There's a lot of weeping about the banning of fake accounts on Google -- or people's much-deserved an much-needed pseudonyms and anonymous handles, depending on how you see it. Our gang was very early on this -- and I spoke up in favour of pseudonyms too -- on principle. The predictable Michael Anti use case was fetched up by the predictable lobbyists. A Linden (Yoz) on July 1 in that thread tried to spin Google policy, "Pseudonyms are fine as long as you're not impersonating someone else, or trying to represent a group." Not true. Thousands are being banned who fit in that category. His Master's Voice says Google+ is going to come up with a feature for this! (He learned that kind of double talk from Linden Lab *chuckles*). But people keep getting banned and realizing they may not benefit from the new "feature". So there's more weeping. There's this open letter from a grrl (sigh). There's a blog with an ever-growing list of people deserving and needful of anonymity.
I think we need to put an end to the weepy edge-case approach on this as it's not persuasive, won't work, and isn't fair -- it's minority politics.
Eli Pariser, the former executive director of moveon.org, is concerned about how Google gives us customized results that may put us in "news silos" and maintain our world views. His new book The Filter Bubble takes up this concern, claiming that Google is no longer an "enormous library" (don't worry, it still is) and that social media in particular is cradling us in our particularist worldviews and keeping us in an ideological cocoon (yes, they are, but people debate much more on Facebook or Google than you ever could on moveon.org).
In an interview on amazon.com, he sums up his ideological problem with Facebook's ideological cocooning:
Mark Zuckerberg perfectly summed up the tension in personalization when he said “A squirrel dying in your front yard may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” But he refuses to engage with what that means at a societal level – especially for the people in Africa.
See the problem? While rightfully exposing the problem of the filtration of Facebook, which we can easily recognize (people chose their friends and colleagues; they tend to be in a comfort-zone of ideological compatability), Pariser intrudes with his own notion -- that "we must" somehow care for the people of Africa; these people are some sort of unified mass with some objective set of problems we "must" sympathize with -- if we care about a squirrel in our front yard and not the people dying in Congo over cell-phone metals, we must be callous white northern Ice People -- well yes, all these associations are indeed underlying a seemingly innocuous phrase like "refuses to engage with what the means at a societal level."
Sometimes it seems as if just everything in the world is getting hacked, eh?
A Harvard University fellow who was studying ethics (!) was charged with hacking into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer network to steal nearly 5 million academic articles, the AP reports.
This 25-year-old Bit-torrent kiddie isn't just some sort of over-achiever who likes to read lots of articles.
He's a guerilla in the war on paid content and information archicture -- anything that uses registration or subscriptions to cover the costs of information procurement and storage.
He's from a group called "Demand Progress" that wants, um, information to be free. It's a typical moveon.org-type "progressive" cadre-run organization with a heavy ideological agenda -- three people whose names are given decide all the issues and 300,000 subscribe and click and sign petitions and "yes" and "like" -- but have no place to debate these cadres. You just mindlessly click, and you can't be sure that many other people are clicking, because you have to trust the site-owners -- there are no counters on the petitions.
But the prosecutor disagrees about the charges, fortunately:
"Stealing is stealing whether you use a computer command or a crowbar, and whether you take documents, data or dollars," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. "It is equally harmful to the victim whether you sell what you have stolen or give it away."
There was a moment during TechCrunch disrupt when I felt the "thunk" of the unevenly-distributed future arriving.
A woman was demonstrating one of the start-up contestants -- GetAround, a service that lets you rent other people's cars for periods of time, say, $5 or $10 an hour.
She walked over to a fancy electric car on display, and putting her cell phone by it, popped open the door.
This wasn't a remote control that was hers, opening a door to a car that was hers.
This was different; this was her opening a stranger's car, with some bit of information beamed into a device in the stranger's car.
I had that same sort of squeamish feeling I had in the "family photo" of everyone at SLCC1 that Philip wanted everyone to be in -- and I ran running from the room. It's funny how you get funny feelings like that...
Wonder Wheel at Coney Island. Photo by DangApricot.
Google+ is filled with millions of people -- strangers.
Going to Google+ is not unlike getting off the D train at Stillwell Avenue and going to Coney Island -- the noise, the crowds, the shouting and laughter, the turning wheel, the music, the smell of popcorn oil and Fry-max and hotdogs, and the glaring sun.
Maybe it's because I've been reading in snatches The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson which is about the World's Fair and the Ferris Wheel in Chicago in 1893 and the mass murderer H.H. Holmes (a strange book with nerdy technically-fascinating passages and Titanic-like foreboding.)
So Google+ feels like a giant Ferris wheel that various entrepreneurs are frantically trying to mount and get working without killing anyone (and of course there are workers that die during the building of the White City, and there is the gruesome murderer.)
