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09/30/2008

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Nacon

Sorry... all it said was "blah blah blah blah blah." can't make out of it, Prok.

Time to put your keyboard away, Doctor's order.

Cocoanut Koala

"I suspect that what's at work here isn't even some craven business pragmatism, of the sort you see in foreigners in China or Russia or Saudi Arabia, pulling their punches and going along to get along. I think the California Ideology, the techlib stuff, *doesn't care* about human rights."

You nailed it.

coco

Sean Williams

I suspect that what fueled this entire rant was the desire to see a private company doing what it has no right, need, or power to do: Enforce Laws and 'Rights' on the scale of the UN acting in another oppressed country.

Enforcing Human Rights? Sorry, that's out of the jurisdiction of Linden Lab.They are a private sector company, not an extension of the United States Government or the United Nations.

Frankly, I'd put more of my trust into the US government or into the UN to enforce Human Rights properly than I would Linden Lab (and that is saying something, as I don't trust the government very much either).

Robert Bloomfield/ Beyers Sellers

I wouldn't say the interview was 'content-free,'but I would agree that there isn't a whole lot new to people who cover Linden Lab/Second Life closely. But I would *hope* that Philip wouldn't give a tremendously newsworthy interview...that is hardly his job in this context. So I took the material, got some smart and informed people to give their thoughts, and now we have a useful resource for people who are just starting to study Linden Lab and Second Life.

The most interesting part of the interview to me was when he talked about making 'small bets' on investment and development. On the one hand, it lets Linden Lab minor adjustments without breaking the bank. On the other hand, it keeps them from making the sweeping changes that would dramatically improve the user experience. This strategy has worked reasonably well, but could well prevent them from achieving enterprise or mainstram consumer quality.

http://metanomics.net/19-sep-2008/capital-investment-profit-and-small-bets

As far as the focus of Metanomics itself, I have definitely been getting much more interested in enterprise use (and educators are among the most active enterprise users), while the inworld economy hasn't exactly been thriving. There isn't much to say about inworld finance these days.

But there is more than enough other material to cover on Social Research Foundation's survey of SL residents, SLExchange and fatfoogoo on monetization in VWs and games, Electric Sheep's new direction, Dmitri Williams' research on gamer behavior and demographics...

I dunno, Prokofy...those all seem like economics (or "business and policy in the metaverse") to me.

Prokofy Neva

Universities as enterprises? Since when do you call a university "an enterprise"? Universities are non-profits, Robert. They get the non-profit rate from Linden Lab and much else in life. They're supported by foundations and governments; tuition doesn't cover all their costs. This seems to me to really be stretching the notion of business -- and the economy. The economy of non-profits is mildly interesting, but no more interesting than inworld business.

So, just because inworld business is suffering due to land glut or other bad company town policies, we're to declare it no longer of merit to discuss? If anything, it's a wonderful petri dish to study and discover why those policies fail and how they could be changed. But of course, you were never interested in inworld business except for a few of your pet gadget makers.

This statement doesn't even need commentary: " But I would *hope* that Philip wouldn't give a tremendously newsworthy interview...that is hardly his job in this context."

Maybe he didn't get asked very good questions.

The "small bets" idea sounds to me like it's merely driven by lack of sufficient profit or angel money to be able to invest in bold new expensive development.

>Social Research Foundation's survey of SL residents

So now we're studying sociology, not economics. Just to be clear.

>SLExchange and fatfoogoo on monetization in VWs and games

SL isn't a game. It has a synthetic, although still real economy. Why are we studying games?

>Electric Sheep's new direction

They aren't in SL any more, and while Metanomics surely doesn't have to study only SL, what hasn't happened is a realization by all the opensource lifers and punters hanging around Metanomics who haven't drawn the conclusions needed about proprietary sofware -- and in fact there has been precious little commentary about the Sheep chosing deliberately to make walled gardens and proprietary worlds in the face of the difficulties spawned by all the script kiddies.

SL is not a game. Why are we studying games?

These do not at all seem like business or policy to me but...passtimes.

Dusan Writer

Maybe I've been drinking the "M" Koolaid or whatever but I do see progress beyond just small bets - I see small bets being made in the context of a fairly focused mission with stated priorities and consistent (although often vapid) communication through the Blob and other venues.

