Blondin Linden (Adam Blondin) is out -- and very hastily. There was no announcement, apparently even to his close friends and colleagues, and no preparation period -- and no lingering in the list to foil Tateru, who in any event stopped reporting on the Linden firings and hirings recently.
I'm going to take a wild-ass guess and say that this could have something to do with a dispute over adult (or not-so-PG content) at the forthcoming SL Birthday Party, which annually has a tug-of-war over the people wanting to display "artwork" involving nipples or creepy children, and the Lindens, who disallow content like that in their PG-rated birthday celebration.
Somebody like Blondin Linden, who always sort of methodically went about his job, not apologizing too much for LL policy but not always terribly enthusiastic about it, could get squeezed between the very aggressive Zindra types and the Lab.
This is utter speculation, because I haven't heard a thing about this and have no inside track, but it just stands to reason, as every year there's a controversy at the birthday, and this year we haven't heard of one yet, so one is likely brewing (or has been thoroughly squelched).
I'm sorry to see Blondin go, as he is just shy of his third birthday in SL, after coming to work there from the basically-disbanded Electric Sheep Company in 2008, after the heyday of virtual worlds and their cash cows among old media and PR firms died out. I didn't warm up terribly to this new young Linden I called Blandin, whose usual Linden-trained response to any crisis or controversy was to say something anodyne and then fall silent. Lately, he became slightly more forward-leaning -- I was surprised, for example, when he told me forthright that he would have liked to see some things stay in the Wiki, when Rand "2001 Stop Dave" Linden began cutting material right and left when he axed old Lindens. (Pro-tip -- if you liked Blondin, or just like your SL history intact, hurry and copy his wiki pages now before they get the Rand razor).
Blondin was theoretically in charge of "the community" or something...by which the Lindens didn't mean real communities made by real residents, but their ersatz communities like Bay City and Nautilus. To be sure, these artificial overpriced concoctions eventually acquired real people in them (even me, in Nautilus) and they acquired real interests and things they wanted to do, like events and various building improvements. They got a lion's share of Linden-directed newbie traffic with infohubs that served as windfalls for various businesses nearby, especially in Bay City.While his official job was to promote these company-dictated communities that produced huge auction sinks and more tier and commissions for LL, Blondin also found time sometimes to help me with various mainland issues like the old resident-made infohubs, which he was willing to care about and "do for". Blondin famously awarded me FIC status, at least at the old FIC 2.0 has-been level, by putting my International Bazaar Compass, which contains regularly updated landmarks to real-life country sims, in the welcome area at Dore.
The other thing Blondin had to cope with was Zindra. The history of Zindra is often falsely told by some of its interested parties. There's this "version" of the story that the Lindens "screwed people" over Zindra. I find this incredibly hard to buy, having gone through Zindrification myself. First, the Lindens offered free, as in purchase-price-free, land in Zindra if you had a parcel in the regular Mature Mainland that had to move its designation to Adult. So if you had 2048 m2 in Mainland Mature, you got at $0 price, 2048 m in Zindra. Furthermore, you got a month free of tier on that land, enabling you to keep both venues as you made the transition. In fact, it stretched to more like 6 or even 8 weeks as the Lindens were slow in maneuvering it all.
That meant, of course, you had to try to sell your old mainland in a rapidly glutting market, and that usually meant for $1/m (I was able to sell it for something like $3/m), and a lot of people had to abandon their land, as you could tell from all the labels of the land all over the place (but abandoned land was never more than 5 percent of all Mainland, so this notion was wildly exaggerated in the telling by some particularly screechy victims).
To be sure, Linden didn't transfer some big clubs or stores, which meant that they got cut out of search and lost business as the adult search items got policed and banned (but not that thoroughly -- Lindens were pro-active, but it also often took a rival's abuse report). So that meant that some people didn't get to Zindra quickly, and lost business. I know that even after my lovely tier-free 6 weeks, and even moving some of my customers directly over from my old mainland, I still lost business and it took awhile to ramp up and fill my mall and hotel. Later, I simply sold the motel under pressure from neighbours who wanted more land -- unless I have a really full rentals or it's part of some established community with a theme, I usually don't get in the way of somebody's offer of $8/meter for my land, anywhere.
Yes, there are constant screams about Zindra, usually pumped up with inadequate reporting from Ciaran who has like one adult sim or something. In any event, I think the story needs more accurate reporting than catering to a few VERY big egos in the Zindra space to concede that most people got free land, free tier, a sale of mainland that wasn't likely doing very well anyway, and they aren't complaining. If they were, Zindra would never have grown, and would have shrunk a lot more. It didn't.
In any event, Blondin may have quit abruptly, tired of being ground between LL and irate customers, or he may have protested something and gotten axed, or -- here's another speculative point -- he may have been sacrificed in a bid to make LL's image more clean for sale to another company.
Because Blondin was one of the BDSM Lindens, and had a censored BDSM bear. I assume that means he practiced the BDSM lifestyle in RL -- that it wasn't just an affectation to get along with customers who in Zindra were largely tolerant of or promoting the BDSM shtick, which is a huge money-maker for LL due to the fashion, furniture sales, island rentals, etc. associated with the cult, especially the Gorean version of it.
