Amazing photo tech – Must see!

Saw an amazing video for Photosynth, which is a clever piece of technology put together by a company bought out by Microsoft. Imagine a piece of software that reads every public photo (eg, off flickr), and links them all together to create seamless 3D models and environments. Spread that across the world. I don’t know whether to be excited, or scared! You can also try a simpler demo yourself.

Is Google trying to tell me something?

I was checking the blog stats and discovered something interesting. I’m convinced Google thinks I’m a very strange, twisted, if not sick individual. Next to ‘tiny EVE’, the top result to produce a click-through to my blog was ‘group masturbation’! You can see the full list of searches that resulted in click-throughs to my blog below: (more…)

The $12,000us EVE Online Scam

** Correction – Make that around $100,000us! **

An EVE Online player recently was outed as having scammed the community of 790 billion isk (isk stands for Inter-Stellar Kredits). This works out at nearly $12,000us (you can pay for a month of EVE Online, $15us, for 100m isk). The player set up a ‘bank’ where other players would invest cash to be used on highly expensive but highly profitable building and market speculation. Whether or not the player started with good intentions is currently debated, but the end result was that the player simply walked of with hundreds of peoples isk. This is entirely legal in EVE, which is one of the reasons I really like the game. You do have to consider your actions carefully, there’s no one in game to hold your hand! You can read more about this over at EVE Network News (on their forums, Rumor Mill section, login required) and their podcast has a 15 minute ‘confession’ from the player involved. Very fun and interesting listening!

If a cop tells you to do something…

It’s probably a REALLY GOOD IDEA to comply!

Second Life’s ‘mile high’ clubs

A month or two ago I wrote an article on the silly side of Second Life, the ‘sky boxes’ where players go to have cyber sex. It was all in good fun and I forgot to link it from my blog, so here it is, go read!

The editor had this to say about the entry!

Veteran builder and gamer Pirate Cotton sets sail on a quest for sexy treasures in this review of five skyboxes. Casting his one good remaining eye over a bevy of designs and textures and, despite his wooden-leg, Pirate manages to road-test a variety of sexballs. With him is the First Mate, Neal Stewart, slinging comments from the starboard bow and insisting that he knows a dead parrot when he sees one. Will they find some very special skybox places? Spiritually, ecumenically and grammatically?

Tringo makes it to real life!

Tringo is an addictive cross between bingo and tetris that has been all the rage in Second Life the past few months. In fees it has earned the creator more than $4,000 (converting his game earnings to real-life earnings) and now it’s set to hit the real world. In a deal reported on the Wall Street Journal it’s been announced that Kermitt, the creator, has licensed his game to a mobile games developer. What’s amazing about this is the idea that content players create in-game has commercial potential.

This makes one wonder who will be the first fashion designer to see their work on a real catwalk, and who will be the first interior designer to see their furniture in the shop. Second Life contains so many exciting possibilities!

Gay, furry, bdsm, harem slaves!

Fur patrol

Our Furry Friends
Have you ever sat up, late at night, and thought, “What are furries all about?”. Well ok then, just me. Either way, here are the results of one of the promised investigations I’ve been doing into the more interesting Second Life subcultures. I hope to cast some light on this topic and bring eternal peace between the fuzzy and the meaty (that’s a sort-of, furry in joke right there! Haha!).

I took it upon myself to spend some time with some members of the Second Life furry community as a blogger/observer. A contact had briefed me and introduced me to some furries and what follows is my account of conversations with these people. At first I thought they were largely misunderstood and relatively normal (like other fetish communities). I was to find out I was somewhat right, but mostly quite scarily wrong.

So what is a furry? That’s a good question because most people don’t know exactly, and even furries seem to have different ideas on the topic. Well, a broad definition might be that a furry is someone who enjoys the look of anthropomorphized animals (that is, animals in human form, or is it humans in animal form? Whatever). For some this is an aesthetic thing, an enjoyable fantasy, like playing D&D or dressing up for Halloween. For others… it’s something different.

Furries are a diverse group. For every furry that got interested in the hobby (calling it a lifestyle for this sub-category would be too much) there are several more whose experience of furrydom is a more intense one. For these people furry is primarily a sexual fetish, an excitement in seeing anthropomorphized humans involved in sexual activity. This interest might be gay, straight, hermaphrodite or BDSM focused, anything imaginable, as long as it involves the furry-looking human form. Furry forms the basis of their entire sexuality. Despite what many furries might claim this is the nub and the crux of the scene. What wearing black is to the goth crowd, ‘yiffing’ (furry sex) is to furries.

