Periodically, this topic surfaces again, and as the inventor of the term, I need to weigh in to establish its ideological clarity : )
Of course, like all non-patented and even a lot of patented inventions, this term has gone way behind me and is used by people I never heard of, who never heard of me, in ways I never imagined. But that's all good. It deserves a good run.
And as happens with a lot of spot-on satirifical works, the targets of the term go on spinning, manipulating, dodging, distracting, prevaricating and trying in every way to prove that the term is a conspiracy, outdated, discredited, non-existent -- and utterly to be disbelieved merely because its creator is permabanned from the forums. Of course, history will record that the whole reason the creator of the term was permabanned is proof positive that there *is* a FIC lol -- but I warrant it will take many years for those abundantly clear facts to become accepted.
It was Robin Linden who first really gave the term legs by saying at a Town Hall, "It's an interesting myth." People love myths, and if they're *interesting* myths, they're even more fun!
So that set the FIC and wannabee FIC working in overdrive. Languishing content barons suddenly stirred as one, and reached for every Soviet and Bolshevik meme they could find, and made posters, pictures, bracelets, websites, even ambitious installations. History will record that as the FIC was in its dying days, it was spurred to new heights of content creation by being named for what it was.
But...First, a word on proper pronunciation and spelling. I noticed that Johnny Ming of Second Cast says it like this on the air: "F.I.C." -- spelling it out. Its inventor -- me -- who should be consulted on its ur-pronunciation, whatever the vulgar variations, always conceived of it as "FIC" to rhyme with "bike".
It spells out "Feted Inner Core" -- feted as in "feted and cossetted" or "celebrated and venerated". It was Ingrid Ingersoll I believe who first called it "Fetid Inner Core" but I think that was in fact a satire of the fact that other people didn't know the word "feted" and thought the word "fetid" (rotten, stinking) was intended. I'm happy to have this secondary meaning creep in, too, which is all to the good of the analysis required.
So who or what is the FIC? Here's what it is *not*, based on what its targets and critics constantly say in rebuttal:
"The FIC is all talented people" NOT!
By implying that I wish to attack "all talented people", the FIC and their hangers-on try to portray *me* as a hopeless fuck, a lame asstard unable to rez a cube, plotting and fuming in my cellar, which I inhabit as a 400-pound man living in my mom's basement, the place where my "no life" occurs, and where I am addicted to chili dogs and Dr. Pepper, which I buy with my Tringo winnings on my rare bomb runs to Food Lion in my Suburban Attack Vehicle, in between bouts of voting for Bush or mounting the Confederate Flag on said mom's basement's wall.
But the fact is, I admire many talented people in SL, and I see many charter, oldbie, and even FIC friends who I don't label as FIC or intended to capture with the term FIC because they:
a) don't post on the forums; b) if they post on the forums, obey the TOS; c) are not hateful and vindictive and d) don't require special attention to succeed; e) don't look for, or get, favours from Lindens on a consistent, regular, persistent, systematic basis.
So let's parse this. Aimee Weber: FIC, because she has a permanent, persistent, systematic spot on the webpage and in the orchestrated media coverage; takes hysterical umbrage on the forums, can't let go the concept of her silly sliders, prints that she will put an "I Hate Aimee" icon on you, and endlessly questions whether you suffer from either psychosis, gender dysphoria, or the failure of the FBI to put an end to your miserable existence by arresting you for stalking. This is in between bouts of attending a so-so traffic store, putting up stupid ads in the Metaverse Messenger showing your avatar sitting on a toilet with a role of toilet paper unfolding in the foreground and the lovely catchy jingle, "Aimee Poops".
Nephtalaine Protagonist, on the other hand, with potential FIC credentials, age, visibility, and kick-ass clothing, neither posts on the forums with hateful comments; doesn't accuse others of wearing tinfoil hats; has good traffic; and doesn't resort to ads featuring her avatar taking a crap. I dunno, some people just come in, design clothing, sell it, and go about their lives.
"The FIC is all oldbies" NOT
No, the FIC isn't all oldbies. All you have to do is look at the rez date of Ingrid Ingersoll, to see that people born in like August 2004 (I think she's a month older than me) are quite as capable of becoming FIC as the oldest of charter members by attitude, percentage of vicious articles on the forums, etc.