Is it possible that this San Francisco software firm that clearly would have to be tolerant if not celebratory of LGBT in their environment, for example, could cleanse out a BDSM Linden? Well, other openly BDSM Lindens are no longer (Jean, who ran the German group and was in the German BDSM group; Brent who openly talked about his kinky weekends on Twitter). It's a question to ask -- in our closed society where the government is a black box, and when the equivalent of government officials are fired or leave abruptly, we are told nothing.
And abrupt it was. As we know, top-drawer treatment for ex-Lindens involves converting their Linden account to their RL-name and enabling them to keep all their created content under their name, i.e. Robin Linden/Robin Harper or Jack Linden/Robin Whyte or Cory Linden/Cory Ondrejka, Pathfinder Linden/Pathfinder Lester. Next-level treatment involves enabling the Linden to make a staged goodbye. They announce their departure, they have time to organize their affairs, they send out their bear one last time to whomever didn't get it -- and they leave with a lingering in the People List some times. Spike Linden falls into this category -- he had time to make announcements in fan groups and such, clean out his office in the Linden sim, etc. before he left.
Other Lindens make such hasty departures that you find out about it only because of their abrupt absence from the People List, or possibly because someone has spotted them in the parking lot with a beefy guy from Security, clutching a cardboard box of their belongings.
Whatever the reason, we now have one more big hole in Institutional Memory, something the Lab hasn't ever really been that keen to establish. I'm curious whether the Lindens will even bother to assign a new staff person to be the "Mainland Communities" person to handle even their artificial concoctions (and Zindra, of course, is one of them, because most people in the adult business didn't voluntarily choose the idea of being on a sequestered age-verified continent -- although possibly some find it a boon today.)
And a word more about BDSM, which is a cult, which lies about itself, much in the way the open source cult lies about itself. Tonya Souther is bleating on and on about my countering of his claims on Twitter and on his blog, and I can only repeat the same thing I've said for years, which is a sound argument against the BDSM cult:
o it is slavery and coercion; it is not protected by law; it is not protected by universal human rights law; the notion of consensuality does not hold when international legal standards look at the claim, and find that bodily damage and mental harm, even if voluntarily accepted, are still crimes and still offenses.
o the "safe, sane, consensual" stuff is three lies in three words -- it isn't safe to have your mouth gagged or your extremities extremely bound or other BDSM horrors -- accidents happen and people are traumatized and again, it's not recognized by law. There's also nothing sane about coercing and enslaving another human being; it is a profound violation of his or her dignity and rights. As for "consensual," the broken, dysfunctional, terrorized people of SL -- and I've seen plenty of them -- give the lie to that claim. How "consensual" is it for someone to fall into the thrall of a creep online that doesn't even let them go to the bathroom, and in its most extreme forms, gets them to leave their husband and children and run off with them in real life, only to end up in heartbreak? What do we mean by "consensual" when the dysfunctionality that allows someone to find this "lifestyle" compelling usually involves a trail of tears -- childhood abuse, spousal abuse, psychological damage.
"Get the fuck out of my bedroom" says the imperios furry Tonya Souther. Um, get the fuck out of our software then, asshole.
Because that's really the issue -- the BDSM cult agressively influencing decisions about the software features. Like any lifestyle, the BDSM lifestyle is a matter of privacy. If you are a liberal -- and I am -- you are forced to concede (note: forced!) that what people do in the privacy of their bedroom is their business. I hold to that line in SL -- I don't approve or promote the BDSM lifestyle and find it reprehensible, but my rentals are open to BDSM practitioners just like they're open to any other lifestyle or any sort that doesn't violate the TOS or my simple rental rules, i.e. no security orbs or builds over two stories.
So, duh, no, I'm not for "banning" BDSM from SL or somehow making a "censorship" or restraint (LOL) of this lifestyle as some kind of anti-freedom thing. Even so, I view the claim to consensuality as a patent falsehood -- along with the "safe and sane" bit. What BDSM overlords never want to admit, either, is that their SSC is in fact only practiced by some older and more elitist BDSM types. With their spreading of this objectionable culture all over, thousands of people pick up bits and bobs of it and mix and match, and are just as happy to take all the SSC out of it without any compunction because it's not like there's a central clearing house of cultural norms to control them. I have only to think of humdog, who died some say deliberately by ceasing to take necessary medications, who was in an intensive BDSM SL relationship for years, that few are willing to examine as the cause of her sorrows and which was quite out of character given her independent-minded writings. The creative, free spirits I've seen among my rentals over the years who start in SL and then fall prey to BDSM overlords -- silencing their voices and stifling their creativity -- make me furious. The reason there are so many "sub clubs" in SL for subs to "recover" and "get support" from BDSM relationships gone bad lets us know all we need to know about this abusive, deceptive -- and sinister -- way of life.
But here's the thing -- it doesn't stay in the bedroom. If it did, we could say we don't care, and look the other way.
That same mendacious, overbearing, domineering, coercive personality doesn't "stay put".
They show up in office hours. On JIRAs. As heads of community groups. As frequent and forceful voices on this or that policy. Like Tonya Souther, an avowed BDSM furry vigorously promoting himself, his cultic thinking, and his OS solutions for SL.
And that's where I push back HARD. I'm not interested in coercive BDSM personas running software. Of course, the Lindens -- with some of their own BDSM coercive personas -- run the software. But the furries and such can have a huge amount of influence. Souther is lead Mac developer for Phoenix. Need I say more?
