Intellagirl Tully presentation on avatars and identity in SL

  1. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:03] Are we ready to start then, Grace?

  2. Grace McDunnough

    [19:04] I think so. Does anyone object to us getting started and/or taking notes?

    [19:04] Thanks for coming Intellagirl

  3. Farley Scarborough

    [19:04] go for it

  4. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:04] My pleasure!

  5. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:04] nope

  6. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:04] Thanks everyone for coming

    [19:04] If you haven’t done so, please buy a free copy of this box

    [19:05] as I said, there are materials in it you’ll want to have

    [19:05] I’m Inteallgirl Tully…aka Sarah Robbins

    [19:05] I’m a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Conposition at Ball State Univerisity

    [19:05] in good ol’ Muncie, Indiana

    [19:05] I’m teaching a second semester research and writnig course here in Sl this semester

    [19:06] and you’re all invited to observe any Thursday at 3:30 SL time on the Middletown SIM

    [19:06] But i thought for tonight, instead of rehashing the class

    [19:06] I’d do a group demonstration of some of the things my students are learning here

    [19:07] so i have something fun planned 🙂

    [19:07] I hope you’ll all participate

    [19:07] First a little background…and feel free to follow along on the slides I’ve included in the box if you’d like

    [19:07] My class is centered around ethnographic research

    [19:08] so we’re primarily interested in communities and how they work

    [19:08] My students will observe communiies here in SL

    [19:08] become part of them

    [19:08] and learn how they work

    [19:08] but before they can do that

    [19:08] they have to understand their own identity

    [19:08] so they can understand how they are an individual in an group of people

    [19:08] Avatars are an exceptionaly important part of identity in SL

    [19:09] I see you all have rather elaborate ones

    [19:09] and I’m sure you’ve spent a lot of time cultivating them

    [19:09] to send a very specific message about who you are

    [19:09] and how you want others to percieve you

    [19:09] How attached do you all think you are to how you look in SL?

  7. Grace McDunnough

    [19:09] Too

  8. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:10] I haven’t changed anything since my first week.

  9. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:10] Haven’t changed clothes? hair? etc?

  10. Pirate Shipman

    [19:10] This is aside form the semblance that we build in to our RL selves.

  11. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:10] clothes

    [19:10] but nothing else.

  12. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:10] how much time did you spend creating your avatar?

  13. Zorn Cheetah

    [19:10] not attached at all. i change my look constantly, whenever i buy something new. 🙂

  14. Smiddy Smails

    [19:10] i changed my entire look recently

  15. Kate Spatula

    [19:10] i made a big deal about making an ava that’s a lot like me in first life

  16. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:10] I am new, but tried to keep continuity with RL "me"

  17. Smiddy Smails

    [19:10] but it looks nothing like me

  18. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:10] Not much… But tweak it here and there.

  19. Lloud Laffer

    [19:11] strangely attached – need to detach

  20. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:11] I took a lot of time at first, but not much now.

  21. Farley Scarborough

    [19:11] I keep trying new clothes, then change back.

  22. Kate Spatula

    [19:11] i freaked at one point when i learned that my avatar was 6 feet tall… i had to shrink it immediately

  23. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:11] I did the same… mine was 7 feet tall

  24. Lloud Laffer

    [19:15] Intellagirl, I came in late – where’s the stuff?

    [19:15] thanks!

  25. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:16] hi all – sorry to interrupt and coming in late. what slide are we on?

  26. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:16] Kate’s got it!

  27. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:16] sorry, I lagged to the front.

  28. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:17] Typ’s got it 🙂

  29. Grace McDunnough

    [19:17] I think we’ve already burned through the slide POinky

  30. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:17] what’s important is that you get a chance to see yourself as the same, and as strange

    [19:17] i’ll explain when a few more people have changed

  31. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:18] I don’t look that much dfferent.

  32. Kate Spatula

    [19:18] question for the color-vision deficient… is the skin a grey-scale?

  33. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:18] just kind of albino.

  34. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:18] no it’s not

  35. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:18] Sorry but only the textures for your slides show in the box…

  36. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:18] how do we change? help for a n00b pls

  37. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:18] it’s actually made from the templates we use to make clothes in photshop

  38. Kate Spatula

    [19:18] so there’s color in there somewhere?

