I am in a white heat of outrage and indignation.
I actually don't get like that very often, as much as everyone imagines I'm fuming and foaming -- most of the time I'm laughing like hell at this Bonfire of the Vanities called Second Life.
But InfoFunnel is about the most outrageous thing I've seen in such a long time that I have to come and flame with the whitest, hottest, bluest flame I can muster -- and I am absolutely confident that everyone from Torley Torgeson to Aimee Weber will actually believe about the same as me on this one.
InfoNet is one of those things like C-SPAN that is supposed to be a "community service" that is bland and mildly useful and which has found its way into many offices, clubs, gathering places, etc. I have it on in the Sutherland Dam. The Herald raved about it when it appeared -- everybody wants to have better inworld communication channels. A mild-mannered and geeky furry named Squagmire Stravinsky (sorry I didn't focus on whether this person is he or she so my calling him "he" here is just ignorance not any kind of statement) is the scripter for this geeky glorified notecard-giver.
Whenever people talk about InfoNet, they talk about it like eating broccoli. They all heartily agree it's good for you. But they never actually eat it. It's boring.
The minute Infonet was announced, I was on it like white on rice. I held a jaundiced and weathered eye up to a magnifying glass to see how the Lindens would control it.
I went out and interviewed Squagmire at length. He sort of bemusedly waved me away like all tekkies do, with a faux-humble air of superiority. Ah, FUD! Ah, non-tekkies! etc.
He explained at the time the material would not be censored, and when I asked whether I, as a permbanned person, could start a channel or publication on it, he seemed to imply I could. Of course, somebody... a kind of editorial board? his friends? Lindens? would be looking at it...but you could "put what you want".
In time, the Lindens put a big disclaimer on it: they have no editorial control. This is the usual way the Lindens accomplish an amazingly deft sleight of hand. On the one hand, if anyone criticizes this "public service in the public interest," they are told, well, sorry, it's just residents, we don't control it. On the other hand, it's on Linden land, and subtly endorsed by the Lindens precisely because it's bland, geeky, and tekkie.
Whenever I object that it's just a glorified notecard giver, everyone shushes me.
But now, we have a far worse problem that this rather clunk build with its really clunky interface. It will now be ruling our information space!
As soon as all the telehubs are removed, the Lindens explained today, InfoNet will be put in and the areas will be repurposed as "Infohubs". Infohubs brought to you courtesy of Squagmire, just like your screenshots on the website are brought to you courtesy of Cristiano Midnight.
Mr. Lee's Hong Kong! Franchulates!
Only...worse...franchulates signed and sealed by the weak federal government.
When I dialed up Squag to express my outrage, he seemed baffled. "Squagmire Stravinsky: I'm not in every telehub. what are you talking about?"
Squagmire Stravinsky: I was unaware that the InfoHub project was going to be used by linden lab at the telehubs. Thankyou for advising me so as I can best redirect my marketing efforts. :)
Now, if that isn't proof that InfoNet is not just some bland, generic public-interest project, but a resident business, what isn't???
I'm not going to rage in detail here now because it's late -- the "best of SL" listings with their lame-o suggestions of things like going to Nate's Water World; their "best stores and malls" only including things like Fate Gardens (FIC geek stores -- sorry Khamon, I shop there too, but you shouldn't be the only example of a store). For malls, get this (ROFL): the Achemon Railshop which is Garnet Psaltery's old mall by the Linden build there in Achemon -- I shopped up a storm there but guess what, it's gone. And chosing Garnet was just part of that "anti-business any business but my friends' business" guildism we have, where those who are "socially useful," socialist, in Neualtenberg, etc. etc. get to have advertised stores and those of us who are "commercial" and anti-socialist are ignored.
Even one of my wilderness preserve lots is in there -- but one that I was forced to sell during last month's tier-down when I realized how many content-related things the Lindens were making -- combat sims, newbie communities, instructor areas -- and how pointless it was to compete. Ah, well, I'm moving my spa to another remaining lot in the wilderness retreat -- stay tuned.
Look. Not even Aimee Weber's store is in here, OK? NOW are you mad???
Not even Enabran's robots!
Nobody you ever heard of!
And you have to PAY!!!!
Now, of course under the glare of publicity and his new, hitherto uninformed role at the center of the "repurposing" of our world, Squag is likely to take some new suggestions, ditch the paid function for listings, whatever. The Lindens will see to it under the fire of community backlash.
BUT. He will remain in control...that is...THEY will. Guess who is in his group, InfoNet? Robin Linden. And like a dozen geeks, some of whom you've never heard of.
Under pressure, the Lindens might consent to a far broader and more just community board to run this terminal and make selections for it. We could battle for that and maybe get a little bit of opening up of this funnel.
What we are unlikely to do, however, is to pry the Lindens and the FIC away from their messianic anti-commerce zealotry.
The simplest, sanest, most obvious thing to do post-telehub is to have all the owners of telehub land, and renters, and whoever lives nearby with a dog in the hunt, to get together and make an information terminal that has the businesses, projects, clubs, and events in that region served by that hub. Plain as day. The kiosk accepts resident entries, with a minimal of rules, something like telehub ads. No, the Lindens do not put little red buttons on it to abuse report content -- we have seen the devastation to our world by that police-state culture running rampant on the forums. No, they do not empower little posses to police the content. They let regions run their own hubs with their own ads.
Robin said at the meeting today that two groups had already approached her about building projects and content at the hubs. Well, that's just terrific. I asked if they owned land there. I got a really evasive answer. I suspect they don't. I suspect the Lindens think these hubs are like a lot of abandoned warehouses in Soho that artists should be allowed to "take over" in the "public interest".
What we have to do now, as telehub land owners, as renters, and people concerned about this absurd funneling of our world, is to lobby loud and hard at the overthrowing of Infonet, and the replacing of it with our own terminals with our own content. If Squagmire is so public-minded, he will make use his technology for this purpose and step aside with his biased content notions. If the Lindens really care about retaining value of land and not whacking at land owners once again, they need to let them do this.
To allow strangers -- completely strangers with completely alien agendas -- to come into each telehub area and STEP ON the people who BOUGHT LAND THERE and run malls and stores and clubs at them -- and replace them with top picks featuring something by the railroad in Achemon or SupportforHealing or Nick's Water World or what have you -- this is just plain wrong.
The hubs have to be run by those who live and work at them. We don't need hippie crap at each terminal with people runnign around in Birkenstocks crunching granola and telling us to attend Prim University and learn to make something and stop camping in chairs and playing Tringo.
The federal government and its chosen info-lackeys need to get out of our backyards.
I'm really weeping. The old telehub areas were areas of diversity, of open access, where anyone could right-click and pay to be there and reach an audience. No one had to clear them. Money was the only obstacle. And while it was steep, anybody could at least buy a week there. And quite a few malls, like mine for instance, made a point of having cheap rentals to compete with Anshe.
Now, we have to rely on being noticed by a commitee of geeks curated by Robin Linden. This is wrong.
Everybody, please protest this, it's in your interest and the interests of our world.