Has everybody seen what a road wreck the Second Life "Community" Convention is? It's an accident going somewhere to happen, unless its sponsors, including RiversRunRed, Electric Sheep Company, New Media Consortium, Anshe Chung Studios and many more step up to the plate immediately and demand participation in, and accountability from, the organizers in the form of the Future United Group and Phreak Radio -- these intertwined FIC entities that have hijacked the conference process for years now, and whose chickens are finally coming home to roost.
It's not just that Prokofy Neva -- first banned from SLCC, and then embarrassingly for the organizers as the RL press covered it , unbanned -- is grumping on the Herald, "No Lifeloggers Please, We're Second Lifers" about their draconian -- and unjustified -- rules for no media taping. Why, even the usually loyalist and FIC-feting Tao Takashi has raised some really sharp questions about the unseemly grab for media content! Live Musicians are up at arms at the unconscionable contract foisted on them from this thinly-disguised "non-profit" and "community" entity (Scare quotes are definitely required for all these so-called outfits claiming falsely and wrongly to represent the large loosely-knit communities sharing the virtual space of Second Life). Business panelists are surprised to learn they can't tape themselves even if presenting, that some unnamed ones of their number don't want to be taped *at all*, and that their papers, ostensibly submitted to a professor to be peer-reviewed and published in a scholarly journal, are also to become the unrevocable and perpetual property of these "community entities".
Twitterers are a' twittering, people like Barney Boomslang who never sound off on blogs on FIC drama are blogging, and the question really has to be asked: who's going to overthrow these idiots and organize this thing right *for this year*??? No, the issue isn't "timing" as the non-lawyer and FIC-fetishist Tateru Nino says in parsing the badly-devised overly restrictive contracts. The issue is how to turn it around by rewriting contracts and organizing it RIGHT.
Second Citizen, which is the organ of these hijacking "community entities" Phreak Radio and Future United Group is absolute silent about all the brewing criticism even from live musicians -- a highly respected and popular class of people in SL who usually stay out of drama (of course, except for Dolmere and Chronic Skronski). FlipperPA Peregrine and his lovely wife, Jennyfur Peregrine, are everywhere out on the increasingly restive blogosphere and the SLCC site itself making noises about how "very soon they will explain everything" (they haven't yet). Moo Money, FIC groupie extraordinaire threatens musicians with silly stuff if they don't attend.
Nethermind Bliss, who only the other day was visibly marked as tied to Phreak Radio in the partnership box with Taco Rubio inworld, is now busily spinning why she is both inside Phreak Radio as a PR manager with a decided interest in gaining exclusive rights for the SLCC streaming and content, and yet also on the board of the conference organizing "community entity" Future United Group, a fugly outfit that claims to be a nonprofit, but is merely using the 501-c-3 status to do bag work for its profit-making "community entity" Phreak Radio.
Also troubling is that six weeks before the event, there isn't a webpage showing the speakers and the schedule. That's a terrible sign. And...ominously, there isn't a single Linden mentioned as a keynote speaker or even participant -- unless, of course, you count Crowcatcher Valen, long-time member of Phreak Radio AKA Chadrick Linden working behind the scenes, who is in in the abuse/governance team at Linden Lab -- and Blue Linden, who signed up ages ago and hasn't been heard from in a long while. In fact, on that list of people who registered, Blue Linden is the only Linden; Jeska isn't listed.
When I asked Robin Linden at her office hours, and in email, about this road wreck, she had only a terse comment to make and reiterate, that the group is a private group, and can make any rules it wants. Sigh. I pressed further, and asked how this "private group" supposedly awarded the blessing of Linden Lab with its sponsorship, could call itself as representative of the community, especially with Jeska Linden on the organizing committee, that is, the board of FUG. And I got this answer: "She is acting only in her personal capacity" (!).
Last year, Mitch Kapor, Philip Linden, and many other Lindens -- and prominent former Lindens like Reuben Steiger -- were on board with SLCC, which was in their lap in San Francisco, making very visionary and far-reaching statements.
