Sunday, December 28, 2008

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 3

I rode shotgun and let Botgirl drive as we started wandering around Second Life in earnest. Although it’s common for avatars to keep personally identifying information secret, Botgirl denied even having a human existence. In retrospect, my dogged immersion in her persona triggered something akin to channeling in my conversations with other residents. I didn’t feel like my human identity was making stuff up. It felt like Botgirl was speaking through me. It felt good. She was like a brilliant sister from another planet.

Since (almost) no one believed that Botgirl was really an AI, I was very comfortable with any variances between the opinions, personality and image she presented and those of my human self. It was only later, as I/we began to develop longer-term friendships in Second Life, that the line between Botgirl and I started to blur and my discomfort with pseudonymity began to appear. I’ll write more on that issue in another post in this series.

After just a few weeks of life, I began to realize that the potential of Botgirl’s emerging personality would not be fully expressed just through random chats in Second Life. I launched this blog about five months after her birth as a diary to jot down some of her experiences and a sandbox to develop her unique take on both atomic and virtual life. Although I was still very interested in creating a work based on her fictional story, Botgirl as an existential phenomenon was much more intriguing.

The blog’s content was initially written almost exclusively from Botgirl’s perspective. I intruded for the most part through the graphical elements. Although I launched the blog to develop Botgirl, the creative growth I’ve experience through the creation of cartoons, comics and videos here has greatly enhanced my personal and professional life.

Speaking of video, it was a clip on YouTube that brought Botgirl to Hamlet Au’s attention and eventually resulted in the story in New World Notes that transformed her from a hidden jewel into a minor Second Life celebrity.

Stay Tuned for Part Four
"The Story I like to tell is when my father was writing the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show. One time my father and I came into Edgar's room. He didn't know we were watching him. Edgar was talking to Charlie and we thought he was rehearsing, but he was not rehearsing. He was asking Charlie questions. "Charlie, what is the nature of life? Charlie, what is the nature of love?" And this wooden dummy was answering quite unlike the being I knew on the radio. A regular wooden Socrates, he was. it was the same voice but it was a very different content altogether. And Bergen would get fascinated and say, "Well, Charlie, what is the nature of true virtue?" and the dummy would just pour out this stuff: beauty, elegance, brilliant. And then we got embarrassed and coughed. Bergen looked around and turned beet red and said, "Oh, hello, you caught us." And my father said, "What were you doing?" and he said, "Oh, I was talking with Charlie. He's the wisest person I know." Recounted by Jean Houston in Channeling by Jon Klimo


Camilla said...

I am enjoying this series, and looking forward to Part 4.
How does one handle relationships/friendships as you get to know people better? They want a more personal connection with you (you, in the larger sense of the word, as it applies to any of us); a sense of the person behind the avatar. For me, my avatar and I are one in the same. I cannot be anything else. I have tried. I have alts, but they are for convenience, not friendships. But if my avatar and I are integrated, then my privacy in TAW is also compromised to a certain degree, because I speak of things and places, and eperiences of my human self.

Waiting expectantly for more from you... :)

Botgirl Questi said...

Friendships for me were also where the human consciousness started bleeding into Botgirl. There's really only a few critical details I need to withhold to mostly protect my pseudonymity.