Saturday, August 11, 2007

One Man in his Life...

...has many alts.

"What is an individual? We can make a new one with the greatest of ease - as many as we like." - Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

I went out for a coffee with a very dear friend tonight. We both grabbed a RL cuppa and found a coffee bar in SL (the sorta place we'd both normally hang). We turned on the voice, and sat there and talked.

Not unusual, but this time it was as us. We were both our corporate alts. We both looked like us, dressed like us (I was even wearing the same T-Shirt in RL), had our actual names, our actual voices, were actually drinking coffee etc. No tags over our heads saying 'Scientist' or 'Timelord'. Short of WiFi'ing in from a Starbucks this was probably the closest we'll ever get to actually sitting down and having a brew and just simply shooting the breeze.

We talked about stuff that friends would talk about in a coffee bar. About our spouses and going to the cinema,
parties and mutual friends. About business, new media, psychology and SL sociology. It was half way through our 'break' that I realised I've never had such a feeling of SL paradox before. Sure it was flippant and probably a massive waste of resources and technology, yada, yada, but also cool to be so close to reality in SL (in that 'playing at William Gibson' kinda way) and I can't help but think this could well be a slice of the corporate future that Lindon Labs are working towards. Putting my LL scepticism to one side, if it is, this is a unparalleled, natural and surprising level of communication and I applaud their efforts.

My friend and I have never met in RL. She lives in the USA, me in the UK. But this evening we went out for a drink and sat in a coffee bar and talked like old pals. If I was telling someone in meatspace about going out for a coffee with her I wouldn't even mention SL in the conversation. Why would I need to? This was a (virtually) total social and business experience with sound, taste, visuals, etc., and just 2 corporate alts sat having a break from the hassles of the day before they went back to their offices and carried on being something their not.

Here is your social networking and communication of the future, right here. Come and get it. Mines a Grande Americano (with an extra shot).

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