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2008
Rock Theater: Branch of: Conversation in the Garden
When exploring Second Life, I realized that this was the perfect environment to resurrect one of my favorite ideas, formally called Conversations in the Garden.
IMAGINE THIS:
Image talking a walk in a garden in Second Life. As you approach a medow you start hearing peoplr talking, but there are no avatars around. You've curious and try to locate the source of the voices.

As the voices grow louder, you notice five rocks in a circle that appear to be animated. It's as if they were carrying on the conversation. You are still a distance away as to not be notices.

The conversation is quit compelling, definitely not idle small talk.

They are talking about wholism and reductivism in a rather theoretical manner. Soon you start to pick up their names, strange names like Ant Eater, Archiles and Tortose; but oddly familiar. Then it dawns on you this is a dialogue from Godel, Escher and Bach called the Ant Fugue.

THE PROJECT:
This is what I want to create in Second Life, a theater for philosophical dialogue. The following is a list of functions needed in this project:

  1. The rocks must be able to speak in two forms
    • Text-to-speach
    • Wave files
  2. The rocks must be able to sync basic gestures with specific clips of dialogue
  3. Each clip of dialogue must include a variety of triggers
    • Depending on activities in the immediate environment different triggers can be activated
    • Absent any unusual activities, the default trigger is to continue the next clip of dialogue
    • A continued dialogue can be from the same rock or a different rock.
  4. Unusal triggers might be a break in the dialogue to:
    • Invite the visitor to seat down and enjoy the conversation
    • Get some info on what is happening
    • Respond to text from the visitor that might change the direction of the preprogrammed dialogue
    • This is not AI, just anticipating certain questions from the visitor
WRITERS INTERFACE:
A web-based playwright environment will be created to assist writers in create dialogue for the Rock Theater. It will include the following:

  1. Text input fields for each segment of dialogue
  2. Input field for gesture instructions (might be check boxes)
  3. Unusual instructions and there triggers.
There needs to be either:
  1. A way to upload the data gathered in this webbased application
  2. Or a way for the SL environment to access this data if it's stored outside SL.



From an email to Alan Sondheim:

I plan to create 5 rocks that come to life when SL people come into their vicinity. They will do some very rudimentary animation basically displaying conversational gestures. In essence they will be engaged in pre-programmed dialogue.

If you read the Ant Fugue in the book Godel, Escher and Bach, image that kind of dialogue, where they are discussing the various takes on wholism and reductivism.

The goal is to make this an out-side SL programmable theater. For instance, we could give access to a web-based interface for artists and writers to compose dialogue for the 5 rocks.

I can also see some of Plato's dialogues being re-incarnated.

My daughter is a writer and wants to do some pieces for it plus there may be a way to adapt SL fireside chats to be ported over to the rock theater.

A second phase might be to attempt to instill some AI ability to get visitors to feel like they are really part of the dialogue, although this would be primarily just a trick, because the level of dialogue would not be able to be maintained in true AI.
 
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