Here's some of the posts I've been doing on my new blog:
There Are No More Lunch Counters Malcom We're All Online -- response to Malcom Gladwell's piece on twitter revolutions in the New Yorker.
Hiro Pendragon/Ron Blechner says Linden Lab has No Business Plan. But I think this realization is largely driven by the fact that Hiro Pendragon has no more apparent job in the Metaverse.
And I think that's the problem.
Oh, sure, I realize Ron Blechner works for Siemens as an expert on virtual worlds, doing research on the use of VWs for business training and seminars and such. But that's a far cry from the mighty and glorious Hiro Pendragon, who once ruled the forums and had a content business making dojos and Asian knock-offs and swords (like his namesake in Snowcrash), and then a lucrative position in various "solutions providers" outfits including Involve, one of the "big six" of such gold content producers which has now apparently been folded, but not before producing arguably the best projects in Second Life, ranging from the Holocaust Museum to the 7 Days bakery. It was quite a run, and the work stands out and speaks for itself -- a far cry from pushing prims around in a circle to make yet another Soviet stadium and 1970s mod glass building for business avatars.
I'm not certain that training seminars in a stand-alone or firewalled sim is "The Metaverse" anyway. One could debate this. But it's pretty clear that PowerPoints with aphorisms and sales charts weren't exactly the vision that Neal Stephenson had in Snowcrash, or the vision even of Philip Rosedale, although he once explained to me why he let in all those corporations -- "I wanted it to be for everybody."
It's funny -- Philip has a vision of the world both as a geographically contiguous "place" or "world" that is beyond or alternative to or alongside the real one, but he also has an engineer's perspective of the platform as being usable by millions of people anywhere in any setting with all kinds of modifications and adjustments -- this is how he could talk some years ago about how various countries would adapt the SL cultural norm implied or even embedded in the platform to their own laws.
The vision has died hard. Hiro couldn't make it as a content producer even with a never-ending supply of adolescent boys who love crossed swords and girls who love dojos because to make an actual RL living on content in SL, you have to be an obsessive genius -- and an obsessive genius with really good customer service skills LOL. That's why there are only about 2,000 such people in SL ROFL.
Ron couldn't make it as a solutions provider after the hype years because the corporations willing to pay $15,000 or $50,000 for a sim are also numbered in the hundreds, not thousands. They couldn't undersand what to "do" with SL and so it tanked. If even one of these projects had had a full sim night after night of even 40 much less 140 people with...something...they would have cooked up, it might have been a model for others. But they couldn't make it; skateboarding for AOL; tree-planting for Intel; models of server-cooling plans for IBM -- none of it got traffic or uptake.
So now Ron/Hiro is at the next plane, or on a side road of the Metaverse, that might hook up, and that is training and seminars, which can still fit into the genre filled already by products like Webinars and such. Good luck!
So he's frustrated, and the form this frustration now takes is like the Russian joke about the male ballet dancer, who blamed the fact that he was a bad dancer on the fact that he had balls. "For a bad dancer, his balls get in the way."
He's now blaming Linden Lab for "not having a business model" because nothing he's done or found has been able to co-exist with...whatever it is that Linden Lab is doing (maybe he isn't going to bother to learn Mesh?)
I'll be the first to admit that LL is secretive and that means the secret might be that there is no secret, i.e. they don't know what they are doing. This Stakhanovite program of the last year of homestead price rises, Linden Homes, Xstreet to SL Marketplace purchase and transition, Display Names, and Mesh -- it all seems a plan that was concocted by people in a far-away galaxy removed from this one, and in fact it was, and in fact those people aren't even around anymore.
Still, the label on the can (go look at the website splash screen) still says ESCAPE TO A WORLD...and that's the business. And that's ok.
Aren't businessmen escaping to a world when they immerse themselves in a Powerpoint at a conference instead of actually getting some work done sitting at their desks!
Ron ticks off the boxes, saying where LL *doesn't* have a business plan -- implying that they should have one involving these rubrics -- while there is no demonstrable evidence that they should!
Here they are:
Something that makes a number of us Typepad bloggers uneasy is a change in the ownership. Six Apart, the company that maintains the Typepad platform, has merged, or been bought out, by something else called VideoEgg, and made a new company called SAY media. I've always been a bit puzzled why there's a company called one thing, and a platform that is something else that somehow exists apart from it, but it may well be like Linden Lab is to Second Life, the platform. But if it is proprietary code, then...how are they separable? I guess when another company buys them and then...replaces them? Or?