  39. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:19] you should be able to just drag the skin and shape on to yourself

    [19:19] the texture may take some time to rez

    [19:19] Go Wanton!

  40. Kate Spatula

    [19:19] intellagirl… i’m fully rezzed but i have difficulty seeing pastelish colors as anything other than gray

  41. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:19] the colors are subtle

  42. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:19] It’s kind of creepy looking.

  43. Kate Spatula

    [19:19] okay… so the patches are not just grey then… all i wanted ot know

  44. Pirate Shipman

    [19:20] crash test dummies

  45. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:20] what’s important is that you look strange to yourself and same

    [19:20] no they aren’t Kate

    [19:20] haha yeah that’s close Pirate

    [19:20] haha yeah that’s close Pirate

    [19:21] If you’ve changed completely would you mind sitting up in the front row so folks can see you as a group?

    [19:21] thanks so much for going along with me

  46. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:21] Do you want me to remove my hair?

  47. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:21] sur eif you don’t mind

    [19:22] How many of you feel strange?

  48. Kate Spatula

    [19:22] we’re not all the same are we… i see some with grids

  49. Prokofy Neva

    [19:22] Not me

  50. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:22] ugly but not strange..

  51. Kingston Augustus

    [19:22] only because of the skin, it seems strange

  52. Farley Scarborough

    [19:22] Disconnected from my av, I’d say.

  53. Pirate Shipman

    [19:22] This is how I look in RL, so it’s perfectly natural

    [19:22] heheh

  54. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:22] Oooh Farley…that’s wha tI’m going for

  55. Prokofy Neva

    [19:22] You put a different gender on people apparently

  56. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:22] Do any of you feel less like "yourself"

  57. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:23] Yes, most certainly.

  58. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:23] How so?

  59. Pirate Shipman

    [19:23] of course – because whatever we do to our av, it’s an expression of ourselves

  60. Kate Spatula

    [19:23] if i i did any animations, i would interpret them differently

  61. Zorn Cheetah

    [19:23] looks boring with everyone looking the same.

  62. Farley Scarborough

    [19:23] My av feels like her, not me.

  63. Pirate Shipman

    [19:23] you’d probably find some correlation between how much discomfort is felt and the time spent creating the av

  64. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:23] Not really BUT there is, of course, an annonymity (sp?) to it all.

  65. Chili Carson

    [19:23] Now, that I changed into a matching dress, I feel much better

  66. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:23] Yes pirate i’m sure you’re right

    [19:24] haha CHili

  67. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:24] My avatar is differently enough from the way I look in rl that I don’t feel less like me, but it still feels wrong.

  68. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:24] As a note, I have names turned off above everyone…

  69. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:24] Do you feel connected to those who have changed? Do those of you who didn’t…do you feel as much a part of he experience?

  70. Prokofy Neva

    [19:24] I’m still back at the part where I’m trying to figure out how ethnography relates to rhetoric and composition.

  71. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:24] I can explain that Prokofy

  72. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:25] As someone who is new, one might think I would not feel such strong disconnect from my av

  73. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:25] The way we construst ourselves is a form of communication

    [19:25] the avatars you form are visual rhetoric…they are a message you send to others just as if they were a text

    [19:25] the skins you all just put on took that ability away

    [19:25] you’re been robbed of a form of expresson

  74. Pirate Shipman

    [19:26] thhe imclicit communication of our looks

  75. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:26] However, you might also feel a commradery with the others who have done it

    [19:26] we use text…even visual texts, to form bonds

    [19:26] or to set boundaries of difference

  76. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:26] Like the mass of us all moving to front row

  77. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:27] in asking you all to look the same….i’m hoping to demonstrate just how imprtant your visual rhetoric is in expressing who you are

    [19:27] and how you want to be perceived

    [19:27] how attachd you are to that message

    [19:27] reactions?

    [19:27] feel free to talk over me at any time

  78. Pirate Shipman

    [19:27] I’m reelecting on the amount of time I spend in world thinking about how I look

  79. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:28] hmm.. isn’t a big part of avatar creation what *you* feel comfortable looking at, rather than what others will see?

