Friday, September 19, 2008

hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry


At once both the forefront of invention and the thing most bitterly despised on the grid.

I've said more than once, possibly even on these pages, that I am not equipped for, nor do I intend to employ, voice. That in our text-based world, voice is not the lynchpin to propel us forward, voice is not the deciding factor in how anyone, on the grid, relates or should relate to me.

Voice. It's a bane and a blessing. And it never stops being both.

Perceptive sorts will notice, over the past few months, that the bright white dot of the voice-enabled now hovers over my head--in those zones which are voice-enabled themselves. Don't worry overmuch: by and large, you will never hear me speak. (I leave out such unusual occurrences as the destruction of Saint Kitts'--clearly, I was...*coughs*...overcome.) But being voice-enabled, being able to both speak, when I desire to, and to listen in, whether or not I choose to's been enlightening in more than just the usual sense.

Voice can be an invitation to deeper intimacy. To hear the voice of the one loved reveals more of their personality, day by day, than even words will; words show the mind, voice carries more of the spirit. I don't think this is an invalid conclusion. I think we can learn a great deal about someone, just by hearing their voice.

On the other hand--and this, I also know full well--voice can be the single greatest barrier to future intimacy ever developed. First of all, because it is so easy, so very easy, to get caught up in netskimming and forget other things entirely. We talk about politics, religion, games, movies, music, books, mythology, computers...we discuss how to make webpages walk the plank and the daily toil of the Goddamn Batman. We discuss building and business, Bare Rose and cybernetics, go on scavenger hunts and forage for freebies and explore the weirdness of Japanese sims...

...and, between custom commissions for him and Bare Rose shifts for her and hosting and everything else for me, there's not a lot of time for...well. Anything else.

Add in the annoying tendency of both the SL voice channel and most microphone equipment to drop out voice entirely in low ranges--so 'whispering sweet nothings'? Will result, nine times out of ten, in a 'What did you say?' being asked across the wire. Which is, you might agree with me, the thing you crave least to hear.

Then, of course, one has to add in the oddity of being me. Let's take last night as the stunning example. At times, for no apparent reason, I cannot speak. I want to; I can make noise; but something prevents the words from reaching through the fence of flesh and bone they strain behind.

Last night? Was one of these nights.

So, suddenly, for no reason, I...could Voice was active, open, waiting to transmit...nothing but the sound of my breathing. It was unbelievably frustrating.

I am lucky in that I have a love who was willing to--even with the voice channel active--return to the keyboard and the written word, and slowly, slowly, I regained my voice. But it was surreal to the extreme.

So to those who have not yet ventured into the voice careful. It could be the thing that brings you and those you love together, bind you more deeply, bring you closer than you ever thought possible...or it could drive a wedge in your relationship that you slowly, painfully, try to chip away before it severs each from each completely.

Could go either way. You make the call.

Literally--the button's on your screen.


Diamanda Gustafson said...

I've grown very picky as to when to use voice. Most of the times it is between me and my partner when we are building, operating vehicles or generally exploring - stopping walking or flying to type is straight down annoying. In those instances I use Voice IM instead of open Voice channel because seriously, noone is interested in what we have to say to each other.

Then there is a bunch of selected few that I'll go on voice with just because they are 10 times more hilarious being around when so.

In addition, I'll never conduct business on Voice. I want to have a nice chat log to fall into in case things don't go as expected...

You know, so far I've been an advocate of "when you type it you think about it some first".. but with SL Voice use I've found it to be quite the opposite. I've been reluctant to say things that I'd type without second thought. Why could that be? Perhaps because our voices is closer to us, as opposed that typing is the actual "voice" (ha!) of our avatars?

Alexandra Rucker said...

I really REALLY wish the lindens would have made the little white dot visible to those who DON'T have voice enabled...

Emilly Orr said...

You could be right on that last thought; because I don't say, 'type at you later', I say 'talk to you later'. Just as I'll say to someone I only know from in-world 'see you in a bit'. My avatar will see their avatar; *I* won't see them, unless I know them RL. But the conventions remain.

The bulk of my voice interaction has been voice IM with a trusted few. Outside of the chaos of Saint Kitts, and a machinima shoot with Professor Oolon, there's been one day that I can recall--on Tribute Island--where I joined in on voice.

Overwhelmingly, I choose not to. It feels both more and less personal to me; and I'll agree with you, there's an oddity there. Maybe it's simply that typing truly is the way my avatar interacts, and when I'm in world, I am my avatar.

Emilly Orr said...

And Alexandra--that's odd. Because when I ran without voice enabled, I could see the little white dots on those who were...

Alexandra Rucker said...

Which client? Nich's? It's not there in the standard.

Emilly Orr said...

Nicholaz, but EC-f...

Galactic Baroque said...