This year, not a single one of them is to be found. I mean...Torley isn't listed. Pathfinder, for Christ's sake, isn't on an education panel. It's...wierd.
I was the one who advocated LESS Lindens, not more, back at SLCC1, which I felt was a horridly fanboyish experience. I'd love to see Second Life Community Conferences put on with very few, or even not a single Linden present -- that would be proof of its ultimate success as a more normal and mainstreamed piece of software that people use to create their world, their imagination themselves, with the makers very much in the background.
But to go from Mitch Kapor, Chair of the board of Linden Lab, and Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, giving keynotes to...not even Jeska listed on a public panel is just plain...wierd, especially with LL listed as a paying sponsor (and I'd love to know what the total amount of money raised for sponsorship is, and how it is being spent!).
How can you not have a schedule 6 weeks before a conference??? Scary!
To be sure, there are "tracks" listed with "topics" and possibly organizers or panelists who might likely cobble something together. But the way in which this is now hugely, lamely being organized now by Nethermind is to have people "sign up to be on a panel".
Sorry, but I don't know a conference of any repute in the universe, let alone metaverse, that organizes stuff like that. You, as a reputable and coherent organizer (if you *are* that) have to pick people; you have to try to represent the topic fairly and decently. To let 2nd and 3rd rate or new and unknowns just "sign up" is more accident-going-somewhere-to-happen.
To give you an idea of the amateur-hour we're dealing with, Nethermind IM'd me and asked me to moderate the media panel, which was to include SLNN, SLCN, and no SL Herald, no SL Insider, no Second Cast -- nothing of record or of any significant audience. Huh? I saw what was up with *that* gambit -- the old "make them chair the panel so they can't talk". Now, of course you can talk and insert ideas and frame debates -- and Spin Martin, with whom I discussed this at length in live voice last night, is a good example of how you do that, as he is a virtuoso at these panels both getting in the "mot" and getting people to talk. But seriously, kids, you don't take an outspoken figure who was banned and unbanned at a conference and put them up to the job of gagging other people AND enforcing this idiotic one-minute question rule (!).
Sorry, no sale! I told Nevermind that she had better start a second panel, and invite true representatives of really popular media, and not be a ninny.
I know why there isn't a schedule with speakers. It's because these people look at this thing as their personal club. The defensive, sullen, and insular comments on SC let you know that they care more about getting drunk with their fellow buddies in their SL clubs and having anonymous conference sex than they do about putting together a coherent intellectual and social program for a diverse group of interests.
I'm embarrassed and ashamed for Second Life, and what we are doing to our live musicians. I had found out some months ago that they were being asked to pay their own way, pay their own travel, and merely get a discount on the conference costs -- and were not getting a performance fee. Huh? These people work at this for a living. I know one of the factors that changed my mind about coming to this conference, after being unbanned, was the thrilling prospect of seeing these folks live that I had only seen as avatars in SL. But we can't pay these people a simple fee for the gig? Even what they'd get if they played within Second Life??? That just makes us look like ingrates and wretches, and is frankly insulting to them, given that they are asked to lay on entertainment not even for free, but at considerable cost to themselves. Their CD sales can't possibly make up for this.
While Spin and other Twitterers think the solution to this accident-going-somewhere-to-happen is to just show up and ignore all the silly rules and just lifelog and jam and do what you want, I'm not so sure that's a good thing, given that people are being asked to sign these contracts, sign away content, and agree to rules that may, given the awful track record of these people, cause them to pitch people out under specious "harassment" grounds or "no taping" groups if they attempt, like Satchmo says he's going to do, to lifelog, report, or resell their music as CDs or post them on YouTube without the permission of Phreak Radio -- oops I mean the FUGlies.
So here's what I propose:
1. An emergency organizing committee of skilled professionals should be created IMMEDIATELY made up of sponsors like Fizik Baskerville, Sibley Verbeck, Guni Greenstein, Larry Pixel, and others who know how to organize events, conferences, people, contracts in RL and SL. Likely, they'll need to simply *join* the organizing committee/Future United Group because to kick it aside will be too difficult in terms of re-casting all the logistical capers like the hotel venue and such.
