Welcome to the United States! [en]

[fr] Quelques étrangetés américaines rencontrées sur mon chemin...

Here are a few of the things I noted regarding my second contact with US culture. I’ll add things to this list during my stay.

– friendly and helpful people (besides the cashier at Walgreen who couldn’t help me use the card payment system and was a tad grumpy)
– wide, wide roads; a normal road like Cornell in Hillsboro is roughly as wide as our motorways; a small residential lane is wide enough to fit 8 cars across it
– big, big cars, to go with the wide, wide roads; they’re not cars, they’re trucks! And yeah, maximum one person per vehicle, please…
– some of the cars (quite a lot) have the orange turn signals lit up permanently (not blinking) instead of off
– in domestic airports, anybody can enter the luggage claim area
– security people have a “we take security seriously here” air about them
– breakfast seems to consist [mainly of pastries](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/2202583)
– cubicles; saw the real ones, after being introduced to the concept by Dilbert; they’re far worse than I had imagined: huge, huge spaces lined with grey boxes — people must feel very lonely working in them
– default mode of transportation seems to be the car; when I asked where I could get a sewing kit, I was sent about 500m/1km away, but the guy was a bit taken aback when he understood I was on foot, and then claimed it wasn’t walking distance
– many more large and extra-large people here than what I’m used to seeing
– grown-ups wearing caps
– an ATM which charges me $2 to withdraw money
– tap water which tastes of chlorine and frog (I feel like I’m drinking swimming-pool water)
– grid-like roads: very confusing when trying to figure out where I am on a map — all the intersections look the same
– nice food! Indian, Thai, burger, fish-food… yum; I’m definitely not having [light meals to help with my jetlag](http://dannie.wordpress.com/2007/01/06/sleep-and-jet-lag/)
– at Portland baggage claim, a surprising number of very young mothers (or very well-preserved mothers)
– way too much choice when it comes to medicines
– toilet bowls full of water by default (I thought the first one I encountered was blocked)
– signs telling people to wash their hands!
– bathtubs encountered are wide but really short and shallow
– way too much ice in drinks
– woman next to me on the plane who gave me a rather blank look when I said “Switzerland”
– pedestrian lights in Hillsboro stay green for two seconds and then transform into a big red flashing hand; now what’s the logic behind training people to walk across the road with a big red hand flashing at them? in civilised countries like Switzerland, the light at least stays green long enough to allow you to cross the road while it’s green
– paying the bill at the restaurant requires engaging in complicated calculations to figure out [how much to tip](http://twitter.com/stephtara/statuses/2328513)

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Le Matin Dimanche parle de Second Life [fr]

[en] Article in local newspaper about Second Life. Some links and pointers.

Eh oui! Ce matin, j’ai failli oublier de suivre mon propre conseil à mon entourage: acheter Le Matin Dimanche. On y trouve un [article présentant brièvement Second Life](http://www.lematin.ch/nwmatinhome/nwmatinheadactu/0/les_suisses_de__second.html), accompagné de deux interviews: [Philippe Mottaz](http://www.lematin.ch/nwmatinhome/nwmatinheadactu/0/_je_me_suis_offert.html) (Via Digitalis) et [moi-même](http://www.lematin.ch/nwmatinhome/nwmatinheadactu/0/_j_ai_eu_un_vrai_choc.html).

Lectures sur le même sujet:

– [Second Life, c’est quoi?](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/12/second-life-cest-quoi/)
– [Culture Shock in Second Life](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/14/culture-shock-in-second-life/)
– [First Steps in Second Life](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/12/first-steps-in-second-life/)
– [Photos de Second Life](http://flickr.com/photos/tags/secondlife) sur Flickr
– [Qui parle de Second Life](http://technorati.com/search/secondlife?language=fr) sur Technorati
– [Second Life](http://secondlife.com), le site (attention! Second Life n’est pas un site mais plutôt [un programme à télécharger](http://secondlife.com/community/downloads.php))
– [Blog francophone consacré à Second Life](http://secondworld.wordpress.com/)
– [Ma collection de liens](http://del.icio.us/steph/secondlife) au sujet de Second Life

Dommage quand même, pour un article parlant de quelque chose qui se passe en ligne, qu’il n’y ait pas un seul lien sur la page ni sur la version online! Du coup, j’ai encore plus de [pauvres visiteurs qui cherchent “second life” dans Google](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/11/25/second-life-et-mes-stats/)…

Si c’est la problématique ados et internet qui vous interpelle, [quelques infos sur mon site pro](http://stephanie-booth.com/ecoles).

Ah oui — je sais pas vous, mais en tous cas moi je vous prédis une déferlante médiatique au sujet de Second Life, genre les blogs il y a deux ans…

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Culture Shock in Second Life [en]

[fr] Second Life est vraiment ressenti par ceux qui l'utilisent comme un espace physique. Preuve en est le sentiment de désorientation qui m'habite alors que je découvre cet espace -- sentiment très proche de celui qui a accompagné mes premiers jours un Inde: un choc culturel. On trouve également dans Second Life des problèmes de racisme. A mon avis, un terrain fertile pour mieux comprendre, par exemple, comment l'utilisation de jeux vidéos interactifs (comme WoW) peut agir sur nous.