As far as Philip, I don't go back as far maybe, the world is still young to me, and the innovation was already here so I didn't take that wild ride as his vision came to life....but where I'm left today is parsing the many seeming contradictions in his "vision". And maybe that's leadership - being able to hold two contradictory thoughts at the same time kind of thing. But I often have the feeling that Philip slips between, say, talking about techy stuff like how big the Lively download is (as a way of refuting "browser-based worlds") and then talking about the future with virtual worlds as one of the default access points to information and people as if it will replace the Web. He switches tenses, changes hats (from visionary to garage-based coder; from community-focused to talking up business collaboration).

Philip again, as you point out, pulls off a sleight of hand, just as he does when he talks about browser-based worlds and getting grandma a job - he talks about "now" and then he slips into other tenses, whatever...where he begins and where he ends can be different thing.

And yeah, I covered this already:

http://dusanwriter.com/?p=941

And if I hear the words "use cases" one more time from someone who's supposed to be an evangelist for Second Life I'll, hmmm...dunno what, blog even more pointlessly than usual I guess. An evangelist is supposed to paint a picture about why this matters, what it means...to translate all that code talk into something I can send to my grandmother (his target demographic according to the interview hehe). And my grandmother does NOT know what a "use case" is.

But what disturbs me is that I believe that virtual worlds are about more than "use cases". And maybe I've reformed over time, because as much as I see value in the innovation in openSim (now that it's slipped past being merely a reverse engineer, but I won't debate the point, one person's innovation is another's copybot I guess) and getting this technology "out there" I think that one of the values of Second Life is that it is a WORLD, and as such is governed not just by technology that facilitates those damned use cases, but also by policy and governance and community relations and economics all of which makes it a place to be, feel, create, and explore.

So now Philip is also pointedly advocating that the role of the Lab is NOT in policy. And the OpenSim crowd heads for the Apache chopper whenever policy is brought up....so who IS the advocate for policy?

The potential of virtual worlds lies as much in seeming intangibles as it does in whether I can hold a telephone call with someone from Japan with an avatar between us.

"Intangibles" are things like how we manage identity, privacy, anonymity, sociality, content protection. These things are coupled with code and trying to make a Grid that everyone will love.

But now I'm hearing that these issues of policy, like on OpenSim, are in the hands of all those hosts out there - and I'm going to have to read the TOS for every one of these mini Grids?

This is going to create a vacuum and chaos. With everyone headed for the policy exits who's left tending to the stuff that matters because we "feel it" rather than because it makes us more productive or saves the ozone layer or whatever?

Raph at least has the guts to say that although Metaplace will be made up with not only "islands" but 100,000 different game mechanics, graphics, expressions, clients and 'use cases' - that there's a role for an overarching philosophy and structure around issues relating to rights, identity, theft - the whole lot.

For all the people headed for the exits, Philip included, it will be interesting to see how they feel when the devolution of policy to the granular "host" level results in people OUTSIDE virtual worlds, like national governments or whoever, come in and tell us that they know better how these worlds should be managed.

Gareth Nelson

"But now I'm hearing that these issues of policy, like on OpenSim, are in the hands of all those hosts out there - and I'm going to have to read the TOS for every one of these mini Grids?"

Apache don't tell you the TOS of every website hosted by an apache instance, why should opensim tell you the policies of every single opensim-based grid?

Prokofy Neva

Dusan,

I think Philip has just been forced into a marketing role for his product, and forced out to do all the roadshows at conferences, that it's almost second nature to him now to just shill about SL thoughtlessly, without hearing the contradictions. Maybe they are too uncomfortable for him to bear.

One of the ways the California ideologues function is to "stay positive". They brush away negativity, they shy away from it, they pretend it doesn't exist. The skate on the surface of life gladly because that gives them forward momentum. They don't look at the depths. Philip is like that.

Of course Second Life isn't just a bunch of use cases. Once you reduce it to use cases, you inevitably leave some out, and you lose the "world visision thing". You have to hand it to Philip, he still talks about it as "a world".

The Lindens are ducking their historical imperative and opportunity and pretending they can dissolve rights or policies into a zillion warring fiefdoms and principalities. They stand at the edge of a historical precipice when they could encourage the universality that brought us hope out of the wreckage of the last two centuries, and are now actively ceding that once universalist world and global vision to Balkanization and atomization that far from bringing freedom and flexibility in fact weakens civil society and makes it vulnerable to totalitarianism. (The Wikipedia essay on Hitler actually explains that problem of too many clubs in too many beer halls being a weakening of civil society making it ripe for the Big Lie instead of a necessary factory to challenge the state -- if the state is weakened too, they go down together.)