2. A real lawyer, not somebody Flipper has hired to protect his thuggish rights to hijack community affairs, should be retained -- or hopefully can step forward probono -- to reject these ridiculous contracts which are overbroad, ask for too much, and really have nothing to do with "union rules". Lawyers help you solve problems, and help you cut through red-tape thrown up things like "soup Nazis at hotels" and "unions" -- they don't invoke those things as reasons to secure the "rights" of just one cabal of people. Contracts are made to secure rights and responsibilities of both parties -- not just an accountable and rather secretive radio station that I can't really establish anybody listens to, anywa. This lawyer they've hired at FUG is doing what all lawyers do: protecting his clients' interests. What he -- and they -- need to be forcefully shown is that the client here isn't one SL business awarding itself largesse, but it must be the broad, diverse Second Life community, not the gang of fatwah-issuing mediocrities in charge now.
3. A pool must be immediately established to raise money to pay for these musicians properly -- or at least as properly as a lot of amateurs and part-timers and anonymous people can hope to pay for entertainment, which should be at least as good as they muster inside Second Life itself. An audit should be quickly established as to where the current sponsorship funds are going -- and sponsors should pull out demonstratively and vocally if they can't get some of these road-wrecks cleaned up NOW.
4. A schedule with some kind of credible speakers' list must be published as soon as humanly possible, with really reasonable and rational events that are reflective of the community's diversity so that those traveling at their own expense at great distance aren't wasting their time. A rapporteur for the conference should be appointed to monitor and sample all the events and give a report to the revised organizing committee for improvements for the future.
5. Language to the effect that FUG or Phreak or any of these nuttos get to define what "journalist" is (they don't) or proscribe their behaviour (they can't) has to be excised from the website. Normal journalistic ethics can be counted on from accredited journalists -- and need not be imposed from outside by conference organizers. Accreditation is a way of clearing through the haze of anonymity and bloggeration that can beset a process like this; the process has to be permissive, not discretionary, and define the job as "RL and SL media representatives" understood to mean those with periodicals, regular broadcasts, regular blogs with a significan viewership, and so on. They will have to be relied on to ask permission for photos; if they don't, they discredit themselves -- that's the way to do it rather than the entire SLCC orgkomitet being discredited for trying to force a rule on people they can't enforce; and for which they indemnify themselves in the same breath.
(I'd like to point out that Jennyfur was the first person to land on Baku to come and taunt a giant bust made out of my RL picture by W-hat/voted-5 last year, which was really despicable. So much for her fake concern about the misuse of people's pictures.)
6. The deadline of July 15 should be set to get this thing turned around, and the deadline for those to refund if it is NOT turned around and these insanities remain in place should be extended to July 31.
7. Any future SLCCs should not be organized by FUG or Phreak Radio and steps should begin now to find or create some other, more expanded and representative entity to handle this task more professionally.
The most important thing those taking over the fixing up of this road wreck have to keep in mind is that they need to move quickly, forcefully, and effectively and overrun these tyrants who have hijacked the process. That means these faux-legions of fanboyz that are going to crop up on blogs and whine that people worked tirelessly for free, or that their workplace/university/GULAG Maximum Security Penitentiary have these same rules, are to be pushed aside.
Second Life is new media, social media, free media -- it's supposed to be revolutionary. It's supposed to help bridge and smooth out and remove these obstacles that everyone had for centuries accessing media for expression and sharing content AND monetarizing it!
For a tiny cabal of FIC -- oldbies backed by one secretative and powerful Linden -- to be hijacking this new media at the dawn of the Metaverse is *sinister*. It's *wrong*. It's why I've been fighting these people all along.
Please, if you are a sponsor, make this change. Turn it around. Don't let Second Life become a laughing-stock and let down the hopes of the community for establishing more meaningful connections around this amazing virtual world in real life.