Monday, January 30, 2006


Doing a virtual jig for Creative Commons...

I don't know what Lawrence Lessig imagined he'd do in the years after arguing Eldred vs. Ashcroft before the Supreme Court, though I'm guessing it didn't include hopping around on a giant tree surrounded by elves, orcs, the odd dragon and centaur, and Scottish highlanders in kilts near a table of virtually steaming haggis.

But this is exactly what he did last weekend, teleporting into the branches of the great Haggie's Tree in ElvenGlen, a private island terraformed into a faerie-dusted land suitable for Queen Forcythia Wishbringer to govern. When he arrived, the traditional supper in honor of Scottish poet Robert Burns was already going full roar, with freshly cooked haggis delivered to the table in a processional ceremony (I did the honors), toasts given, drinks raised and quaffed, and dozens of bare knees kicking in a synchronized dance of flying kilts.

All a strange way for an esteemed law professor at Stanford to spend his Saturday, perhaps, even if it was to help raise donations for the Creative Commons initiative. Then again, by the time he showed up, another luminary was already there getting jiggy with the jig: famed blogger and fellow CC boardmember Joi Ito in flipflops, kicking it with an ivy-covered dryad and Dagny Hemingway, one of the feast's beguiling hostesses.

"Ito-San," Lessig observes out loud from across the tree, "nice dance."

So role playing and real life wove together, two avatars immediately identifiable by their actual names and appearances, gamely enjoying the chance to socialize with the fantastic for a good cause.

"I'm breathless with joy with all the wonderful tartan costumes and dancing," the fair lass Dagny sighs, amid the dancing throng.

"It is important when one's head is in the clouds to keep the feet on the floor," Queen Forcythia sagely advises her.

"Hey, Mr. Lessig," Davos Desmoulins interjects nearby, "since I don't know you I have to ask if you have read the book 'http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/against.htm' and if so what do you think about it?"

"Not read it," the professor replies, in between foot stomping, "I'll check it out."

Then Dagny offers a ribald toast to manly men:

'Tis to the gents that I'll now bow.
Men make life rich somehow.
Though lassies say, when they're alone,
that laddies often make us groan as much as smile.
Oh, laddies, may ye never be much different that ye are.
For what ye are is what we need. Without strong lads, wee lassies go to weeds.

Not to be outdone, Hagrid Bergson, bearded bear of a man himself, makes a toast of his own:

It is the spirit of Creative Commons in SL that made this tree possible.
If you don't know about Creative Commons,
check out CreativeCommons.org.
Within a month of being here I was able to make this tree,
because I was able to buy a build kit for trees that had mod rights.
Based on Real Life experience I knew that branches
followed a fractal pattern.
And after looking at many trees I found a kit that had these prims.
I found a fractal script in the Forums.
Once I was done, Wayfinder gave me the leaves.

Herbert Hoggard turns to Lessig, booming: "Cheers to the man!!"

"Cheers to the Commoners," Lessig responds in turn. And after some time alone in a kilt sitting on a branch (perhaps contemplating the future of free culture by moonlight), he turns to the gathered throng, some in plaid, some in chainmail, some in just the scales or wings that the Creators gave them.

"So thanks to everyone who came and was kind enough to give something to Creative Commons," he says. "I've got to go take care of my kid, but I hope I can come back. There are few places in the worlds where people understand what we're about as well as here."

"Take care, Lawrence," Queen Forcythia proclaims, "you are always welcome in the Elven lands."

"But meanwhile," he says, nodding to his friend in black, "teach Joi some tricks. Back soon."

Thanks to all who helped contribute a total of L$37,178 to the Creative Commons donation box provided by Pathfinder Linden. All funds are transferred to Lawrence Lessig's Second Life account, and from there sold and converted into US$ that are deposited directly to Creative Commons' official PayPal account. More events to benefit CC will be planned this Wednesday and Saturday; join the Free Culture group to get involved!

UPDATE, 1/31: For those arriving to this blog for the first time, the debuted appearance of Lawrence Lessig's avatar is recounted here.

Posted at 12:15 AM | Permalink


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