Meet My Friend, Will Burns/Aeonix Aeon
(Note: Scroll to the last section if you want to skip all my fluff and just hear about this cool dude in SL, Will Burns/Aeonix Aeon, otherwise just read on)
Last Monday Berry's Monday Meme Challenge (Strawberry Signh see here: http://strawberrysingh.com/2013/07/01/meet-my-friend-challenge/) was to interview a friend in SL. This is sort of something I've always had on a back burner to do, as in featuring one of the people on my SL contact/friends list each week and putting them all on a separate blog page. This would help me get to know my SL friends better and introduce them to anyone here who reads this blog. It might also be a way to help them promo things they do in SL or just to have fun being featured. Some of my contacts/friends I don't know well ( I have almost 600 and rarely drop and usually accept most request unless it's clearly spam) and some I know very well and are considered like RL friends.
For this challenge I picked my friend Will Burns, also known as Aeonix Aeon in SL. This guy is way smart and funny yet down to earth and knows how to work and play well in SL. He recently was published, see here: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2480751 Now I can add to my nickname list for him besides Will, Aeonix, kitty, brainiac, CB now a new title "Techno Rockstar!"
Today I left Will a offline asking if he would be the subject of my Berry meme challenge, "Meet My Friend". Ironically when I logged back in for the 2nd time today, I had a message from Will responding that he would, but he was on the Metaverse Week in Review live SL TV show at the moment. (see here: http://www.metaverseweekinreview.com/ .) I replied that was great, and I'd send some questions and hook up later as I was not dressed properly to attend the show at the time.
But then I got to thinking maybe I should run over and catch a shot of Will on the show for my blog. I was lazy as usual and didn't change out of my skimpy 4th of July crop top and shorts and mass tattoos I was demoing. I found an old LM for the show I've used before to sit in the audience, as it's actually a great show I enjoy and have attended in the past. When I used my landmark, lo and behold, I landed right on stage next to, well in front of, host Mal Burns. (No relation to Will Burns) with Petlove Petshop, Mal, Tara Yeats, and Will on stage. Did I mention this is a LIVE show? Yeah. There I stood in my skimpies and full demo tats. Nice.. but par for the course with my landmarks. So I made it in the show. I do tend to frequently land right on top of or front and center, for fashion shows and other various events. My avatar must really crave attention in a subconscious sort of way, as it's something I am even becoming known for. Anyway.. I did get some shots and listened to the rest of the show, but mostly missed Will's part of the show. I made it just in time for some Realy for Life info. then an interesting discussion about the giant pussy Tara is raising and some stuff about scary meteors. Leave it to Will to bring some humor into the show making Mal squirm a little. Later I learned I was not the only disruption in their show and that Savemeoh had put in an interesting appearance of sorts, prior to me, only Saveme got banned for her/his contribution. That is par for the course for her/him too.
At any rate.. this meme/challenge is supposed to be about Will.. braniac, boy genius, kitten, CB, Techno Rockstar and published author. So I just asked a bunch of questions, some of which I already knew the answers to but wanted him to answer in his own way/words, since I'm far from a journalist, or published author as far as that goes. I met up with him at the Cheeky Tiramisu Café, which is a great place you can visit here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/WatchTower/128/128/22 . Will graciously answered a bunch of personal and professional questions for me.
First of all.. Will was just published here:
*3D Virtual worlds and the metaverse: Current status and future possibilities*
ACM Computing Surveys (CSUR) Surveys
Volume 45 Issue 3, June 2013
Article No. 34
Finally, after much waiting, the research paper is in publication! Association for Computing Machinery, Volume 45 Issue 3 for June 2013 :)
I just asked him to pretend I know nothing about him and he answered the following questions for me, saying he's an open book:
1. How long have you been in SL and what brought you here?
Will: I've been in Second Life for a little over 5 years as of this interview. I originally came to SL from ActiveWorlds on somewhat as a bet. At the time the ActiveWorlds staff had a running joke about Second Life costing a fortune to participate - t-shirts for their avatars saying "I spent a million L$ and all I got was this t-shirt". I was one of the few who refused to drink that kool-aid and would always make a point to say that somebody could exist in Second Life with no out of pocket costs just fine if they were willing to work for it. After awhile, they got tired of me insisting that and issued the challenge of if I thought SL was so much better, then why not just go there?