What's unsettling is, somewhat like our Lindens, the Typepad/Six Apart/Say people --the new masters -- came on suddenly and announced that the takeover had already happened AFTER an interview was posted on TechCrunch. That was annoying, because you would think they'd first tell their own customers before interviewing for the tech press.The blog -- WE LOVE BLOGGERS WE LOVE TYPEPAD seemed a bit shrill and less than convincing...
Typepad isn't really a community, and that's why the title of this blog is meant merely as a thought-provoker, not a report. Typepad isn't a MMORPG or a virtual world or a Twitter list. It's just a blogging thinger. And that's ok. The best blogging platforms are *seen* and not *heard*. That's why when I see this is all about a company now called "SAY" -- I worry.
The platform should "just work" and be invisible, and the people working it keep their geeky vicissitudes to a dull roar. I'm not Typepad FIC or fanboy -- they have beta-testers and meet-ups and stuff, but I've never bothered. I just want to blog. Probably 99 percent of the other people are like that too.
I'm completely happy with Typepad because their customer service is good, the spam filter is good, the ad system is good, the system works, very little to fuss about.
One thing that is funny is that just like the Lindens, the Six Apart folks got all social-media enthusiastic and began pushing this kind of internal platform "follow me" stuff and put in big crowd-pleasers like Avatar the movie as something to follow (James Cameron's blog, so to speak, althought it was mainly just a lot of movie stills). So if you wanted, you could make a profile like a Facebook, and have people follow you and collect followers. I just never bothered.
The reason I never bothered is that I could not see who the other Typepad people were. And here's a sort of hilarious story that's a lot like the Lindens.
You know how the Lindens have this "You don't look good/we don't look good" mantra? Cocoanut Koala knows this shtick. It's about how they wish we were better content producers than we are so they could sell their platform better. And we disappoint, and they get frustrated. So they FIC up and mesh up and all the rest.
On Typepad, in the same way, the devs chose only a few certain blogs they like to feature in a recommended following list. But they are all hilariously anodyne and tame, like blogs about...cupcakes. Or...sewing. Or...vintage posters or something. Looking at the entire list, you hardly see a single one with criticism of the professional or amateur type. It's as if they fear that as too negative and not a selling point, so they hide it.
There is no place you can go on here to see all the people who use Typepad and build up a follow list that would actually be interesting.
So you have to go to Google, type in typepad.com in the search bog, and see what you get. Which is fascinating. There is everybody from Andrew Keen to Pamela Geller (Atlas Shrugs). Naturally, the geeky lefties at Six Apart are never going to pick this right-wing blogger to feature, and Andrew Keen, the anti-Christ of Silicon Valley, neither (a misnomer, because now he is tamed and eating out of Arrington's hand and has a show on TechCrunch TV).
There's lots of other people too -- I started noting them down and trying to click on each one and then try to follow them -- but some don't have the follow widget (I took it off this blog here too, and left it on my new one just to experiment).
I'm not sure you *can* make a community out of a bunch of random people, some good, some horrible, who just happen to use this particular blogging platform. It's like trying to make a community out of people who just happen to use Gillette razors.
But they tried -- and of course, by doing it in the FIC way, and not revealing enough information and trusting their customers to find and follow and make the system work, they failed.
There's a lot of apprehension about the new people as you can see from the dialogue here because they will focus more on ads. That I don't mind at all. But I could see that smaller fry like me -- I'm on page 15 of the Google pages of results for the search of typepad.com -- could be forced out if we are not "adding value". Littler blogs who don't want ads may be asked to go completely -- because it may be that the $14.95 you pay a month isn't enough to keep the boat floating. I suspect we will see this go to $19.95 like it is at Squarespace. I think that's still a bargain, but then it begins not to pay for itself for some people.
The problem with being in the ad business versus the community business is that the community doesn't sell the ads when it is crappy. When it is controversial. When ad buyers won't buy it because they fear too much negativity and criticism. Perhaps some ad buyers don't care about anything at all but traffic and numbers, but some progressive types would get upset at some of the blogs were they to be promoted (like mine, or Atlas Shrugged). Better just to quietly siphon what revenue can be gained from these people without doing them any favours.
