“A smell can be overwhelmingly nostalgic because it triggers powerful images and emotions before we have time to edit them… When we give perfume to someone, we give them liquid memory. Kipling was right: “Smells are surer than sights and sounds to make your heart-strings crack.” D. Ackerman
Spending more time in the garden and on the lakefront on THIS side of the screen these days. In part because of the smells. The sense that is most elusive in SL – although it is often referenced.
I live on the edges of a great lake (the Great Lakes – I move regularly between three of the five). The smells of Spring and Summer are waited for all winter – and it’s a long winter. So when the fragrance of lilacs comes through the window for the first time, it knocks me off my feet. Later it will be the scent of mint, or lilies, the warm earth….or the smell of the Lake itself.
When I first arrived in SL (2007), most of my activities were within the education sims. This was a heady time for academics in-world, who were just beginning to see the possibilities unfolding for using virtual platforms as educational tools. Some of the things they envisioned and wrote about have met and exceeded their expectations. Others are “in-process” and still others just sound silly.
The following is from a longer article I found in a folder. I clipped it – but I can’t find the author or a link back to the larger piece – for that I apologize. Still it is indicative of the kind of thinking that was going on at the time.
Second Life is distance education 2.0. Development of MUVEs will take distance education to new heights over the next decade. In-world educational events will be the primary source for distance education. There will also be many more “worlds” to explore. Second Life, or what supersedes it, will be very different than today. People will be residents of multiple worlds, and all those worlds will be connected together, similar to the way hyperlinks take us from website to website today in the flat world. Advances in technology will allow us to not only see and hear things in Second Life, but also to feel and smell things, too, that we may never come in contact with in the real world, because the expense or time commitment involved. One intriguing question is: how can educators present problem-solving in an environment without realistic consequences. One answer, and major advantage, is that is one of the major goals of any simulation, in Second Life or elsewhere.
But – then I discovered house music. And all bets were off. Most of the educators affiliated with specific institutions have their own platforms now – and they aren’t easily visited. The idea of hopping between grids is still in it’s infancy.
I am still intrigued by the idea of smell in SL. As Ackerman writes below – language is rarely able to create the sense of smell. Still, I keep finding myself putting myself in situations where lovely smells would waft through the breeze of my memory.
The charm of language is that, though it is human-made, it can on rare occasions capture emotions and sensations that aren’t. But the physiological links between the smell and language centers of the brain are pitifully weak. Not so the links between the smell and the memory centers, a route that carries us nimbly across time and distance. Diane Ackerman
In the meantime….currently on the SL Marketplace.