Souther began acting up and spouting at me because I posted a simple thesis on Twitter: please show me a furry who is in business, and not open source nonsense in SL. I couldn't think of a single one. Oh, there's Apotheus Silverman, founder of Slexchange.com. Oh, he sold out to the Lindens, became a Linden, then got fired from the Lindens. Oh.
Um, any others? Tonya Souther thinks he's one, because he gives away free scripts and makes it possible for others to build and sell BDSM furniture in SL. *Stifles laughter*. THAT's an advertisement?! that tells me what a cult both OS and BDSM are and how they are really made for each other. Both favour that domineering, swaggering, coervice persona who pleads "openness" and "liberal notions" to force their cultic agenda on the public. No thanks!
South invokes his friendship with the author of the famous "Cathedral and Bazaar," which is an argument for open source software, instead of forming small dev groups that keep their software quiet before releasing it. The argument looks good, when you think of viewer 2, and how the Lindens kept their open source software (soi-disant) under wraps, then unveiled it -- to universal dismay and even anger.
But the argument sucks when you think of the real successful start-ups and the real world of what gets investments. Facebook, Twitter, Four-Square, Square, Quora -- these are not open source programs, they are proprietary software and proprietary platforms that only have "hooks" into their software for developing on top of it in restricted ways. And that's what retains value. It's the Apple model; it's the one that gets people paid.
Even so, Souther goes blathering on about how the Internet has made millions for people and the open sourced viewer has made millions of Lindens for avatars -- even though neither is demonstrably true whatsoever.
Der, we get it that "this very blog" and "the Internets in general" hinge on open source software. So, nu?
The Internet has destroyed the music, newspaper, and book businesses. Millions of people have lost payments and lost jobs. The jobs created by an Amazon or a Google do not necessarily offset those jobs taken in the other industries because Internet firms tend to need less people than the old bricks-and-mortars businesses. (I'd love to see a credible economic study done of this issue). People brag that start-ups create jobs and attract investments -- but if you peer at it closely, you see it's a very small group of VCs basically trading amongst each other and then selling to a very small number of big companies who eat the startups. So it's not like any lasting sector is being created -- there is no G&E here, people, there is only Facebook, which didn't exist 10 years ago, and like its predecessor Myspace, might not exist 10 years from now.
I would also argue that if it weren't for the Internet, we wouldn't have the speed, ease and velocity of the NINJA mortgages and other features of the economic meltdown that led to the recession, and we certainly wouldn't have had WikiLeaks, which destroyed -- or attempted to destroy -- a huge chunk of US foreign policy establishment. Those are serious damages. They are not "offset" by the Internet; they are caused by them, and they aren't necessarily anything good. Forty years ago, I passed a paper booklet to a banker with my paper check, and he hand-stamped it and gave me 10 percent interest on my savings. What do I have now, in a world of swift electronic transactions? Not even 1.8 percent.
Her, open source isn't getting the investments and making the money, as none other than the liberationtech script kiddies pointed out to me when I objected to Stanford's tilt toward open source. Google has open source software and apis -- but it has competition precisely from what is proprietary, and that is a good thing. And Google makes money for its own owners and stock-holders, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that it makes money for other people in the Internet food chain -- if anything, Google collectivizes a lot of content (Youtube, search, blogs) and gives back nothing, or pennies.
And in SL, the open source viewer isn't some demonstrable boon. It has only facilitated copybot. The notion that "all bugs become shallow with a million eyes" is demonstrably false. All that happens with a million eyes is that they have a million arguments even about what *is* a bug -- versus a feature. 1,500 eyes on a problem can't get it solved, because it's not about eyes. I've never seen any significant bug get caught, even if arguably some third-party devs made features some people think are cool (jiggling boobs). In general, open-sourcing the viewer only brought us havoc (Emerald), griefing (Woodbury), privacy encroachment (Red Zone), etc. etc. The good that open source viewers bring is only extolled by their devs who benefit reputation wise and power wise -- it isn't something the public really has expressed.
If you asked the people of SL to vote on whether they'd like a proprietary viewer that would lead to less chaos, more predictability, less griefing, and less copyright theft and the continuation of the TPVs, it would be Linden Lab's win with their proprietary viewer -- the lobby of TPV enthusiasts is small even if very vocal.
In any event, nobody, even the most ardent enthusiasts of Emerald or its descendent Phoenix could argue that these viewers somehow made fortunes or enabled the market in SL. They didn't. Whatever market advances in SL have been made have been made by the Lindens' policies, including the purchase of SL Marketplace and linking the avatar money account to SLM.
AnnMarie Otoole persists and persists. (Actually, it's usually her alt, AnnMarie Oleander, whose vehicles I see clogging up the Linden roadways more these days.)
They're on regular roads; they're in the air; they're in the water; they're on the railway; they're in my front lawn.
If I'm puttering around Ravenglass or Maryport pushing prims, I will either a) see one in the air b) be hit by one c) see one heading off into the water at Carnforth d) or actually see one on the road -- and usually ever 15 minutes. AnnMarie Otoole vehicles are now part of the standard menu of griefer prim litter as well.
It's especially annoying seeing them where they shouldn't be, i.e. the bus on the water, the car on the rail road, etc.
As you can see from the comments on the piece below, she now has them "morph" as they "sense" their environment, apparently.
The deluge of criticism makes her adjust the format to avoid having the Lindens remove her, I guess.