I see some rather young genuine newbies, as distinct from alts, be snatched up by the FIC instantly and they never recover. There's still hope for those young, naive avatars so I won't name names. There are 12-step programs. Help is available. Your call will be treated in confidence. Act now, before it is too late.
"The FIC doesn't exist" NOT!
The term would enver have acquired such traction if it didn't exist. Things that don't exist aren't things that people are talking about even more than ever a year after the term's birth. In fact, some of my worst nightmares about the FIC really came true in ways I never imagined.
Of course it exists -- you're soaking in it. As Torrid Midnight didn't seem to understand that tagline when I told it to her once (she cited in on Second Cast) let me explain. On 1960s television, there used to be an advertisement with the late actress Jan Miner, who came to be known as the Palmolive Lady. The concept was that Palmolive, which is a dishwashing liquid probably made out of stuff like, I dunno, beef byproducts, toxic waste, and petroleum permutations, was so mild and gentle on your hands that it would be like putting on the finest hand cream. Never more would you suffer those "dishwater dry hands" that come, ironically, from soaking your hands in water for half an hour doing dishes. So the girl would visit her manicurist, Madge, and put her nails into a little dish to soften her fingers and nails. Madge would chattily chide her customer for her "dishwater dry hands" and talk about the wonders of Palmolive. The customer, whose hands were softening to a fine gelatinous putty by then, would exclaim about the problem of dishwashing liquid that actually dries out your hands, and Madge would cry, "You're soaking in it!" -- Madge had artfully convinced her client by putting the very dishwashing liquid she feared into her little nail soaking dish.
This tag line then became used for every occasion when someone would be found to be totally immersed in something they seemed to hate, totally covered with it, inured to its supposedly positive and ameliorative features -- or simply its all-pervasive presence. "You're soaking in it!" is what I could say to just about every one of these people now strenuously trying to say on the forums that either the FIC-sponsored forums don't exist, or they aren't FIC, even if it does exist. They indeed are so immersed in its culture.
"The FIC has no perks, so there can't be a FIC."
The absolute indisputable proof of the FIC lies right in the forums. Peruse all the threads now and in the last years, and see who gets to name names, make personal attacks, use foul language, troll and snipe and destroy reputations, out RL information, air personal disputes, accuse of misdeeds based on the wrong RL, discredit, defame, belittle, denigrate and otherwise violate the TOS in spades. THOSE people and their protectors are the FIC. It's all of them, and they get to do it over and over, and the Lindens just couldn't think of a good way to step up to these bullies, either because they can't see it -- they're soaking in it -- or they don't want it to be disciplined and deal with the howling of these customers.
Indeed, some enterprising newbies who have gone to the trouble of researching this like Yumi have discovered that the FIC, far from being a conspiracy theory, or the product of a jealous and spiteful failing businessman and non-content creator and designer wannabee, is the term applied *to that very phenomenon of the forums itself* whereby certain people get a pass. A thread was put up about a complaint related to an intrusive build -- a persistent fact of Second Life that Lindens and FIC haven't wanted to address with the creation of legitimate, democratic rules or even cultural norms based on decency and good neighbourly relations. In their drive for fuck-you hedonism to prevail (THAT term was also born in that thread!), they'll step on all those rules and norms as they please. It's about that phenomenon, and not about their age, content abilities, or "jealousy" about such.
I always get a chuckle out of Nolan Nash's armchair psychoanalytical psychosis, in which he claims that because I was a beta-tester in TSO, I have some kind of penis-envy for not being a beta-tester in SL.
This baffles me utterly. I heard about Second Life and in its early stages some people in TSO told me to come there. It didn't interest me. I don't like having to wear out my eyes and brain and patience just to make a house and create a fun atmosphere -- as I could easily do in TSO. I came to SL actually ages before I finally rezzed there as Prokofy, and couldn't deal with the ugliness, the porn, the lag, the indifference, the lack of people visible anywhere, the hardships, and everything else. I backed out of there, and didn't come for months and months until Sim Arts moved there. So spare me the bullshit. I don't require beta-tester status to feel a part of a world.
