have any tips on where I should go, let me know!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Second (Life) Thoughts

Tonight I'm going to attend the 3rd After a Fashion shopping event in Second Life. I'm so stoked! Since I'm still figuring out the world, and bumping into things wherever I walk, it's hugely beneficial to me to have a guided tour to some of the fun (and prude-safe) areas. I don't know if I'll actually drop any Lindens, but just as in real/first life, it's just fun to hang out with chicks and see what the cool kids are into.

Since I got into SL I've noticed that it's a lot like real/first life. Sure, my SL avatar is several pounds thinner and much more fit than I am, and she's got cool pink hair in a massive up-do that I could never pull off in actuality -- I mean, being able to create an avatar that represents a visual you of your own imagining, rather than the skin you're stuck with in real life, has got to be one of the main attractions, right? Well, it is for me, anyway.

But behind that cool, good-looking avatar is, well, me. Still me, still shy, still feeling like the dorkiest dweeb at the party, always the wallflower hanging at the edges of the gathering, unsure of when/how to join in, constantly amazed that these cool, fun, smart people actually want to hang with me.

I guess some things just don't change, no matter what you look like.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The Definition of Newbie

While I am a relative newbie to the marvelous world of modern technology, in that most 20th-century inventions were not part of my early, formative years, I have been lucky enough to bear witness to the dawning of the computer age. Of course, it was just a glorified typewriter to me until that fateful day in university when I learned that I could chat online with other students, thanks to an early-adopting prof who constantly digressed from his lectures about Milton to evangelize about the emerging world wide web. My friends scoffed at the number of hours I would spend in the library at one of the public computers, endlessly chatting in online forums with other students in the university network. They called it a fad. Who's laughing now, luddites!

So as with TV, I guess you could say that I've tried to make up for lost time by embracing new media as much as I can -- hence my own, personal definition of newbie: someone who is into, or interested in, new media.

For interest's sake, a quick scorecard. Have I embraced new media? I mean, really?

Well, I do have 2 email addresses, 2 blogs, profiles on MySpace, facebook, and LinkedIn, a Second Life, an IM account, a DVR, 2 PCs and a cellphone.

I don't, however, have a BlackBerry or PDA or laptop (yet!), I don't text and I don't twitter. And, truth be told, I partially composed this entry using pen and paper.

And, for the record, I do go back to the commune -- The Farm -- as often as I can every summer. Yes, it's still a going concern, with about 16 active members and 7 permanent residents. Yes, they've since compromised on the initial founding principles and now enjoy the benefits of running water and electricity, even Internet (although it's extremely slow as the only connection is through dial-up). Although my mom's old cabin still has only a propane stove and one electric light, and you have to bring your own water because there's no plumbing, I enjoy visits there very much. Sometimes it's nice to completely unplug and go somewhere that you really can't be reached by phone, cell or otherwise. If only because it really makes you appreciate what you have when you get back!

Monday, April 2, 2007

I want my TV!

In my last post I described growing up Amish. Ok, not actually Amish, but at about the same level of technology. Then in 1977 my mom uprooted me and we moved to an apartment in Toronto will all the mod cons. Toilets! Hot showers! Electric lights! Telephones!

But, still no TV. Yes, my mother stubbornly clung to the last Luddite principle under her control, and denied me a much-coveted pop culture infusion. Thankfully, my father did have a TV, and shared custody meant that I could -- and did -- immerse myself in the medium every holiday and summer vacation.

My mother did finally get a TV when the nanny she engaged to care for my infant half-brother insisted on it. However, my access was severely restricted with the assistance of my stepfather, who first doctored our black-and-white, antenna-based set so that it would only receive signals from PBS or TVO, and then years later installed a lock on our new color set so that my brother and I would have to ask for permission before we could watch anything. He had the only key that unlocked the set. No I am not making this up.

Aaaaanyway, it's no wonder that when I left home, the first thing I did in my new apartment was call the cable company and get hooked up. A couple of years ago my brilliant husband suggested we get a DVR and I've never looked back! Now I'm a confirmed TV addict.

Where am I going with all this? Well, because of my rather unique upbringing, I've always considered myself a newbie when it comes to technology, including cable TV. Because I didn't grow up taking TV or other tech for granted, I still find myself with a starry-eyed sense of wonder at it all.

Oh -- and I never, ever cede control of the remote. I ain't gettin' locked out again!

Next time: the dawning of the computer age

Friday, March 30, 2007

A Short History of Me

I'm a big believer in context. To set the context for this blog, here's the what behind the name.

I was born in 1971 in Toronto to idealistic hippie parents who decided a year later that they didn't want to bring their infant daughter up in the concrete jungle; so in 1972 they got together with about 18 like-minded friends, bought a big plot of land in Central Ontario, and founded a communal society (ie a commune) based on principles of socialism and sustainability. In other words: they renounced technology and all its evils and went back to the land.

Thus my formative years were spent in a winterized shack with no plumbing (no toilet), no running water (no showers), no electricity (no TV), and one party phone line to be used only for emergencies. We grew our own food, slaughtered our own livestock, and bartered or traded goods and services (like carpentry) for the things we couldn't grow or raise ourselves.

It was a very innocent and free way to grow up, all things considered. Although I might have appreciated the major benefits of commune living (nudity, free love, mucho ganja) if I'd been older. Oh well.

In 1977 my parents' fractured marriage finally cracked in two and at the tender age of 6 my mom moved me back to Toronto. Electric lights! Hot and cold running water! A box with talking, moving pictures!! Imagine the culture shock. It freaked my shit right out.

Next time: TV and me