November 15th, 2006

Hocus Opus

Meet Hocus Opus, my Second Life avatar.

It’s not that I don’t already have too much to do in my first/real life, but I confess that I’m rather excited about the possibilities for virtual, multimedia interactions — especially in the realm of ethno/music/ology — and SL seems to have the energy, resources, and critical mass to make such an experiment a “reality” (of sorts) at this point.

I hope to persuade any willing early adopters out there to join me for some music-centered events in SL in the near future, including some exclusive — and hopefully fun and edifying — interactions and listening parties with some of my (and your) favorite DJs and producers.

But I’ll be kicking things off this Thursday with a slightly more academic gathering. Coinciding with Becca’s class (which meets on Berkman Island on Thursday evenings) and with the annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology (which happens to be in Honolulu this year), a couple of colleagues and I will be sharing some sounds and thoughts w/r/t music, copyright, and virtual worlds.

Allow me to share Becca’s announcement of the event with you, which puts the experiment into greater context:

Yesterday in CyberOne we had guests Mike Fricklas (General Counsel of Viacom) and Wayne Marshall (Ethnomusicologist and digital musician) in class to try to make empathic arguments to each other about the thorny issue of digital music production and consumption and copyright. They were wonderful. I recommend the video to you:

As a follow-up event, we are holding a Music & Rights Forum at Berkman Island this Thursday evening at 9pm EST/6pm SLT. Music Professor Anthony McCann (University of Ulster), will lead a panel at which Wayne Marshall (University of Chicago) and Clifford Murphy (Brown University) will present some current research in ethnomusicology on the subject of music production/consumption and copyright. Wayne will be discussing the emergent genre of mashups — mashups usually combine the vocals from one song with the music from another — as a way of discussing current digital production methodology and its relationship to the law. Cliff will be discussing the “mothballing” of old and non-commercially viable music by companies that own the rights to that music.

This event is an experiment in two ways. First, we are experimenting with the idea that presentations about music might be very effective in SL because the audience can both listen to the music and “listen” to the speaker at the same time. Second, we are experimenting with the idea that an academic panel discussion of the sort that usually happens at academic conferences could take place in SL. The purpose of the second goal is to consider whether we might lighten the carbon footprint caused by academic conferences by, at some point in the future, transitioning to holding some of them in a virtual world that would not require airplane travel.

Please feel free to join us if you’re interested in checking it out. No doubt it will be a learning experience, but that’s the idea.


ps — If you want to learn more about SL, I highly recommend Camille Dodero’s Phoenix piece, as well as New World Notes, which regularly covers and uncovers the wonders of this weird new world.

pps — I recognize that SL is a far from perfect metaverse, but you gotta start somewhere.


  • 1. Jorge Vieira  |  November 15th, 2006 at 9:46 am

    More in Science Magazine

    So, Honolulu!! Great!

  • 2. wayneandwax  |  November 15th, 2006 at 9:47 am

    thanks, jorge. leaving in a couple hours. very much looking forward to going to hawaii, and very much hoping to be able to sneak out of the conference hotel to soak in some sun.

  • 3. jace  |  November 15th, 2006 at 3:12 pm

    re the pps — Stephenson’s Snow Crash is worth reading. in addition to its robust visualization of a near-future jacked-in world, there’s also nice bits about this crazy skater music made to be played under massive highway underpasses, sonic waves and concrete supporting liminal youth culture.

  • 4. Kariann  |  November 21st, 2006 at 1:03 pm

    I tried SL once and found it a little difficult to really enjoy. My avatar is cute, though.

    BTW, it was nice to see you in Hawai’i.

  • 5. wayneandwax  |  November 21st, 2006 at 3:46 pm

    thanks for the comment, kariann. good to see you too. yeah, i think SL has a lot of unrealized potential, which is part of why i’m trying to experiment a bit in there. gonna post some thoughts of how last week’s panel went ASAP. hope to figure out a way to make it interesting and enjoyable. you interested in participating in a future event perhaps? cute avatars are a bonus.

  • 6. Kariann  |  November 21st, 2006 at 9:33 pm

    I could participate in future events if given enough notice. Let me know.

  • 7. GeoffMcG Xi  |  November 24th, 2006 at 2:24 pm

    Hocus, the conference in SL was awesome–what a great tool for bringing people together and sharing ideas. Thanks for participating and letting us know a bit about the work that you do and the potential inherent in this new technology!

  • 8. » H&hellip  |  November 30th, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    […] Thursday afternoon’s Second Life session went pretty well too. And — funny thing — it was about as well attended, as shown in the pic above. […]

  • 9. wayneandwax  |  January 13th, 2007 at 11:01 am

    check it out: my avatar made it into the NYT!


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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