Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The skinny on Ordinal Malaprop

It is seldom that one encounters an individual who is so consistently resourceful, knowledgeable and proper, but add to this her Napoleonic abilities with all things explosive and this Victorian-era Grande Dame is one-of-a-kind. To think that I might have gone to my grave without ever knowing such a person had I not had a Second Life®... well, it's unthinkable.

She's also a hard one to pin down, as she will not exhaust her freshness.

The thing is, Ordinal Malaprop (rez: 9/9/2005) is filled with enterprise, and she is just as apt to take on the entire world by mounting a campaign for or against a cause, as she is to be found proffering delectable candies that, upon the first nibble, go Kaboom! and bring you to your knees in a smoldering heap. Really.

Ordinal is widely known and admired for successfully taking on the ad farmers (or what she calls "griefing builders"), those hideous ads and things that are "designed to make neighbours give up and move elsewhere, or give up and buy the plot to get rid of the horrible spinning thing."

This photo is part of Ordinal's documentation "of people who pollute the Grid sixteen square metres at a time." Click to see large

It all began quite innocently enough with a blogpost and the creation of a Flickr group, followed by a notice that she posted on the Forums, but soon escalated into a heated conflict regarding a "DMCA Takedown Notice" issued by Flickr in response to a complaint filed by a certain Cytherea Eagle for having reproduced her "logo," in said incriminating images.

What happened next will surely go down as one of Linden Lab's most appreciated moves of 2008. To everyone's utter astonishment, Linden Lab listened to the community and took action: they banned ad farming!

It was Ordinal who enlightened us with her much celebrated Cosmology of the Grid: "I have noticed that there does still seem to be some Confusion amongst Residents as to precisely the relationships between Linden Laboratorye, the Grid itself, other Parts and also the Broader Aethernet, which does seem to be causing Misapprehensions as to the origins and behaviour of certain Aspects and Components.

"I am always of a bent to properly Explain the Technical Nature of how these things operate, and for that purpose I have prepared a small diagram of the Cosmology of the Grid and Second Life, which I hope will prove useful. No doubt other Grid-Cosmological Types will have disagreements with the Details, but I believe that the basic structure is sound."

Click to see large

Ordinal may be wasp-waisted and wear the most extraordinary hats, but I think we should make her a five-star General, or whatever the equivalent is in the UK (more on her titles in a moment). Just before the Garden of NPIRL Delights began, I spent some delightful hours with her, and while that conversation is somewhat dated, I think it very much worth your while that I share some highlights from it.

Ordinal did all the scripting and building for this, the triptych by Bosch for the Garden of NPIRL Delights... quite surely the most extraordinary promotional item in virtual worlds

Might you tell us a little about your whereabouts and your background?
Ordinal Malaprop: I live in London at this moment in time, obviously the best city one might choose. I have a background in scripting and programming and all that sort of thing. I am trained in Artificial Intelligence matters, not that I actually do much with it, but, you know, one rarely does do anything with one's purported areas of expertise.

Is that what bridged your entry to Second Life?
Ordinal Malaprop: Well - it has had some influence. SL scripting, to be effective, requires the use of a lot of independent agents, and that is something which AI education does teach: various entirely independent little monsters, all talking to each other.

Your early days in Second Life... what were they like, whom did you meet?
Ordinal Malaprop: For the first month or so I was utterly baffled.
There were two stages bringing me further inwards... Firstly, a friend handing me an awfully large number of free scripts, which I could play with and learn from (and on this basis, I hand out many myself), and secondly, meeting up with Victorian and Steampunk groups. The Withnail Academy was a great help, to begin with. Gives one a sense that one is not alone. I think everyone would like to feel that.

What is the Withnail Academy?
Ordinal Malaprop: Er, well, the Academy... it is slightly defunct right now, but it was an educational establishment that ran various courses, Japanese and scripting and so on... and also some "correctional" ones...