She was clearly in violation with the drop-down blue screen on Linden land demanding a sale (see above) -- but now when the vehicles come by and you click on them, they don't seem to have this sale/donate option. Has that been completely removed? Anybody know for sure?
But here's the thing: they are all still in violation. Or are they? They were surely in violation when going on other people's land, but they don't always do that. They were in violation selling on Linden land, there were tons of ARs; now they appear to have changed.
I was assuming that the Lindens were indulging this script-kiddie behaviour somewhere, and to my surprise, from a sampling of some strategic Lindens who should know if this is the case I come to find out...that it may not in fact be a Linden FICation. They may not in fact be coddling here, but it's just kinda happening.
While not really getting a solid answer on the AnnMarie Vehicle Overage Issue from Lindens, I'm hearing that they haven't exactly given her a pass as such.
The question is really this: why didn't the governance team immediately, swiftly, and strongly act on the issue of selling on Linden land?
Judging from the old police blotter reports, the Lindens used to constantly police selling in their Linden-owned sandboxes. Why not on their roads?
Answer: they did act. Yet it took months before it stopped.
Another thing: Pushing another avatar is something Lindens also swiftly swoop down on in sandboxes. Why would it take months of ARing on the grounds that strange vehicles were leaving the road and hitting you to get Lindens to notice? (And they still do.)
Why do the Lindens allow one ego like this to take over the grid?
Why does this happen? Why can't they say no?
It's like the Bush Guy. And the ad farmers. And various other egos that have appeared over the years to suck all the oxygen out of the room. Why?
From my admittedly unscientific sampling, I'm going to conclude that it's due to the following:
o the Lindens never met a script they didn't like; their response to user creativity in the script department is never, ever to say "no" because that might cramp the script kiddie creativity. Rather, the response is to say: "That script and its function aren't illegal per se, but the way in which it was used is illegal under our TOS." That accounts for why Skills Hax gets to keep CDS Gemini and out alts, but xFire Xue gets deleted over Red Zone.
o when the Lindens get a lot of ARs, they tend to "deal with the case at hand," as the old Jesse Linden explained it wonderfully. Larger context isn't seen; larger context isn't wanted. Each and every AR is brand new, without a precedent. Every incident is a default to a robust "innocent until proven guilty," even if there were 83 tickets before that found to validate the guilt. Lindens may function in this way because they have no institutional memory; because they don't talk across frontiers within their own operation; because there are too many of them on too many time zones; who the hell knows. But the fact is, they may simply not collate all the ARs and see a picture in front of them.
o even if they get a lot of ARs and they reach the point of saying "Battery Street, There's a Problem," they may immediately have a Split Among Themselves. Governance may say "the natives are howling, e need to get rid of this," but the devs may howl back that this will Cramp Creativity of their script kiddie set. So they may argue and argue and the default -- doing nothing -- wins as a result.
I've been told that in fact the Lindens don't find this a load test of some sort, because if they want to load test, they have "aditi grid" or whatever the god of software havoc is called.
What does this leave us with? Well, you can AR under "unfair use of region resources" but if it crosses through your region in a minute or so, it may not really show up as much usage.
Yes, the Lindens are really bad at adjudicating governance issues like this that fall into their lap. If you put this to a JIRA vote (BTW, did anyone make a JIRA on this?), you would get a hands-down NO vote on this (or to be precise, to fit the geeky nature of the JIRA, you would get a 'YES" to deprecating AnnMarie Otool's vehicle script, and/or having her vehicles get gone from the King's Highways.)
It shows you how helpless we are in this virtual world that we can't stop something obvious like this.
I'm supposed to feel sorry for Ina Centaur, because her account is being deleted apparently, and she is losing her sims, unable to raise money for them.
"To Pay or Not to Be," she whines -- although the real title should be "To Not Plan and then To Not Be". Classic grasshopper story.
Why don't I have sympathy, in general for this persona and specifically for this plight?
It's not only because Ina Centaur behaved like a TOTAL asshole on the matter of the high whack-a-mole score (remember?) and she even made a victory-dance picture). Not only because of her outrageous open source cultism on the liberationtech list which I exposed. But because it's all just plain *stupid*. Nobody has to lose their IP in SL at all if they just do a few simple things -- and don't let their bills pile up and then reach the 30-day deadline.
No one has to lose an account with all their content on it just because they can't pay tier -- that's just poor management and posturing and assholery.
Everyone knows that there are free accounts in SL; if you can't pay tier, you tier down, you cancel your premium account, and then you make a free account. But if you have an island, it does take some foresight -- you can't wait until your tier is overdue -- you have to put your build into inventory, and then sell or return your island before the overdue period.
So she's just doing a star turn, trying to garner sympathy, trying to get other tech press and blogs to pick up her "plight" in the copyleftist cultic tradition, trying to make it sound that this evil company is stealing all her IP because it is "trapped" on its proprietary platform.
First, as she herself knows perfectly well, she could easily (and even legally) copy and move her content to open sims. It's her own content; she can copy and move it. This is done constantly. That it isn't done as part of the official viewer doesn't mean anything as there are numerous free viewers and devices that will do this still within the TOS, and many have done it. She's not mentioning that merely to posture and caper and cavort with this fake idea that her content is "trapped". It's not trapped.
Secondly, if you are in a position where the tier on your account holding sims is not going to get paid, there is a very easy workaround that many have done:
Move the content to your free alt. After all, it's your content on all perms, you can thereby move it.
