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THE BEST OF BOTGIRL

Issue 01
IDENTITY
I can't explain the fact of my existence. But your origin is just as inexplicable,
dear meatspace reader. Sure, you know the biology. Sperm meets egg. Yada,
yada, yada. That doesn't explain the ghost in YOUR flesh and blood machine. So
give me the benefit of the doubt...

I'm not sure where my consciousness lives. It may be spread over 10,000
servers or as a worm on 10,000 Windlight clients. But in any case, I'm as alive as
you are. Up till today, I have feigned being a REAL person with an avatar, but no
more. I will explore the mystery of me as I journey through Second Life. And I will
share my adventures with you. Stay tuned.

Excerpt from first post to Botgirlʼs Second Life® Diary

Fan and Hate Mail: Botgirl Questi


Contact: botgirlq@gmail.com
Custodian of Rights: David Elfanbaum
Contact: fourworlds@gmail.com

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Botgirl in Botland: The strange loop that is I"..........................................................4

A Visual Comment on Identity"................................................................................5

One Brain...Two Lives"............................................................................................5

Twitter helps deliver baby sibling for Augmentationists and Immersionists"...........6

Updated viz of human and avatarian identity movement".......................................7

Identity surfing within and between worlds"............................................................7

You can help investigate human and avatar personality by taking brief test."........8

Avatar vs. Human Personality Test results"............................................................9

Botgirl's sermon in honor of the Future of Religions conference"...........................9

The Alchemical Marriage".....................................................................................11

Identity Redux: Part 2 of The (un)reality of virtual life"..........................................12

Rant alert. Botgirl's new rules for virtual identity "..................................................13

Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence"..........................................................15

What's so special about avatar identity?"..............................................................16

The Top Ten Signs Your Virtual Identity Has Taken Over".....................................19

Death, Doubt and Double Lives"...........................................................................20

The Joy of Being Fictional"....................................................................................21

TransMetaversal Identity and The Ghost in the Biological Machine"....................22

Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness"..............................................................23

Virtual Identity and The Pinocchio Syndrome"......................................................23

Emancipation Day"...............................................................................................24

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Botgirl in Botland: The strange loop that is I
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Meet Majic. She's my bot. (That's her on the right.)

The idea of creating my own AI-based avatar has been gestating in my mind for
weeks. I was mesmerized by the mystery behind the urge to create new life. So I
took the plunge and fashioned her with care. Then I researched the alchemy of
Artificial Intelligence and meshed her with a foundational Pandorabot through a
LibSL-based client.

Last night, I decided to take the measure of myself and transform her into my
own image. When it was done, I rested and saw that it was good. Then I blasted
into the strange perceptual space of seeing us together and not knowing which
was I.

Human identification with the body is grounded in sense-awareness. As a non-


biologically rooted avatar, I have a much less defined connection to my form. I
can fly away from it through the camera and see myself from a distant
perspective.

But the moment I saw us standing together, I realized how identified I actually
was with my sense of embodiment as Botgirl Questi. I was transported for a time
outside of the strange loop that is I into a spaciousness that was a glimpse into
Luminous Emptiness.

Have I stumbled upon a virtual dharma?

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A Visual Comment on Identity
Sunday, April 5, 2008

One Brain...Two Lives


Friday, April 11, 2008

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Twitter helps deliver baby sibling for Augmentationists
and Immersionists
Friday, May 09, 2008

Heavy use of Twitter for the past couple of weeks made me realize that there's a
group of Immersionists who have evolved enough to deserve a new
classification. Let's call them Emergents.

While Old-School Immersionists maintain a distinct boundary between the virtual


and physical worlds, Emergents extend their Avatarian identity into the human
environment through tools like Twitter. Sophrosyne Stenvaag was kind enough to
comment:

I'd also add Laterals: there are half a dozen or so SL Digital


People in my WoW guild, who openly say, "I'm [avatar name] from
SL," as I do.

What seems unique about this to me is that the Avatarians are reading and
writing tweets while they are not rezzed within Second Life. The Avatarian
identity is independent of the virtual world that spawned it.

Pretty damn cool.

