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  Virtual-World Voyeurism With ‘Destroy Television’  
Posted 2006-10-22 by Tony Walsh
Sheep Labs, R&D arm of virtual-world-services provider The Electric Sheep Company, has launched a web-based peep-hole into Second Life. Avatar "Destroy Television" has been rigged up to offer web visitors a chance to change its position, viewpoint, and chat messages by remote control. This isn't the first time a peep-hole into Second Life has been set up. Linden Lab, the virtual world's maker, streamed avatar Video Linden's viewpoint directly onto Second Life's home page last year, but the experiment encouraged residents to hijack the avatar's eyeline for their own purposes. This same challenge exists with Destroy Television, but is additionally complicated by the potential for multiple web visitors to control the avatar simultaneously.

Fortunately, The Electric Sheep Company seems to be covering its wooly ass via a floating message atop Destroy Television's head: "Broadcasting SL Live @" This may help to hedge complaints against the firm for filming people without their permission, although I still think the avatar will take some residents by surprise. I'm hoping to see some interesting artistic uses of Destroy Television--with a low profile (unlike Video Linden), the avatar won't likely be as attractive a target for griefers. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go push Destroy Television off the dock she is now standing on and into the ocean.

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Comment posted by Jerry Paffendorf
October 23, 2006 @ 5:46 am
Hey Tony,

Ha, It looks like you and Destroy Television are about to kiss in that picture, and with two people watching you online no less! Not a bad first program on DTV :). Almost as good as the cat with jester hat and 3D glasses, smoking a long-stemmed pipe we caught on there almost immediately after starting up.

Here are the pics of you pushing around DTV from the Flickr lifelog. It's also possible to watch pics as a piece of time-lapse machinima like this (Speed 1 works best, pics currently grabed every 15 seconds), though I still have to figure out how to get it to jump right to your part.

I really hope people make amazing use of DTV, whether it's popping in to see SL and chat with avatars from the web, putting on your own show, staging an event, making machinima, showing off your building skills and wacky inventory, or, eventually, say, handling overflow for large events ;). BTW, A highly outgoing avatar, DTV is looking for friends on her personal MySpace page at Add her! We'll find something fun and automagical to do with that.

It feels like this is the start of something totally unique with the searchable lifelogging, and the live communication, view, and control into SL from the web (though we've currently disabled avatar movement which will be back soon). Of course all the fixings can be stripped and it can just be an avatar view and voice in SL from the web. Lots of different uses to figure out.

In spirit, DTV is meant to be totally fun and open (read: occasionally to always out of control in her current incarnation) and hopefully we'll see a creative community pop up around and inhabit her with the lifelogging making it easy to dig out the cool and interesting stuff. Christian's been out of control in coding this all up and making it work, and I love it that people are starting to take a look at it and play with it.

I also love that DTV lives in our kitchen cabinet in Brooklyn :). See Christian's post for pics.

Some more notes and thoughts here too, but it's getting way too late for me tonight...
Comment posted by Jerry Paffendorf
October 23, 2006 @ 5:51 am
Sorry, correct link to
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 7:28 am
I'm sorry not to be as breathless about this. I went and clicked on it.

First, I hate the name -- it's destructive. What are you destroying? It's juvenile.

Second, it's impossible to use for dummies, but ostensibly you want dummies to use it (or possibly not).

I went and pressed on it -- it claimed to have "controls" under the picture which simply weren't there.

Pressing on it pulls up a map with a location, presumably of this TV avatar that you can go and red-beam track -- I arrive -- nothing visible. Click it again and chase to 2 other sims. Finally it seems to "alight" but there is nothing visible. No avatar. Nothing. No people. No green dots. Just the red track beam. I think, well, maybe it fell offline. I keep trying to track it, wait, wait, click, wait. Talk into the box -- never shows up. Click on Flikr link, see dozens of grey pictures of an avatar's back with illegible chat. Click some more. And give up.

I understand from talking to one Sheep that you got the idea of TV from me lol because I've been chatting up the need for broadcast and narrowcast.

So make it work. The people need TV. I'd rather have my own TV though frankly, not this avatar who seems clunk to move and in fact didn't show up.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 23, 2006 @ 9:29 am
Jerry, thanks for sharing those links, I think this is a worthy experiment--certainly there's lots of interesting issues raised (what constitutes consent to be filmed, are there any IP issues raised in "copying" creations during broadcast, does giving outsiders control of an inside avatar break any LL ToS items, etc). I'd love to see some control kiosks with video screens placed in-world.