In TSO, yes, I was a beta-tester. But I wasn't ever part of the FIC of TSO. I never got to meet Tigger in real life. I never got to hang with all the mods. I did get the refrigerator magnet for signing on as a charter member, and I got to meet Will Wright's avatar a few times, but so did thousands of other people -- he used to come in the game a lot. I had an unremarkable existence there for probably a year, and only came to fame due to my struggle gainst the Sim Shadow Government that took over all the major lots by stealth, crime, and manipulation.
However, I've found that I could scream until I'm blue in the face that I neither care about beta status, care about aquiring designer or builder skills, or care about being in the lap of the Lindens, and it won't be believed by the FIC because their own little worlds are so driven by these values that they can't imagine a wider existence outside these core concepts. I can, because I'm living in it : )
What is a perk? Well, actual hardcore examples can be difficult to portray -- precisely because to portray them, you have to make use only of those facts which you can put in the public domain. A good example was when Jeska Linden modeled for Flipper. Or when Shaun Linden DJ'd for cua Curie. Or when the Fairchangs, just because they are special (and they are) got to have the kiosk with the Linden collectible cards put on their private island -- well, just because.
Other examples include Adam Zaius and his Ouranos group winning all the building contests. And of course Pathfinder in the IRC channel aiding and abetting the hateful forum junkyard dogs into trying to set me up to get banned is the quintessential example.
More complicated examples have to do with residents who are actually Lindens, or Lindens who are actually residents. Once again, we're reminded of Apocalypse Now, the Fly, and Chinatown taglines ("you're neither!" or "insect politics..." or "she's my daughter AND my sister"). We're threatened, bullied, and harangued if we "go there". Very unseemly indeed.
"The FIC is merely the kind of term developed for any human group; it's inevitable there will always be the football quarterback hero and the prom queen -- get a grip." NOT
FICs exist in every sphere of life. But in our real lives, and even in other games, we don't expect the government to run everything, and that's what LL and the FIC are. If we didn't get into the cool club that just opened because we're hopelessly uncool, well, we can find another cool club. If we didn't get published on this exclusive blog, well, we have other choices of other exclusive blogs. If we didn't win this building content, well, there are others. In a democratic and pluralistic environment, you have choices, and remedies, and other places to go. Not so in this rigid, closed toy society we live in in SL.
Magnum Serpentine's persistent effort to try to take away my brand-name and substitute it with his is lame and stupid. "Star Chamber" has the same degree of cynical or sarcastic spin to it, but it is missing a key ingredient: feting.
What is feting? Well, having been feted myself on a few rare occasions, I can say it's when Lindens pay you attention, invite you to some exclusive event (like the Concierge Ball) or do something like grace Hiro Pendragon's Developer's Circle or whatever he's calling it, or Gwyn's Thinker's meetings, either as their Linden or resident selves.
Oh, so there's a good example. I present my ideas or critiques to Lindens, and perhaps get an answer maybe 1 out of 20 emails or once every few months. Pretty good record for a game company, when we think of EA.com which was epitomized by that cartoon with the players mounting a giant blimp in the sky with their message to try to scale the enormous wall of EA.com's indifference to customers. So if I get an answer from a Linden, or I talk to one inworld, or I am part of a group that meets with Lindens, aren't I feted? Many people laugh and point at me and characterize me as feted now, having become feted by inventing the term and having a good run with it to the point where the Lindens even used it in the Message of the Day.
Um, no, because I remain permabanned from the forums and the Community Round Table, I can talk to them, but they usually brush me off because they're doing their own thing, and people like me, and everything I represent, or care about, still remain at core alien to these inventors of this platform and their best friends.
Meanwhile, vicious oldbies like Weedy Herbst remain on the forums, hour after hour, slashing and hacking at newbies and oldbies alike; Cristiano Midnight, smug and condescending, remains on the forums, hour after hour, bullying, flattering, cajoling to get his way; Hiro Pendragon, nasty and thuggish, threatening me with permabanning, remains on the forums and in the Linden's lap with his development circles and his relentless drumbeat of hatred against land barons and those in any-business-but-my-business. Um, so that's the difference. I also don't run the SLCC, which is about as feted and inner and corish as you can get without literally and physically sucking a Linden's actual RL dick.
