Thursday, August 16, 2012

A friend lost

Francois Jacques has passed away. A sad day. A friend lost.
Francois Jacques
She was such a sweet person. Always willing to listen. Always able to give advice and guidance for a crazy world. Francois in three words: Calm, Caring, Clever. Fare well and fair winds. You will be missed.


  1. Sail with God's Wind at your back!

  2. I'm sorry but this all seems a little strange to me. Francois Jacques was an illusion. We all know that. She was the creation of a real person. The real person died.

    Why are people not remembering and celebrating the life of the real person behind Francois Jacques? What was she (or he) like? What will she (or he) be remembered for? Who were her (or his) friends and family?

    Death is real, not virtual.

  3. Dear Tillerman,
    I agree this might seem a little strange at first; You gotta understand, that some people knew the person Francois Jacques only through SL. Francois Jacques was an avatar, - a digital person, - not an illusion. An avatar is just as real as any other person. Real persons have many faces. We have the business face, the parent face, the playfull face et.c. An avatar is just another. What matters is not the face, but the person inside. Francois Jacques was that same person inside, no matter what world she was in, and that's the person we remember. I hope this makes sense...

  4. It does and perhaps should be the best way to introduce SL!

  5. I side with Tillerman on this one.

    I agree that we all have our different faces - but when I mourn the passing of a business colleague I fully understand that while I only knew one of his faces, I don't limit my mourning to the passing of the ex-Vice President of Widget Control - I mourn the passing of a human with all sorts of complexities while recognising that I generally saw only a part. I guess I can see some sort of analogy to the avatar explanation, but (and I am speaking as someone who has never tried SL) it seems far less real. The concept of an avatar does not seem as connected to the real person as seeing that person is a particular context. I can understand that acting through an avatar might be a way to express things that are not so easily expressible in "normal" contexts and that this could be healthy. On the other hand, in creating an avatar is there not a risk of hiding too successfully the other faces?

    In our face to face contexts we would have a hard time not showing some of our complexity, even if we project a particular face for the most part. The more you work with a business colleague the more you get an accurate picture of their personality.

    I guess that fundamentally you are focussing intentionally on the avatar itself - recognising that it is a something real, having been manifested through the real person. I can accept that but is mourning the passing of the avatar really any different than mourning the passing of a quality like "sweetness" and "willingness to listen" ?

    At any rate, I enjoyed the chance to look at this issue which I had never thought about before. Thanks.

  6. I must admit I cannot totally agree with Noodle's claim that, "An avatar is just as real as any other person." I have spent some time in Second Life. One thing that was obvious to me was that all the "people" you met may or may not have been playing a role that was anything like who they were in real life. Maybe it was just a "face" of a real person. Or maybe it was a totally fictitious personality like an actor playing a role in a play or movie. You never knew.

    On the other hand I started thinking about my "role" as Tillerman in writing my blog for over 7 years now. It's not really me but it's certainly a lot like me. I sometimes play up a particular character trait on the blog, emphasizing something like the "grumpy old geezer who hates mommy boats" role for instance. I think people do see a lot of the real me in Tillerman, but I don't expose everything about me on the blog. Maybe Francois's existence in SL was a bit like that?

    As for death, I could fictionally announce Tillerman's death. Actually another person who writes a blog using the name Tillerman did exactly that. There was a post on his blog, supposedly by his wife I think, implying that he had committed suicide. It turned out to be totally fake. He was a bit screwed up!

  7. Second Life is a communication tool. Real people express themselves through SL's 3D platform, often joining together to build communities rich with complexity and depth.

    Of course any form of communication has limits. Tillerman is therefore correct, an Avatar is not a person any more than a phone message or a handwritten letter is a person.

    However, I also think Noodle is right. An Avatar is an extension of someone real; it's how we come to know and relate to each other. Tillerman makes the point that many online play misleading roles; but frankly, I'm quite sure over time Avatars accurately reveal their true thought process, the real person behind the keyboard and pixelated display.

    Having said that, I'm impressed Second Life offers a way for sailors to come together and 'talk trash' about real boats while also creating a legitimate digital platform that emulates the sailing experience. People can learn about sailing online and practice real life tactics. Online sailing is analogous to ISAF radio-controlled race simulations, and the people involved are just as real. In fact, I could easily make a very strong argument that virtual sailing is a far better emulation than RC.

    However, that's not the real issue; the real issue on the water and online is the sailing community. It's all about getting together with people who have a common love of the heritage and human drama inherent to sailing.

    In real life I share that with a few hundred local people, but in SL I've met thousands more. They are rich and poor, men and women, old and young, and from nearly every nation that has a coastline. They also include people from the sailing industry mixed with many who only dream and have never seen the ocean. SL Sailing is a level playing field full of global friends, and in some ways it's quite effortless.

    Francois Jacques was one of those people who made it seem effortless. I never knew her in real life, but for six years we talked real sailing, we laughed and we conspired over countless projects and online race regattas.
    Two days before she died, Fran and I chatted about the RL 2012 Nantucket Race Week and ways to get around all the vistors to the Island. We also discussed plans for online cancer fundraising in 2013, then we talked trash about what online boats were a match for those that sat in the harbor.

    I knew Fran better than many people I've raced with RL. She was indeed just an avatar to me, but I learned that avatar was the extension of a truly smart, warm, generous and enthusiastic person.
    Like many others, I will think about Fran every day I'm sailing, whether I'm in a boat online or sailing the 'wet' stuff in my analog world.

    Fair Winds, FJ... and all.

    1. I forgot to add that Nantucket YC-SL and the SL Leeward Cruising Club will sponsor a memorial service on Sunday Aug 19 at 11:00am
      Dont miss it!
      I'll post any changes to

      I'd also like to thank tillerman for his greatblog; I've been reading it for years, and yup, I actually learned a few things. :-)

  8. I'm sorry for you loss (and others who knew FJ), which is real

    1. Thanx JP. The debate about how real a virtual world is - is interesting, but the loss is - beyond doubt - very real. For what ever it is worth, I felt I knew Francois. Me, myself and my avatar are one and the same, and my heart was touched by the loss. That's what's so freaky and so amazing about SL. If you let it, it will feel just as real as any other world...

  9. Losing a loved one, SL or RL--doesn't matter, a loss is a loss, is hard. As Jimmy Durante used to say "Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are."

  10. This was an exquisite and moving post. And I am including the comments. Most especially those by JFos.


Noodle says hi and behave :-)

(Please leave an identifiable name when commenting)