In the past, one of the residents greatest grievances has been the tendency of Linden Lab to usher in things that are announced as Great New Developments when, in fact, they are something that residents on the whole neither want nor need. The avatar physics that gave us boob and butt jiggle is a lovely example of this – and I’m sorry, but no matter how many people (usually male) argue that this adds to the realism of Second life, I will never be able to see it as more than a fifteen year old boy’s fantasy – “She has boobs! They jiggle!”
The same is true of Display Names. Yes, there were some people who would like to have the ability to change their names – to reflect new partnerships, for example, or to have a name close to their own for business reasons – and yet were unable to afford the expensive corporate option that the Lab offered. But to force every new resident to come on to the grid with a single name is leading to the most appalling mess as people are forced into increasingly bizarre combinations of words and letters to register at all. And existing residents, after the first rush of securing resident names for themselves, generally dislike the whole display names thing which just adds unwelcome clutter to their screens and turn it off.
Which means that poor Joe Bloogs (display name) will end up being addressed as ohmygodnoneof thesebloodynameswork Resident (user name) by three quarters of the grid.
My colleague Ceejay Writer wrote an impassioned piece on this about a month ago – What’s in a (sur) name? – which had a very positive response, and the jira pleading for us all to be spared this nightmare now has over twelve hundred signatures – and some very cogent comments, as well as some heartfelt pleas.
But, it appears, the Lab are reluctant to change back. Well, not just change back – but even to allow residents the choice of the approved surname route.
What makes this reluctance particularly bizarre that it is perfectly possible to create an new avatar with an old style name without any difficulty at all – if you know the right places to look.
I did it yesterday. I went to a portal site (and many thanks to Whirly Fizzle, who flagged this portal on the Jira) and created a new Saffia from a rather nice (albeit short) list of approved surnames. You can see in the illustration the new avatar, wearing one of the next new styles that I found in the Library, her name – Saffia Ashland – and the fact that she is just a single day old.
The portal I used (and there may well be others out there) belongs to the New Media Consortium, and it can be found here. When you register, you choose whether or not to jpin the NMC Community – a group for educators in Second Life. You enter as a male or female ruth (your choice) but you can equip yourself as any of the basic new style avatars from the Library (for those who don’t know, in the Inventory, open Library >> Clothing >> Initial Outfits and choose the one you want. Well, that’s what you do in everything but Viewer 2. If you’re using Viewer 2, you’ll need to seek help elsewhere (perhaps someone could share in the comments).
And when you arrive, the Orientation Area is lovely, in the best style of Community Gateways, with a wealth of helpful tutorials, all beautifully presented on a well designed island. And there are fun touches – at the end of the tour, you’ll find a very cleverly designed TARDIS. When you enter, you’ll discover that it is indeed bigger on the inside than the outside (and someone PLEASE tell me how they did this!) and is preset with suggested destinations within the NMC (the yellow circles).
To be honest, if I meet someone who wants to try out Second Life, I’m going to be pointing them here as their starting point.
But my larger point is this: why is Linden Lab still insisting on something that a large number of existing residents hate, and which is causing misery and confusion for new residents – and landing them with something that may well prove a burden to them for much of their Second Lives? Why can’t Joe Bloggs come in as Joe Hurricane or even JoeBloggs Hurricane, with a display name of Joe Bloggs, rather than ohmygodnoneof thesebloodynameswork Resident or, at best, JoeBloggs3300 Resident (if he understands the importance of getting the name you want in there somewhere)?
Why can’t there at least be a choice?