Google+ is like a giant boardwalk. Like the welcome areas in Second Life -- no, not like them, they are quaint and homey by contrast.
How is it that Google+, which is supposed to be this very granulated and controlled and comfy and homey experience where you only share what you want with whom you want when you want it, instead creating the sense of being a giant greasy and hot boardwalk with hordes of weird people?
Well, because it's extremely open. I mean, Facebook doesn't prepare you for this. Facebook will let in a slew of non-friends on occasion, through something like TechCrunch, which makes you sign in with your FB account now (or Yahoo) to post comments, so that people who "like" you or respond to you suddenly are called "friends" and notify you in your Facebook. Or sometimes a friend will post something on a friend's page and you see some long chat, and sometimes a wall is open for you to post something on -- and you get outside what now seems like that safe circle of Facebook friends. But usually, there's just your list of people -- family, friends, co-workers, and those avatars of Second Life.
Google is way different. If you happen to follow someone like Jeff Jarvis+ or Dan Gilmor+ or Robert Scoble+ -- all those big Silicon Valley influencers -- you will see something different than Twitter. On Twitter, those people talk, and most people never talk back. They don't even fawn with the usual fan-boy sycophancy -- they just re-tweet, because there isn't much space -- or they don't step out of line. To look at re-tweets -- try it some time on popular hashtags -- is to gaze into a maw of mindless masses, retweeting without even a comment. Thousands of people will re-tweet the same thing. They will have nothing to say.
On Google+, hundreds show up in the same way, but now they have more scope or interface or *something* to express their sychophancy -- which more often than not takes the form of what the Russian historian Yuri Afanasyev called "the aggressively subserviant majority" in describing Soviet society. They put up their dukes and fight off anybody who protests the Influencer's pearl of wisdom, which more often than not is merely a "share" of one of the few tech web sites like ReadWriteWeb or Mashable or TechMeme that is run by one of their friends and has said something they like.
Occasionally, there will even be a little debate on these things, and sometimes, people will even concede that they may not have thought of an issue quite that way or may have been hasty in their judgement. More often than not, they bloviate in the usual way. I'm often the only one that ever questions anything. This seems to come as a shock to certain young geeks who populate Google with nothing but "IT" and "Star Trek" and "Austin" or "San Diego" in their profile and who have about 9 opinions that they repeat mindlessly over and over again -- capitalism is evil, except Google or the IT company where they work; the West is evil except when it makes cultural artifacts and gadgets that they love; telecoms are evil except that they are still with AT&T; Washington is evil, except not the Sunlight Foundation or other Silicon Valley-funded lobbyists; pot should be legalized but they don't smoke pot.
The goofiness of Google+ can't be overstated. I mean, I'm staring at videos of Loren Feldman's breakfast at a 1930s retro diner -- real corn beef hash, you know, the real kind -- there's Howard Rhinegold's painted hippie shoe pictures (yes, he's already blocked me but I can still see his feed); and then there's this sort of thing in a post by that language commissar Dan Gillmor, praising the appearance of the magazine High Times in a Philadelphia news kiosk, immediately flushing out that bane of Internet existence, the drug legalization lobbyists and pro-pot nerds. After I explain how I see kids getting high out in front of the high schools every day as I walk around, and how stupid and incompetent they are becoming, and what a waste it is, and they already *live in the regime of legalization of pot* because they get it easily with almost never any consequences, I get the usual pro-pot types, and then this:
Um, be here now, Eric, say it with me now, ommmmm
If he comes back at me again, I'm going to tell him to put his hand out on the computer screen and feel the power, feel the power of the Internet stream, Eric...
It's time to go and see Loren Feldman again, at his best, when he is *in your face* in one of his full-frontal harangues about some tech nerd being dorky. "The Internet is Not About You". Or this one -- great! About the brand pages thing. Hilarious! Google Page Nonsense.
And on and on. A constant entertainment machine, but it's all strangers -- that is, not people you know.
You might spend a day making all these circles. Friends. Enemies. Techs. Virtual Worlds. Virtual Worlds, but non-tech. Whatever. And then...you never use them. You never have some one thing to share that should *only* go to that one little calibrated circle. Or you do. But then...thunk. They never answer. But then, you never answered them when they posted some link from your work site that you already saw on...your work site. Like everyone in that little work circle.
You find that pretty much everything is going in your public stream, and pretty much everybody else seems to be doing the same because they're *trying to collect friends and pluses*. If you stay in your little circle, you might have the thrill of exclusion, but then your pluses never plus, you never get friends, the little red notification box in the upper right hand corner never adds and adds and pluses and pluses. So you go back to public again -- and vast numbers of strangers come after you.