(BTW, this story implies another recommendation for the mainland and tier in mainland rather than island form: you group your land, you put the tier on another account. When that account defaults, your main avatar with its content will not be cancelled as an account then. This also enables you to get bunches of people to help you with your tier -- sometimes people who rally have tier and can help for a month -- you can't group-tier an island, however.)
Of course, you have to do that before the 30 day warning expires, but given that you have first 7 days of warning for non-payment, then a 30-day grace period before your land will be seized and you account cancelled, it's a way out (but only if you have gone the mainland rather than island route.)
Naturally, if you didn't think you could pay 4 sims worth of tier, and you wanted to keep your main avatar associated with your identity and IP, it might be prudent to sell your islands BEFORE the tier fell due (I'm not sure you can sell it AFTER it falls due, because you'll find less takers, I would think and it may not be physically possible to transfer it at that point.)
This entire story bespeaks several levels of arrogance that led to poor management:
o the belief that last minute grandstanding and pleading poor will induce people to help
o the belief that if you portray your identity/IP holder as being trapped and destroyed, you will garner more sympathy.
I have ZERO sympathy for this plight, given that the content is easily transferrable to open sim; within the context of SL, it's also easy to cancel or sell your island, pocket your inventory, and keep a free account or failing even that, it is easily transferred to a free alt. To be sure, sitting and transferring thousands of items is no fun, but then, you needed to sort and clean your inventory anyway.
Yet another option: you like liberated content? Put it all out inworld and tell everybody to come fetch it. Hey, sell some of it to pay your tier, too.
Ina Centaur has always been a singularly unpleasant individual. There's something grating about a certain self-loathing implied in an Asian assuming the identity of a white person in SL -- far from being innovative or edgy, it just sounds like the self-loathing that it is (in others who do this without disclosing their Asian identity). I've encountered more Asians hiding their identity behind white avatars than I've ever -- not even once! -- encountered RL blacks with white avatars in SL.
I'll never forgot landing at the Shakespeare sim and finding that the landing was really inconvenient, because you couldn't find the donation pot. I looked and looked and finally found it not near the landing. When I pointed this out, Ina argued and argued and argued with me. I also pointed out that Primtings was really poorly organized, because when you land, you can't find the signs with teleporters to the artworks easily and intuitively. And again Ina argued and argued and argued.
When people are unwilling to take feedback and unwilling to hear basic criticism meant in fact to help their projects become more open and supportable by the public, you can only think: fuck 'em.
So when Ina writes tripe like this:
I can only say -- no, your account is due for deletion because you're an asshole.
You couldn't plan even 30 days in advance before your unpaid bill deadlines hit to sell or cancel your islands so that your account could be moved to a free account with no islands. You couldn't transfer to another free account. You couldn't copy to open sim as many others do.
In short, all you can do is play martyr, poster and caper and holler to try to gain sympathy, but only by trashing the proprietary software with its proprietary platform. If you find such things "cramp" your creativity, why did you build here in the first place?
Lots of people sell sims they can't maintain *with the content*. That way another avatar buys the scripts/textures/prims. But such a capitalist solution of course wouldn't "work" for Ina. Planning also didn't appear to work to end the island contract in time to keep the avatar with its content. So instead -- the posturing and cavorting, and this outrageously tendentious statement:
Oh PULEEEZE. What utter bullshit!
BTW, the Globe Theater is still open, with a group holding the island, and with alts with names like Ina Hotshot.
And Ina Centaur's build of the Globe Theater still exists inworld on that sim. So it's not like it is destroyed. In fact, the modest and retiring Centaur has put a sign with her own name on the build just as large as the name "Shakespeare" lol.
Meanwhile, a pretentious, self-flagellating and disruptive ego has been deleted, and perhaps the world does not miss it.
I got a beta link and tried it out. I can see one of the benefits is that it makes a "channel" out of all the videos that your Facebook friends happen to make. When you sign on to it with FB, it sucks all those links out of FB into a channel. So you can see all the wacky things your friends send, like bizarre Belarusian political parody videos, on the "big screen" of your computer. When you look at this channel, you realize how much you don't really look at all the videos your friends push to you.
Another thing you can do is search and find Youtubes that you like and watch them. And then -- apparently -- after enough of that, the system will "just know" what you like from its algorithms and start selecting and pushing stuff to you in a "seamless whole". I didn't see how that part worked yet.
It also has other channels of weird and typical stuff you can click on. The main point is the interface, which is like a TV, without all the surrounding Youtube ad clutter.
Oh! So basically they found a way to suck content out of Youtube without having to endure disruptive and interruptive and distractive ads, sort of a TIVO for Youtube. I wonder how Youtube will view this. Maybe Google will buy it out to kill it.
Of course, there's the issue of licensed content. But...that's not troubling these young folk -- not yet, anyway! The point is to have this start-up "become viral" and "get lots of users" and then...we'll think up a business model!
Of course, in describing these folks, Hamlet fails to tell us the main operative point: that the chief engineer, so to speak, is none other than Eddie Stryker, original maker and seller of Copybot, and a founder of libsecondlife -- which reverse-engineered the SL client before it was legal to do so, but were never banned for this gross violation of the TOS because Cory Linden "liked" them.