So in 2007 I came over to Second Life and since then I've held that premise and succeeded wildly. Of interest is that after 6 years, they finally broke down and changed their business model to reflect what I had told them in what can only be seen as an act of desperation in the face of a rapidly declining user base and the inevitability of virtual extinction. Just one of the many times I have given such a forecast but have been laughed at and ignored, only to have it come true later on. It's a running theme in my professional career, though I really do wish it wasn't like that.
2. What is your claim to fame in SL and what do you do in SL?
Will: My claim to fame in SL is simply being a synthetic environment subject matter expert. I've spent a little more than 16 years in virtual worlds as far back as the early and mid 1990s. Over the years I've garnered a textbook chapter for reference/college, become the Vice Chair for IEEE Virtual World Standard Group, contributed seminal information and definitions for Solipsis Decentralized Metaverse and even contributed to Metaverse Roadmap. As of recently, I now have an acclaimed research paper published in Association for Computing Machinery entitled
3D Virtual worlds and the metaverse: Current status and future possibilities, with the collaboration of Dr Richard Gilbert and Dr. John Dionisio from Loyola Marymount University. This paper is part of the class materials for the Virtual World Certificate Course at Washington University.
In my spare time in Second Life, I like to hang out at nightclubs, explore the latest immersive artwork installation from Bryn Oh (a friend and one of my favorite artists), and of course I am a regular on Metaverse Week in Review with Tara Yeats and Mal Burns. Other than that, I occasionally get the urge to build items such as the arcade machines or Mori's Mouse on marketplace. Once in awhile I do pick up a consulting term for somebody in-world and help to get their business or branding in order - though a lot of the time I find in-world business owners to be contentious and unwilling to take the professional advice that they are paying me to give them.
Originally when I came to SL, one of my first "jobs" was like anybody else - I worked at a strip club, though not on the poles but as a business manager. I organized and taught the girls how to emote and use proper spelling in order to weave a better narrative and increase their tips. Unfortunately, the owner and his girlfriend at the time could not come to terms with a forecast that was win/win but would have been all loss if they refused and so I parted ways and soon after began working for Pulse Point Media, a real world marketing company in Kentucky as their VP of Operations, consulting the owner and organizing the staff. As my tenure there continued I dealt mainly with the virtual world side of things in SL and even designed some well known logos for brands in Second Life (like the mamachinima logo and Fortunate productions).
I've been on many shows in-world such as Inside the Avatar Studio, Crossworlds with Mal Burns, The 1st Question (where I've won both times I was on), Spotlight TV with Scorpinosis Nightfire, Friday Night Talk Show, and interviewed in a few magazines such as Maniera Magazine. There are other things as well, but the complete list escapes me at the moment. Suffice it to say, I'm a lot like the Great Gatsby of Second Life. Nobody is really certain exactly what it is that I do, but I happen to know a lot of the important people and they know me. People tend to know "of" me in that way. There isn't a simple answer to what it is that I do because you will find that being a synthetic environment S.M.E has had me involved with all manner of things related to that wide subject. My name comes up quite a lot across the board, but a lot like Gatsby, I don't make much of an appearance in the way you would expect. More often than not, I'm involved behind the scenes on things or my name comes up in relation to somebody well known in a conversation, but rarely as a direct thing. I've been involved in a lot of things which all equally could be cited as "claim to fame" but speculation abounds about exactly *what* it is I do - mainly because I seem to be everywhere it counts. In the end, this affords the ability to be famous without actually being famous so to speak, much to chagrin of folks like Jessica Lyon whom will get requests from people to take a picture with her while I casually stroll by and chuckle unnoticed.
I think in the "fame" aspect, I'm not exactly well known to the general population, but those who are higher up in the virtual world social ladder, so to speak, know me and that is much more fun, because a lot of you are really awesome people.
3. What exactly is your publication about and what does it mean... in layman's terms?
Will: Association for Computing Machinery Volume 45 Issue 3, June 2013 Article No. 34 entitled 3D Virtual worlds and the metaverse: Current status and future possibilities, in collaboration with Dr Richard Gilbert and Dr. John Dionisio from Loyola Marymount University.
Moving from a set of independent virtual worlds to an integrated network of 3D virtual worlds or Metaverse rests on progress in four areas: immersive realism, ubiquity of access and identity, interoperability, and scalability. For each area, the current status and needed developments in order to achieve a functional Metaverse are described. Factors that support the formation of a viable Metaverse, such as institutional and popular interest and ongoing improvements in hardware performance, and factors that constrain the achievement of this goal, including limits in computational methods and unrealized collaboration among virtual world stakeholders and developers, are also considered.