I have no idea how many Typepad blogs there are. If it is hundreds of thousands, than a list wouldn't be practical. I wish there was a list of those who wanted to be in it, tagged by categories. I dont' think there'd be any special bonding factor, but maybe there would be for some. I'm having fun discovering some in Google.
As I wrote on the comments, a change like this brings back racial memories of Zing -- "Photo Storage for Life!!!" that couldn't live up to its crazy claim and died. Or Ofoto.com, which is no more. Or the Sims Online. Or Metaplace. Lots of things suddenly go under -- what about your content? Can you get it out?
It's a spur to try to make that blog book you were intending to make all this time, or at least back up a copy of your posts. Annoyingly, that won't take your photos with it, and do to some corruption of older blogs, some photos are missing completely. What to do? Put them on Flickr? And if Flickr goes under?
At this point, the Typepad scene reminds me of Second Life and Linden Lab not explaining what they are up to. For days, people have been posting and ratcheting up their fears, and the devs or new owners aren't coming on with some straight talk. They need to explain:
o will they be trying to chase out any small fry? No, they won't, they will keep anyone paying the subscription, you're all welcome -- or not. Better to give warning than be hated later.
o will the price go up?
o will people have to take ads or can they opt-out?
o will the ads be disruptive and noisy? (a claim some are making)
o will existing ad accounts be honoured?
o what about the internal social features of the community?
o any new templates coming? Etc.
As i've been saying, "Look at Squarespace. Now look at Typepad. Now look at Squarespace. Now back to Typepad. Sadly, your templates aren't Squarespace, but if you stopped using lady scented kittens and rainbows you could look like Squarespace. I'm on a horse..."
With Adric Antfarm gone, the gap in the blogosphere is clear as far as satire. He wasn't a professional, but he was better at it than most, and it's when you realize something that you took for granted is gone, that you start to define more the quality of what is needed. There are those in the Grace-Oclock Plurk-Jerk set that say Adric "took a bazooka to a butterfly" (er, actually, there's only Chestnut Rau saying that lol -- and I'm still waiting for a link, or else a rainy Saturday to go looking through all of Adric's back pages, as it isn't showing up in Google. Anyone?)
All in all, the SL blogosphere is pretty crappy. I think I'm better than most, but I don't pretend to be slick and professional at all, and if anything, am deliberately shabby because I don't want to be constrained in my thinking. Thinking is more important to me than anything. That a blog enables you to think out loud by writing and conversing with people is great, but for me, it's about the thinking then, not about the by-product of making some popular site, getting in some top 10 list, etc.
I'm too tired now to bother going to go fetch all the Alexa statistics to see what the most high-trafficked blogs are these days. I remember the last time I did that, Vint Falken had a huge hissy fit because she wasn't included in the list, I pushed back and explained why (she wasn't interesting, because she mainly only posted links to other people with little self-promotions of her own art shows or her fashion bits) -- and she went into such a rage, that she ended up orchestrating a Google-bombing of me that remains to this day, years later, tainting every search for my RL name on Google with a completely lurid hate page in fact originally organized by the insecure job-hopping failure Benjamin Duranske. Imagine! Amazing!
Where is Vint Falken today? Well, ever since Rezzable pulled the plug on her when they moved out of SL, she seems to have evaporated.
Oh, I will look up one number, actually two. Crap Mariner's blog, firstlifeisfullofcrap.com has an Alexa ranking of 666,077. I have an Alexa ranking of 347,203, and the Herald has 188,426. Yeah, we've all heard it a million times from snarky insecure geeks that Alexa is "crap" and "doesn't tell you the real numbers," but that's not important. What it tells you is within one measuring-stick system how sites rank *to each other*. If someone wants to go fool with Google Analytics which isn't as easy to do as Alexa, then do so, but you'll find the same thing.
I imagine that irks Crap no end, having about twice as less the traffic as me, but who cares? It's not a contest. Except for him.
So now, likely having been burned by his "10 worst blogs" approach (Dale Innis/Dale Chess is trying to make him "accentuate the positive"), and likely having stepped on Chestnut's tail and her loyal followers for his skewed poll that actually ended up making *her* look bad, not me because he had two choices 1) yes, Chestnut is a bully -- and 8 people answered (!) -- and I only voted once and b) he put a strangely devious prank answer for 2) that said "I'm voting no but I really am afraid to say yes" which had like 48. (see what I mean about Crap's broken psyche, Chestnut? Are you getting it now?)
