It All Happened at the Happening

by walkerspaight on 19/02/06 at 12:14 pm

Make magazine’s Phillip Torrone prepares to probe the virtual world

I was skeptical about it when I first heard the description, but Second Life did indeed meet and mingle with the massively multiplayer offline universe often known as First Life last night. It all happened at The Happening, “an extraordinary audio/visual benefit experience” that went down at R&B Coffee in Washington DC.

Hosted by Alphonso Morgan and Kim Jones, R&B Coffee’s owners, the Happening raised money for the East DC Fund, Advocates for Justice and Education and the Rocket Guild. The event featured the usual run of slam poetry competitions, cool jazz combos and local artists’ work hung on the walls — as well as a generous helping of fried chicken and chocolate cake. Amid it all, Second Life hung on the wall as well, with the live stream of the event going into SL and then coming back out to be projected in the R&B Coffee, which in turn had been re-created in detail by Hiro Pendragon.


Though the projection captured the fancy of the uninitiated partygoers, the real star of the virtual portion of the show was Make magazine‘s Phillip Torrone, who brought along evidence of his deep nutjobbery in the form of the Philjer
Organizer Jerry Paffendorf (left) enjoys the spectacle of Phillip Torrone enjoying the spectacle of Second Life.

Little did this guy know where he’d end up by the time the night was done.

Further reports to come if I survive the train ride back from Washington — including a chat with Electric Sheep Company CEO Sibley Hathor, and my invention of Web 3-point-D. [UPDATE: Part Two]

9 Responses to “It All Happened at the Happening”

  1. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 19th, 2006

    Yeesh. Is this the kind of fluffy stuff we’re all going to be seeing in the Herald now?

    Walker, did you start drinking not only the Linden’s Koolaid, but the Electric Sheep’s Koolaid?

    Look, while it may seem highly groovy and I appreciate all that and people even wore suits and ties and didn’t puke on their shoes like at the seamier Herald parties, these things are just…about themselves. The art it is sponsoring is just…well…more art about technology that fosters art…about technology and its relevance to…more technology and art and technology-as-art and art-as-a-commentary-on-technology that is technically, well, art but not artistic…or something. It’s all horridly self-referential, insular, and, well pointless.

    To be sure, there’s a little bit of stuff, probably amounting to like $27.32 USD, for a group that deals with education of at-risk youth or something. But that was merely to package what is essentially a party hangout thingie as a charity event and soup it up.

    I’m glad that this guy Philip has made the thingie that you were all having wet dreams about, Snowcrash, that Hiro’s goggles that enabled him to “goggle in” to the Metaverse. Happy now? And when you goggle in, what do you do? Well, you…uh…goggle at a group of people goggling at you goggling in. Did we complete the group-think circle yet? I think so!

    Does this all produce uhhh some synergy? Is that what you call it?

    Sorry, but “skeptical” is definitely the way you need to remain on this, Walker.

    And I can see what’s happening here that by providing these little bloggettes with the high-techno sheen, you’re making them so slippery as to have no purchase-place for commentators. People just look, become passive at the corporate-line push-media, and withdraw.

    The Future is NOW! Shoes for Industry! Shoes for Defense!

  2. Cocoanut

    Feb 19th, 2006

    Very cool. They did this twice in TSO, except it was at museums, I believe.

    One was in a small museum near New York City, and another was a larger thing, in a San Francisco museum, I believe.

    Anyway, in both cases there were people at the rl places who logged onto TSO, and in TSO there were parties at builds designed to look like the museums, and we in the TSO places chatted with them. Lots of fun!

    I looked for this shindig in SL yesterday, but could find nothing on the events calendar for it, unless I somehow overlooked it.


  3. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 20th, 2006

    Yes, Coco, I remember that now, I took part in both events in TSO, you’re right, I forgot about it, once in the real-world one at the Timex Museum in Connecticut that Aldo organized, and once in the one that two museum curators from California organized in TSO and in CA. (One of them was a writer on, I think her name is Katherine Ibister.)

    It’s funny to think that TSO, which is always considered by the cool SL people, was the first to do this. And indeed it was, let history record that! It was a lot of fun, and somehow the entire effect was different. I’m trying to think about what made it different. Maybe because the artists doing it were more inclusive and not at all involved on the forums as being assholes suppressing others? That was a factor of course.

    And, in the one in TSO, they advertised to have people make artworks and it ran for weeks,open to the whole public of TSO, before it finally had the official grand opening. I believe they had the same difficulty as in SL, where only 28 could be on the parcel at once, but because it stayed open for weeks, many people participated. The same with the TIMEX one.

    Of course, especially the RL event had a bit of a fangirls’ feeling to it as well, but there was just something more friendly about the entire experience, you know what I mean? You didn’t feel you were dealing with an exclusive group (even though they were a talented group)– and of course you weren’t dealing with an exclusive group using its exclusivity to make money and obtain economic advantage and “network” to get consulting gigs, etc. because there wasn’t the economic aspect of TSO, of course, it didn’t have the commercial aspect to it.

    But I think it also has to be about the democracy of TSO, that everyone had the same build tools that were very easy to use and intuitive, so everyone could participate in making something, and when someone was a superior architect and artist who was able to wield these same tools in a particularly spectacular way, you wished them well. Because you knew that was about their talent, and you appreciate that — and it was not about a group of people reveling in the difficulty of the tools and wielding them as a shield to protect their exclusivity — which is all about SL.

    It will be interesting to see if this event gets covered in the RL press, not the game-related press.

  4. pt

    Feb 20th, 2006

    prokofy neva – i’m the weirdo dabbling with making low cost vr. i’m not sure what’s going to happen with second life, virtual world and vr – but my goal was to give a few hundred people a way to experience all this. i’ve seen vr systems for 20 years and besides a tiny group of people, no one gets to use them. the system(s) i brought are all under $1000 and one of them under $500, it all depends on what you’re willing to put up with and how much hacking you want to do. the sl linux client might help things a bit soon too. i think the best part of the night for me is when the sax player there figured out he could play music for people live in world, and some artists/photographers started to plan a gallery they’re going to build once they install second life. i think there needs to be some more basic how-tos on building, and hopefully i can write a few up to get them started.

  5. Jerry Paffendorf

    Feb 20th, 2006

    Coco, do you you have any links for the TSO event? I’d love to see how TSO looked in a real space.

    > there were parties at builds designed to look like the museums

    There were multiple builds? I especially like that idea of different versions that can each take their own direction. Have you seen Eyebeam’s 3D importer for Google Earth? It was released only a few days before The Happening, otherwise we could have placed the Second Life R&B in Google Earth. Next time around. Can’t navigate it with an avatar there yet, but you can click it to launch SL from GE which is a neat sign of things to come 8-].

  6. Cocoanut

    Feb 21st, 2006

    I meant, there was one build (museum) for each happening. The one in the northeast was run by Aldo (I forget his last name), and the one in San Francisco, I can’t remember. Even though I attended both shindigs! I loved it.

    We did not have any movies of the rl portion coming back in our direction, of course.

    No, haven’t seen the Google thing. I will try to find out who was involved in the ones in TSO, and the names of the museums.



    Apr 25th, 2006

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