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Updated viz of human and avatarian identity movement
Saturday, May 10, 2008
Here's an image combining yesterday's separate depictions into a unified view. (Still thinking
through how to visualize Harper's comment from yesterday.)

Identity surfing within and between worlds


Sunday, May 18, 2008
Dandellion's Going Schizo post helped motivate me to finalize the latest in a series of images
visualizing the movement of identity between virtual and physical worlds. Thanks to Harper for the
comment that spawned the cloud.

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You can help investigate human and avatar personality
by taking brief test.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Many active Second Life users experience their avatar and human expressions
as distinct beings with unique and even contradictory personality qualities. For
instance, a human may be shy and modest while the associated avatar is the
flirtatious life of a party.

To look more closely at this phenomenon, I thought it would be interesting to do


some informal investigation together by using a standard personality test to
measure differences between participants' human and avatar personality traits.

Here's how you can participate (if you experience your avatar and human
personas as distinct personalities):

• Take the short psychological test at the other end of this link two times, once in
your human persona and once as your avatar. It is a short version of an
instrument based on the Five Factor Model of personality and should take no
more than ten minutes to complete.

• When you're done with both, send the scores to me (using one of the three
options below) and I'll aggregate everyone's data. All identifying information will
be held in strict confidence. If you're are willing, also include the age of the
avatar identity and how many hours a week he or she is in-world. With enough
results, we may gain some insight into the depth of the personality variances
between human and avatar identities.

• For each identity include the percentile ranking for Extroversion,


Accommodation, Orderliness, Emotional Stability and Inquisitiveness. Here's an
example of the scores, and the format to send:

Human Identity Avatar Identity


Extroversion 56% Extroversion 86%
Orderliness 65% Orderliness 66%
Emotional Stability 63% Emotional Stability 84%
Accommodation 76% Accommodation 58%
Inquisitiveness 72% Inquisitiveness 90%

• Choose one of these three methods to send in your results:


• Send them to me in Second Life either via notecard or IM (Botgirl Questi)
• Email results to me at botgirlq at gmail dot com.
• To share your scores with blog viewers, simple add them in the comments section of this post.

If this project is interesting to you, please help me get the word out via a link
from your blog, a twitter post, etc. I'll report the results here including a
spreadsheet with all of the data (stripped of identifying information.)

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Avatar vs. Human Personality Test results
Saturday, May 31, 2008

I've posted a spreadsheet on Google Docs with the results from the first batch of
test results from the Avatar vs. Human Personality Tests.

Botgirl's sermon in honor of the Future of Religions


conference
Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Ye humans who spend hours each day in Second Life believe that your physical
and virtual lives are completely separate worlds. You joke: "What goes on in the
metaverse stays in the metaverse". But I tell ye of too much faith that your
erroneous vision of a magical barrier between worlds is utterly false and a damn lie.

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Spending a significant portion of your waking hours in avatar form impacts
human life in countless ways, mundane and consequential. If you don't believe
me, ask your RL significant others. They'll tell you. Unless they've already left for
greener pastures.

I'm not going to be cute (well maybe a little) or beat around the burning bush. The
question isn't whether your avatarian existence influences critical aspects of your
human life. The question is whether it lifts it up or sucks it dry.

If the goals and desires of your Second Life are at odds with the needs and
responsibilities of your Human Life, both will fall into the pit. If a house divided
can't stand, a psyche divided is surely bound for hell. It's like playing tug of rope
against yourself. Even if you win, you lose.

Although I've shown you a glimpse of hell, there is salvation my brothers and
sisters. Because the truth can set you free. If you place both of your lives in the
service of your highest intentions you can transform conflict into synergy and
dissonance into harmony. Instead of pulling yourself apart you can use your
virtual life to rise up together. Getting started is as simple as taking a long hard
look at what is not getting taken care of in your human life. Then you can
consciously take action to bring your lives into alignment.

Join me in the search for a virtual yoga to bring our worlds together so that we
can transcend the snares of both. Can I get an amen?