I think "destroy television" is a great name. It's iconoclastic; it reminds me of the old song "Kill Your Television" by Pop Will Eat Itself; and it suggests the future of TV will be [is being] jarringly distrupted.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 9:36 am
Tony, it can only become um...jarringly disrupted" if this thingy works. Hey, if we're going to disrupt, why stop at ESC-controlled disruptions of RL television? Why not disrupt ESC control and have our own avatars to do Disrupt TV, too?

I realize sometimes people take an evil glee in "disruptive technology" which they love not only because they are using it as a clinical term to describe "abruptly changing technology" but because they love the idea of "sticking it to the Man" and making some group of people they imagine to be conservative and stodgy uncomfortable. Then the task becomes determining whether they are just juvenile pranksters disrupting out of malicious joy in others' misfortune, or actually ground-breaking revolutionaries who really are sweeping away the ancien regime which needs to be swept.

The Man here, I guess, is supposed to be the evil corporations and media conglomerates like Rupert Murdoch (who at least bought MySpace because he said he wanted to "listen" to customers (imagine!). But these iconoclasts of yours, Tony, are still relying heavy on big old-media corporations to spread their message for their fancy RL clients needing metaversal services.

BTW, long before Pop Will Eat Itself, whoever *they* are, the Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing in Medjegore and telling the little children her message for the world: turn off your television. *Shrugs*.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 23, 2006 @ 10:57 am
Prok, I hadn't thought of the avatar Destroy Television as being capable of living up to its namesake--I was thinking of TV's demise as a result of interactive media in general.

ESC doesn't have much control over Destroy Television, as evidenced by the fact that I waltzed the avatar into the middle of the sea. Can't wait until someone uses a push-gun to send Destroy Television flying 4 sims away into the middle of a Furry Gorean blood-orgy. *That* will be TV worth destroying.
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 11:27 am
PWEI rocks, but wasn't it Ned's that wrote that song about a year after Medjugorje? Even so, this reminds me of bumper stickers which were blastered on pick-up trucks "long before" the Medjugorje message. *Pointless shrug*
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 23, 2006 @ 11:44 am
Yeah, I think you're right, csven -- It was Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Same era, at least :)
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 12:40 pm
Picture of said bumper stickers please? I scoured and couldn't find.

Tony, let me try to explain again. I *realize* that Destroy TV has an avatar you can push off the docks. So I realize, you are having fun being literally destructive, drowning avatars or sending them flying into Gor gore.

HOWEVER what I'm saying is that I want my own avatar that can have TV Eyes and be linked to my website. Let them sell the technology or whatever, people will buy it. I don't want to just be pushing THEIR avatar around.

I want MY avatar to get TV Eyes.
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
October 23, 2006 @ 12:48 pm
Ohhhh... ok, I get it now, Prok. I want TV eyes, too. But until then, I'll settle for griefing Destroy Television.
Comment posted by Jerry Paffendorf
October 23, 2006 @ 1:05 pm
On the name, we went sideways with "Destroy" because good lord, as Tony points out, the things you might see on there... Requires a creative spirit you might not normally expect. There can be different video-web avatars with different features and different names, and in time there will be.

Prok > I understand from talking to one Sheep that you got the idea of TV from me lol because I've been chatting up the need for broadcast and narrowcast.

Nope, you're such a solipsist :). But I did love your National Novel Writing Month idea for turning your inworld experiences into a book of pics and chat. Is that what you mean? Spin Martin is on that wave too. I think SL can be a much better platform for generating stories like this.

BTW the WebNoPointOh (trying to break out of some tired boxes here) formula for conceptualizing DTV is something like the old SLTV one-way window to SL + + Just Letters + SLStats + [url="" ]Passively
Multi-Player Online Gaming[/url].

> HOWEVER what I'm saying is that I want my own avatar that can have TV Eyes and be linked to my website. Let them sell the technology or whatever, people will buy it. I don't want to just be pushing THEIR avatar around.

Yes, that's the big idea to work towards: TV eyes and personal lifelogs for all--something homegrown from SL that can't be done better anywhere else on the web. This is only a test...
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 1:13 pm
"Picture of said bumper stickers please?"

Sorry, Prok. No pic. But it was on a friend's vehicle before the apparition's message in the mid-80's. And we shouldn't be surprised, should we? Or was my father the only one saying the same thing when I was growing up? I doubt it.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 1:20 pm
csven, a bumper-sticker on your friend's truck hardly counts as popular culture or mass media. I'm sorry, but the BVM appearing in the Balkans counts as mass culture and mass media. So yeah, that was out there first, but whatever, you just like to argue, but hey, you met your match here.
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 1:50 pm
hahaha. Prok, what did I say?