Japanese! And correctional?
Ordinal Malaprop: ...I have nothing to do with the "correctional" ones. Schoolgirls. Naughty ones. You know.

How long has Babbage been around and were you instrumental in making this community come togther? One of the founders, perhaps?
Ordinal Malaprop: Ah, well. First we had Caledon, and the steampunk group had a parcel here. I bought this parcel at the same time. We had the Lodge, where we would gather to tell tall tales and suchlike. It is now pretty much a place with a few trees on it. Then, the main founder left Second Life. The Mayor of Babbage, Shaunathan Sprocket, branched out to start the New Babbage sims. Really, Caledon is now more of a place for Victorianesque socialising and activity, rather than the sort of hard steampunkish design that Babbage hosts.

Ordinal Enterprises, as photographed - beautifully - by Kean Kelly, also known at 2K

Do you have a specific role here?
Ordinal Malaprop: Well, I have titles. I can't remember them all. Oh, er, I am a Knight of Caledon, or rather a Lady, and... actually, I have shields outside my front door. Some Caledonians do pay a lot of attention to that, but I am one of these dubious Suffragette, Socialist types.

I ask about your community because your character is so closely aligned with it... it seems important.
Ordinal Malaprop: I was here before any such community, and doubtless I shall be after it :). I used to live on the mainland and conduct myself pretty much in the same way.

With your knowledge of scripting... what are your wishes... things that you wish we knew... that would make things better, keeping in mind that most everyone came in-world within the last year?
Ordinal Malaprop: Turn off your clicky-clacky shoes! That is mostly because I hate them. They do poll assorted places though and are inefficient - ask Codebastard - who will say the same. Er, temp-rezzers are really bad; don't use them. If you use them, don't complain that your sim appears to be in a treacle well.

What are the commands to turn off shoes? It is in preferences, yes?
Ordinal Malaprop: Unfortunately there are no shoe-specific commands. They will still grab controls.

Hmmm. Will have to get to the bottom of this. It seems important.
Ordinal Malaprop: Oh - and the other thing I am always telling people: nobody can follow you, or cage you, or enslave you, no matter what they say. Teleport out, then somewhere else. Actually, just one will usually do.

Ah... I didn't know that. I thought one TP would suffice. This has to do with followers?
Ordinal Malaprop: Indeed. I am just not sure that they've properly fixed that bug :)

Shall we talk about explosives? You are the one person most closely, um, associated with them.
Ordinal Malaprop: My reputation has always been "builds things with rivets, which explode."

How'd that get started? That first set of scripts?
Ordinal Malaprop: Physics scripting is one of those things which is immediately obvious as something which affects the outside world. Not just a technical point, but it has an immediate effect. So, it is the starting point for a lot of people. Some might go into "griefing," but that is rather dull to be honest, so, things which explode! It is also a terrific way to learn how to make particle effects.

Ah! Interesting. Thumbs down on griefers
Ordinal Malaprop: Oh, griefing with scripts is the sort of thing people without any imagination do. I have seen some of the scripts these people use - they are awful. I do know a fair number of... "experimenters" :) I enjoy their company. I do not do that much with that sort of thing these days, but I like to know the latest.

What are your current projects?
Ordinal Malaprop: I have three main branches there: Firstly, things for Rezzable, which are either too specific or not ready to be announced :) Secondly, general ideas - I am, for instance, working on a "point gravity" simulation, which will have people falling towards masses in a sim rather than the ground, and turning themselves to face that point. A few issues are bothering me there. It could be useful in the Privateer Space sim though. You know, asteroids which you can stand on, but jump from one to the other. The third is very personal ones which are "in character" as it were, though I hate that phrase.

Because it sounds like RP (role-playing)?
Ordinal Malaprop: "Am I some sort of music-hall player?" as I have said. There is no playing of roles here! No pretence. Caledon operates on a rather different basis but, for instance, in that category I have been working on a Battlefield Teapot... something a soldier can wear, which will deliver a proper cup of tea at any instance. I have a shop on that basis; the products that I sell are all in that genre.