In short, the paper is a past, present and future look at the state of the Metaverse and everything involved with creating one and not repeating the mistakes of the past. It is a surprisingly non-technical paper meant for both academic and layman readers to understand, covering the condensed history of the Metaverse, virtual worlds, and the sorts of technologies inherent within them.
The official link for the paper can be found here: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=2480751
Although if contacted in-world I will be glad to provide a PDF copy on request.
4. So you make and sell some stuff too in SL.. links and info?
Will: Over the years I've made and sold a lot of products, from the book Tablet to koios, and while those products are long since discontinued, I currently offer Polybius arcade cabinet and Mori's Mouse on Marketplace. A full set of arcade replicas are available in-world upon request though I trade one Polybius cabinet per other arcade cabinet in-world and prefer not to sell them direct if possible. Mori's Mouse comes as a response to another product designer in-world who made a shoddy mouse toy and it never got delivered. When asked she gave a hard time and refused to cooperate, so considering I have the resources to build products I just went ahead and built a better mouse toy for Nekos in Second Life. Mori's Mouse is made of mesh, comes with a color HUD to customize the colors of multiple parts of the mouse to suit you, and when clicked it squeaks and says a random phrase in local chat.
The mouse toy is very reasonable for 99L, and Polybius Arcade Series III is reasonable at 500L as a high quality mesh arcade cabinet replica and considering the other arcade replicas you may trade it for in-world:
➋ Ms, Pac-Man
➍ Donkey Kong
➎ Space Invaders
➏ Defender [Showroom Playable]
➐ NyanCat: Lost In Space
➑ Puzzle Bobble (Bust-A-Move)
Each game is playable in-world and comes with a host of options built into the coin door slot.
You can find the listing on Marketplace for Mori's Mouse here:
and of course the Polybius Arcade Cabinet is available here:
5. What do you think is the best thing about SL? Are you at liberty to say what are the top 3 things about SL you would change or enhance?
Will: The best thing about second Life is that it exists. I do not consider it the pinnacle of virtual worlds or omething I expect to last, but more like a stop-gap between the old and the new, which will take things maybe one step further. I am not at liberty to say the top three things I would change about it or enhance it due to currently being constrained by a non-disclosure agreement by multiple parties. However, that being said, I'm sure if anyone read through my blog at http://cityofnidus.blogspot.com they would find points of interest that would give an indication of what those three things would be. Otherwise, if I could change one thing about it I would put somebody in charge at Linden Lab that actually understands the difference between a virtual world and video game.
6. What's up with the kitties?
Will: Originally it began with the realization that "Mew" is the simplest answer when exhausted. It was my go-to answer for everything. Over the years it sort of added insanity to it such as the idea of a North American Were-Kitten and how funny it would be to see a werewolf movie where all the lead up to telling the girl to run for her life, and how the boy says how dangerous he is and not the same like other boys... and then the transformation kicks in and there's all this overblown drama... and in the end he howls at the moon while the girl is screaming and running for her life.... Well, I thought it would be hilarious if after all that build up and the girl starts running, there is no howl but instead a tineh little mew and the girl stops.... turns around... sees a cute little kitten in a pile of clothes and says "Awwwwww......"
So that became the humorous thought of North Amercian Were-Kitten and when I got to Second Life, my in-world sister Jewlie Diesel (who I call Mewlie) liked the Were-Kitten idea since she was already a neko. So her and I over the course of years in SL took that to a logical extreme (because Second Life is excellent for amplifying insanity), and so the Kingdom of Yarnia was established (our home sim) and all things lolkitten ensued, which is to say "You cannot imagine the f**k I do not give". A reason to lose all reason and not be bound to logic.
You can imagine its a lot like a kitten, lolcat, and adult mix.
7. Are you available... inquiring minds might want to know?
Will: I'll let my girlfriend answer this one:
8. Anything more you want to share about yourself..., something ppl might want to know or you want ppl to know about you or what you do? RL job?.. how that factors into your SL time. Any RL info you want to share like where you live, favorite food, what kind of a vehicle you drive and what kind of vehicle you would drive if you could drive anything you wanted, name 3 ppl in SL you find interesting and why, a few of your fav SL sims and why, what social medias can you be found on -and give the links. What superhero attribute you would pick if given a choice. Just the basics, you know like race, religion, sex, political inclination, how you feel about meteors, etc... you know, that sort of thing. : ) You said get specific ... how's that?