I know exactly what you are saying. I keep my voice open to listen to my chattier friends, but text myself into their conversations. I do regret the way I slow down the conversation, but having my avatar speak simply does not feel right. The words seem to come from a different part of my head. I have used voice under alt, and regretted it. The only time I could possibly use it is if I was to meet old old friends who know me well in real life, and then probably only in private chat. I can live with the klunkiness of my own typing, and though I still get ragged about it to the point of running joke in my home sim (I am one of the 2 remaining silent avatars), my friends happily tolerate it.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

It's interesting. I've never been a big fan of voice, mainly from the *theme* aspect. Caledon group chat has become exceedingly laid back, with most using first names even of people they've never met before. The refined aura, veneer as it may have been, is fading. To me voice is something of the user rather than the AV and unless someone is used to roleplaying or acting their use of voice will follow their normal speaking conventions.

Apart from that it's annoying for me to set up. When I DJ I plug in a headset. But it means I can't hear any sounds without it. The issue is having to plug it into the back of the PC which means dragging the desk forward to get at it. If I could plug it into the front it might be less of a chore.

But mainly it's the first point. I came into SL looking for the 19th century aesthetic. Little things like voice chip away at the suspension of disbelief.

Emilly Orr said...

Mr. Baroque: it's definitely part of the Freakish Human Abilities package, but I type insanely fast. On occasion I type faster than I talk. (This is not always a boon.)

I do like the way you phrased it--"The words seem to come from a different part of my head." Maybe that's the exact point I'm making--that verbal skills are not on par, with any exactitude, with the spoken word.

Emilly Orr said...

Edward: you at least have the accent thing (to me) going strong. Though I met you and gained the impression of a Scots adventurer, it diminished nothing to hear you as a DJ and hear the Aussie overtones. Just as Elrik Merlin seems so cultured, simply because he's got those rolling British tones.

In my case, people in Victorian-era America did not, in any wise, speak the same. I slip in type, but most of the time, at least I'm making the attempt--and I believe that's appreciated. But many, you're right, aren't even trying. Some things are net conventions--ftw, lol, btw--but some things are simply slang of now and not of then.

I was making a similar point to Miss Neome, earlier. We were conversing in IM and in a lady walked to the room I was dancing in. Modern cascade of curls. High spike red heels. Miniskirt flounce and sleeveless dress.

I made the comparison of Miss Callisto to this damsel--that I sincerely doubted if Miss Callisto ever wore even a knee-brushing skirt, but that she carried it off perfectly. She knows her skirt is short, but it is not a modern style, and she is comfortable wearing it. She is graceful and courteous, and that may be the point. There's a marked difference between that, and simply having no clue on how to behave, what to wear...and how to speak.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I suppose I notice the speech thing more because I consciously avoid using LOL or BTW (though I will sometime use w00t). But then I still put in apostrophes in my text messages on the mobile.

I suppose with anything there are always those who come into something because it's trend of the month. Sometimes they get it and stay, other times they move on to the next trend. Steampunk is the big shiny at the moment.

Emilly Orr said...


See, I'm the one on IRC who still uses upper and lower case, and full punctuation. I understand.

Steampunk is very much the flavor of the day, which is not the worst thing imaginable, but I still maintain that--in terms of Caledon--these are more growing pains, than signs of dissolution.

To that end, we were wandering SteamSky City last night, and the build is substantially changed--for one, it's *much* lower to the ground now, and two, it's got legs--but it was 'new blood' to Caledon--which I still qualify as, all things considered--who pushed through the changes and SSC's rebirth. With uncomfortable moments, an increase in netspeak, and the occasionally skewed understanding of 'proper attire'--is also coming those individuals who are finding themselves fiercely drawn to Caledon.

But yes, I'm still far from sold that voice is an innovation the grid needed in the least. And I've seen far more harm than good come from it, both on the mainland and in Caledon. Maybe it's easier to remember the bad examples.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

If they're ones that look like clawed feet then SSC has always had legs. if you go up to the control room on the top floor there are two switches there. One raises and lowers the legs, the other turns on and off the propellers. Just make sure you don't turn off the propellers before you engage the landing gear :-)

Emilly Orr said...

And see, I thought that SSC had to come much closer to the ground before dropping the legs; now, they're pretty much standing on them, 77 meters off the ground.

Anonymous said...

I have to admit I'm one of the Caledonians that has slipped more and more into "modern" speaking conventions and even clothing. Some of that is from spending more time in other-themed sims like Extropia and timeless places like Avendale and Nevi. I was checking out the "new" Middlesea island yesterday in my favorite blue dress, looking very "period" for the first time in months, and a friend commented, "gone native, I see?" That woke me up a bit.


Emilly Orr said...

Well, everyone slips now and again; Caledon is a themed group of sims with fairly open RP, and there's no insistence of compliance with anyone's particular storyline. Plus, the emphasis is Steampunk first, Victorian/Edwardian second. And courtesy, politeness, tolerance and a sense of humor? These things matter more than what we wear.