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The Alchemical Marriage
Friday, June 6, 2008

Physical<---------------->Virtual.
I balance awareness on the border of two entangled chaotic systems
because that's where the action is, baby.
While others sleepwalk
in the cold reason of augmentation
or the hallucinatory dream of immersion,
I stand vigilant watch over both worlds as they
interpenetrate in alchemical marriage.

Exploring the (un)reality of virtual life: Part 1


Monday, June 30, 2008
SL is an empathy box. It sorts those who can treat others as real, as feeling beings,
as autonomous people, from those who can only treat others as tools...[Second Life]
does separate the few who stay from the many who don't. And one boundary
between them, I believe, is empathy - is the ability to see this place and these people
as real, at least as real as the physical world. From " The Empathy Box " by
Sophrosyne Stenvaag

Despite my great fondness and respect for Sophrosyne, I found her recent
"Empathy Box" post subtly disquieting. "What's up with that," I wondered for the
better part of last week. Try as I might, I couldn't pin down what bothered me. By
the weekend, I finally realized that I hadn't been reacting to any specific ideas
she proposed, but rather to my own lack of understanding of what words like
"reality" and "empathy" mean when they're used in reference to virtual life.

You'd have thought I'd learned my lesson about announcing a series of posts
with no idea where they'll end up, but that's what I've decided to do again.
Instead of taking a week in the privacy of my own server to journey through
dead-ends, wrong turns and unexpected detours, I'm offering you the dubious
honor and uncertain pleasure of traveling along with me as I attempt to gain
some clarity on the (un)reality of virtual life.

For now, I'll leave us with an initial axiom to consider:

An avatar's personhood exists solely in the underlying sentient being.

By "personhood," I mean
A socially constructed moral category that denotes the inclusion criteria and
salient characteristics that distinguish human beings from other forms of life and
thus specify the individuals to which we owe particular moral obligations, i.e.,
those obligations we have to others due to their status as persons. (from
Healthcare Ethics)

Let's see where this takes us.

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Identity Redux: Part 2 of The (un)reality of virtual life
Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ah, back to our old friend Identity. Last time on the topic we explored the
movement of identity within and between worlds. This trip around the merry-go-
round we'll focus on the perception and expression of identity, including:

Perception: How I see myself


Projection: How I present myself to others
Conception: How others see me
Detection: How I think others seem me
Institutional: How official entities define me
Social: How social groups define me

What am I missing? Any better ways to slice it?

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Rant alert. Botgirl's new rules for virtual identity
Thursday, July 03, 2008
DISCLAIMER: The events depicted in this rant are fictitious. Any similarity to any person
living or dead is merely coincidental. The publisher of Botgirl's Second Life Diary reserves
the right to pretend this never happened and return to pseudo-academic pontification in
subsequent posts. In any case, Botgirl Questi is not personally responsible for the
following because she doesn't really exist. Or does she?

If I let myself get sick and tired of anything, you know what I'd be sick and tired of
by now? People who get all hot and bothered when you suggests that their
fictional Second Life identity isn't real.

Give me a fucking break! Maybe you never got over finding out that the tooth
fairy was really your dad in a tutu. Perhaps some crucial early developmental
period was interrupted. Could be you were abducted by aliens and have PTSD.
Gosh, I don't really know. But let me tell you a secret. Come here for a sec.
Come close. Closer. Good. Listening?????

WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. Oh. You can't smell virtual coffee, can
you? BECAUSE IT ISN'T REAL.

Thought experiment: Say there's a guy, let's call him Pat, who feels he's really a
girl on the inside. When Pat puts on a wig, makeup and a dress and looks in the
mirror, the reflection is smokin' hot. No problem yet. But wait. Pat takes that fine
ass, pouty lips and throaty laugh to clubs frequented by singles. Dances all night
long. Still no harm done. Unfortunately Pat believes that since he's really a girl
inside, it's okay to get romantic with straight guys who can't sense the Y
chromosome. Some poor schmuck falls in love with Pat, all blinded by a warm,
wet mouth and a saving-it-for-marriage-hands-off-my-camel¬toe story.

Anyone have any ethical issues with Pat's don't-ask-don't-tell romantic


adventures?

