Here I am, at home on my region in Craft, the Friendly World, with the reality of a decision I had made flattening me like a Kansas farm house after the tornado; What the HELL had I been thinking?? What would it mean for my grid?? For my friends?? Would I even have any after this?? What would my family say?? And most importantly, was a little girl in bright orange pigtails going to show up and kick my ass?? Sigh. It all started a couple of weeks ago…
Hello my dearest dearest dears! How marvelous, here we all are again ready for another whirlwind adventure on OpenSim, the software platform that hosts hundreds of grids, many of which choose to be connected by an amped up teleportation system called the hypergrid, which allows you to endlessly explore these brave new worlds- making oodles of exciting discoveries, meeting people from all over the planet, and snagging enough fabulous free content that you wind up collapsed like a wet taco in front of a burning building, where amidst a pile of spinning vendors and a cuckoo clock, a tiny braided ninja descen- no, wait, we did that; hmm, note to self: deep seated psychic torment does not produce the most coherent blogging.
If you simply do not know how to get on OpenSim( and believe me, you are not alone), please read my “How to get on Open Sim in Six Easy Steps” page, located at the top of this blog, and don’t forget my “Newbie Glossary” also located at the top! Come on, it’s easy! Come spread your wings in the free metaverse!
For todays adventure we will be going well, all over the place. I was having the best time! I managed to squeeze in a visit to one of my favorite off the hypergrid destinations , The Community Library at Delphi on Inworldz!
Who are having a Science Fiction Festival until August!! This is just a small part of the Jules Verne exhibit, isn’t it too deliciously booky?( If that doesn’t grab you, just look out the window. Lotsa teeth.) I can’t wait to come back and write about this! But mostly I was working on my next post; for which I had begun to explore the 670 region, first French speaking world on the hypergrid,the not surprisingly named FrancoGrid -
…and holy merde, do they know how to Rock le Casabah!!! This is region Terra- Mater, the workshop of Linden Endowment for the Arts veteran, the oh so brilliant Cherry Manga.
But as great, and exciting as all this was, the best thing of all was happening out there, still a part of the metaverse, arguably virtual, but not really a part of any virtual world. It has literally changed my life, and I was so excited that I was Google plusing and tweeting and Facebooking about it like crazy; even though I was pretty sure I ,would be, as usual the last person in the world to know about it. To my shock, it was news to a lot of people. So I decided to blog about it all, just to be sure I spread the word as far as possible.
Remember that great moment in the London Olympics, when Tim Berners- Lee, the inventor of the internet, sent out the message,” This is for everyone.”? I had never actually seen the man at the computer, but when my husband exclaimed” Hey! That’s Tim Bern-” my son and I jumped off the sofa and began shouting and applauding, and when the message flashed across the stadium, I started to cry. The internet has done so much for me. It has given me the ability to sit in my kitchen, exploring new worlds as I stir my soup and peel vegetables. I can see and talk to my family and friends on the other side of the planet every night of my life. And, from my first and wildest dreams it has taken the one where I become a writer with thousands of readers, out of my head, and into my waking life. I how could it possibly do more?
Then I found the Internet Archive, a serious attempt to put all human knowledge online, in one brain meltingly massive freaking public library . “Universal Access To Human Knowledge” and they aren’t kidding. The website itself, and the concepts it expresses, can be hard kinda to get your head around, and although I will probably never understand it all, I wanted to share what I have found thus far.
Now let’s get started! Please go to the Homepage, which I still find a bit clunky, and so prefer to use the main menu at the top of the page. Do you see it? Up top, in the left corner in the black header- Web Video Texts Audio Projects About Account etc. Okay, the first thing I would recommend doing is going to Account and getting your virtual library card. It is free, you can use your avatar name if you wish, and it allows you, among other things, to BOOKMARK!! An enormously useful feature you will use again and again as you wade through this ocean of information!So long as you remain on the Archive Website, there will be a little “bookmark” tab under the download options, on the left side of the page. You can even share them with your friends- look, here are mine!
You are free to use the library without a card, but let’s assume you have one! Now, lets head on back to the main menu and go to Texts. Scroll a bit down the page to Sub Collections. Look at all the listings. Do you see the very famous free e book website Project Gutenberg? Notice how it is the second smallest collection! This gave me my first clear picture of the scale the Internet Archive is working on. Gutenberg is definitly the most user friendly collection, but if you are willing to work a bit, the other libraries will surprise and delight you. Give it a whirl! And remember, all of these collections have texts that are in the public domain, which means they are free to use any way you wish, because they are out of copyright; sometimes because the creator (you can upload your work if you wish) has chosen to share them, but more often because they are 50 to 70 years old.