  80. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:28] I think if I looked really weird all the time I would not spend as much time in world..

  81. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:28] Not only that need to be understood but there is the question of why…

  82. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:28] which might not be a "abd thing..

    [19:28] a bad thing

  83. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:28] But that can be a deeply personal one.

  84. Pirate Shipman

    [19:28] aFor me, it is about matching my looks with the desired impression

  85. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:28] Yes Poinky, but i wonder if what you eel comfortable with isn’t related to how you want others to see you

  86. Kingston Augustus

    [19:29] is that that much different from rl?

  87. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:29] I personally have a harder time having a seriously conversation with someone who is a furry..

  88. Kate Spatula

    [19:29] i suspect that if went off some place with this avatar, people would biew me a mime… heck it feels weird to talk right now

  89. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:29] when we lose our expresson…well we may as wel be in a chat room….we have to rely on our text

  90. Zorn Cheetah

    [19:29] you;re absolutely correct, Poinky. and research into online games shows that.

  91. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:29] I see furry and think cartoon…

  92. Farley Scarborough

    [19:29] I dunno, Poinky, I tried on a female form for a while, which was much nicer for me to look at, but I didn’t feel comfortable having others see me that way.

  93. Creative Nadir

    [19:29] seems dialectical… whether its for what we want to see or for the appearance to others isnt the point

  94. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:29] but there’s the classic "If I’m going to play a female character in WoW, I want her to look good, because I will be staring at her allthe time.."

  95. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:29] and cartoons aren’t serious.

  96. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:30] all excellent points

  97. Zorn Cheetah

    [19:30] i see you’ve read the same reports that i have, Poinky. 🙂

  98. Typewriter Tackleberry

    [19:30] but do we not have more depth than I will play a femal elf because i have to stare at her but all te time

  99. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:30] the bottom line is, that it’s critical that we learn to look at ourselves, and our uses of identity and avatars in these ways

  100. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:30] Is there a direct correlation between self-confidence and concern over a subject’s avatar?

  101. Pirate Shipman

    [19:30] As a facet of effective communication

  102. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:31] how much we can learn from simply feeling silly, disconnected, the same, different

  103. Lloud Laffer

    [19:31] I feel like a character from TRON

  104. Pirate Shipman

    [19:31] Just like learning to use an emotican in a text env. is a relacement for body lang.

  105. Typewriter Tackleberry

    [19:31] and how as educators we appear to our students

    [19:31] and they appear to us

  106. Prokofy Neva

    [19:31] I know a lot of serious furries.

  107. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:32] it seems to me, that in this experiment, we at least, at the minimum, learn just how important our visual communication is

    [19:32] how much we rely on how we look to send a message

    [19:32] whether it’s to others or just ourselves

  108. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:32] It’s not that I don’t think they are serious people. It’s just I associate cartoon animals with stuff for kids or stuff meant to be humours.

  109. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:32] when that form of communicatioin is taken away the shock can be profound

  110. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:32] Are we stereotyping the furries?

  111. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:32] if everybody looked the same, there would be a definite impact

  112. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:33] I am actually trying to overcome that prejudice when I talk to them.

  113. Prokofy Neva

    [19:33] I guess I’m hearing them in my mind’s eye and I don’t look at their external manifestation.

  114. Second Life

    [19:33] Kingston Augustus agrees with Poinky

  115. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:33] Grizzy, there are several serious cartoons out there.

  116. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:33] I am not condemning… I’m just saying that’s what they communicate to me.

  117. Chili Carson

    [19:33] I also have noticed a certain amount of prejudice against new people because they don’t know how to customize their avatar yet.

  118. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:33] Furries are a good example becuase their visual rhetoric is so different, it’s difficult to miss and yet simple to interpret

  119. Chili Carson

    [19:33] Highly customized avis are considered a sign of SL sophistication

  120. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:33] Yup, I think I get that sometimes.

  121. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:33] it’s a marker of new-ness

  122. Typewriter Tackleberry

    [19:33] "OMG you DON’T have prim hair, how gauche!"

  123. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:33] Why do you thinj that Chili?

  124. Kingston Augustus

    [19:34] that’s true, chili

  125. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:34] as predicted by Stephenson

  126. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:34] is it the "newb" class?