Of course, like all good script kiddies, this enthusiastic young promoter of the open source cult went on to work at...Intel. Like Fred Wilson says, the tech industry eats its young. However, not for naught. Eddie (real name: John Hurliman) laboured in the fields of VWRAP, the long-winded (and failed) effort to bring about "interoperability" "standards" in the IETF for virtual worlds (i.e. make it easier to flush content out of Second Life into the open sims). Then he quit, inexplicably. Possibly because by then, the list consisted of Morgaine talking to herself. Then this entire effort got hijacked by the military and taken elsewhere, to the working group at IEEE. We only see the tip of the iceberg of this story.
I think Hurliman then left Intel? I'm hazy on that part. Or his 20 percent day was now devoted to some other thing?
Now he's working at Cull.TV and along with him is his lovely girlfriend, the former Iridium Linden. Iridium was famous for having the Linden name "Heretic," and for being active promoting this "SL Certified" group which I hated and battled -- because I really felt it was awful to make certified "experts" in things like building and scripting and skew the economy with Linden FIC even more than it already is.
Somehow, Robin or some grown-up at the Lab made Heretic change her name. It did seem a bit...disconcerting as a name. I never got the bear. Pity. Iridium, which is probably the name of some cell phone ingredient that people kill each other for in the Congo and enrich big IT, then left the Lab. Oh, and she's Eddie's gf. Isn't that fun? The maker of Copybot has a girlfriend who was a Linden. Everybody seems to forget this pre-history, but it's interesting.
I always found Iridium interesting to talk to, and then once she pointed to her boyfriend at SLCC and explained it was *that guy* and of course, well, I will never forgive and never forget on that.
Another Linden who is in with the Cull.TV crew is Jesse Reiner whose Linden name used to be Jesse Linden. He had an avatar and a profile picture that looked completely unlike him in RL, unlike me, of course. Jesse worked at some other companies, I think it was Sony Home for awhile, and of course, his customer service chops were very finely honed in LL. He had the job with the title like "community director" or something and had to go around sort of handling dissent and unhappiness on all sorts of things.
Somehow, it fell to Jesse to be the one to first warn me about my impending permaban from the forums, then explain it when I later complained. He was the one -- famously -- to explain that I hadn't violated the TOS, but that banning me "was a business decision". I'll bet! Dis Philip's pet NDA'd prom queen Aimee, die, sucker!
As the now *6th* anniversary (!) of my infamous old forums ban in 2005 is now upon us, and 5 years is like 50 in SL, I think enough time has lapsed that I can publish the chat logs from those fun encounters, as Jesse warned me on the forums and inworld, then took up the debate about whether this was right. It's all so fascinating, how this company gave this job to this kid of 20-something, and how he struggled to try to exercise some sort of principles of governance and explain them -- even though, of course, the entire thing was absurd. I hold nothing against him; he was doing his job -- a job that sort of evolved out of the machine, and not with much thought.
Then, for bonus credit, I'm adding other logs about governance issues inworld -- classifieds, events list, etc. from our early days...
Second Life is sort of like Tunisia in a way. There's a story in the Wall Street Journal today about two different merchants. One is an entrepreneur who is interviewed as he puts new shelves into a store he is planning to use to sell fashion -- since the revolution, it's easier to get permits and start a business and he's optimistic. Across the street, the other merchant says 80 percent of traffic is down, looting and car-jacking have taken its toll on his neighbourhood, he is very pessimistic. And SL is always like that -- some people doing very well, other people optimistic, some people doing terrible, some leaving. It is almost impossible to get a handle on what is REALLY happening because it's a closed society. We don't have free media, i.e. you can't speak openly on the forums, and the government doesn't tell us what's going on.
LINDEN LAB WITHOLDS PREVIOUSLY OPEN ECONOMIC DATA
More and more, Linden Lab suppresses economic statistics; last month, for the first time in their history, they held back the number I find most significant: number of people who spent more than one dollar inworld in a month. That figure had dropped to 450,000, after having steadily climbed to that number of some years; then it went back up around 490,000. Where is it now? That's the real number; even allowing for alts and mules, it's more sound than concurrency, which can be 50,000 -- but you don't know what that means in economic terms.
MY CUSTOMER LEAVES OVER 'COPYBOTTING'
So I had a customer who had been with me for two years renting both home and store move out last night, so I did an "exit interview" to see what her concerns were.
Her first response -- "copybotting" -- was something I drilled down on further. So often, people cite this term without really expanding on what it means.
And it's a good thing I did, because she then explained that while she was a creator, she had never been copybotted herself. So what was she talking about, exactly?
I kept drilling and first she said that the climate where other people were copybotted was a depressing one, because copybotters could apparently then easily compete with her (and of course their victims) in the marketplace. But when I asked her how many copybotting incidents she had actually witnessed (a few), how many DMCAs were filed (it turned out -- none) -- I realized I wasn't getting at the problem here. "Copybot" was a catch-all term that meant "the reason I've had no sales".
She was reluctant to admit this and didn't say it on the forums, where she thought she'd be alone. I assured her that many people have this issue and *some* leave SL, but it is very hard to tell what's going on. As a landlord, I see both: people move in and start new stores with me and flourish; other people move out, even after a long time. Rentals empty out on one sim after several really long-time tenants (five years!) decide to focus on real life or move in with an SL boyfriend, and it can seem like "devastation," but on other sims lots fill up that seemed to have been unoccupied for a time.