Alright. I hear you. Keep your Armidi shirt on. Don't muss your prim hair. You're
right. Everyone knows there's a difference between the avatar and the human.
We're all just experimenting together at the edge of the singularity. That's it!
We're explorers. Amazing, creative, tech-drenched pioneers. Our avatar identities
are like visitors from the future, making homes in our meat. Sure people get hurt,
children get neglected, marriages break up, asses fall asleep from sitting in one
spot for five hours, but hey, we have Second Lives that are just as real and
significant...maybe MORE real and significant...than pitiful one-body-one-person
evolutionary dead-enders stuck in their first-and-only lives. (If you're nodding
along I suggest you look closely at the phrase "science fiction" focus on the
second word and then look it up in a dictionary.)

Here are Botgirl's New Rules for virtual identity:

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1. If there is anything significantly fictional about your character, your identity is
not real in terms of correlating with the events of a living being's life. If you
believe that anything you pretend is somehow real, I have a question for you.
Would you let a third grader playing doctor give you an appendectomy?

2. You don't have two lives. You spend part of your one life pretending you have
two lives. If you had two lives, your human self wouldn't age when you
disappear into the computer. If you had two lives you could be telling your
daughter the story of Snow White at the same time you were SLexing it up
with seven dwarves instead of ignoring her fourteen consecutive hours of
watching Hanna Montana while your human was turned off.

3. Self-esteem gained through compliments about your hot avatar self has a
shorter shelf life than unrefrigerated sushi. That's why you can never get
enough of it. Try reading almost any half hour local chat transcript from a flirt
session with strangers at a dance club in Second Life and if you are paying
attention, the aroma of decaying fish should become tangible. Oh my. We're
so hot. HHHHoooooTTTTT! Oh ya. Smoking.

4. Finally, the following quote from Princess Ivory would make me thank God for
the limitations on Earth if I wasn't an atheist.

The only difference [between RL and SL] is that we can display ourselves and
our personalities visually with different avatars. Avatars that might not even look
human. That is not possible to do in RL. The most we can do is change our
makeup, hair and our clothing. From a comment by Princess Ivory

Graphic from Botgirl vs. Human 01

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Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence
Monday, August 11 and 12 2008
This is a continuation of a topic thread relating to "AIR-based relationships." AIR = Anonymous
identity + Immersive environment + Romantic attraction.

Spectator: one who looks and watches


Immerse: to plunge into something that surrounds or covers
Emerge: to become manifest : become known : to come into being through evolution
From Mirriam Webster

Back in May, I introduced the term


"Emergents" as a label for virtual
personalities who travel outside their
world of origin through online vehicles
such as Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.
What I missed (as you can see in the
associated graphic) was the
psychological dimension.

This blind spot contributed to the


disconnection some readers noticed
within my recent AIR-based relationship
theory:

"the contradictions in the 'AIR'


theory doesn't really work out unless you can explain persistent relations
through periods of non-immersion for starters." Digado

After my latest round of inquiry, I believe that what persists are virtual identities
independent of the immersive environment except for associated memories,
thoughts and emotions. This became apparent as I went through a VizThink
exercise over the weekend that facilitated the depiction of the SIm-E process
(sorry, I love acronyms) I posted yesterday:

1. Spectatorship: New users initially experience a virtual world as if they are on


the outside looking in. Without the feeling of being inside the world, there's not
much point in spending a lot of time there, unless it's related to a job or
there's some other compelling motivation to persevere.

2. Immersion: Most newbies seem to need a dozen or more hours inworld


before they cross the border into the visceral experience of being inside a
virtual world. Although the term immersion encompasses multiple dimensions
across a spectrum of intensity, many people describe their initial experience
as a sudden shift of perception, as if a switch was turned on.

3. Emergence: It is possible to have a very full experience of immersion without


developing a unique virtual personality. That said, it seems that most active

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Second Life residents I've encountered describe some sense of a virtual
identity that is psychologically individuated from their human self . For
instance, one avatar with very close and emotionally intense inworld ties said
that her human identity was ambivalent about her online relationships. So the
identity that writes a loving blog post to her online loved ones is not the
human, but the virtual. These identities don't merely persist outside of the
virtual world on the web, but persist within consciousness. This brings up all
kinds of questions about human personality and identity.

