Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cities in 3D

I am asked to be a spy among the sharks
so I buy a suit and practice in the mirror
I swing my body from side to side 
until my movement becomes streamlined
I learn to breathe in water and live on sardines
Naturally they love me

In time I meet my spouse and have a couple shark-like kids

When finally I am called home again I start my report
"We have much to learn from the sharks"
but by then my words are no longer in any language they can understand
no matter how hard I try to explain

(Adapted from "A Spy" by James Krusoe from Jungle Girl)

Why have roads when you can fly or breathe underwater? Free our cities from 2D flatland. The area where you live may look like this.


That is, if we still live in houses. Underwater is less familiar and offers a bigger space for our imagination.


Shark avatars

A wider range of shark avatars will be available for people to inhabit and role-play. Participants can choose to be a hammerhead, a great white, a blacktip, a whale shark, among others. The role of a shark is to befriend other animals including humans, teach them to swim, and be a guide to the underwater world. In preparing to role-play sharks, participants go through an orientation where they learn to swim proficiently. They also learn the characteristics of the species of shark that they want to role-play. This scenario in SL tries to counter the fear-mongering media portrayal of sharks and teach people that the majority of sharks (356 out of 360 species) are harmless.

Finning of sharks

To counter the media portrayal of sharks and alert people about the finning of sharks, Rob Stewart made the documentary Sharkwater: A large number of sharks are killed for their fins. Many times a shark is dragged onto a boat, its fins cut off as it struggles, then tossed back into the ocean while still alive. Not only is this practice cruel, it is wasteful (over 99 percent of the shark is wasted). Finning of sharks is illegal in most countries, but authorities ignore many illegal shark-finning operations as they bring in millions of dollars. Each year approximately 100 million sharks are killed for their fins. Nearly 90 % of the world's shark populations has been wiped out from finning and our fear of sharks. (

One strategy to counter this is to boycott restaurants that serve shark's fin and to tell them about it. Another strategy is to change the public perception of sharks as man-eating super-predators. (Thanks Jaws... I keep hoping that someone would make a movie similar to Blood Diamonds that would have as big an impact on changing the public perception of sharks as Blood Diamonds had for diamonds.) Sharks do not eat people. People splashing on the surface of the water look like injured animals that some sharks eat, and when the sharks bite the people, they realize their mistake and let go.

Deborah Peterson wrote, "In testament to how friendly some sharks may be to human advance, yours truly actually braved the shallow waters to hug a shark once ... What I found most surprising was the texture of the shark's skin which was rough to the touch, with a very firm body -- not fat, blubbery or slippery as I had imagined. The shark seemed to take my advance to pick it up without a hint of struggle or fear of humankind, in a sense, showing a trust." (


Jordan, blogger at Superforest, wrote "consider it next time you're in the ocean. That shark you so fear... is probably more afraid of you." (


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