  127. Chili Carson

    [19:34] Typewriter just said it

    [19:34] I went to the Suzanne Vega concert and all prims had to be removed

  128. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:34] Or reverse age-ism

  129. Chili Carson

    [19:34] People were dying because they had to wear slider hair!

  130. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:34] so in doing this, we’ve not just stripped away our rhetoric but our class disctinction

  131. Prokofy Neva

    [19:34] Except they let the BDSM gang wear their chains to that concert, they had to be politically correct.

  132. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:34] haha i’ve seen that too chili

  133. Kingston Augustus

    [19:35] because we have so much control over our appearance, sl can be superficial

  134. Chili Carson

    [19:35] Yes, they did, Prok, there were some exceptions that did not seem fair

  135. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:35] That’s interesting Kingston

  136. Prokofy Neva

    [19:35] Politkorrektnost accounts for it

  137. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:35] on one hand it’s superficial, but since our appearance here is all by choice we can be judged by it

    [19:35] in RL you can’t always control how you look so we don’t hold it against someone

  138. Prokofy Neva

    [19:35] This is my Jack Kerouac look.

  139. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:36] do we here?

  140. Kingston Augustus

    [19:36] ah, but how much of our "choice" is based on what we want others to see?

  141. Chili Carson

    [19:36] Intella, we certainly do hold it against people in RL!

  142. Creative Nadir

    [19:36] as in Sl!

  143. Chili Carson

    [19:36] People are judged all the time for physical things that they can’t control

  144. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:36] Chili, that’s a sad truth, but true nonetheless

    [19:37] btw…if you’d all feel more comfortable changing back that’s fine

  145. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:37] And there is a certain pull of conformity here in SL. M/F expectations for beauty and such

  146. Prokofy Neva

    [19:37] the asset server chewed up a lot of stuff

  147. Chili Carson

    [19:37] oh, that’s what happened

  148. Prokofy Neva

    [19:37] This is my Persian look.

  149. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:38] And so, because we have more control here it becomes status quo to show that control or skill at that control.

  150. Chili Carson

    [19:38] I think so, Rusty

  151. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:38] so let me ask of those of you who didn’t change…not to put you on the spot…but did any of you not do it becuase it felt awkward or exposing?

  152. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:38] so, do you have any idea of what amount of avatar customization is needed for ppl to feel cofortable? in WoW it’s quite limited for example. Does SL allow more than enough?

  153. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:38] I just did it because its apain to change stuff.

  154. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:38] and how much better do those of you who changed back feel now?

  155. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:39] I do feel better though.

  156. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:39] Poinky that’s a great point…my students all tell me that they think they can really express themselves here

  157. Lloud Laffer

    [19:39] I’m gonna stay this way a while – I liked TRON.

  158. Kate Spatula

    [19:39] yes and no… take people with disabilities (my area of expertise)… i know of only one person who regularly uses a wheelchair on here.

  159. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:39] unlike in an MMORPG where appearance is related to acheivement

  160. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:39] I’ve thought about using this shape somewhere to see what kind of reaction it would get.

  161. Kate Spatula

    [19:39] amputees also can’t reflect themselves easily on here unless they have some expertise

  162. Lloud Laffer

    [19:39] And black fingernails!

  163. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:40] the more customization, the more expresson, the more expressio the more pressure to express

  164. Lloud Laffer

    [19:40] Appearance is an achievment here too.

  165. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:40] Agree Lloud

  166. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:41] Since I would be purposely portratying myself as overweight.. I think it would be interesting to see what people did.

  167. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:41] i think it’s very interesting that my students, when they did a similar experiemnt, said they felt closer to each other

    [19:41] looking alike helped them feel like a community

    [19:41] they associate visual difference with personality difference

  168. Creative Nadir

    [19:41] many SL groups often adopt similar costumesthe customization here, comparitively, in nigh-limitless

  169. Lloud Laffer

    [19:41] i feel of that – I’m wanting everyone to try the skin

  170. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:42] when i asked my students to put on the KoolAid man avatar and visit a night club they felt close to each other and more distanced from those they met

  171. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:42] if everybody had the same skin, but could change gender, and slider hair.. would that be enough?

