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04/25/2007

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Doubledown Tandino

You're not done with second life... if you were done, you wouldn't have written this blog entry about being done.

Prokofy Neva

Well, as I said, "done" doesn't mean you're leaving. But you can definitely be "done" on certain topics that are futile, and it's good to make charts of the pros and cons always on a venture that requires this much time and money expended on it.

I personally am made physically revulsed when I see a world that is supposed to be open and available to anybody to make contributions move to a two-tier system, where a bunch of Lindens "just decide" to open up a closed shop called "the mentor/instructor/volunteer" wiki.

I remember calling this months ago, saying, uh-oh, there they go, taking the private mentors' groups and channels they had in world, and now making a closed, password-protected website, where some of them will be sure to badmouth and grief those they don't like, and those people won't even know they're discussed -- like Ban-Link.

So far, anyone can log in. But note how the whole thing is structured -- bug reporting, knowledge, certification -- it's all one seemless wiki thing. And that whole wiki culture and mentality went into making it.

No, I'm not for making dramatic exits. There's never a reason to do that. But you can feel "done," that's for sure, and outline the reasons why you are just "done," that's all.

Baba

This article gets a +1 for Copybot reference.

Mikyo

Zounds. I had no idea i was defending self government on the same forum with someone who met Boris Yeltsin. I could have made a better case, doh! Some things are worth standing for. Avatar chat may be the future, but I don't believe that future will be ruled over by the Lindens. That sea will have many other fish. :)

Prokofy Neva

Yes, it won't be ruled over by Lindens. The question is what is the best strategy to make that happen, in cooperation with them, or in deadly pitched battle with them. This requires some serious reflection.

Nicholaz Beresford


You sound tired my friend (if I may call you that, despite that I'm probably a tekkie, liberalist and open source whatnot).

I said it before and will say it again, I like your writing and thoghtfullness, and paradox as it may seem, I like it more when you're tired of fighting and when you just let the words flow ... it's then when you shine.

I agree with Mikyo, in the years to come, there will be a sea of metaverses, and like the sea, there will be beautiful reefs and dark menacing places.

Today we're locked into those few places out there in the sea of the 2D web, SL, TSO, Wow, There ... and they already are very different. Others will come, and they will be built by people and companies according to their ideals, some shrill Vegas strips, some cold and superficial like the deserted corp sims today but some colorful, idealistic and worth living in.

I hate to bring in the open source idea into this, because I know we disagree there and I don't want to fight, but today's problem is that the tools of building those worlds are in the hands of a few and they can do as they wish.

SL so far is the place with most freedom, but still the back office power is in the hands of the few that you call FIC. And that part will change.

I don't like fighting, in fact I don't believe it will be a battle, I belive it will just be diversity and people voting with their (avatar's) feet. I might even build a metaverse myself, once I have the tools and leverage, the same way that I have a 2D forum running now with my own ideas of administering it.

I love SL, despite the shortcomings and one reason why I do not own land (or don't plan to) is that I don't want wear an SL collar. It's the best place I found so far, but once a better place appears, I'll move on.

It's just not there yet, but I'm sure it will.

Prokofy Neva

I disagree, I think you need to fight. But you have to have an overall value in doing so, there has to be some gain from it, and also, you have to determine that it is not futile.

buridan simon

One of the problems with 'the good life' is that it is not a universally shared system. That the sl system is predicated on having plural and interacting 'good lives' is perhaps one of the things you are/were fighting against by promoting your perspective of the 'good life', though I admit, I would really enjoy hearing what a good life in sl would entail for you, currently I have this feeling that you would be very free, but everyone else would be severely limited in freedoms in order to protect your freedoms. But, I could be wrong. Nonetheless, I wish you the best of luck with your next set of pursuits.

Gigs Taggart

Prok,

I'll write to you here, because I know you'll read it. I sometimes think in IM/chat you don't even read what people are saying before you fly off with a huge reply.

I notice you are turning more and more against people like me. We have more in common than you think.

Not all open source people are in favor of opening the server. Not all open source people are part of what's going on at opensecondlife.com. We are individuals.

I'm interesting in which meeting with Rob you read. I can't remember a meeting where we didn't rake him over the coals about something or another.

