Sunday, November 16, 2008

to keep me breathing, as the water rises up again

I no longer live in Rivula.

Last night, Hank Rucker did two things I thought he'd never do: take every item back from Rivula, to list it on the open market; and join the Independent States of Caledon.

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This was where my house stood. This was where my first tree sprouted, my very first home on the grid was here. Rivula, southern continent, mainland--had been my home for two full years.

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Where Hank's wife stands (to my left), used to be the end of the lands Hank owned, and used to be my small portion of 512 home, rented from Jo Talamasca, back when she owned the bulk of Rivula and held it under Enigma, also the name of her club, and my second home away from home on the grid.

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Past Alexandra Rucker as we stand in the wasteland of Rivula, restored back to Linden defaults, all trace of our presence, our lives, our loves, our battles, erased--is where the original House of Rucker stood, with the black panel curtains and the coffins in the basement. Just to the right of where their house stopped was the beginning of the back lot of the Enigma, and where the white marble Damani two-story is, is close to where the Enigma stood.

All gone, now. Vanished, with much discussion and forethought, but vanished all the same. Now we move to Lunitarium, and private estate life, and potentially, stop visiting the Second Life mainland at all. For the first time in two years I changed my home point.

Loss.

Darien Caldwell is no longer on the grid.

Her blog has been deleted; her profile is now hidden from search, and moreover, friends of hers say she's reduced it back to a blank, devoid of all information; her XStreetSL items and ShopOnRez items are missing and "unable to be sold at this time".

She still seems to be a member of SL Universe; but even that may change in time.

Why does this matter? Well, if you've never heard of Miss Caldwell, or have never been to Dari's Haus, her store (which is, by reports, also gone), she was one of the best creators and scripters of bondage equipment on the grid. By many reports, she had the single best armbinder on the grid--one avatars could move in, type in, dance in, all without moving their arms, unlike many other 'binders on the market.

(For those who may not know, this is a fairly good demonstration on what an armbinder does, if the name is not descriptive enough. It's safe for work, more or less, there's no nudity, but it does display a rather severe piece of bondage equipment in use.)

For whatever reason--the OS disaster, the downturn in sales grid-wide, the last-straw sensation that many residents of Second Life are currently experiencing--she is gone. I do not know why. But all her vitality, all her products, and the pressure of her presence are now--gone.

Loss.

Last night, Duchess Gabrielle Riel broadcast for more than five hours from a small OpenSpace sim called Gravity's Rainbow. Don't bother trying to find it; if it's not already gone, it will be soon, as the party was to "celebrate"--if that's the right word--the owners' abandonment of the sim, as they cannot afford the staggering hike in tier costs.

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We danced while her Grace spun whatever she decided on a whim to retrieve from her vaults of musical history. We danced while she went from sober, to intoxicated, and back again. We danced while snow fell in the tropics, and mourned as much as we made merry.

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Towards the end--all I was able to make in person--Miss Deanna Trilling decided to hurl things from the heavens--fireballs, cows, flying pigs, UFOs. It was whimsy but it was also vengeance--because at times, she said, she'd been running that particular item dropper nonstop at highest setting, while running every other script that she could find to set active--and never noticed a drop in sim performance.

She is convinced there's another reason behind the drain on the servers, that lies behind the Lindens' move. She may not be wrong.

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She had two large, translucent panels set up to the side of the dancing. They flickered through all her pictures of life on Gravity's Rainbow--love, laughter, friends, strangeness, romance and dancing--picture after picture after picture. It felt like watching her life, and the life of her friends, flare vividly and evaporate, never to be seen again. All those moments gone, from all but memories.

She's not sure if she's going to stay in Second Life, past this point. Neither are her friends, her chosen family.

Loss.

I am being strongly urged to downgrade my SL account from premium to free. I've carefully evaluated the pros and cons of such a move. In my current rental situation, I do not need to be a premium account member (nor was I when I joined Caledon with my first purchase of 1536 meters in Caledon Penzance) to continue renting in Caledon or Lunitarium. To participate in other situations on the SL main web site and in world, all I need is payment information on file--which is there, and will not change. Whether or not I have been basic or premium, I have always had payment information on file with the Labs.

In fact, should I ever gain the funds to buy my own estate, I do not need premium membership even then. Only if I were to buy mainland, would I need that premium account.

And yes, having my premium account (and having acquired an account in Second Life twenty-eight months ago) brings me 500 Lindens every week--if they actually remember to pay me--which is, yes, more than my chosen payment plan of $22.50 every three months (or $7.50 each month, which, translated through Lindex, would net me L$1980 on a straight Linden purchase--so I am actually making Lindens on the deal, so to speak). How'ver, I also could choose to take that $22.50 and spend it directly at the Lindex for Lindens. I may well even gain more net Lindens to spend in world, on rent, on fripperies, on more rent--than I have by paying in that $22.50 every three months.

I have until November 21st to decide.

This is happening all over the grid. When do the losses become too much? When do the Lindens realize that the staunch support they're losing has been replaced by newbies with no investment in the grid, and no desire to stay beyond momentary impulse?

People have been saying the changes started with M. I say they're wrong. I say these changes started out with Philip. But I'm convinced M isn't helping in the least. If the boat is going to go down, he seems to be saying, it would be prettier on fire.

"There's this broad consensus that the Virginia Tech murders had something to do with violent video games. When you actually read the coroner's inquest report, video games are mentioned twice. The first is his mother saying he never wanted to play those video games. The second is his roommate saying, 'We always thought he was weird because he never wanted to play video games.' Yet it's still a truism that violent video games must be responsible for Virginia Tech.

"We have the capacity to surveil and control adolescents in a way we've never done before. We chase them indoors and then we tell them that all the virtual places they might gather, we need to surveil them because of the ever-present threat of pedophiles and because of the ever-present need to market to them. We've really hemmed in adolescence in a way we never have before."


Food for thought from Cory Doctorow. (Unrelated to the main.)

2 comments:

R.E.II™ said...

Interesting blog

Emilly Orr said...

Thanks, it has its moments.