I mean -- there are just tons. If you friended all the people who friend you, you'd have huge lists. But how would you have time to look at the streams? Already you don't. The circle parsing now makes sense only in terms of having a way to look at just part of the stream with say, only work, or only friends, because "tech" has grown too noisy. "Enemies" is unbearable. The only advantage is that "tech" in the "home stream" is so noisy that "enemies" gets pushed down out of the view, and you never scroll that far...
People see you in discussions, plus you, and often friend you. Or..."friend" isn't the name of the thing that happens in Google+. "Follow" isn't the name either. I guess you'll have to say they Goog you? They...G+ you? Plussing is liking, but that act of glomming on to someone you saw in a huge thread under some big influencer in a huge argument -- what would you call that? Coagulating? Sticking like iron filings?
There's this nerdy guy that follows me on Twitter and Google+ that looks like a Second Life griefer.
I'm trying to think whether chatting with all these *strangers*, most of whom I disagree with (they all being followers of the geek religion for the most part as most of the people you see on here now are geeks, despite what they claim), is interesting. Well, it's not. I find it pales in about 10 minutes. It's really not very satisfying. That is, it might be about 5-10 more minutes satisfying that Facebook, which generally lasts only about 5-10 minutes a day for me. I read my friends' news stream -- which lately I've even ditched to reach Summify, which is a service that takes all the links out of your friends' posts with all their crap in it, and strips them out just to the news headlines to those sources, so you get just those in a mailer. Nice. "News without the noise," as they say. Except, then it, too, gets sterile.
I don't like "sharing". Just to test how this process gets so icky, I posted a picture my daughter had taken of the forest when she arrived at the cottage. My real friends liked it. But so did those creepy shadowy people who have friended me on Facebook who never talk. Do you have people like that? That only "like". With their artificial Ken-doll SL avatars gazing out of their profiles, and nothing comprehensible about them...and they "like" and ": )" for days on end, and, well, it's creepy. Like Damien Caldera. Who is Damien Caldera? He's just this guy in SL who friended me and "likes" many things I post. But why? Sometimes I think I'll just delete all those SL people on Facebook and tell them either to friend me on their real names or talk to me in SL. I don't know who *they* are. Why should they know who *I* am and see pictures of my kids?! I'm not interested in sharing pictures with my kids. So...I don't. Facebook isn't for that. Email is. See, most people manage their privacy just fine. They...don't go on Facebook at all for the real stuff. Just a thought!
Right now I'm looking at...the stream by Nithin Prabhakar and this picture of... some place somewhere. India.
Why is this guy in my stream? I have no idea. Did I plus his picture and friend him? Did he plus my comment and circle me? I have no recollection...yet there he is.
Well, then there's this -- didn't have to wait long! Courtesy of Osprey. *Waves*.
Lum Lumley is posting again. Does he post this often on Facebook? I don't think so. Oh, he blocked me there so I haven't seen him lately. Did you know that Lum was called Lum the Mad in a game? That there's an entire game wiki with mainly Lum sayings in it? Inside gamerz' jokes with tag lines like. "I don't agree with what you said." I checked the wiki to see if it had any SL slang like "GOM" or "Is War in Jesse Upon Us?" but it didn't...
By the time I'm noodling deep into Lum's game wiki, I feel like I'm seriously in derilection of my duties. I mean, Second Life, when you spend time on it, at least pays out in rental monies or content sales. But this...this is like eating a huge box of Mallow Cups just because they were there on sale, and you never see them again or chewing the entire pack of Clark's Teaberry.
One of the creepier things about Google+ -- and one that I can't seem to undo -- is that the community manager, or one of the community managers, named Natalie Villalobos has become my friend in my friend circle. Why, I don't know. Is she like that First Friend Tom Anderson at MySpace? I *think* I saw her somewhere and put her in the "Tech" circle, but more often than not, you mistakenly hit "friends" also when you circle because of the glitchy slippery G+ interface. But...I took her out of friends...or tried to take her out of friends...and now I can't get her out. She's stuck. It even says "add to friends" as if she weren't already there. So as a result, I can't make a circle with real friends because she's in there with her goofy community manager stuff and I don't want to be her friend, I just put her in "tech" to see if she had any actual news about the product and issues like real names (she doesn't).
There's definitely a glitch there, and at some point I have to ask her how to undo that...
Philip Rosedale isn't on Google+. He just put out a rare FB post, however, urging people to see his new site and "like" the tasks to help spread the word.
Pop into Second Life to take care of some customers. Funny that the strangers of Second Life, in this cosy little world, feel more real and some of them feel more like friends than these complete strangers -- real people -- on Google+
This just in...Kerry Takashi reports that beta Viewer 2.x is now counting prims differently, something that has long been rumoured -- and which Lilith Heart has been warning us about was coming, with great angst.