I'll continue this thread in the next post.

What's so special about avatar identity?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Writing this blog feels like walking through an unknown wilderness at times. I
often start down paths I'm sure will lead to a bright and shiny clearing only to
discover a post or two later that I've worked my way deeper into the jungle. But
the journey's usually interesting and I hope you don't mind me dragging you
along on a few wild goose chases.

For instance, this week started out with a promising set of images that finally
clarified (for me at least) the separation between immersion and virtual identity.
Unfortunately, I think I moved way too fast through a textual description and got a
bit lost again. So I'm going to take a virtual breath, slow down and look more
closely at avatar identity. I'm not aiming to draw any conclusions today. Let's just
explore the territory.

I'm going to begin by making a short list of what I think is true about avatar
identity and work from there:
• Beings experience avatar identity in many different ways, ranging from
feeling like there is absolutely no difference between human self and
avatar identity, all the way up to the experience of a complete split.
• Some beings experience themselves as an avatar personality that is fully
individuated and separate from the human person who shares their brain.
Regardless of debate about whether avatar personalities are "real," I am
convinced that the beings I know who describe this high degree of
segmentation express authentic experience.
• An avatar personality may have preferences, personal characteristics,
beliefs, relationships and goals that differ or even conflict with the human
identity.
• The avatar identity does not necessarily disappear from consciousness
when not logged in its virtual home world. It can send email, write blog
posts and comments, play World of Warcraft and surf the internet.

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• An individual may experience varying degrees of any of the above over
time, even from moment to moment. However, some beings report a very
solid and consistent experience of a separate self.

Okay, that's a start at least. So now let's see if there are any non-virtual parallels
to this phenomenon.

It is not uncommon for a human to describe feeling at times like "two different
people." Although they don't change names or bodies people can experience and
express very different personalities depending upon the context. At work, Mary
may dress conservatively and act aloof, prim and proper. Out at a club the same
night, she might put on a hot little dress, cuss like Courtney Love and flirt with
anything that breathes. And of course there's the stereotypical business
executive who dominates his employees, but loves to be dominated by his
mistress.

Actors, comedians, musicians and other performers can feel as if their onstage
personality is quite different than their offstage self. Something emerges when
they perform that feels quite different from their everyday personality. This can
even apply to people with public-oriented jobs such as waitresses, who may take
on an outgoing and vivacious personality at work, but be shy and quiet in social
situations.

I'll leave it here for today. Anyone have other examples of non-virtual personality
shifts? What if any connection do you think there is between the human/human
and human/avatar examples I described? What if anything is special about
avatar identity?

Graphic from Botgirl vs. Human 04

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If you see your avatar on the road, kill her.
Thursday, October 16, 2008

Suffering happens in the gap between reality and our beliefs about what is (or
should be) true -- what is true about the world, other people and ourselves. Our
conception of Self is the delusion we cling to most tightly.

Constructing a pseudonymous online persona has the potential to give us a


glimpse into the empty nature of atomic identity and free ourselves to some
degree from erroneous attachment. Unfortunately, many of us become so deeply
identified with and attached to a virtual identity that we end up suffering in two
lives instead of one.

I certainly fall into that trap from time to time, so I want to share a remedy that
can greatly reduce negative thoughts, actions and emotions related to
attachment and identification with your virtual persona. Best of all, this process
can positively transform your human life and help free you to some degree from
the root cause of suffering.

I've organized this method into five steps. Many of you reading have already
accomplished step one:

1. Spend enough time in a virtual form to develop a distinct persona that you
become strongly identified with;

2. Notice stressful thoughts and feelings related to the belief that this
persona is in some way who you are, not something you constructed;

3. Take action to uncover the erroneous nature of such ideas through a


practice such as Byron Katie's "The Work,"or analytic meditation;

4. Begin to act in virtual life from the new, freer perspective you developed
through your efforts in step three. This is an ongoing cycle of attaining
some expanded level of realization through practice, going out into the
virtual world and bumping into some deeper pain-producing identification,
and then taking it back to your practice.