'HOME-STAYS' -- A SIGN OF ECONOMIC DISTRESS
I watch my group numbers for signs too -- I had a huge surge in group membership for my largest group, hundreds added, and then probably 50 fell away, some disappearing even from the People list, some no longer logging on, some buying their own homestead, but most going to "homestays" as I call it -- moving to other people's land where they are living for free or perhaps chipping in a bit of tier. This is the figure that social workers try to assess in New York City all the time, for example -- questionnaires coming home from the schools ask if you have any relatives "doubled up" with you who have lost their homes or couldn't pay rent.
And so, in SL, it's a sign of distress if more people go and "double up" with their virtual families or friends.
But -- I kept trying to get to the bottom of my now ex-tenant's story. If you yourself weren't copybotted, if you actually could cite only a few other cases, what's the real story?
LEGAL ALL-PERM CONTENT RESELLERS -- THE BANE OF SL ECONOMY?
Finally, I could understand what she meant: all perm items -- items not forcibly permed by copybotters copying them, *but the creator herself putting them on all perms to sell as a resale business to other people.*
I do think there is an explosion of these types of products in SL. There are the sculpty kits, of course, that blanket every mall -- there are commission vendors. But there are also lots and lots of dresses and furniture items that are on all perms and meant for re-sale because the creator found THAT was the way to make money, rather than by individual "commodity" sales.
This is an important thing to pay attention to, because for one, it may undermine my thesis that Second Life overrides the copyleftism and technocommunism of the very influential framers and "thought leaders" like Doctorow and Lessig by offering items for sale one at a time, with a DRM that is usually respected (copy/mod/transfer). Precisely because "copy" enables the user to easily put copies where he wants (unlike real-life digital content that can require cracking or breaking or illegality to spread copies after you buy your own), SL succeeds -- the "no transfer" ability of a digital work on its own platform in a walled garden makes it work. That to me is the revolutionary power of SL, but is it undermined in various ways such as to make it ultimately fail?
(I'll argue with my own question here and say that no, because resellers appeared due to artificial technocommunist control over the welcome area/infohubs and control of free advertising markets; if those artificial constraints were removed, which are there only for ideological reasons, we might see less ad-farms and resellers. And then I'll note that if search/places + traffic sort were restored, we would also see less of this.)
THE POWERHOUSE OF PERMISSION-BASED ECONOMY
But...First, the digital SL market reliant on DMR (copy/mod/transfer) hasn't failed yet, as there is still a powerhouse of an economy producing and selling new original content on permissions -- just look at the SL Marketplace. The sales there have only increased, and there are the breedables "nouveaux riches" to prove that point. And I would submit that breedables could overcome the search/distribution problem by creating the secondary market and the rares for resale, even if the pet itself is still proprietary and not on all perms -- genius method to keep the old economy and satisfy the new -- if pets didn't exist, you'd have to invent them to face the attention/distribution/advertising challenges of an open-ended virtual world.)
Yet there *is* the problem of "too many freebies" that even the Lindens (unsuccessfully) tried to eliminate with some draconian plans for SLM involving charging for display of your freebies on your store page -- the riots that ensued caused the Lindens to pull back. The existence of freebies severely undercuts the ability to sell digital content as a commodity that appears in single or non-transfer instances, the heart of the SL economy. The problem is that for many people, SL is "a game" or "an entertainment" and their making and sharing of stuff is a "hobby" or "vanity". I stress the vanity of this, because most people making freebies think they are "helping newbies" or "enhancing their reputation" or ferociously insist on undermining permissions as an ideological matter of copyleftism. That's why I call it "vanity" -- altruism isn't really apparent, because most times, they aren't willing to put the item on all perms or on no copy/transfer to REALLY help a newbie who could resell that free item and make a buck.
Whenver you see phenomenon like this in our artificial paradise, you have to realize that workarounds have appeared, as they always do in digital spaces, to solve problems. While the high and mighty divas of Sluniverse.com or the official forums can sneer at those with business in a box, or sneer at those so tacky to put their items on all perms, what these newer and less successful creators are doing is solving a HUGE, HUGE problem for themselves that makes the promise of the "friction-free" and "cost-free" digital utopia that Glyn Moody and other fierce copyleftist and opensource cultists turn out to be largely empty.
THE ATTENTION ECONOMY IS THE ECONOMY
Because the problem is that whatever "cost free" production you had in making your item and making your copies, you can't get people's attention -- and you can't advertise and/or display enough copies to make it worth your while, given the vast competition and the broken search.
BTW, search will remain "broken" for the thousands of little dressmakers because no matter how fair and how relevant search becomes, it can never accommodate more than 10 or 50 returns on the first page. Even if all bots were removed; even if traffic was put back as the best and fair relevance (in my view, certainly); even if other relevancies were put in to make it fair (not just large parcels, but parcels that had more sales or picks, for example) there is only so much room for the people at the top -- after 3-6-10 pages, people stop trying to turn over the page.
So how can you solve the problem of a broken/inaccessible search? The problem of ad farms occurred precisely because of the lack of regulated -- and more effective -- advertising in welcome areas and roadsides and gathering places. If the Lindens had opened up splash page, web page and most importantly -- inworld billboard advertising opportunities in places where people really gather and were prepared to appreciate and click on an ad, they wouldn't have likely seen the spam-type phenomenon of the ad farms, ruining everybody's view in an early rendition of the "interruptive ad" we see on Youtube today (yet another example, BTW, to prove my hypothesis that everything in social media is first prototyped, sometimes unwittingly, in Second Life).