  172. Lloud Laffer

    [19:42] maybe it’s like tribalism

  173. Kingston Augustus

    [19:43] from what i hear, poinky, the beta of sl was very much like that

  174. Creative Nadir

    [19:43] ponky- you may want to look at the VW of There for the answer..

  175. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:43] well poinky…just look at flexy hair..when flexible prims came out, it seems like those who didn’t have it weren’t "with it"

  176. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:43] I have glasses in rl. When I was a young kid, I felt closer to other kids that had glasses in the first grade.

  177. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:43] the threshold seems to get higher with the maturation of the world

  178. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:43] darn, Im still not with it

  179. Prokofy Neva

    [19:43] I think probably Hello Kitty is more "me".

  180. Kate Spatula

    [19:44] i expect individuality would still express itself some how. even if everyone had the same skin (gender allowed)

    [19:44] it would take place in guestures and what we carried

  181. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:44] agreed Kate…just in different forms

  182. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:44] but it has to be something disticntive – you don’t feel close to all the other 7 feet avatars out there

  183. Prokofy Neva

    [19:44] Grizzy is now free to treat me unseriously.

  184. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:45] in doing this experiment i hoped to show you why reflection on appearance is critical to understanding how we express ourselves

    [19:45] how we fit into a community

    [19:45] and it gives you a taste of the kind of experiemnts my students are participating in

  185. Kingston Augustus

    [19:45] everyone who’s probably been in sl for a while has their own appearance preferences they look for in others as well

  186. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:45] yes and when you see someone who has drastically changed how they look after looking the same for a long time it’s a shock

  187. Second Life

    [19:46] Rusty Buchanan nods

  188. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:46] i didn’t realize how little i look at people’snames

  189. Kate Spatula

    [19:46] i’ll admit that i laways admire the women who go for the non-barbie look or at least wear flats

  190. Lloud Laffer

    [19:46] me too

  191. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:46] My friend who is normally an elf showed up one day as a little tiny squirrel and that weirded me out.

    [19:46] You get used to someone looking one way..

  192. Kingston Augustus

    [19:46] someone just mentioned height – does an av being too tall or too short have a visual affect on you?

  193. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:47] for me, height has little effect unless it’s extreme

    [19:47] really short or really tall

  194. Rusty Buchanan

    [19:47] Being 6’8" in RL, I find this interesting…

  195. Kate Spatula

    [19:47] i notice it but it doesn’t bother me. mind you, i once worked on a project with a person who was 2 feet tall and another who was 7 feet tall

    [19:47] filming the group presentation was a pain in the arse

  196. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:47] I fuond height to be important when I needed to model things with RL dimensions

  197. Creative Nadir

    [19:48] using a tiny chatacter most of the time, i find a lot of people compelled to mention it upon seeing my av

  198. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:48] well i hope that you all enjoyed this

  199. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:48] It onl bothers me when someone is constantly shape shifting..

  200. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:48] please feel free to stop by Middletown to observe or even take part in my class

    [19:48] we meet on Thursdays at 3:30 SL time

  201. Prokofy Neva

    [19:48] *raises hand

  202. Kingston Augustus

    [19:48] this was very informative, intellagirl

  203. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:48] there is also a blog at

  204. Ichiume Okawa

    [19:48] Thanks, this has been most enlightening!

  205. Chili Carson

    [19:49] Thanks, Intellagirl

  206. Espin Carroll

    [19:49] thanks a lot, Intellagirl

  207. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:49] or you can read student writing at

  208. Poinky Malaprop

    [19:49] let’s have a round of applause ofr our speaker

  209. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:49] thank you all sooo much!

  210. Chili Carson

    [19:49] clap clap clap

  211. Intellagirl Tully

    [19:49] haha

  212. Grizzy Griswold

    [19:49] thanks

  213. Second Life

    [19:49] Kingston Augustus claps

    [19:49] Rusty Buchanan applauds

  214. Typewriter Tackleberry

    [19:49] /claps

  215. Kate Spatula

    [19:49] btw, several of us here did experiments where we created radically different avatars of ourselves. i recommend that you try out being the opposite gender, different stye of fashion, etc.

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