As I was writing the post about Molbio in Second Life, I was considering what category to apply to the discipline of building virtual environments.
I have categories for photography and videography. Is there a corresponding term for the ‘graphy’ or representation of reality in a virtual environment?
In the end I opted for what seems to be the consensual descriptor in learning and education – ‘virtual environments’. But still, the term does not have the simplicity and clarifying sense of a term like videography!
Why “James at Lloud”?
I decided to create this site to help coalesce the alternate identities that I have created during what is clearly our emerging online reality. What follows is a recounting of my own journey in creating alternate identities online.
I consider ‘jameschrislloyd’ to be one of my earliest alternate identities. I associate this identity most closely with an image of my self ’simpsonized’.
Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons is a hero and role-model to me in the way he combines criticism with humor. When I was in college I was delighted to see a photo of Matt and discover that we both had the same eyeglass frames!
My next significant alternate self occurred with the creation of my first personal web domain – www.lloud.com. Lloud was created by my son Joe when I was frustrated that ‘lloyd.com’ was taken. Out of Lloud.com came “Metalloud” with the thinking that the real person is meta in relation to the artifice of a web site. In addition I was a frequent reader of www.metafilter.com and just liked the term META. There is no image associated with Metalloud.
I first encountered virtual worlds in videogaming and Metalloud is my xbox gamer tag. When I returned to graduate school to study educational technology I was pursing a topic based in the virtual environment of “Half-Life” by Valve software. Then during the course of my studies my advisting professor, Mike Thomas introduced me to non-gaming virtual worlds like Active Worlds, There.com and of course, Second Life. My graduate thesis project was based in SecondLife and was conducted with the alternate identity of “Jameschris Snickerdoodle”.
My thesis project was conducted using a topic related to work and when I attempted to introduce SecondLife to my employer, I created an alternate identity named “Molbio Merlin”. Molbio Merlin was caretaker to a briefly-lived training region named “Molbio – the island of Molecular Biology”. When it became clear that my employer could not grasp the utility of SecondLife I began to realize that I would have to continue my explorations of virtual worlds on my own. And with that realization, Lloud Laffer was created.
The funny thing about Second Life for most of the time that it has existed was the insistence that avatar names be created using a pre-selected list of last names. I’m sure there are articles written about this all over the internet that discuss the up and downsides of this decision. My conclusion is that it was a largely un-necessary limitation and made it very awkward for those who wanted to connect their real and virtual identities in a way that was recognizable to colleagues. I enjoy the identity of Lloud Laffer, but to mark the creation of this portfolio blog and the new directions I am seeking to occupy myself professionally, I am evolving Lloud Laffer into “James at Lloud” to return a variety of branches I have explored back towards the trunk of my efforts!
I have played with a variety of spellings of this new identity – “James AtLloud” (as in McDonald) or perhaps “James at’Lloud” (as in O’Connell). The meaning of the name implies my email address and so I went with a spelling like those used in Dutch surnames (Jan de Vries).