Will: O_o Wow... um ok... I can answer a lot of those, but some I cannot. so here's what I have:
a. RL Job: Currently involved with the Parallel Worlds project. Details are unavailable due to non-disclosure agreements across the board including with Lockheed Martin. But I can state the obvious which is it involves a high-end virtual world type system. SL time is unaffected since I'm the CTO and I manage effectively instead of micro-managing. Things get done and I can (mostly) chill out.
b. I live in Sussex County, NJ - USA. Originally born in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. I'm a southern boy by heart and love the beach. I currently reside up north around family.
c. What kind of vehicle I would drive if I could drive anything? Doc Brown's DeLorean. But only if the flux capacitor actually worked.
d. Three people I find interesting:
Bryn Oh: Because it's Bryn. There's probably an entire research paper waiting to happen just on Bryn Oh alone.
Bevan Whitfield: Our Lady of Fluff, Keeper of Immaculate Hair, Patron Saint of Kittens.
Jessica Lyon: She owns a technicolor Housecoat. 'nuff said
There's a lot more people in SL that I find interesting, but it would take me all night to write about them.
e. Favorite Sims:
Pura Vida Wellness Resort: One of the only (if only) places in SL that has a bio-acoustic massage therapy package which utilizes audio and spoken guided visualization in order to induce relaxation. Originally this was a part of a project I was working on called Elements Spa to find a way to effectively offer relaxation services given the constraint of a non-touch environment. What is now known as ASMR, played heavily in those findings.
Immersiva: The latest immersive art installation by Bryn Oh. Bryn's work is superb on an artistic and storytelling level and has a level of detail and foresight that I rarely see anywhere in and out of SL.
Cheeky Tiramasu Cafe & Forest: It is quite well done, takes into account complete atmosphere and is all around a great place to go and unwind.
f. Social Media sites I can be found on (mostly) - though I use Google+ the most:
g. Superhero attributes: None. I'd just be Iron Man/Tony Stark.
h. Race, religion, sex, political inclination, how you feel about meteors
Race: Were-Kitten. Actually, I'm Irish/Italian/Native American for what it's worth. Religion: Spiritual with a heavy dose of common sense. Sex: Not as often as I'd like, but I'll live. Political Inclination: Technocrat/Zeitgeist. Meteors: Are pretty cool until they threaten my species with mass extinction. Just saying.
9. What were you just on Metaverse Week in Review for.. since I was RL during the first part?
Will: I'm a regular on the show every week, but today I was there about the research paper being published and because I love making Mal laugh and stutter for a loss of words.
10. IQ please... : )
Will: This is a tough one to answer. I don't actually like disclosing this voluntarily, but would if asked. There is a bit of a premise behind it though, which is that my father is a member of MENSA and it carried over to me in that part. I don't take stock in IQ mostly because I believe there is more to intelligence than just that. That being said, I more than qualify for MENSA but refuse to apply out of principle. For what it's worth, the last time I tested, my IQ was 154.
11. What are some of your fav men's shops.. you always have cool clothes on?
Will: Why, thank-you! For the most part, I tend to shop at a combination of places. My favorite shirt comes from SEY and it is the one with the buckles on it. It has a HUD that lets me change it up easily. My standard jeans come from Razorblaze Jacket and to date are really the only jeans I like, though I'm always on the lookout for more clothes of high quality (Redgrave has my interest with their new Liquid Mesh outfit). My glasses are Role Optic Ares II, and my shoes (white sneakers) are Gizza, though for the longest time I swore by hoorenbeek sneakers. My two favorite men's stores are FATEWear and Razorblade Jacket, though I tend to mix and match other brands as I go such as Lapointe & Bastchild, Kal Rau, Immerchoen, Grasp, FATAL, Not so Bad, *Zanzo*, and Rare Wear Trendmark.
But mostly I just stick to FATEWear and Razorblade.
So there you have it folks, and yes I think this is my longest blog post ever, but Will has a whole lot going on and he's a good friend. I'm sure many of you are friends with him, know about him, or have heard about him, but if not check out some of his products and if curious, google him, and you will find all kinds of info. links, videos, etc about him. He enhances SL. Thanks Will!