|Junk Shop of Eternity|
Sentimentality is a cute but largely useless trait to possess - and possess it I do. Aesthetics and pragmatics don't stand a chance against But It Was Made Especially For Me or The First One I Ever Bought/Made/Was Given. It isn't that I was brought up to be a materialist, nor that I place value and security in palpability (although many writing about my generation say that we have and do), but is instead based on something that goes beyond the realms of capitalism and being just plain shallow.
The danger, perhaps, is that our understanding, appreciation, and love of Beyond Face Value Worth predates the internet and cloud storage. So does its slightly less sophisticated cousin I Just Really Like It.
In many games, avatars are limited in how much they can carry around with them at any one time, and even when games permit the buying of houses and safety deposit boxes, they are generally used to store items that will, at some point or another, fulfill their purpose and thus vanish from existence. That Second Life is not really a game is pretty well-established, and one of the smaller reasons for this is its deviation from this practical limitation. What I am trying to say is that SL avatars have the potential to be wardrobes-to-Narnia; they can walk around carrying as many things as they like in their inventories, and they don't have to worry about overtaxing their agility or juggling heavy garments with the invisible item bag. The items they carry, too, are rarely of the one-time-use variety. As I write, Kitti has an inventory of 12,384 items, and from conversations with other SL users, I've come to realise how small Kitti's inventory is.
If a large wardrobe can hold, let's say, 100 items at the outside limit, that means Kitti is effectively carrying around 1,238 wardrobes, all of which lead to Narnia. As Louis said to Lestat, we're making a junk shop of eternity.
If there is a limit on how large Linden Labs allow their user's inventories to be, I have no idea what it is, and it isn't any limit I'm afraid to hit any time soon. Of course, having a large inventory stored somewhere in the internet isn't quite as carefree and easy as it sounds - your computer has to haul up the list of items in your possession and recall all of the pathways that lead to those intangible objects, and this can create a serious amount of lag. But lots of other factors contribute to lag, and they can be overcome by super fast internet connections and super fast computers. And we're not the ones doing the heavy lifting. It's just not the same thing.
The maintenance and curation of our inventories is left entirely up to us, and that's where sentimentality comes into play. As technology develops and the quality of items in SL gets better, how do we balance innovation with sentimentality? How do we manage the deeply capitalist SL system of AcquireAcquireAcquire?
These thoughts were prompted by, of all things, my virtual cats. Scout and James refused to produce more kittens, and whilst I was getting disappointed about the lack of new cats, I started wondering just how many cats I could fit in my skybox before I lost my temper over tripping over the damn things. And when I logged in this weekend and found almost all of the cats were sick and I had to pay for medicine for them, I realised I had to give the question some serious thought.
|When KittyCats get sick, they magic up these little beds and thermometers. They're obviously carrying them around in their own little invisible inventory bags. Since these cats live out of Kitti's inventory, there are bags within bags. Bagception.|
But how do I get rid of my virtual cats? I feel highly sentimental about them, for no real reason I can rationalise, and at the moment at least, I can navigate about half of the skybox without tripping over one and going cartwheeling into the wall.
Where do I draw the line? And then, once done, how do I process the guilt of it?