Wanting to make the boundaries between the virtual and actual worlds more permeable? Itching to toggle just a little more between them? Then Sparkle is for you!! Sparkle is the delightful name of the iPhone app that lets you log into Second Life and use instant message with friends, participate in local chat wherever your avatar is (although you can't see the space visually), accept inventory offers, and teleport friends to you so they can participate in your local chat.
It seems to work pretty well, except of course that no one knows your avatar isn't "really" there, or is even less virtually there than usual. A while ago, standing around on my land, a mysterious stranger appeared who told me he couldn't see my, that he needed to relog with "eyes," and explained the various viewers and programs that people use for SL; he was using a messaging-only one at the time. It confused me no end at the time. So I try to tell people that I am on my iPhone, that I am Sparkling, or on Sparkle. "L1Aura Loire sparkles at space shuttle launch" I think there are some good verb possibilities here.
What is the point of Sparkling? As usual for these things, there are as many answers as there are people in SL, because everyone is doing something different. If someone is involved in a project and wants to check messages away from their computer, this is a good way to do that. I was glad to be able to answer a question about the build I am installing at the Fiteiro Cultural (see pic above, more on that completely exciting development soon) when I wasn't going to be inworld for a while. Another time, I was stuck waiting someplace and popped in, had an amusing conversation with a SL friend. I don't use text messaging on my phone, but I guess I used it like that.
But mostly the experience of using Sparkle on the iPhone is that it is yet another way that the virtual world creeps out of the computer and into the "real" world. There I am, walking around with the sexy little iPhone, but also "being" L1. Even though I can't see my avatar, she is there in SL, talking to someone, who can see her. I am really in two places at once, here and there, in a way that I am not when I sit at my computer. This is how I see the future of virtual worlds developing, so that over time, as the technology develops, toggling between the virtual and actual becomes as easy as making a phone call is now on a cellphone--wherever you are, with all the info at your fingertips, or braintips-- and we exist in both realities, sometimes simultaneously. And there will probably be more kinds of realities, experiences, and subjectivities, too, that make SL look like having a telegraph exchange instead of a face to face conversation.
Another experience I had recently used the avaline, a phone number for avatars. I called Sage Duncan on her avaline, inworld, from my home phone. She answered in her voice chat in Second Life and we talked. This blows my mind!!! OK, I know she is a real person--Stacey Fox at Kansas Univ--as well as Sage Duncan, superhero/fox as I like to think of her because she can do everything--with panache--and has helped me out more than a couple times when I had primmed myself into a corner. But still!! Calling her in the grid on a telephone! Mixed reality! Toggle! A new interface! Use that technology!
To Sparkle, then, is perhaps to have that double existence in the actual and virtual, to be both/and, to be on the cusp of the toggle, maybe falling over the edge into . . . .