Sunday, June 01, 2008

Smart Mobbed - My Life as Howard Rheingold...

Here is a pic of Wirxli (me) as Howard Rheingold the bank manager sitting at his desk in the Lynden Labs bank

Hey there fellow academic Rheingoldiggers and Smart Mobsters!

These past few weeks have been very intense and I have hardly any time to reflect on recent events. There has been a lot of change in my life lately and it might still be awhile before I come to terms with everything and post it gradually onto my blog here.

For now, I thought I would reflect on my brief and controversial life as the pioneer of the Virtual Community, Howard Rheingold.

For my final performance with Second Front, I decided to hijack Howard's avatar identity as he was one of the panelists being presented in San Francisco. Of course, I had to become "Howard" for a couple of days so I could get comfortable in my new role as Howard's evil doppelganger. To read about this performance and panel session, please go to Second Front's official blog posting about it here.

I just want to be extremely clear with you here that by no means did I intend to be the real Howard Rheingold. The whole performance was about identity theft and how one's avatar persona and trademarked personality - even if it is based on one's Real Life (RL) self - is completely at the mercy of Lynden Lab's Terms of Service.

Did you know they own the rights to use your avatar in any context that they see fit?

They can make you advertise for Second Life's corporate side or (gasp!) perhaps even force your avatar clone to appear in a Pepsi ad or something, with only your tacit consent... By tacit consent, I mean that you had briefly read the "Terms of Service Agreement" and had signed it perhaps without thinking of the consequences.

Anyway, Second Front wanted to dramatize the possible consequences of this Terms of Service and so we took many liberties with the original panelists that had their avatars willingly copied into the virtual world. Most of the panelists became thieves trying to steal more identities. In my case, I made the new co-opted Howard a shrewd bank manager who has been charged with the service of protecting Lynden-owned avatar identities. This of course, runs intentionally counter to the RL Howard's more open and friendly hopes for the potential(s) inherant in a "Virtual Community". I have twisted Howard's whole personality into that of a Lynden Labs crony who locks all avatar identities into a vault to be used and re-purposed by Lynden Labs in any manner that they wish.

Howard himself (the RL one) has a regular avatar in SL with his own office and an embedded virtual research practice. In fact, his usual avvie happened to wander into the Lynden Labs bank to find to his horror, that a stolen clone of his avvie had been virally possesed by Lynden Labs and this mutated and Wirxlified doppelganger was gradually being seduced by the Bank Secretary, of all people!(!)

It is my hope that Howard and the other panelists understand why we (Second Front) did this piece and twisted their core personalities into something much darker and shallow than who they really are in RL (and via their official SL interactions).

Here are some more pix for you...

Here is another pic of
"Howard" posing in front of the Lynden Treasury.


Things got steamy between Howard and his secretary...was this in the script? Of course, the secretary was only using "Howard" to get ahold of the key to the vault. I think this scene has been adopted by many James Bond style films in the past ;-)

Here is a close up of Wirxli/Howard and "Christiane Paul"...

So, those are some pix from that Second Front performance called "Grand Theft Avatar III - Heist City".

To get into the role of "Howard", I had to spend some time in close covert proximity to him. In addition, I understood the necessity of making at least one pilgrimage to his personal headquarters...

Here is another pic of "Howard" in his official office...

Here is yet another angle of Howard's office...For the purpose of my blog, I had decided to show you Howard's social networking maps and some portraits of the Real McCoy. I thought it was best that I also corrupt Howard's social networking processes to ensure that my approach to the new Lyndensque Virtual Community would be kept under devious lock and key.

Here was the official Purple paisley texture used for Howard's t-shirt for Second Front's GTA III performance..

16 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Technology truly is an inescapable aspect of our daily lives, and I am fairly confident when I say that we have passed the point of no return in our relationship with technology.


I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory falls, the possibility of downloading our brains onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I dream about almost every day.


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Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently talking about how modern society has evolved to become so integrated with technology. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.


I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as the price of memory falls, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.


(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/-/9v7ff0hnkzef/1]R4 Card[/url] DS NetPost)

Anonymous said...

Virtual Memory sure is becoming cheaper these days. I'm curious as to when we will eventually reach the rate of 1 cent to 1 Gigabyte.

I eagerly wait for the day when I will finally be able to afford a 20 terabyte harddisk, hahaha. But for now I guess I will be happy with having a 16 gig Micro SD Card in my R4i.

(Submitted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/-/9v7ff0hnkzef/1]R4i[/url] Net10)

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