To that end, though, bling strappy heels, non-EGL miniskirts, obviously mainland togs--we expect these on newcomers, not established citizens. And I don't think we're wrong for that. There's no official dress code in the Covenant, which was smart of Des, as people will wildly vary on what they consider appropriate. But I think there is sort of an unconscious understanding, on the part of the populace at large, on what is--and isn't--acceptable.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Although this is starting to veer off topic quite a bit (to have at least one on-topic comment: I don't see SL as a good environment for voice, though others may, of course, differ in what they get out of SL; if I want to use my voice to talk to a friend, I can pick up the telephone and do so - I don't need an avatar for that), I'll confess to failing to "go native" more often than not. Much as I like the courtesy, politeness, tolerance, and a sense of humor aspects of Caledon, I'm not a huge fan of the women's fashions of the period. No Victorian woman in a bustle ever asked her husband, "Does this make my butt look big?" because the answer is pretty obvious. If I intend to be at a group event, I'll do my best to stay in theme, but if I'm wandering on my own, and someone thinks I look too modern for the sim, well...tough. (Fortunately for all concerned, I don't get the whole bling thing, so you all are spared the blinding glare.)

As far as staying "in theme" goes, many of the events stray pretty far from the theme. Jazz dances, modern swim suits on Saint Kitt (*ahem*), DJs spinning electronica...Just how many "Raves on the Roof" do you think the Victorians had, anyway? I interpret "in theme" fairly loosely and, fortunately, so, it would seem does most everyone else.

Emilly Orr said...

Well, it's my journal, I don't mind if we wander.

I admit, I stretch the rules of propriety on more than a few occasions. I have a folder in my inventory called "Bedsitters" for the extreme bustles from Prim & Proper (because really, you could fit a Murphy bed and a hotplate in the bustle of each one, I swear), and I have a folder in my inventory called "Medieval" (where all the drifting wonderfulness from DG Innovations gets put, and I wear those outfits a great deal of the time, plunging necklines, form-skimming curves, everything a Victorian lady would never wear) that have no bustles at all.

I admit, I'm more a fan of Edwardian attire and Erté (to the point of plotting out, at some point in future, a series of Erté-inspired gowns) than I am of the "pigeon-breasted" look Victorian corsets tended to give, and the very large bustles.

Strangely, though, it all comes back to behavior--if I am polite, if I am courteous, if I am friendly--it doesn't seem to matter whether I have a hat and full bustle and full corsets.

Of course, it could just be the upstanding men of Caledon don't mind if some of us aren't always...appropriate... :)

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

In one of my costume books is a lithograph of a ladies bustle that contained a collapsible stool. I doubt it ever caught on though. For myself I've always been fond of the Victorian period clothing and have a small amount of it in RL. I think a woman in a full skirt and blouse looks far more attractive that a woman in hipster jeans and a crop top.

As for "raves on the roof" I think thankfully they're now part of history following the disbanding of CIB. Hopefully we can have a few more balls now that "winter" is on it's way to the Northern Hemisphere.

Emilly Orr said...

Well, I've been involved in SCA for a very long time, but costume in general fascinates me, and currently, my closet contains everything from t-shirts and jean (singular, I only own the single pair of jeans) to tunics and braies, and, the next time we set up the sewing machine, I'm going to start work on another kirtle, if not a full Gates of Hell overdress.

What stops me on getting further into Victorian fashion is not the cost of materials, per se--we have enough friends who sew, and I have zero problem patchworking material together, I could get enough for my needs--but that I don't know (yet) how to make a corset. And frankly, I can get by with a simple bodice for most fashions, if bodice is needed at all--but for Victorian-era gowns, the corset is essential.

I have been looking around at various sites, and the next time we have three hundred in one place, there are six ladies who would be overjoyed to make one for me. :) But making it on my own, I still end up with the Moebius Corset, and that's guaranteed not to end well.

I love world history, world costumes, though. That's reflected, I think, in the sheer tonnage of attire I have in world. Everything from buckskin dresses to salwar kameez to Victorian bustles to cybersuits. I'm fascinated by fabric and fashion, I always have been.

Raves on the Roof may be disappearing, but I will admit, I do miss the 'traditional' Caledon Rave. There's also something delightfully subversive in attending a dance in Caledon, where modern music is played, in full bustle and buttoned boots.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

Not sure what members of the Costumers' Guild might be lurking around your local area, but rather than spend $300 on a bought corset I'd seriously try and find out when the next time the group has a corset workshop. The best corsets are the ones that are fitted to you personally and probably cost less than many of the bought ones. It's harder and easier than you think :-)
When we ran corset workshops here they were guaranteed to fill up within days.
Unsurprisingly as a result I know faaaaar more about corsetry than most men and a fair bit more than most women :-)
I even have the references for a Victorian men's corset which I may get around to attempting one day.

Emilly Orr said...

That's not the worst idea, and there'll likely be a few--I'll look into that.

OF course, even with that, I'm not normal--I'm terribly amused with Schadenfreude's new 'lucky fortune' offering--it's a full Victorian boned corset in a bright red fabric...which is printed with elephants' heads. Having seen one walk past at a convention some years back, I yearn for a camouflage bustle dress. I've made cloaks of sturdy grey wool and hemp rope around the neck--only to line them with some amusing fleece pattern one would only see if one were very close.

And I'm still plotting out how much it would take to make a completely patchworked hoopskirt. :)