Doings in the Palace
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Bruce Damer's Interview with Coyote and Mr. Rotten
You can also find this interview (abbreviated) at Zenda Online Conversations at Minds Palace
I have been interviewed twice in The Palace. One reason The Palace is so good for interviews is that you can save the log of all conversations. Another reason is that many people can get into the interview area and participate. The first interview I did was for Artificial Intelligence Watch, a British computer science newsletter. I was able to do this while on vacation in July 1996, up in the woods outside Seattle on a friend's Internet connection. This also saved huge telephone charges (to call London).
The second interview I did was for Fabrice Florin, of Zenda, creator of innovative environments and games for citizens of virtual worlds. Fabrice produced Minds Palace for Howard Rheingold, working with cartoonist Jim Woodring, and ìspoon manî Mark Petrakis. Minds Palace, as a first-rate social spot in The Palace cosmos, holds regular interviews and publishes them later on their Web site at http://www.minds.com. I was recruited for such an interview, so showed up early in the dressing area of Minds Palace. You can connect to Minds Palace by choosing File È Connect and entering minds.palace.com.
Digi gets a dressing down
I had arrived early at Minds Palace for my interview, nervous as a mare in the springtime. It wasn't exactly like appearing on the Tonight Show, but I still wanted to look my best.
I arrive at Minds Palace prop wall to get dressed for a big interview.
Minds Palace has a great prop wall, where you can collect and use props to dress up your avatar. The prop wall must have seen me coming, because it had just the accessories for an out-of-breath, red-faced roundhead like me.
I pull rubbery legs into my Props satchel.
I dragged and dropped a wonderful set of rubbery arms and legs into my Prop satchel, opened it up, and found them all nicely stashed there. From that point, I could just drag the props onto my avatar's body, and use the Edit window to adjust them and voila: Digi's got legs!
I Plopped my new prop legs onto old round head!
Snatching a crown and a funny thing that looked like a crumhorn (my voice is pretty soft, so I need to get attention somehow), I was off to my date with destiny famous author interviewed (well, famous in his own computer room, anyway).
Camera! Action! The interview of famous author Digi
Out of breath, there is quite a crowd here, and there is Coyote, the avatar representing Fabrice of Zenda. I sure liked his avatar; must be someone from the Hopi or Navajo legends. It reminds me fondly of times spent driving through Arizona and New Mexico.
My interview with the famous creator of Zenda starts!
The interview is just starting, when one of our honored members of the studio audience, mr. rotten, starts to heckle from the peanut gallery. As these interviews are posted all over Minds Palace, any kind of rabble can just show up!
mr. rotten is not happy!
mr. rotten is not happy, or rather, very happy to have a stage to do his number. So what can we do? Well, we carry on the interview to see if mr. rotten sees something of interest, or just gets bored and goes away. Let's tune in now to the action (my comments are in italics). What follows is part of the log of my interview.
mr. rotten sets the tone
mr. rotten: uuhh this sucks, this is like boring i am going to go do something productive like beat up a trashcan or something
some time later
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Well, shy people or people with dull lives can become more
Coyote: virtual community versus physical community
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): flamboyant. And it is a community of the mind, like any academic pursuit.
mr. rotten: who the hell are you??
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Community is in the mind.
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Or starts in the mind, our model of communities. So virtual worlds are
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): places where we build new mental models of community which
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): may be ephemeral (these communities may only last weeks,
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): if that).
mr. rotten is being ignored
mr. rotten: bunghole
Guest 5443: What do you mean, community is in the mind?
Guest 5443: For me community has always be strongly associated with place
mr. rotten: uuhh i do not understand these words
mr. rotten: they are confusing me
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Good question, but say you took all the people out
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): of a village and into another altogether different place
Coyote: you have visited a lot of communities in the past few years: which ones have turned out to be most interesting? why?
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): would they re-form the community they had, their relationships?
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Do they need the village buildings?
mr. rotten starts to get interested and conversation turns to him
mr. rotten: hey Bruce exactly who are you so i know what to ask you in questions
Coyote: we're talking about social life in places like this, mr. rotten
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): Oh, for all you, see http://www.ccon.org for what I do.
mr. rotten: oh i see
Coyote: Bruce has studied those and is writing a book on the subject
mr. rotten: like when you are talking to someone or having friends
mr. rotten: kinda like in real life??
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): www.ccon.org, avatar central
Coyote: yes, exactly.
mr. rotten: pretty cool
mr. rotten: basically what we are doing right now.... right??
Coyote: my question is: is the way we interact here as valid as real-life interaction?
Coyote: or is it a bit of an illusion?
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): What do you think, Mr R?
mr. rotten: about what??
mr. rotten: i am kinda tired
mr. rotten: sorry
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): about Coy's question
mr. rotten: good question
Coyote: are we hiding behind our avs? or are our avs a true representation of ourselves?
mr. rotten: put on the spot
mr. rotten: not for me
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): what does everyone think?
the truth is out!
mr. rotten: i am a totally different person on the computer then in real life
Coyote: i try to represent myself as honestly as I can on the computer
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): what are you like in RL?
Guest 5443: Perhaps we are particular facets of ourselves
mr. rotten: well for one thing i am only 13
Coyote: good point, 43
mr. rotten: i mean
Guest 5443: I think it's rather difficult at this point
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): are you a big cheese here in The Palace, how do you see your role here?
mr. rotten: on the computer i come on to have fun and kinda be a different person
Guest 5443: to represent the entire complexity of a person in a virtual setting
Coyote: are you rowdier on the computer?
mr. rotten: i see my role (sorry to say) as a person who bothers people makes jokes but is also a pretty nice guy
mr. rotten: OH YES I AM COYOTE
mr. rotten: OH YES
mr. rotten: VERY TRUE
Coyote: are you more reserved in real life?
mr. rotten: yes
Coyote: so this is a bit of an outlet for you
mr. rotten: uh huh
Bruce Damer (DigiGardener): these are interesting questions
mr. rotten: i am like a whole different person on here
Bye all my friends! This interview was conducted partly in French.
So, this interview went a whole different place than I thought it would, and we learned something about mr. rotten, life in virtual worlds, and in RL (real life). These interviews are snippets of life, streams of thought and can be quite touching (or stupendously boring!).
Shameless plug for this book, Coyote adds an image prop into The Palace.
Zenda studio, working with Minds Palace and the Palace Inc. has produced Charebus, a combination of charades and rebus in which you solve picture puzzles while chatting with other players from around the world. A new twist on charades, pictionary, and rebus puzzles, Charebus is currently played in the Minds Palace at 5 p.m. each Saturday. Groups of five or more can play at the same time. Each Charebus puzzle features a different mystery phrase (movie, song, TV show, etc.). To solve the puzzle, you must guess picture clues related to that mystery phrase.
Find information about Charebus and other games in the Palace at Zenda Studio's home page at http://www.zenda.com/. You can even submit your own puzzle ideas for future episodes of Charebus.