I think it's great Raph did have the guts to outline what's right. You can see from the frenzied fiskers on there trying to uphold child predator's rights in the name of saving freedom of expression how tough it is. He is getting edgecased to death -- or rather, people are trying to edgecase him to death but he's not budging so far, thank God, just saying "thanks, my lawyers are working on it" lol.

Imagine, the nits there claiming that Raph's stipulation that you "cannot simulate harm to minors" means you cannot enact Romeo and Juliet or Harry Potter. Well, um, crowd the theater with that, and we'll see if we need to shout "fire".

This is very well said: "when the devolution of policy to the granular "host" level results in people OUTSIDE virtual worlds, like national governments or whoever, come in and tell us that they know better how these worlds should be managed". That's part of the problem, but it's actually worse than that: when people INSIDE the virtual worlds shill for those governments who wish to control them, and do it handily from within. It's like the problem of the Herald's Jessica and China. When you have people actively promoting the party line from within, it's easy to make it look like "spontaneous residents" and "what the community wishes" blah blah.

Dusan Writer

Gareth - I don't think I argued that Apache NEEDS to, did I? What I'd argue is for, at the least, as much innovation, evangelism, advocacy, and thought on policy as 'code', just as Mozilla, say (to use the first example at hand) has policy and values as a way of articulating an underlying and coherent philosophy to guide code (or run parallel to code as the OpenSim folks like to say).

I think that a historic opportunity will be missed if all we end up with are protocols, frankly. I still go back to the e-mail example: sure, it works as code, but if there had been a parallel policy around identity, for example, then maybe spam never would have over run my in-box.

Gareth Nelson

"I still go back to the e-mail example: sure, it works as code, but if there had been a parallel policy around identity, for example, then maybe spam never would have over run my in-box."

There'd always be some spammer out there who would install their own smtpd and begin spamming. Just as there'll always be opensim installations run by griefers. I don't think it's the job of developers to tell you what you should put into your TOS.

Gareth Nelson

Oh, and mozilla never tell me what kind of policy I should have towards my kid's internet access (I don't run an internet cafe, so this is the best example I have practical experience with). They might have policies guiding their development, but it would be out of line for them to tell end users of their code what kind of policies to implement.

Prokofy Neva

Dusan, when E.M. Forster said "Only Connect" in 1910, he didn't mean "Only Protocols" or "Only Connectivism".

And yes, I love how OpenSim can conceive of a kind of "lore" that springs up along code, even as they say code is law, and then want code status for their lore. It's exactly that lore or culture of the geek making code not law that I object to. Then they cap it off with tribalist imperative in the form of parallel lore to code.

ichabod Antfarm

Gareth,

What is wrong with the concept of people (be they citizens, be they developers, be they just regular everyday people) deciding how they ought to interact with each other in any social situation, yes, even a virtual one?

I have never seen anything wrong with being overtly political in whatever I do and, let's face it, this is politics we are talking about.

What we don't trust about certain developers is their outspoken refusal to consider politics above and beyond "the code." I don't trust it because we humans are inherently political creatures and those who deny they are engaging in it are really just masking their politics as "common sense", as "force of nature", as "code". It's
anti-democratic, it's anti-social, it's unscientific.

It's funny how you claim that it isn't up to developers to tell people how to use the technology they develop and yet you told Prok that you would develop something for him but only under the condition that it could be GPL'ed. Uh, politics much?

Gareth Nelson

"What is wrong with the concept of people (be they citizens, be they developers, be they just regular everyday people) deciding how they ought to interact with each other in any social situation, yes, even a virtual one?"

Nothing, but it's not the job of software developers to make laws and social rules.... and it shouldn't be.

"It's funny how you claim that it isn't up to developers to tell people how to use the technology they develop and yet you told Prok that you would develop something for him but only under the condition that it could be GPL'ed. Uh, politics much?"

Of course once the code was released under the GPL my input would end there. The GPL states nothing on issues of policy in the services you use GPLed code for - the only political aspect to free software licenses are related to the politics of free software, and the politics of free software have no bearing on how the software is used. Put simply, I don't care how you use my code, but I won't willingly develop propritary software. Feel free to use my code for anything - but you can't buy the right to make it propritary.