Keep in mind, we talk tech because that's what we do. We aren't in those meetings to debate the finer points of virtual world governance. We are there to make sure SL remains a viable platform 5 or 10 years down the road. That's not going to happen unless there's a process of constant reinvention.

I probably have as much invested in SL as you do. I plan on protecting that investment. Open source is one way that I do that.

I am not a socialist nor am I collectivist. I'm sure you know that from reading the IRC channel.

Here's my invitation to you. You complain that SL lacks that open ended feel. I propose to you that Open Source is your opportunity to vote with more than your feet. We already had a very useful discussion where we identified several important bugs. I invite you to be civil, and work with the open source people, or even just work with me. I'm ready to work with you.

Storm Thunders

Sometimes, I wonder if the core of many of the decisions I see are due to age. Most of the people at LL are very young. They haven't been watching and participating in communities long enough to intuitively know the long term results of the choices they're making, and how those decisions will shape the future. Concepts like privacy and fairness have to be explored before their depths and consequences are understood.

I'm not really disturbed by the self-governance trend in SL. In a world where we can't be killed, tortured or imprisoned, it gives people opportunities to learn at relatively little cost. Ideals are formed and tested, dramas flare, and we have the social effects of our choices shown clearly if we're brave enough to look.

The efforts to separate the talented and skilled "us" from the ignorant blingtard "them" fascinate me. "Your world" and "Open to everyone" ideals are crashing into deliberately made barriers and policies. Making the distinction of verified vs unverified, blocking unverified accounts from even reading the forums, help and support have been steadily eroding since I've arrived, education stipends disappeared, we still have Orientation areas that churn out people who don't know how to use Search, and now certifications... I see all these efforts to stratify the population, and I wonder about the causes and triggers. Is it about the media limelight, or feeling overwhelmed by all the new people, or finances and market share, or ???

kirpaan

LOL Prok you want all the drama of a "I'm leaving forever" post without making an ass of yourself like you did over at second citizen by not actually leaving.

So you pissed off at LL and any user with any name recognition. That aint news. That's all you write about.

dandellion Kimban

It is interesting to watch how open source people are commenting on Prok's blog (myself included) and I cannot get over the impresion that Prok is one of potential OS supporters without knowing and willing to addmit that :)
OK, now a bit more serious... open source movement (in SL and everywhere else) has some serious problems. One of them is bad PR. I remember when, during the one single hour of Richard Stallman's lecture, I was about to throw anything heavy at him three times. And it is not only Stalman that makes bad reputation of open source. Open source is far from being socialist, or hippie, or collective in a bad way. It is far from a try to take away people's intellectual property.

Prokofy Neva

One of the problems with 'the good life' is that it is not a universally shared system. That the sl system is predicated on having plural and interacting 'good lives' is perhaps one of the things you are/were fighting against by promoting your perspective of the 'good life', though I admit, I would really enjoy hearing what a good life in sl would entail for you, currently I have this feeling that you would be very free, but everyone else would be severely limited in freedoms in order to protect your freedoms.

This is the sort of statement that makes you profoundly an asshole, buridan. It's completely false, and completely uncalled for. It's something you *imagine* and *impose* on others -- making them unfree.

It's hardly appropriate, given that I don't eject people from my land merely because they've criticized me or said something I didn't like. Ejecting and banning and imposing your conformity on others is *what you do*. So I'll just have to take this as a projection.

SL should remain many things for many people. But it isn't. The freedoms are closing off, as this kind of hectoring rectitude a la buridan becomes more and more common. One has only to read his blog or listen to his comments to understand the shrill and nasty tone taken to those who don't believe as he does.

I don't define the good life in the abstract in some ridiculous utopian exercise. Rather, I can be quite sure that a setting that allows the endless expansion of buridan's ego and powers has to be suspect.

Prokofy Neva

I've written before about open-source culture and it's critics, even among those supporting open-source. Open-source culture not only has a "bad name," it is a nasty, thuggish culture in reality, and we have SL to show that to us.

Gigs, you fail to understand the simplest thing that I proposed: moving the button. Instead, you invent 8 hard things to undo, not always irrelevant. Even if all you want to do is edit in the method you prescribe for group management, the editing menu isn't on the right page, i.e. the page with group titles. You immediately dismiss a list with group titles, saying group titles don't convey functions. Except...if the user set them up that way *to* convey functions, then they *do*.