So n ow he has the top blogs, and they aren't in any actual rhyme or reason; they are simply his best friends and people in his crankly little geeky circle.
So some comments:
First, the net-nanny bullshit. These bloggers are good because:
Oh, grow up. The only way to take an interactive 3-d social world is personally, and ad-hominem attacks make the world go round. Crap is engaging in them daily himself, so it's silly to be blacking the kettle. Grudges? Now *that's* a hoot, coming from him. Whining? What do you call someone who has such rage-fests about the Lindens, never forgiving that they never hired him?
Now, as to the choices, they are predictable, but all misrepresented with tendentious fandom:
He includes Adric, and Adric is wonderful, I do hope that they will leave up his blog for us to keep reading it.
Dio Kuhr - Can't recall him. Will have to look up.
Ener Hax - Apparently this person has the highest number of Twitter followers, which people get only by being obsessively attentive to follow backs and aggressive new follows, not from popularity when they aren't pimped by the devs or Robert Scoble. Ener's blog to me is something I have found off-putting so many times I just stopped going there. It's not so much the *text* as it is the textures, and the always big large, overly jarring colour-clashes of her avatar. Each picture always has so much junk in it and all kinds of charts and graphs and sim operation text that it just gets hard on the eyes. Ener recently scrapped with me on Twitter. Let me think what it was about now. For some reason, she said something infantile about some Linden, was it Oz? that I thought was simply inappropriate and wrong. She then gushed about Torley, and that's where I called Ener "witless". Anyone gushing about Torley, as Crap surely knows, *is* witless. So Ener, being some literalist little geeklet, took that up as an offense and decided that despite all her math and science, and obvious "smartness," she is "dumb" according to Prok, yuk yuk. But sorry, you *are* witless if you gush about Torley or Tateru.
Ciarian Laval - Ciaran is still not getting it about Linden dollar sinks and how that drives revenue for the Lab. The problem with Ciarian is he is dogged, but somewhat of a dim bulb. He reacts to thinks emotionally and doesn't think conceptually. That's ok, there are all kinds of "different intelligences," but I find Ciaran annoying. To be sure, he is so dogged and obsessed about the Lindens, that he goes after every little policy change or rumour of change with a hammer and tong. So that's a public service. I'm always glad to read it. But often it is often just not insightful or even wrong. Oh well, we can't all be Paul Carr or Andrew Keen or...Adric.
Prad Prathivi - Prad is great, and when he is funny, he is really hilarious, but he doesn't chose to be funny enough for my taste. Instead, he choses to be fatuous or even a fan boy. And that's a disappointment.
Mitch Wagner - I don't even view him as a "SL blogger" because he's a real world tech blogger. He is head and shoulders above Hamlet or anyone else. So it drags him down to even fasten him to the SL wheel. I appreciate Mitch, but he's one of those thin-skinned geeks who takes offense and doesn't let go. He can't take criticism of his geeky culture -- like Crap can't. He can't rise above it. He's smart, and likely the most insightful about Second Life, able to be critical of the Lindens and yet not take their bullshit -- he has a critical distance that Hamlet has none of -- Hamlet who waxes now slurpily ass-kissing, now nastily back-stabbing.
Botgirl Questi - If I have to hear one more time about how this self-adoring male with a female avatar is "exploring his identity", I'm going to barf. Do men coquettishly flitting around with this "exploring my identity" bullshit realize how GAY they sound? lol. It's explored already, mapped, advertised, packaged, sold and now - we should be done. Blecth. I really hate Botgirl's stuff because it is completely devoid of perspective on the geek religion.
ArminasX Saiman - Here we can agree that this is a good blog, interesting, insightful. Not always my cup of tea, but more thoughtful than other geeks.
Grace McDunnough - I've written extensively about the cultural hegemony that Grace tries to put over on the world. Her new blog is as adulatory of the TED stuff as the old, even worse. Not for us. she's never interesting, just fatuously slavish to the cult of technocommunism, and her buttering up of Philip, calling him Indiana Jones was one of the more awful moments of the year, frankly.
Salome Strangelove - Usually pretty good. I don't read it always but can't complain.