I don't intend to go to this year's SLCC for this reason. This thing called "community" doesn't serve me and the communities which I'm apart of. It's a gaggle of fanboyz that the Lindens find themselves unable to say "no" to. The reasons for this remain mysterious to me, but I imagine if they don't turn out to be accountable for reasons like somebody's relative or main squeeze involved, I imagine they'll come down to all or some of the following:
o habit -- habits die hard, and if you've been friends and colleagues and intense revolutionary strugglers or quest buddies with somebody, you don't drop them just because some newcomer bitched about bounce scripts and ugly builds.
o sales -- the FIC are perceived to be wealthy from content sales, and the Lindens like to point to that as the success of their concept of people using the platform for RL income. Their sales may not even be as great as they once were, but no matter, even as sour and snarky a persona as Cristiano turns out to be when heard on Second Cast can be found enthusiastically pumping decisions like p2p by saying that his sales "dramatically" increased with p2p. Cristiano can now shit on the Lindens and LL as much as he like in ways even I wouldn't shit on them, but as long as he can keep saying his sales rose dramatically due to p2p, he will remain golden and untouched.
o traffic -- some of the FIC, but not many these days, still get traffic to their establishments, and traffic of the non camp-chair type, so the Lindens value that
o platformism -- the FIC can reliably be counted on to push the platform uber alles, at the expense of the world, on any day of the week, because basically, they assume their little worlds will always remain intact and they don't care about the rest of the world
o creator fascism -- privileging creation and creators as the top of a rigid, hierarchical world, and more than that, imposing the exigencies of creator needs and the creator hierarchy on the entire world in a corporativist ideological implementation, is an ideology that finds favour with many key FIC. Think of Cienna Samiam's concept that all subscribers must be divided at birth into creators or consumers. Philip and Cory continue to fete creators and creating above all else in Second Life, and as long as they stay on that position, we will continue to suffer from the FIC problem.
o Lindenization (R) -- some of them have either become Lindens, are partnered with Lindens, or are in the close circles of people who became Lindens or partnered with Lindens -- that's just a fact of life.
o Other invisible factors -- it's not a conspiracy to posit that there might be people who helped the Lindens with certain favours, be they subscription sign-ups, or inventions that are in the programming lexicon now, or media coverage, or other things that occur in the sense "normal" course of some group of long-time loyal customers helping a company. Yeah, that's all normal and not a conspiracy...except in the platform-that-is-a-country, it becomes intrusive and even sinister.
Let's imagine if Linden Lab were to post a notice on the forums that all residents of New York who play the game and want to help out should appear in Times Square nezt Saturday morning to put on a chicken costume because they were going to illustrate how an enterprising virtual chicken costume designer in the garment district had gotten her design into the world and even created a Chicken sim where everyone flew around role-playing chickens, and the Daily News was going to cover this along with CNN and ABC, there are some people who would don a chicken suit or at least come along and bring the hot coffee and donuts or help provide a sound system they cribbed from their day jobs. I'm not one of them. But if those people who dressed up in the chicken suits, brought the sound system, or designed the chicken were then all to be given a little chicken bracelet, or become part of a group with Jeska in it called "We Love Chickens" -- who could care? God bless them, and let them bring in more subscriptions of men secretly fantasizing what they could do, if only they could dress up like virtual roosters and screw virtual hens online.
What I *would* object to, and strenuously, is if their chickenness and chicken stuff began to impede on the public commons, and the infrastructure of the world. If they begin to clamour on the forums for a double-prim sim, just because all their feathers take up a lot of prims. Or if they ask to have the last name "Chicken" put in just for them, at no cost. Or if Lindens then begin to grace all their chicken events, helping them to get traffic and hence actual traffic. Or of Jeska, dressed in her Chief Chicken outfit, poses for their ads on Slboutique.com Or if they demand on the forums that they get to put their chicken paraphrenalia in the Orientation Island to capture the newbie commerce stream. Or that the Lindens cannot get rid of bounce scripts because the chickens need to put up really secure anti-griefing measures on their sim because there are so many people who find the concept of chickens laughable and want to come and shoot them. Or if they tell the Lindens they cannot get rid of spamming and extortionist signs, because the RL businesses that helped the chicken fest in Times Square might like to rent billboards in SL some day and they don't want them to feel they are entering a non-permissive environment. And so on.
If you don't see the difference, ask yourself...are you soaking in it?