Storm, I've always been self-governing in SL. ARs do little good. I try to use a combination of bans, boycotts, publicising of bad behaviour, warnings to others in groups, etc. to already do anything that the Lindens my dispense in their lordliness. I think the methods people have put together inworld ranging from groups to warning systems like SLAM to blog discussions are collectively probably more effective than ban-link type tools.

Cocoanut Koala

I think people of our generation, Prok, had certain ideals really drummed into them.

Freedom, fairness, equal opportunity, justice, the idea that what happens to the individual happens to all of us - all that was soundly pounded into us at school, at home, everywhere. Every DAY.

Today in SL, where we don't have decades of law built over centuries of hard-won experience to protect these and similar values, these ideas seem almost like a quaint afterthought to many, like a nice thing to think about occasionally, maybe, but not really vital, not any single one of them.

I think part of this is due to the educational fad of the last couple of decades of trying to get students to think for themselves - to put it charitably. In fact, it has imbued them with extreme moral relativitism, and a resultant inability to make any judgments whatsoever.

And home and community apparently haven't made up for this failure of the school system.

I think this might partly explain how you and I can be so aghast about a ruling entity which, for example, cavalierly allows open persecution of some individuals, while at the same time allows some more rights than others (to grief, for instance), at whim and deliberately so.

Or the absence of any sort of democratic process, however rudimentary, in something that functions as a world and has people living in it, or any concept that this might be a problem.

Or the dismal lack of thought given to how a system might affect individuals, along with the attitude that it doesn't matter if a system affects people adversely, as systems are more valuable than individuals.

Or a company culture which under the mantle of tolerance actively encourages intolerance towards those who don't share their particular and rather peculiar belief systems.

Or the notion that no individual has any true privacy, or, more startlingly, has any right to any privacy.

I could go on.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot we can do about this, aside from providing a running commentary on it for posterity.

I suppose various peoples are regularly doomed to repeat history's mistakes. We're seeing it now in microcosm, daily, online, in SL. I hope this isn't a harbinger of what awaits my children in decades to come in real life.

coco

Kristian

So you're done, like when you break up with someone but still live with them and sometimes when you're both lonely and bored have crazy sex and then smoke a cigarette after and talk about how it's too bad you drive each other insane because the sex is fantastic done?

Cocoanut Koala

*correction - by "at whim, and deliberately so" I mean at the whim of the individuals in the ruling system, not at the whim of the griefers.

Prokofy Neva

>I think part of this is due to the educational fad of the last couple of decades of trying to get students to think for themselves - to put it charitably. In fact, it has imbued them with extreme moral relativitism, and a resultant inability to make any judgments whatsoever.

Cocoa, that is so well put, and really an eloquent essay, and a summary of what the deep problems are not only in Second Life, but the new social media, made up not only of moral relativism, but no inner moral compass at all.

Yumi Murakami

What freedoms are you actually expecting from SL, though, Prokofy?

Prokofy Neva

The fact that you put the concept in those terms, Yumi, lets me know that you don't understand it.

Freedom is not something LL or SL "gives". It is something you take or make yourself. And that is what I've always done.

What I'm saying is that the price of continuing to do that is too great. People who try to challenge the basic precepts of Linden Lab's cult -- and I can only understand it that way -- and by extension the whole tekkie geek extremist hacker mentality that I indicate here -- are very harshly sanctioned. The sanctions range from abuse inworld and harassment with LL doing nothing to stop it, to exposure of your private life and endless ridicule and harassment on your own blog or in other forums, to actual bannings by LL from its blogs or people inworld.

Dissidents in all situations where they face persecution not only from the state but various non-state actors always have to weigh whether it's worth trying to keep protesting at home, staying within the country, remaining active on the street or in underground publications, etc. or going into exile, either internal or external. Perhaps they don't wish to be killed and so they begin writing under a pseudonym abroad. It's kind of like that.

For a long time I thought the key to this problem, which I found early on, was nevertheless to engage with the world and the company on its own terms, suffer its sanctions, try to remain positive, attempt to run a business, etc. When I was permabanned from the forums in June 2005, I thought the way to go was to be like Roy Medvedev (allowed to live under house arrest and even received foreign visitors) not Anatoly Scharansky (imprisoned and finally exchanged for a spy). It seemed like the relevant thing to do. And I will go on doing that as I wish to keep my business going.