After [my first few hours inside Second Life](http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2006/08/12/first-steps-in-second-life/), I realized that the confusion I was feeling was very similar to what I had experienced when I [first arrived in India](http://climbtothestars.org/logbook): I was suffering from a [culture shock](http://climbtothestars.org/writing/choc/ “Some thoughts I wrote down after a few days in India, in French.”).

There were people all around me that looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. I had trouble communicating (I’d try to chat and I’d fly up in the air) and identifying what I saw in my surroundings. I didn’t know where to go. I read notes which mentioned places which ringed no bells. I just didn’t know what to do or where to start.

But what really rang the “culture shock” bells for me was that I was feeling anxious and afraid of the avatar-people around me. I feared somebody would pounce on me (well, my avatar, but by then the identification process had kicked in), or animate my avatar against my will, or start shouting obscene things at me. I felt pretty insecure and vulnerable amongst all these people with masks on their faces. I had no idea what to expect from them, just as I had no idea what to expect from people when I landed in India.

In India, I was afraid to go out by myself and explore. In Second Life, I get some of that feeling too. I’m afraid of ending up in “bad places”. Talk of griefers and guns makes me scared. So I tend to hang out in the [New Citizens Plaza](http://slurl.com/secondlife/Kuula/61/141/28/) a lot. *(Note: if you click on that URL, you’ll be shown where that place is on a map of Second Life. If you’re running Second Life, you can click on the “Teleport” button to go there. Doesn’t seem to work for me, though.)* Then last night [buridan](http://wiki.tmttlt.com/) showed me to [Joi](http://joi.ito.com)’s [island Kula](http://slurl.com/secondlife/Kula%202/140/80/21) (fun stuff there with merry-go-rounds and dancing floors).

The interesting point here is that I’m exploring Second Life space just as I do real physical geographical space. I find the same patterns in my behaviour. Same with activities that do not match anything in my life experience yet: flying, teleporting — I don’t tend to do these things much yet, just as it took me a while to start taking rickshaws on my own, queueing to get somebody else to photocopy (“Xerox”) documents for me, and fend off beggars efficiently.

Second Life is much more than “chat with graphics”. As I told my Grandma on the phone yesterday, when she asked me what on earth my last posts were about, it’s almost like an “internet inside the internet”. There are chatrooms in it, but they are informal and transient: put a few people in an open space, and if they gather and start talking, you have a chatroom-like atmosphere. But you can walk/fly/teleport away, [do your hair](http://www.flickr.com/photos/bunny/213397504/) or build/program stuff while the others talk. All that without leaving Second Life.

As a long-time IRC chatroom inhabitant, I see two major differences between what I’m used to and Second Life.

From the chatroom point of view, first of all, you cannot be in two places at once inside Second Life. On IRC, I sit in way more than one chatroom at a time, and it’s not uncommon for me to be conducting conversations in two or three chatrooms at once. In Second Life, you can send private messages in parallel to the “physical group conversation” you’re having, but you can’t have more than one group conversation.

Another “quality” of Second Life that strikes me is that it’s less “partial-attention-friendly” than text-only chat or instant messaging — or even web surfing. I find it very hard to do “something else” at the same time as I’m in Second Life. I think it has something to do with the graphical nature of Second Life, and how rich an environment it is. There’s enough material *inside* Second Life for partial attention as it is 🙂 — but also, the fact there is a graphical representation of the people you’re chatting with helps capture one’s attention. (Maybe I feel things this way because I’m new to Second Life, I might think differently later on.)

So, even though Second Life is an entirely on-the-computer thing, it clearly activates the pathways in our brains that we use to deal with physical space and beings. I’ve already said many times that the internet is broadly perceived as “space without space”, but it’s much more obvious in Second Life. Another element that shows us how “real” this virtual environment is to our brains is the presence of [racism in Second Life](http://secondlife.blogs.com/nwn/2006/02/the_skin_youre_.html). The topic came up when I was talking to a few “Furries” (ie, people with an [animal-like avatar](http://flickr.com/photos/bunny/215001301/)) who mentioned there were “furry areas” because Furries were often subject to discrimination from others. Even though we know the aspect of a Second Life citizen is a mask, it seems to have an impact on the way we relate to him/her.

This, to me, is related in some way to the fact that the learning experiences you make in interactive virtual worlds (think “video games”) affect your “non-game” life as well (think “flight simulators”). Which can bring us to question, for example, what effect it can have on one’s brain to spend a long number of hours “killing virtual people”. But that’s another chapter!

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Cinémathèque — cycles Al Pacino et David Lynch [en]

Cycles Al Pacino et David Lynch ces temps à  la Cinémathèque.

Je continue ma série pub pour les cinémas non-multiplexes, dans la foulée.

Ces temps à  la Cinémathèque Suisse (c’est sous le Casino de Montbenon, si jamais), cycles Al Pacino et David Lynch. Le programme complet version papier peut se ramasser au Cine Qua Non ou à  la Cinémathèque elle-même, et sans doute ailleurs.

On va attaquer avec Blue Velvet demain soir.

Erratum: Blue Velvet, c’est le 14 avril, et non pas aujourd’hui!

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