WHY DO CREATORS PUT CREATIONS ON ALL PERMS FOR RESALE?
So if you are a creator, especially a new one, especially from the non-English-speaking poorer world, what will you do? Make a dress or a set of items in an outfit on all perms, and sell the package to your less creative fellows, who then turn into your most avid distribution machine -- and pay you money to do that. If you set the cost low -- $50 instead of $500 -- then you can find lots and lots and LOTS of people who love the idea of opening up little boutiques in a virtual world, and picking out cool little items of content to resell as if they were at Buffalo Exchange in Manhattan -- but without the agony of Photoshop, competition, worries about copybotting.
Put it on all perms -- and you've done the smartest possible thing you can do to defeat the motivation for copybotting -- a copybotter can hardly find it fascinating or lucrative to copy an all-perms $50 dress. He will leave you alone. Brilliant!
Meanwhile, instead of standing in your virtual store all day worrying about selling your one virtual dress for $500 -- per week! -- you leave your store online and 50 people come in and buy the box for $50 -- every day. Some will never resell; many will. Some will just resell to friends; others will put it in mega-malls. Your name will be plastered all over SL; some people will come back to your store. Mainly, your customers will be the most motivated -- the people who spend the most time and money in SL, which are the merchants. Merchants will spend extraordinary amounts of time and effort to make a business a success. They will advertise, hold hunts, hold specials, put out Midnight Madness contents, IM their friends, creative gifts, think of $50 Fridays, and blog, blog, blog. The fashion blogosphere has way, way more traffic than the thinky sites like mine or even Tateru's blog.
So the all-perms pass-along business is a solution that solved a problem -- the problem of how to advertise cheaply, the problem of how to get visibility, the problem of how to distribute in a world where people have to think about tier (even with SLM causing people to move online.)
If anything, the erosion of the inworld store experience, where people would go to stores because they were cool, had great designs, had great music, had fun people to talk to, like clubs -- and the move to online stores has in fact fostered and amplified the all-perms creation.
It was one thing when you could get in search, or put out a few bots, even, or have a cool store that was kind of a club, and try to at least pay tier -- you had a shot at making a lot of sales even with the high cost. But mixed in with thousands of other people online, with the view happening as a top page and maybe a few category or search pages, what can you do to compete? Make your item cheap; make it on all perms for easy resale.
Distribution -- attention, really -- is the problem all of us face with a broken -- or even an unbroken -- search. There's only so much "real estate". People used to convene in first-land communities around their first-land, or be "apprenticed" by oldbies in newbies communities, but with Linden Homes, that got killed off.
LINDEN HOMES COMPETITION
Interesting, my ex-tenant, who rented from another landlord for two years before switching to me for two years cited Linden Homes and the featured prefab and furniture makers that entailed as being among her reasons for why the economy was suffering. She saw it cut into friends' prefab businesses; she saw it cut into her own sales. When people make prefabbed sets of stuff designed to fit with a theme, and the Lindens feature it, how can you compete on your own? I marvel each time I see a tenant of mine with a prefab from someone I haven't heard of who I find to be a new house creator. How long will they last? And as I noted in a recent post where I saw quite a few had gone out of business, changed to pets, or left SL and even the People list -- they don't last unless they have incredible persistence, a really good idea, and a niche.
So for now, I have a new operating thesis, after I essentially proved on Sluniverse.com that copybotting is way, way WAY overexaggerated (barely a person came forward with a legitimate story, and even fewer were willing to file DMCA notices). And that thesis is that creators who consciously put their stuff on all perms -- out-copybotting the copybotters, as it were -- are the biggest "threat" to the economy.
WHY RESELLING IS A POPULAR BUSINESS MODEL
Of course, some of them must do pretty well, and that inspires more to copy that business model. If it failed after the first few buys because there's "too many" $50 dresses, then we wouldn't see it. But there are THREE factors driving it:
o people willing to suffer losses just to play store -- the desire to play store is even greater than the desire to play house or play war online, as I've always found
o people use resale as a socializing tool -- making stores and clubs forms circles of people who buy from each other mainly to have a good time and support each other, and if costs get covered, that's good enough
o some people are aggressive enough to paper SL with their stuff and get it in search and get the volume of sales they need.
WHY I AM A RESELLER
I'm going to go around looking at stores more closely now, to see how much of this all-perm stuff there really is. I am a reseller of tatoos in this genre, and the reason is very simple why I took this option:
o vendors of really good no-transfer tatoos that would give me a commission vendor were charging WAY too much -- I couldn't justy an $8000-$10000 outlay on a resale business like this, it could never pay for itself.
o the guy I commissioned a tatoo line to didn't do a good job, and wasn't interested -- he didn't make as good a tatoo for me as he did for himself -- a problem generic to SL where sole proprietors have little incentive to take on custom work and deal with ideas they don't like or can't execute -- my idea wasn't so well executable (but if you are a tatoo artist and want to contact me, please do!)
o a cheap all-perms resaler that seemed legitimate and devoid of any notices that he was a stealer seemed like a great option for me -- I got the tatoos to fit the theme of my build in Iris, I got them at a price I could afford to resell to newbies, and everybody's happy.