Now it’s back to the main menu, and Projects. These are the things that I have used a bit. The very user friendly Open Library is something I will eventually get into big time. Their aim is to have one web page for every book ever published. They have documented 20 million, with one million you can download. This biggest ever card catalog is a wikia, which means anyone may contribute, and as the cherry on the hot fudge sundae, they also have an Online Lending Library which has newer books! Archive It! is a subscription service whereby organizations and institutions can upload digital data, websites etc. and keep it on the Internet Archive server, which has 10 petabytes of storage, and is growing. You may search these archives. For my fellow lo tech nerds, one petabyte equals one million gigabytes. Your PC probably has 300. The Wayback Machine, is something you may have heard of. It contains a searchable archive of the web in past years. The Internet Archive does these web “crawls “that sort of photographs the entire internet for historical purposes. So if you are looking for a site that no longer exists, this is probably your best shot. And one last thing- the Internet Archive is where NASA stores a serious chunk of their imagery.
Now back to the main menu tab I have used the most- Audio. If you scroll down the page, you will notice the Radio Programs section contains, among many other things, a fine collection of Old Time Radio; my favorite Music and Arts section is the innoculous looking 78 and Cylinder recordings- is a treasure trove of beautifully cleaned up early 20th century music, Edith Piaf, Lotte Lenya,Sarah Vaughn, Clifton Chenier, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Etta James, Billy Holiday, Caruso, Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Ma Rainey, Duke Ellington…I find running a search on the eccentric Audio search engine, then carefully searching through the jumbled results for your highlighted term or name, and clicking THAT, works best. Audio Books and Poetry is the catagory I have been using the most. The LibriVox Free Audio Book Collection, is a huge selection of public domain books read, extremely well I might add, by volunteers. If anyone is looking for a nice slice of quality Americana, modern literary giant( Among other things, she won the Pulitzer prize and was the first woman to be granted an honorary degree by Princeton AND a young F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote her a letter apologizing for the similarity of a character in his newly released book ,The Great Gatsby, to an earlier character of hers. She didn’t know what the hell he was on about, and said so. He panicked. They corresponded for years.),Willa Cathers masterpiece My Antonia is a marvelous choice. Now I am just gonna say it. My Antonia is a better book than anything Jane Austen ever wrote. Willa Cather is a writer of the same caliber as Jane Austen, and they both wrote about the lives of women, but My Antonia is a smart, intimate, yet unsentimental account of the lives of working women and children, who rise out of real poverty; hard working, intelligent, assertive, and determined to help their families, and make something of themselves. And uniquely not ONE of these women defines herself, or is defined by the author, through her romantic relationship with a man. Even today, that is a rare and refreshing thing. This last Audio section gave me kind of a hysterical meltdown- I was crying and stammering, my husband came home from work and shouted “What’s happened??!” The fifth entry down from LibriVox is The Naropa Poetics Audio Archive, a title which didn’t really get my attention. But the little picture of my idol, legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg, did. This section is 5,000 hours of class recordings from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. From back in the 80′s when most of the beat poets were alive and lecturing… dear God, another crazy dream of mine yanked out of my cranuim and served up by the internet. Five thousand hours of Allen Ginsberg singing Blake songs, speaking, teaching and remembering, reading his own poetry, Walt Whitman’s poetry, playing Jack’s poetry, talking about writing and Jazz and Dharma with William S. Burroughs, Peter Orlavsky Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlengetti, Diane Di Prima, while the great Anne Waldman leads panels disussions about women and the Beats, reads Emily Dickenson…And one last yummy little gem. The only copy of the Internet Archive is stored in Egypt, at the New Library of Alexandria. Love my metaverse.
The sheer euphoria of my good fortune affected my judgement,which some of you may have noticed wasn’t that spectacular in ordinary times, and so, in a state of total sobriety, I went into my head, fished around in my wildest dreams, and showed one to …
Professor Grey, Curator of the Arcadia Asylum Museums and Library in Second Life. I asked him what would he think about my turning my region on Craft into an an OpenSim Arcadia Museum and Library .
Within seconds he had promoted me in the group, given me security codes to the conference rooms and was showing me how to pack items into boxes. And after half a bottle of wine and the post event shock episode pictured at the beggining of this post behind me, I started to get excited. Really excited.
So this is virtualchristine, curator of the OpenSim Arcadia Asylum Museum, inviting the entire Metaverse to submit items, stories, buildings, … I have no idea what I am doing, so if you have something to contribute, don’t be shy. I was thinking of a September opening. Come one, come all! This is for everybody.
I would like to thank Tim Berners Lee, Brewster Kahle, and the millions of people who have worked create the Internet, and fought to keep it free; the great Anne Waldman, The National Endowment For the Arts, The Willa Cather Foundation, all the Internet Archive volunteers, Professor Grey, my family, and of course all of you, my beloved readers. The sweetest of dreams and the brightest of days to you all! Until next time, Adieu!