Saturday, June 5, 2010


It is interesting and highly significant that almost everyone who blogs about SL or posts photos from SL on Flickr, does so in their avatar's name. [More later, it's 3:30am and I am happy but exhausted after seeing Grace McDunnough perform at SL Pride.]

This is of course simplistic and reductivist, and intentionally so. These posts are not meant to be fair and balanced essays to be delivered de haut en bas, I am gathering talking points for a workshop. However, the observation stands — with one qualification: it depends on the speaker's relationship to their audience.

When [Botgirl|Grace|Dusan|whomever] blogs about SL-ness and identity, they are by and large speaking as one of us, peer to peer, within a community and a shared culture. They can assume that we will to a large extent share their experience (by being inworld) and interests (by being curious enough to be reading their blog) — though this does not mean that we necessarily share their values (cough Prokofy Neva cough).

When they talk to "outsiders," they often do so in their RL names, for example Hamlet Au's New World Notes lists both of his identities. [more later]


  1. Well of course. It'd be kind of odd for someone who's not a resident of a world to go and pretend they know enough about it to blog about it ;) Credibility at stake.

    I do think I saw someone who includes RL info in the blog but the blog is still in Avatar's name. Can't remember who though.

  2. Oh, besides, a blog by an SL character named Wol Euler feels somehow much more credible than a blog by a dog. even if she's named Freya :)

  3. On the nearly-contrary: Journalists write about SL every day who have not spent long enough inworld to change out of their newborn clothing. This is a fragment of an argument in favour of immersionism, or avatarianism in Botgirl's clever new ontology, and will be fleshed out later on.

  4. I'm naturally only speaking for myself. Someone with an SL name to write under, even if RL identity is included I'd tend to trust to be more knowledgeable about SL than a journalist without one.

  5. Almost everyone, yes... There's a blogger on your roll here, Wol, who publishes under her real name and seldom mentions the name of her avatar. (I'm a fan, too.) I confess that I am so accustomed to avatars blogging in their own 'voice' that when I first attempted to contact her in-world, I searched "Lauren Jones".

    This may or may not be relevant, but... Two of the other commenters here blog and tweet as their organic counterparts as well as their avatars. I am an avid reader of both Botgirl and Mr. Crap; I neither read nor follow (Twitter-wise) their humans.

    It's that "relationship to the audience" thing, but reversed: the audience's relationship to the author.

  6. Fascinating responses!

    Hello to Mr. Crap and Botgirl: welcome aboard, it's nice to have you here.

    The question of meat and atomic identities remains a fertile field of study, I will have much more to say about this in the near future. Lauren Jones is an interesting counter-example, I too assumed that this was her av name. I'll have to consider this case.

    The question of "which of my Me's is going to publish this" comes up here too :) A revealing and significant choice to have to make. I decided that Wol is only in SL, she knows nothing of life outside of it (except that she is aware of Linden Labs' existence and actions).

    FWIW, my original SL av took the name that I had already been blogging under, a pseudonym known to family and close friends in my RL, and his blog often talks about his time in SL — but in more "touristy" terms than Wol does here. He twitters, and contributes to several social media sites (e.g. he is the one who writes in the LSL wiki, not me). My typist also has a professional website, and is in Facebook under my RL name.

    None of these identities refer to the others.

    When I started blogging, keeping that separate from work was a clear and sensible choice, and when Wol was born I decided to keep her separate from him too. She was originally intended to be a short-term experiment, and I was concerned that connecting them would weaken the value of the data; to my great surprise (and happiness) she became my prime av.

  7. And just BTW: I noticed just in time before posting the comment, that I was logged in as him :) Logged out and back in to post as Wol.

    This business of keeping us separate is becoming hard work, and I increasingly ask myself why I bother.

  8. Somehow reminds me of that I made an alt that I expected to be a throwaway one for beta testing Emerald. The alt ended up developing a rather surprising personality. In some ways very stark contrast with my main.

    Quite surprising. Perhaps especially since I even went as far to choose the name so there'd be no confusion about who it is. Same first name and last name begins with the same letter. Then she ends up quite starkly different in temperament and even dressing style :)

    I'm still kind of mixed about whether they're two people or two extra bodies of mine. Sometimes it's fun to play as two people, sometimes I even forget which one I was using.

    When I meet new people as the new alt, I tend to immediately reveal my main's name to most. The same isn't true in reverse though. I find that a bit curious.