Kerry checked a Lilith Heart tree, and found that whereas before it counted as 3 prims, now it counts as 601. Now, this may not be a count of 601 "prims as we know them".It may be "prims in some other accounting system". After talking to her, I find it could be in fact the "rendering cost" showing instead of prims/objects -- in some different way? But...
This is going to spark confusion, anger, revolts, stupidity, idiocy, mutual recriminations -- the usual SL medley.
So can we get some clarity on this from the Lindens?
I seem to recall somewhere that Philip Linden (not that he may count anymore) said that the Lindens were going to double the prim count on all sims. I can't seem to find that quote now and I may be misremembering it. But I *think* the idea was to double prims to accommodate higher-primmed mesh that was coming. Makes sense. I'm not sure how this would be done. Newer and better servers? The only way the Lindens double prim count now is by creating large easements of prim farms on the same sim that they use as a pool to feed lots on sims like Linden Homes or Nautilus.
Apparently mesh with scripts in it will have an even higher prim "cost".
What we don't know is what else about the world might change. It sure seems awful to think that for the same price of $295 a month, you know get a fraction of your previous prim space and have to start removing stuff. Boy, that will get people mad. Surely the Lindens won't do that?
But...what if the Lindens double the count? Or what if they reduce tier in half? See, that would be popular -- people would probably sacrifice some prim counts if they knew their tier was cut in half. It might even make them go out and buy more islands lol. Nothing people like more than a sense of a bargain.
Desmond Shang placed a curious poll recently on Sluniverse.com that sort of struck me as odd and I filed it away for future research. While his FIC credentials sometimes seem to be fading, he often gets privy to Linden future developments by being selected for testing -- his continent makes for a good polygon, i.e. as he did for Havoc 3.
Desmond asked whether people used all the prims on their sims: "How Much Empty Land Do You Have Over the Next 90 Days?". Quite a few people replied that they didn't use all their land; 53 percent said they had open land of some size.
You'd be distracted from figuring that out immediately, as 36 percent said they had no free land and 17 percent said they had no land but pie, making it seem as if there were "all these people with no free land" when really there are 53 percent with free land. Now, many people may have lied or not answered if they thought it was a question about the occupancy rate of their rentals or a slur on their building prowess.
But turn it into a poll about how much prim land people keep, and you can see it in a different light.
It's true that when you go around to rentals, especially islands, you can find prims just not being used. That may be due to landscaping -- most islands probably use at least 4096 for landscaping and easements -- or just how things go -- people like space, but they might only put 450 prims out on their 937-prim 4096. Unlike an airliner, you can't rent out that space, because at any time, the client may need it. But there it is, tempting many a grid-level planner to figure out how to "capture" it and "monetarize it".
Desmond may well have asked that question because he knew or suspected of different prim counting systems that were coming, and the inevitable justification that might be used -- "You don't use half your prims anyway, so if we raise prim counts, you won't really notice." And that might be technically true, but boy, it won't be psychologically true! People who don't use half their prims and suddenly fine they've removed as a capacity will still howl, twice as much.
There's a lot to clarify here and no fair saying "Wait until the Lindens explain" or "Why don't you just ask Desmond?" Because...we aren't involved in the decision-making on issues that affect our properties and "ownership" from the get-go, we aren't informed about what this is really all about well in advance, and so too bad, we get to speculate in blogs.
We're overdue for some sort of big scandal where everyone can circle their wagons and claim the Lindens are doing something bad, eh? Mesh is going to be bad enough, and it is imminent, we're told.
But...I do have to wonder if it will be so bad. Naturally, I and many other landlords don't like the idea of having a tree that cost me or a customer 3 prims today turning into a 601-prim nightmare -- especially as the creator will have had no notice to compensate nor will we have had.
The tree Kerry mentioned was Wild Mountain Pine. I have those very trees in Belarus, so I went to investigate. In Viewer 1.23, I saw them as 9 and 12 prims, for various sizes -- she may have a smaller one.
I logged on with Viewer 2.x latest, and still saw the 9 and 12 prims on the Wild Mountain Pine. So...this needs clarification. Was this on a sculpty? On a prim-based object? On new mesh objects? On a beta viewer?
There's also a thread on Sluniverse.com that claims the Lindens made a math error on their calculation of mesh cost based on viewer stress, and they should re-do this. I dunno, do Lindens really make math errors? Or do obsessives like DanielRavensNest call something they don't like an error?
Regardless of how this is done, it is likely -- from all past experience -- not to be done smoothly. There will likely be double-speak about double-prims or something.
I remember when the Lindens changed the FPS numbers. It used to be that a brand-clean sim just off the auction on the mainland would have a whopping 10,000 or more FPS. FPS was always measured in the thousands. At some point, Lindens "de-inflated this," so that it was measured by 100. And of course, that's when they introduced "sim socialism" to force scripts to work slower to keep the sim on keel.
Anyone know anything more?