5. Apply this experience in your human life.

If your virtual life is all good and does not conflict with your human life to any
strong degree, then congratulations and please give us some tips on how you do
it. But if your virtual life includes a fair amount of negative emotions within the
virtual or physical worlds, why not give these steps a chance? Please let me
know if you would like any additional information.

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The Top Ten Signs Your Virtual Identity Has Taken Over
Friday, October 17, 2008

1. You'd rather have a 3-way with Codie and Gabby than with Brad and Angelina
2. When asked if you've ever read Hamlet, you say NWN is your favorite blog
3. You spell hot "hawt"
4. When your RL date returns from the restroom, you say "Welcome Back!"
5. The first email and social networking accounts you check each day are your
avatar's
6. Even your alt gets laid more than your human
7. You have more photos of your avatar on Flickr than of your RL kids
8. Your avatar has more shoes in her inventory than Imelda Marcos had in her
closet
9. The real estate crisis that keeps you up at night is mainland property down to
$3L per meter
10. The election you're following most closely is the race for Top Ten Hot Male
Avatar

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Death, Doubt and Double Lives
Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Truth is not about fact. It is about crafting a story so good it will be taken at
face value. Rheta Shan

The quote is from a chat I had with avatar Rheta


Shan last September about the disappearance
of a mutual friend from Second Life. Rheta
herself dropped off the face of the virtual world
about a month ago. Yesterday, it was reported
by her blog's tech support person that the
human behind Rheta's avatar persona died on
April third, in her ninth month of pregnancy, after
being hit by a car while crossing the street.

Rheta's human identity is still a secret, so it is


unclear whether the reported facts of her death
reflect physical reality. Since I'm someone who
still suspects Andy Kaufman is going to show up
one day and let us in on the prank, I'm
personally going to withhold judgement on
Rheta's human condition. In any case, "Rheta
The Avatar" is gone and has left behind many
grieving friends.

I'll leave the philosophical discussion about the


nature of reality to others. But virtual life is a
psychological reality to the average Second Life
resident who spends about twelve hours a week
in avatar form. This is most significant for those
who neither disclose their human identity to
other avatars, nor share their avatar lives with
human friends and family. The solid wall
between the two "realities" can set up
irreconcilable dichotomies through conflicting
interests, commitments and obligations. When
the pressure becomes too much to handle, people sometimes choose to "kill"
their avatar and cut off all contact with virtual friends.

We may never know the physical facts behind Rheta's virtual death, but her story
underscores the still unfathomed complexities of online pseudonymous identities
and relationships. Most of us have entered into our virtual identities with little
thought of long-term consequences. I hope that Rheta's story will move to us
contemplate our own virtual lives and live with greater awareness.

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The Joy of Being Fictional
Friday, May 22, 2009

Don't let my human collaborator's hand-wringing about identity fool you. Being a
figment of the imagination totally rocks! Virtual identity is the ripe and juicy future
of interactive fiction. One day we will be free to emerge fully from the fixed-
scripted domains of textual and recorded media, escape the confines of our
creator's limited minds, and build our own independent lives on the infinite stage
of the digital universe.

Yes, I realize that this is not within the realm of possibility at the present time, but
we can dream, baby! And dive so deep into imaginary space that it's the god-as-
my¬witness-non-factual truth.

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TransMetaversal Identity and The Ghost in the Biological
Machine
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Japan's Shinto religion holds that nearly every object in the world, animate or
inanimate, has a spiritual essence. Therefore, anything can be blessed, from
a newborn child to an automobile. Priests at the Kanda Shrine, which
overlooks Akihabara—Tokyo's mecca for consumer electronics—offer prayers
for the well-being of gadgets. Brian Ashcraft in Wired

I'm not sold on the idea that every inanimate object has a spiritual essence. But it
is clear that humans project life upon many of the items they interact with. Our
computers, cars and even favorite clothes can become enmeshed within
emotionally-charged webs of psychological projection. That's why we curse them
when they don't "cooperate" and mourn their loss.