While it is fairly widely known that the furry world seems to be a very sexually charged one, what goes on has been anyone’s guess. Speculation ranges from rumors of animal shagging, to sex with each other in real life furry animal suits, to in-game Second Life furry orgies, to gender-bending ritualized animalistic encounters too complex to describe.

All of these rumors are true.

But when you talk to furries you won’t find these topics discussed with an outsider. The furry community is careful to self-censor, as they are wary of any media attention, in much the same way my cat is wary of my boot. This is because they are frequently the target of satire sites such as SomethingAwful. Consequently my discussions stayed on the safe topics of asserting one’s real-life furry identity and the positive emotional impact of coming out, that sort of happy, nice stuff.

Carefully avoided was chat about sky-box orgy rooms where a dozen furries get jiggy, or real life furry-cons, where sweaty overweight men squeeze into fuzzy costumes and growl at each other.

Avoided also was chat about the rather mad internal politics of the furry world (are realistic furries more serious about the lifestyle than the Disney-esque looking ones?).

Not discussed were the even stranger politics of a Second Life gay furry harem and how they have all moved in together in real life after knowing each other for two weeks online.

Never mentioned was how the Master of the now-real-life group (yes, it’s a gay, furry, BDSM harem) forbids STD testing, ‘meatbag’ clothes and jobs or contact with the outside world.

Avoided also, discussion about the sex parties where the new gay, furry, BDSM, harem slaves ‘entertain’ guests of the master fur at his order.

Yes, we’re talking real life now. In a neighbourhood. Near you.

Hearing these stories from my contact made me realize that all is not entirely sane in the land of fur. Now, I have no problem with fetishists, but the weirdness of this behavior smacks of somewhat extreme identity and personal issues. Simply ignoring, for now, the sheer comedy value of the gay, furry, bdsm harem there’s the simple strangeness of moving across country to join someone you met two weeks ago online. And to do so to become one of their animal slaves. That is odd behavior for any fetishist when you’ll normally hear them talk about ‘safe, sane and consensual’.

As you will note actual behavior is a lot different from polite conversations about how someone was always a fur inside or how acceptance of a furry identity leads to a better mental state. Perhaps my conversation with furs should really have focused on questions along the lines of, “when were you last committed?”.

At this point I should remind you, dear reader, that there are a great many different kinds of furs. For every gay, bdsm, harem slave there are many furs who enjoy the community as a hobby and social group rather than a lifestyle. These are normal people with normal lives, relationships and a normal mental balance who enjoy the cartoon fun of dressing up and light, sometimes sexy, roleplay.

These are the kind of furs you and me will tend to meet in Second Life as they aren’t elitists like the real fruitcakes. The crazies shut themselves away and don’t like to deal with meatbags. So please, be nice to furs you meet, and don’t assume they are gay, furry, bdsm harem slaves. Not unless they show you their slave collar of course.

As you can imagine, the fact that the furry community has such a huge range of participants leads to intra-group tension. The furs with their minds firmly fixed on leg humping don’t see eye to eye with those who don’t even like being called furs because of the crazyness associated with it (although you and I wouldn’t be able to spot the difference in a lineup.).

More than most groups the furry world is rife with cliques and the community splits and divides like ameoba on a petrie dish. Recent events in the SL fur community have split the active participants as some recoil at the above noted insanity and others embrace it. That the information in this column comes from a member of this community should give you an idea of how differently members of this group think about what goes on.

But it can’t be denied that the origin of fur as the hobby it is today is in it being a sexual fetish, even when some of the community much prefer the social and roleplay side. For many, fur is sex and sex is fur, the two are intertwined if not inseparable. Thus, members of the fur community are inevitably intimately involved with each other. Naturally, this leads to drama. But it is also the key to understanding furry social dynamics. For example:

…Say you want to try out this fur thing. Well, first up you must realize that the fur world, oddly enough, mirrors the real animal kingdom, social status in the fur community is based on who you are shagging. And unless you want to be a nothing you’re going to have to pimp your ass to get noticed.

