Monday, October 1, 2007


“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I spent yesterday fiddling and fussing with landscaping, adjusting ferns, studying trees, constructing a tiny pier…I took some deep breaths of the fresh sea air. The pub sat squat across the inlet, cheery smoke pouring out the chimney. Beyond that I could see flickers of electricity crack within a tall brick mill. The trestle was outfitted with welcoming banners…all was industrious, exciting, friendly. I was happy with my tiny pier and the view out over the sea.

Homes in Second Life tend to be symbolic. There are few kitchens and I’ve not yet run across a toilet (except for an old abandoned privy). Homes are spaces to gather friends, perhaps change your clothes, and tinker with your builds. There are no limits to what you can design in sl. In fact, residents should let their freak flags fly. I bought land in Caledon to participate in a certain aesthetic – a steampunk aesthetic, which takes the best of Victorian curiosity, industry, and craftsmanship to produce a society that is well-mannered, adventurous and, let’s face it, well dressed.

As I tinkered, I noticed a wall going up along my property line. It was very white, in contrast to the beamed and stone structures that one typically sees in Caledon. Next to me, quite next to me actually, a woman in a bright purple gown twirled this way and that, rezzing plants, walls, curtains, fountains…every time I looked over there was some new structure. And it was growing larger, taller, wider, brighter - I felt myself tense up. I flew off the coast to get the lay of the land.

Now, I’ve spent all this energy, some money, and opened myself to ridicule to family and friends to enter this world of sl, for exploration yes, and, admittedly, a bit of imaginary breathing space. Once I was off the coast about 50 feet I could see what was going on.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I seem to have moved next to My Big Fat Greek McMansion. Is it a house? Ballroom? Setting for a hip hop video? 19th century Victorian Scotland it ain’t. At first I was horrified. Other residents began to gather mid-air to stare at the madness that was being forced upon the fine green fields. It was like watching your favorite neighborhood being torn down in a matter of minutes. I was afraid if I didn’t put a house up she’d keep building right on top of me so I rezzed a squat stone cottage in the middle of my plot. I thought of selling my land immediately. I laughed out loud over my keyboard. This kind of building is exactly what I reject in real life and here it was, invading even a virtual perfect world.