You'll note that my exact statement was "I don't think it's the job of developers to tell you what you should put into your TOS" - your TOS should be written directly by yourself, or by your legal counsel under guidance from yourself and stakeholders. It should not be dictated by the developers of the software you use to run the service.

ichabod Antfarm

Gareth, the point people are trying to make is that the developed code is always already ideologically determined by the politics of its developers. It isn't this neutral thing you think it is. If it was I might concede your point that it is up to the user to determine how it is used; however, many of those usage decisions were already made by those who developed it. Do we enforce c/m/t or not? Do we encrypt IM or not? Do we allow admins to hijack accounts or not? These are all technical considerations and they are all political decisions. How these questions are answered determines the kinds of worlds people can create with your software.

Prokofy Neva

Yes, ichabod, the politics are there anyway, so why not make them explicit? Why not say, "Yes, we have politics" and be participatory and democratic about it, instead of saying "code is law but so is this tribal imperative." Gareth reaching out his long claw to tell you how to use his fake so-called "free software" -- that you can't adapt and resell or make proprietary so you can go on feeding his his tentacled technocommunism -- what is that if not a mafia directive?
If you are so magnanimous and helping The People then give, give, give, even if it is resold. Spread the wealth -- the real wealth. If you are too stupid to sell it, at least let somebody else sell it and not tier your ego for free...

Gareth Nelson

"Gareth reaching out his long claw to tell you how to use his fake so-called "free software" -- that you can't adapt and resell"

Being able to adapt and resell it are 2 very important core freedoms. Making it propritary is different however, that's not a freedom at all, but rather the power to restrict other people's freedom.

Prokofy Neva

http://www.oss-watch.ac.uk/resources/duallicence.xml

Gareth Nelson

"With dual licensing, businesses are able to distribute their software as open source under one licence while generating revenue from commercial clients for it under the another licence. Many companies need the non-open source licence because they want to modify the software for competitive reasons and keep the source code of the modifications secret."

Emphasis on "and keep the source code of the modifications secret". The GPL does not prevent you from adapting the code (that's the whole point) or from reselling it. You just can't resell it without providing copies of your modifications alongside it.

Gareth Nelson

Oh, and for more emphasis:
"Dual licensing is not the only option for vendors looking to profit from open source. Many generate revenue from installation, customisation, support and on-going mantainance of open source software. Some also generate revenue from the sale of the hardware to run the software on or from training those who use it. Some vendors, typically large existing computer companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM, do all of these as well as dual licensing."

Generally, doing only dual-licensing is a failing model - I can make all the changes I want in MySQL (for example) without paying a penny, but to hire a real expert would rightly cost quite a bit more.

Prokofy Neva

Gareth and other extremist script kiddies have been overtaken by history. Even ths OS movement will tell them that.

Communist doesn't work, doesn't pay, doesn't last.

http://useopensource.blogspot.com/2008/01/dual-license-model-future-of-open.html

and no, the Electric Sheep didn't place their modifications alongside the open code when they redistributed. Did they resell it? Well, of course they did! To CBS and others.

http://www.your2ndplace.com/node/723

This practice of taking people's voluntary work on the code, then enabling big "solutions providers" to modify it and selling them licenses to use their modified code -- and resell that -- has gotten people like Nobody to kvetch, and many more. I have to say I don't get it myself -- sounds like a shell game, at root. But if people are stupid enough to give away their labour for free and demand that ever after, anybody else modifying their work product will keep giving back to them, it's their funeral. They need to get a life; a second one would do.

Tateru has nosed around this too, trying to push the Sheep up against the wall, but they remain unflappable:

http://www.massively.com/2007/11/08/electric-sheep-looking-to-contribute-portions-of-onrez-viewer/

Basically, the moral of the story is, when you play stone soup, bring a big cup, if you can't bring a big turnip.

Gareth Nelson

"Communist doesn't work, doesn't pay, doesn't last."
As much as you accuse me and others who share my views of being communists, I wholeheartedly agree. Real communists i've met (i.e people actually in socialist political parties) I absolutely despise.

Oh, and none of my code will find it's way into a closed-source viewer, I never signed LL's contributor agreement for that very reason. If anyone wants to pay me to develop code for them or to host stuff for them though, they're more than welcome.

"if people are stupid enough to give away their labour for free"

I give my code away in exchange for more code and I give my other labour away for money.

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