Posted by Raza Lane
I just listened to show 1 of the Drax files Radio Hour with Jo Yardley. It was really good fun to listen to and highly informative. I never knew anything about the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, or furries in sl, or how complicated fitted mesh was. I suddenly feel slightly more enlightened. Draxtor and Jo Yardley, who runs the 1920s Berlin SIM in SL, were great together.
The Oculus Rift seems amazing. If it will be in supermarkets by the end of the year I definitely want one. I remember VR from watching the early 90’s movie The Lawnmower man, Star Trek The Next Generation’s holodeck (showing my age!), or the brilliant British BBC sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf. In Red Dwarf Lister puts on a headset that looks just like the Oculus Rift, and he’s transported to a virtual reality version of earth (which for him is great as he’s stuck in a spaceship in the middle of space miles from earth).
Being able to wander through jungles or futuristic cities in a total immersive way, without the peripheral vision of the real world interfering, would be a totally different experience to what SL is now and I can’t wait for it.
I find the idea of immersing myself totally in another world highly attractive. I find Real Life extremely burdensome, painful and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. It has always been this way, and as I get older I get more responsibilities and more stress. I’ve always survived by unwinding through escapism. TV, films, books, fictional universes where I can lose myself and forget all my worries are what keep me going. Yet the more exhausting and burdensome RL gets, the more stimulation and energising I need form my escapism and virtual lives. So being able to immerse myself totally in another world and trick my senses into feeling they are actually floating in space or swimming in a coral reef would stimulate me to a point where I feel alive, not just dragging my drained body and mind through another day.
In terms of the NSA in SL and furries, I haven’t really read anything about NSA in SL (until after composing this post) and like Jo mentioned I just assume that any spy agency that can spy on us, will be spying on everyone, in whatever way they can. I assume that everything I do online or with any form of connected technology, from phones to radio to TV to the web or SL is monitored. How much that bothers me varies.
From a purely personal point of view, I’m not doing anything online that I feel is dangerous or bad, certainly not illegal (I don’t even torrent!), which is like most people. That doesn’t mean to say that being spied on is OK. It is obviously a real and pertinent issue form a civil liberties and privacy point of view. No one likes to be spied on, even though I’m not naïve enough to think I’m not being spied on. The idea that someone, somewhere may be watching my every move from the standpoint that I am as likely as a real criminal to be a threat to society or a bad seed is unsettling. A society that views all it’s citizens with suspicion and as potential threats is a very sad one. It also matters who does the spying. Who defines whether or not I am a threat to the wellbeing of the society or others, and what that wellbeing looks like are all relevant factors. I agreed with Drax that we all need to be more cognisant of the fact that we are being monitored, and that we aren’t as free, and the web and many other platforms like SL are not as open as we might think they are. What a truly free, open yet safe society looks like, online or in the real world, are important questions that we all need to be thinking about and aware of, me included.
Personally, I’m not doing anything worth spying on (seriously). However I have grown up absorbing many dystopic sci-fi movies and books like The Running Man, 1984, or anything written by Philip K. Dick, where authoritative big brother states or corporations deem what is right or wrong without debate, spy on everyone and abuse that power to crush perfectly decent, normal, curious human souls. Maybe my paranoia will be worsened if more stringent censorship starts to creep into the world around me. I am naturally curious and inquisitive and love to challenge the status quo and all forms of authority. In many countries that would make me a risk to the oppressive state or powerful interest groups. Thankfully I live in a relatively free and open country (UK), at least I feel I do! How free and open is debatable, and it is relative to other far more oppressive places. That freedom is also something to be cherished and not taken for granted. Hopefully England won’t end up like the Fascist England of Alan Moore’s graphic Novel V For Vendetta. If it does, then being spied on whilst playing SL with the Oculus Rift may be a very dangerous situation after all. For the time being, if anyone out there is profiling me then they’re wasting their time and data storage space! Unless they like begin confused and bored by my badly typed long sentences in SL and the cyberspehere.
Having typed all that out about the NSA and cyber spying, I have realised that the Drax Files Radio Hour podcast has made me think about something very important that I have just ignored for the last few weeks. I love it when something gets my neurons firing. That’s testimony to a great podcast. I will definitely be listening again to further episodes.
Another topic that the podcast made me think about, linked somewhat to privacy and being monitored, is whether or not I should create an alt in Second Life. To alt or not to alt? That is the question. It’s not a simple question. There is no simple answer. I think it’s worth exploring in another blog post. I’ve ramble don this post for long enough. There’s only so much text one person can read through in one sitting of a blog post!
Maybe I should do an audio podcast. I’ve always got a lot to say and a burning desire to say it, even though none of it is probably very interesting to anyone but myself. Some friends did recommend I start video or audio blogging. But my voice sounds horrible when recorded, and is so deep it might break the internet. For now I ‘m sticking to text. Annoying as it is to type, especially when you type as fast and badly as me.
So thank you to anyone who bothered to read all of this post, and to all those poor souls spying on me and trying to make sense of who I really am from the verbose splattering I’ve strewn onto wordpress.
I’m off to watch all those Drax Files You Tube videos I’ve yet to see!
- Link to the Oculus Rift VR headset in SL Marketplace
- Link to 1920’s Berlin – Jo Yardley’s amazing SIM
- Link to the Drax Files Radio Hour Blog
- Link to the Drax Files on You Tube
- Link to article about NSA Spying in Second Life – The Guardian UK
- Link to article about NSA Spying in Second Life – Pro Publica
Tags: 1920s Berlin, 1920s Berlin Second Life, Drax, Drax Files Radio Hour, Holodeck, Immersive Game Play, Immersive Worlds, Jo Yardley, Metaverse, NSA, NSA in SL, NSA Spying, Oculus Rift, Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset, Podcast, Privacy, Red Dwarf, Second Life, SL, SL Podcast, Star Trek the Next Generation, Virtual Reality, Virtual reality Headsets, Virtual Worlds