A new fur may even be ignored by some until the newby has gained status through working their way up the social sex chain. Perhaps a fur DJ will be the first person you yiff. He or she will, of-course, take pictures and advertise their conquest in their private rooms for other furs to see. But don’t worry, this is a good thing. Now when people see who you’ve done you’ll have some social status, especially if you were good. Slowly you work your way the social ladder, perhaps a land owner next, then a group leader, a popular club owner and so on. Pretty soon good reports of your sexual behavior, along with pictures, are plastered everywhere and you are now popular with many followers. Just like the animal world, banging the alpha male or female has its perks.

Now you’ll find others wanting to use you as their ladder to greater things and your Second Life sex life becomes as busy as you want. Unless of course, you spread it around too much. Sex for status implies that what is going on is something special. If you’re important and you shag 100 people no one will think much of them and they won’t bother with you any more. Shag one and that person is obviously very special and cool and you will be in even more demand from the proles

Follow my tips and you’re well on the way to being a top fur. Fantastic!

Disturbingly, I’ve been reliably informed that the goth community works in much the same way. I await the inevitable cojoining of fur and goth. Perhaps one day we will see goth, gay, furry, BDSM harem slaves!

So what are we left with after this carnival ride through fur? Are some furries twisted sexual perverts? Yes. Are some as harmless as a Disney comedy sidekick? Yes. In the end I believe how you respond to furs says more about you than it does about them. Don’t automatically shun them, after all, never judge a book by its cover (or a fur by his suit!). At least wait until you hear about who they’ve been yiffing before you let out a chuckle.

But I warn you, as you get to know fur you will find one thing forever taken from you. You’ll never look at those amusement park workers in cute animal costumers the same way ever again.

You’re all cowards!

Well, let me be more clear, your ancestors were definitely all cowards. Think about it. In order for you to be here people in the past generally had to live to be old enough to have babies. To do this they didn’t die young. Yet who did die young? Well, people at the front of armies did, people who thought they could take on the woolly mammoth with a sharp stick, people who went on crusades to liberate the infidels and people who won Darwin Awards. By this logic many of the people who came before us were a good deal braver then we are. Except, of course, your ancestors.

It makes you wonder why genealogy is so popular. Who wants to find out that great great uncle Ricky was the guy who dressed as a woman when the draft came to town, or that great great great aunt Martha happily ‘fessed up her witches coven to the local lynch mob in order to avoid a nasty hot flush. Really, your ancestors were a pretty nasty bunch.

And frankly, who would have it any other way! If it were different neither you or I would be here after all.

Multiplayer only on my terms?

Second Life recently saw the birth of a strange lifeform. A green cube called ‘Zombie’. This cube, when touched, multiplied, and as it did so it would move towards and hunt down players. If a player had a reasonably high velocity gun they could shoot these cubes and overcome the evil zombie menace.

The brain behind this amusing Halloween stunt was Lordfly Digeridoo, an experiences and creative Second Life member. However, having released his multiplying zombies into the wild of Second Life they took on a life of their own and became quite hard to remove, each deletion often spawning another zombie. This combined with a general lack of awareness of what these things were about resulted in many negative ratings and abuse reports for poor old Lordfly!

A few days later he is still racing around deleting Zombies and apologizing. Yet for some this isn’t enough.

While the idea was grand we can probably all agree the implementation was a bit off. Having the zombies wild in the large world meant a lot of confusion for people who hadn’t read Lordfly’s posts and clues on the boards and, well, some people are just plain touchy.

But what I don’t understand is how he has gathered such broad negative reaction. Second Life is by its very nature a creative medium and one where a lot can go wrong, simply because of the freedoms we are given. Why are people so touchy over virtual content that is virtually meaningless? I love the idea of this code gone native and out of control, I think it’s fun and interesting on many levels, yet some people just get upset if someone in any way interacts with them on a level they don’t agree with.

Perhaps this is a legacy of the internet generation. With everything at our fingertips and on demand we no longer have to watch, listen or deal with anything we don’t like. A closed window, a deleted email and the problem is solved. That people are so quick to judge and complain I find somewhat disturbing. What does it mean for the future if this is the kind of behavior seen in your friends, your neighbor’s, your family. Real world society could see people in neighborhoods even more isolated and alone than they are already, only seeking solace in social internet experiences they can tightly control. But Second Life isn’t an extension of the internet, perhaps it is, strangely, more like real life, with its mix of the uncontrollable, the strange and the downright annoying. Hopefully it will always be a slightly chaotic convergence of wild ideas, optimism, creativity and sometimes, zombies.

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