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    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    Starry night -- The Magic of Second Life

    There's a misconception in the department where I work that I spend all my time "playing" Second Life and that my PhD is dedicated to SL alone. This is far from the truth, and Second Life is but one instance of how virtuality might have a profound effect on the quality of our lives, which is the subject of my thesis. I tend to especially emphasize this point whenever talking to someone who know very little about what Second Life is and its possibilities and limitations. Second Life has unfortunately gotten the stigma that it's either just another computer game, or that its primarily inhabited to perverts and leaches; verificationist researchers and sensationalist journalists (not sure which one of those is worst). What people tend to overlook - or never allow themselves to discover -- is that Second Life is ultimately about creativity. Those who stay in SL do it because of the creativity, those who make money do it because of creativity -- good researchers and journalists look for the creativity! This tends to drown in all the negative headlines. Just as you are about to give up and let Second Life become a sleazy hobby you don't tell anyone about, along comes the true geniuses of Second Life; those who make it a fantastic place; those who understand what it's all about; those who remind you that it's not about the age play, camping chairs or meatspace opportunism after all. Along come the true SL'ers like Robbie Dingo. Robbie has recreated Vincent van Gogh's masterpiece "Starry night" in Second Life. As if this testament to the creativity of SL wasn't enough, the marvellous feat has been documented in a machinima that left me speechless. If you go to Robbie's blog, you can watch the video. I highly recommend the high-resolution version, but in this virtual age of instant click-satisfaction, the youtube version does some justice to the masterpiece as well: