Monday, 5 April 2010

The workshop

I'm preparing a weekly workshop on the SL-ness of SL, to be given at the Kira centre this summer. (I'm writing about it publicly here in the hope that this might just get me off my arse to do something about this idea, which I've been talking about since last Autumn.) I will be using the Second Lifer blog to record and develop ideas for sessions and exercises.

The workshop will be in the usual Kira style: a combination of brief lecture/explanation/introduction, discussion and exercises.

The general themes will be appearance, character and identity, how the medium of SL expresses these, and how they relate back to our so-called real identities in the so-called real world. My hope is that members of the workshop might come forward to lead off sessions on subjects that are significant to them. (Example: QT said that he hadn't been able to create an alt because he couldn't think of a good name. I would love to discuss with him the significance of names in SL, since these are arbitrary in RL.) Once the series has built up a certain amount of momentum, I would like to bring in guest speakers to talk about specific identities in SL: furries and tinies and nekos, oh my.

There will be much discussion of alts, since they are central to cross-gender and cross-species exploration. Practical exercises would be very informative (!) but I can see that this might be too "hot" for some people so I'll go slowly there. Perhaps make it an "extra credit" topic, one that won't be on the end-of-term exam.

(Just by the way, and perhaps as a note for a pure-discussion session: It amuses me no end to hear people say that our personalities are constructions of habit and prejudice, that there is no separation and therefore no Self, that all identities are artificial — and then in the next breath they firmly declare that identities which exist only in SL are inferior to those which exist in RL! What the fuck is that about? This point needs discussion.)

There will be trips to various stores (skin and hair in particular, since these places always offer freebie or dollarbie demos) to try on different appearances, again with the intention of seeing yourself in the new appearance.

There will be excursions to strongly-themed locations and stores, like AVid or RP sims.

There will be exercises, oh yes: for example: being a neko for a week, and paying attention to how this feels — and to how the world reacts.

There will be workshops on the appearance editor, with the practical goal of making a new shape during the session, to be "lived in" for a week and reported on at the next session. There will be at least one pair sessions on AOs, a discursive intro and a workshop the week after.

There will be shorter detours to look at particularities of SL, like "afk" or the culture of helpful generosity that has developed. I can imagine that there would be quite a bit of discussion of in-world ethics.