How civilized.
Ordinal Malaprop: Well, tea built the Empire.

Do you prefer to work alone on these projects or do you find yourself collaborating?
Ordinal Malaprop: For everything apart from the professional i.e. Rezzable at this point... they are all individual. Second Life is such a poor environment for collaboration.

Let's talk about hats. Have you always worn them?
Ordinal Malaprop: No. But as soon as I was aware of them I did. Hats are one of my favourite parts of Second Life.

Ordinal's signature lobster hat. She always wears glasses, and occasionally a monocle. "Very 'Girl Genius'"

How many do you currently wear? And do you make your own?
Ordinal Malaprop: Well - I have, oh, a dozen or so favourites. No, clothing is one of those things I just find myself unable to make. I am very fond of the products of Chapeau Tres Mignon (teleport directly from here). The lobster hats, which I have been known to wear, are from there. I also like boots, but I just cannot find proper ones. I normally wear glasses, too. Can't see a thing otherwise.

What is your favorite product... one that represents what you do best?
Ordinal Malaprop: I am most proud of my Swordstick, I think. That has a combination of all sorts of disciplines. I consider myself a a generalist, thus if something involves texturing, animation, scripting and building, I approve.

Your infomercials... am I correct in understanding that you were the first to do them?
Ordinal Malaprop: Well... I am not sure. I am the first that _I_ know of. Certainly the first to be widely publicized.

The Ordinal Galvanic Swordstick from Ordinal Malaprop on Vimeo.
Which is, of course, the usual reason, but yours are works of art. Have you made any recently?
Ordinal Malaprop: Oh, functional art. Not as such, but whatever I produce from now on will have an appropriate video. The last thing I think was the Brian Eno paintings widget.

Are you PC or Mac based?
Ordinal Malaprop: The Macintosh, certainly. I could not hide that based on Twitter.

Ah, yes... Twitter. You developed that lovely in-word device: the Twitterbox. Do you find Twitter very useful these days?
Ordinal Malaprop: Oh, yes, without it I would not know what on earth was going on. Not that I necessarily do anyway, but as long as a few people use it, and post relatively significant things... I am not much interested in the whole "I'm getting on the bus now" rubbish.

I went back to have a look at the shields outside the front door of Ordinal Enterprises, and here is what the notecard associated with the top one said:

Many of you have seen and enjoyed the Caledon Trolley, a wonderful landmark of the community and a joy for all. The trolley was created by Shaunathan Sprocket, Reitzuki Kojima, and Ordinal Malaprop all together. Ordinal put in countless hours scripting it, for the benefit of residents and visitors alike. There is simply no way to compensate that sort of effort - were this a real software contract, the time and effort involved would have exceeded the entire liquidated net worth of Caledon several times over. This Knighthood is in recognition of that service to the community. - Desmond Shang

Incidentally, while conducting my research for this piece, I was rather surprised to learn that it was a German Franciscan Monk by the name of Berthold Schwarts who developed gunpowder and its use in guns.

Ordinal Enterprises, can be found by teleporting directly from here.

See also:
* Ordinal's "cinema"
* Ordinal's Scripting Colloquium, a Forum
* Ordinal's Cabinet of Ephemera, on Tumblr
* Ordinal's Twitterbox, a Twitter client for Second Life devised by her
* Ordinal's Twitter address
* Ordinal's ShopOnRez shop
* Ordinal's SLExchange shop


open said...

Hooray for Ordinal!
She has been the first truly interesting resident I met. Her website is inspirational, useful and often funny. I suggest visiting her shop - products are really well-done and detailed, and some of the freebie scripts you can find there are the most useful ones I find in Second Life.

xlent1 said...

We love working with Ord, always a source of bemused and technical genius! Check out the zpagun and roach blasting games that ord put together for us now over at Greenies .

But, I really think Ord is unique as can mix fun with build with scripting to make so many entertaining things--without violence or porno.