Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Your Dream Cubicle

Second Life resident Nathan Babcock has created some stunning residential prefabs and furniture. One look at his Flickr photostream and you'll quickly get a sense of his talent.

Nathan's work is interesting not merely for its clean modern lines but also for the questions that it raises, as embodied in the 'OFX Series Cubicle.'

Flickr user Frans Martins picks up on this with the following comment:

Love the design. Very architectural minimalistic. But, cubicles!! I would love small sandboxes and pleasant social enviroments. I am also learning and making buildings and furniture. SOmetimes we are so condition from the rl space, we miss the virtual posibilities and the SL rules.

Instead of buildings... you can have floating space, maybe circular with plants around... bridged @ a distance with the other work areas or social meeting points... all to reduce lag, offer better prim performance and reduced chat noise. Now the design of the space could be defaulted to some prefab design, but should be customizable.

As one would aspire to simulate a real office, these pieces are exquisite, but like Frans it leads me to wonder (while Linden Lab thanks me for my continued patience as today's outage has extended beyond its anticipated timeframe) how the residents of Second Life actually work. While there are some who do remain within the confines of their club or store, my guess is not chained to a desk.

It might be a good question to ask the folks at Wired Magazine, who at the time of my last visit had followed a fairly traditional office model but themed the whole place to look like a giant circuit board. It makes a statement about who they are as an organization, even when nobody's around.

Just as an empty house communicates the personality and preferences of the absent avatar, perhaps a virtual cubicle might also symbolically communicate one's rigor and professionalism to visitors of his or her virtual workplace. The difference, perhaps, might be that most of us look forward to returning to our houses or at least the idea of having a place to come home to (if you're not completely of the householding / roleplaying persuasion) while a comparative few would pine for their dream cubicle, no matter how nice it is.

Unless you happen to be the boss, and the thought of watching your employees supplicate puts a smile on your face. Actually, I'm sure there are plenty of people with plenty of good reasons to purchase the OFX Series Cubicle, which is but one small part of a significant portfolio of cool stuff.

Keep up the good work Nathan, as soon as they let us all log back in.


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