"Even so, this reminds me of bumper stickers which were blastered on pick-up trucks "long before" the Medjugorje message. *Pointless shrug*"

I didn't say that bumper sticker counted for anything; only that these comments reminded me of those bumper stickers. Nothing more and noted as entirely pointless (kinda like your point).

But were you looking for an argument, Prok? I'm sorry. You're obviously feeling defensive. I'll try to keep my kid gloves on from here on out and tell you when a real argument has begun, okay?
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 1:58 pm
Jerry, um,I'm not a solipsist, I probably spent way more hours logged into SL talking to way more people and visiting way more sims than you do, even though you do put in time and spend that time with the Big People like Ben Folds, and I'm down there in the weeds with the blingtards.

I talked about the need for SLTV vigorously, most recently here:

But of course it's something many people have been talking about ever since the failed projects of SLTV sponsored by the Lindens, and the "Fox TV" sponsored by TrannyPet.

There needs to be TV, and a lot of competitive TV. And there needs to be spot news and not just people goofing around and shooting off rockets or pushing avatars into the ocean, although that's fun, too.

And Novotar is one thing, sure, that was my idea I did last year of using the NaNoWriMo, writing a mega book of avatar chat, pictures, experiences, etc. which I submitted (it ended up getting lost with a computer crash though I suppose NaNoWriMo still has the excerpt -- it was such diverse material that I don't have a copy of it as such -- I'll just start a new one).

But what you seem to be talking about is so fractionalizing and solipsizing and subjectivizing TV that we'll be forced to watch a million goofy Utubes of people's cats and their less-than-thrilling bare boobs. And that's ok, I'm all for that, but we still need independent professional tv, too.
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 2:43 pm
"but we still need independent professional tv, too"

Not disagreeing, but how does one manage to do this? The very definition of "professional" assumes that the person is making a living from their effort. Is it reasonable to assume at this point that a group of people could pull this off and do it professionally? I'm not sure. For all the talk of crowdsourcing and user-generated content, there's been precious little discussion about the quality of that content. There's good stuff out there, but as you suggest, it's very much still "a million goofy Utubes of people's cats". The consumers want the good stuff and they mostly don't want to pay for it. That doesn't bode well for independent professional tv inside SL - or anywhere else for that matter - anytime soon. I'd be surprised to see a professional, independent effort in SL in the next year that lasts more than a few months. Maybe, but I'm not holding my breath.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 4:42 pm
Who would have ever thought that Reuters -- Reuters! -- would open up a news bureau in Second Life -- a game! OK, a virtual world. When I told columnists of some major papers about this last night, they were goggling. They haven't wrapped their mind around the idea of the 3-d Internet/online places to go thing yet. So it's not inconceivable to think of WNYE or Channel 13 or something coming here, and it's not inconceivable that people with professional ability, even if they can't make money frmo the advertising just yet, will come on the scene. I've alread had queries about this from a few. It will happen.
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 5:44 pm
Not saying it won't or can't, only that it's a big leap from print to moving image. Reuters can assign one or two people to write stories without significant cost - and there's no assurance yet they'll even continue for any length of time; they've barely begun. And they're a large news organization. And those reporters probably have time for other things. What newstation would be willing to incur the time, energy, and costs at this point to give SL a meaningful television station (and what *is* meaningful? an hour a week? an hour a day? what?). That's not a one-person operation imo. We're talking three or four minimum imo with a couple of them working more or less full-time hours at RW wages. The ROI on that doesn't look good afaic; not yet anyway. I'd be happy to be wrong, but like I said, I'm not expecting anything.
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
October 23, 2006 @ 6:45 pm
Meaningful could be as little as 15 minutes a day of spot news, chat, live music or acts. Even if all they do is have raw machinima feed for 10 minutes on a regular basis and build some following it will be significant.

The problem with TV is that people keep conceiving of it in its old-media dimensions of slick, expensive, time-consuming, heavily-staffed production. They then sneer when it is just Hi-8 quality.

But what's needed for SL is exactly that, merely holding up the mirror, capturing some of the action. Broadcasting time and production quality could be built up in time. The important thing is to get started now even with scrappy Fraps clips regularly put out with even just a few minutes it will work. People are eager for anything to watch on their free tvs, they are eager for reflection of the world they have trouble grasping as it moves and changes so rapidly.
Comment posted by csven
October 23, 2006 @ 8:02 pm
15 minutes? Maybe. But even Rocketboom is a big undertaking and that's hardly slick; barely what I would call professional.
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