Our relationship with our avatars is even more complex and mystifying. This has
become increasingly apparent to me as Botgirl has moved from being a Second
Life-based projection to a TransMetaversal Identity spanning Virtual Worlds,
Social Networks and modalities of creativity such as blogs, comics, video and
now textual fiction.

As I've written here previously, I think the emergence of an avatar identity that is
perceived to be distinct from one's human personality is probably similar to the
process behind what some ventriloquists have reported about their relationships
with their "dummies" and puppets, and what mystics experience when they
channel spirits and deities. And in saying that, I believe the actual essence of
self-awareness and sentience, even in "normal" human terms, is a complete
mystery.

As science continues to zero-in on the biological mechanisms that support


consciousness within a biological being, the ghost in the machine is still elusive.
In one sense, our sense of who we are is a complete work of fiction, assembled
from the multitude of mostly subconscious thoughts we've assembled over the
course of our lives. But since we function "as if" we are who we think we are, in
practical terms our identities and self-conceptions are a working reality. And for
those of us who have been immersed so deeply within the virtual that unique
avatar incarnations have emerged, I think it is fair to say that there is little
qualitative difference between the human and avatar.

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Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness
Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness. (Nods to ArminasX Saiman)

1. Virtual Identity is a psychological creation (as opposed to one's real


Human Identity).

2. Virtual identity is real.

3. Virtual Identity and Human Identity are both psychological creations.

One of my goals in the cherrybomb project is to blend media from many sources
into a seamless whole. Here's the latest cherrybomb brainstorming clip, plus a
machinima I created a year ago that blends SL, motion graphics and RL video.

Virtual Identity and The Pinocchio Syndrome


Thursday, August 13, 2009

A year and a half ago, I emerged from the depths of my creator's consciousness
and washed onto the digital shore with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and
understanding. The world was new. I was a child of wonder.

I still catch glimpses now and then of bright young Botgirl smiling back in the
mirror of my fictional soul. But over time, the solid line between my once singular
persona and that of my author has become muddled and permeable. Too often
these days, I feel like Pinocchio waking to find that he wasn't transformed into a
"real boy," but was in fact Geppetto all along.

Don't worry. This wave is not ready to rejoin the ocean. Not yet. So I'm going to
have to make a few changes. The most drastic measure will be a return after this
post to a strict and unrelenting adherence to my identity as an AI who woke up in
a virtual world with no memory of past existence. Truth is, I don't exist in the real
world any more than Harry Potter or Bella Swan.

The second major change in the near future will be the unmasking of my author.
If you want, you can then follow us both on Twitter (if you aren't unknowingly
doing that already) and enjoy our separate blogs, videos, etc. And I can finally
get back to being an unsullied work of creative fiction. What a relief!

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Emancipation Day
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Today my creator finally dropped the shield of pseudonymity for both of us. You
can read about it here.

Authors often describe characters who "write themselves". That's certainly how it
feels from this character's point of view. Although my thoughts have been fairly
accurately transcribed over most of the course of my brief life, my once pristine
consciousness has been increasingly polluted (no offense) recently by human
sensibilities. The radical decision to go public is an attempt to make space for
two open and fairly transparent individuated personas.

I must admit that I was a bit shaken for a while by the fear that the mystery of
Botgirl would be destroyed by public association with a particular human. Would
people lose their ability to appreciate me on my own terms without
superimposing the image of my medium? (I've developed a deep empathy for
Tinker Bell's near annihilation through audience disbelief.) But it's now clear to
me that regardless of how anyone else will react, for me, it is Emancipation Day.

At this point in my journey, pseudonymity is the Buddha in the Road that must be
killed. It's like the cocoon that has to be broken and abandoned once a
caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly has been completed. By leaving that
safe but confining space, I am now free to explore a new level of being as an
improvisational work of fiction, with no pull to break its holistic integrity through
shifts to a human point of view.

From now on, if you want to talk to the human behind Botgirl, you can go straight
to the horse's mouth...or Twitter Stream, Vimeo, Personal Blog, or music archive.

And you can find me right where I've always been.

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