Tateru Nino - Tateru doesn't "question authority" as Crap claims as she never questions the author of the opensource movement and its ilk. That's the problem, she's utterly wedded to this cult and never breaks ranks -- ever. Never a single critical bone in her body over the FOSSy set. Her most recent screeds on her own blog, not written to the standard of Massively.com anymore (she left for mysterious reasons we'll likely never know, or was canned and can't admit it) aer completely wrongheaded. She is now busy trying to denounce Oz's statement that the licensing thing was violated merely because they were said in voice and therefore not official policy. It's such childish beligerent pigheadedness of the type we've seen again and again from these whiny script kiddies that I marvel that anyone falls for it. it *is* a violation. It *is* wrong to take something distributed and purloin it for your own viewer's use when that was not the intent of the license. Any moral person can see this, and the tekkies getting into pretzels to lie about this is one more appalling testimony of how criminal the OS movement is.
Soror Nishi - I only just heard of this person with the Mesh debacle and have to read some more to see if it is worth it.
Dusan Writer - Crap accuses Dusan of "blind loyalty". I don't see that at all. I think Dusan is pragmatic. He's made a choice to go with LL and tie his business to it, and it's an emotional one that he made not only for pragmatic reasons, but for soulful reasons. And that's ok. I like that. Crap is even more emotionally invested in SL because he doesn't even make any money from it, which Dusan at least tries to do, so it's pretty silly for him to speak of blind loyalty. Crap's relationship to the Lab is like a mama's boy, dependent, infantile, but beginning to resent it and rebel, pulling away and pulling apron strings tighter each time he obsesses about it being "almost midnight" on the deadpool clock -- but the palpable fear underneath that we sense, of what Crap would be without SL and his little storytelling friends and whatnot -- well it's scary to watch. Again, my diagnosis: unable to deal with loss, and having not worked through some loss in RL properly, so that it continues to cripple him.
If SL collapsed tomorrow, Crap might spend the next year trading ugly Lolcat photos with the people on Second Citizen. Dusan would find another job/client/whatever, and cry into his beer some nights but he'd get a book out of it. Would that we could all do that!
I love how Dusan -- and Gwyn -- both get away with writing longer posts even than me, and nobody complains.
Zha Ewry - Zha is my favourite SLCC speaker and I love when he blogs because he is perfectly in tune with the layment's crank, but explains it in ways the tekkies also appreciate -- and clearly. I wish he blogged more, but he probably has a life.
Phaylen Fairchild - Horridly craven and disgusting star-fucker -- her blogs on that LockerGnome nerd who trashed SL -- despicable. What was his name again? Dave something? Josh something? lol. I used to think Phaylen was something of a legitimate victim. No more. That time she made a FIC contest revealed her striving and social climbing. Ugh! That doesn't make for a good blog.
Crap has left out quite a few good people. Two that I like who are now no longer blogging:
o Ordinal Malaprop -- the most droll and dry take on SL you will ever find
o Moe Hax -- great insights from bitter experience
And those that still blog that I like to read are:
o Roland Legrande/Mixed Realities -- he isn't always talking about SL, but he's smart, coherent, and driven. I don't agree with him, but I don't require that at all to like a blog and enjoy reading each post. You would think a geek like Crap would like Roland, but Crap is too much of a giddy girl to like Roland.
o Linden Lab -- sorry, but you can't beat the straight news from the horse's mouth, such as it is, for interest value, and the comments are always a riot
o SLOG -- Frans Charming and co. when they do get around to writing something usually have something interesting to say.
o Gwyneth Llewelyn -- again, I'm puzzled why Crap would leave her out. She is the quintissential geek of SL. She is a terrible suck-up and I usually loathe what she writes, but who cares? That's not how you judge the quality of a blog. She usually has some grand unifying theory and it is a must read, intellectually speaking. But Crap isn't much of an intellectual, really. For all the writing of those ridiculous 100 word stories, I never -- once, ever -- heard of him *reading a book*. That may be the problem.
o DrFran Babcock. This isn't a blog so much as a blogHUD picture stream with little comments, but it's the best of that sort of genre
o PrimPerfect -- always excellent, although it's a house rag, and not meant really as intellectual fodder. When they do think pieces, however, it's great stuff.
There are lots of little boutique blogs out there that are gems, it's well worth going to the lists that are on Planet or even Shopping Cart and going and clicking on them -- also to virtualworlds.alltop.com