Now I find it a more urgent task and a more relevant task to try to get outside media, especially more thoughtful writers than the usual gushing game/computer industry media and glib wire services, to write about these problems as they apply not only to SL but social media in general. That means both trying to write myself but getting others to understand the issues and write, too.

Cat Cotton

Little advice here Prokofy :) Make an alt and live your Second Life as you see fit. In the past nearly 4 years now. I have heard a lot of lip service from just about everyone. In the end find what makes you happy and just do it. No amount of press has changed what I do day to day in SL. I live to have fun, build and texture. For me at least it's the only real purpose of SL. I tell you this because I have not only created one alt, but several in the past nearly 4 years. I have yet to lose my core passion for what I think SL is; A blank canvas in which to paint your world, your imagination. Screw the masses and what they desperatly want SL to be; SL is in fact nothing more than what each individual makes it. Commercial, non commercial; I don't really give a shit. FIC non FIC well only in their own minds; these days. The playing field is leveling because more and more creative ppl have entered SL. Even if no one else gets it; What I read was you writing what you were thinking out loud.

Who's side am I on? Mine.

Cat

Prokofy Neva

Thanks for your comments, Cat, but alts aren't really my thing. That is, I have other accounts, but they are obviously all my alts, with the same land groups and such on them.

If you can't be yourself in a place like Second Life, where can you be? I would find it very restricting to have to be looking over my shoulder, trying to be an alt all the time.

Desmond Shang

>>Now I find it a more urgent task and a more relevant task to try to get outside media, especially more thoughtful writers than the usual gushing game/computer industry media and glib wire services, to write about these problems as they apply not only to SL but social media in general. That means both trying to write myself but getting others to understand the issues and write, too.

I'll give you one thing, Prokofy, you do operate at 'grass roots' level far more than the pundits at Terranova do, and while I find many of your conclusions are inaccurate, the grand opinions of the pundits on the usual blogs are even less accurate.

For instance, I doubt many of them could ever run a successful Second Life business, for all their supposed insight.

New Media overall is the key issue, and avatars are just one facet. I'm not of the SMS or 'texting' generation, but the youth are, and they are taking over.

I'd like to hear what they think, not from pundit data scrapers that haven't really been in an online world and interacted casually with strangers since the late 90's.

The rules, and the assumptions are changing fast.

Prokofy Neva

My conclusions aren't inaccurate, Desmond, as they are informed by a great deal of time spent not only on other social media besides SL, and reading and contributing and debating in forums, but going to meet-ups and conferences in RL. So I stand by my conclusions, such as they are.

You have no basis for saying I am inaccurate other than that you are a smug burgher on a curio simulator of the 19th century, and the owner of some kind of RL computer biz. Sorry, no sale.

Prokofy Neva

>So you're done, like when you break up with someone but still live with them and sometimes when you're both lonely and bored have crazy sex and then smoke a cigarette after and talk about how it's too bad you drive each other insane because the sex is fantastic done?

I realize this is something you view as oh-so-clever, but it strikes me merely as puerile and stupid.

Taking care of tenants and doing donkey work running a business in SL because of your commitments there isn't like having sex.

And I don't imagine I'll be having sex or even a cigarette with any Lindens, griefers, FIC, or any other hostile parties.

The job of a dissident is a difficult one, nobody really understands how difficult until they undertake it. It's shocking and appalling that I have so little company. Some fraudulent thing like the SLLA isn't dissent, that's just a self-serving posturing.

Dissidents in different situations face different options, as I said, internal exile or external exile or moving to more long-term education of other citizens to raise awareness, or trying to engage more powerful foreign friends.

I think one of the feelings of "done-ness" that came from Robin Linden's office hours yesterday was the way she talked very casually and glibly about the whole metaverse construction project.

Khamon was being a fanboy and smirking about people who "didn't like y'all's making yourself a public node" of the Metaverse, boosting the open-source stuff in this meeting, and then Robin said something like "I don't see Mike Wilson hooking up his world to ours any time soon" (I will get the exact quote later).

Something about the entire setting -- Khamon smirking and feeling superior, Robin feeling like she runs a world and only deals at the level of meta worlds with big guns like Mike Wilson -- you rapidly begin to feel, as Cocoanut often puts it, "like chopped liver".

Not even pate on the cocktail cracker, but...chopped liver.

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