Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'll always see her that way, dressed in the red, white and grey

Change. Change on the wind, change within, change without. I'm left to sort good from bad, meaning from casual chance, and doing my best not to over-analyze.

First, the news that Robin Linden is leaving. Of course, she says it's due to her wanting to experience new things, but I detect power plays behind the stage. We may never know; what I do know is that Robin Linden (who will abandon Linden status February 15th) and Katt Linden (who is also seeking fairer shores) were the two most vocal opponents to a merged grid. In addition, they were two of the most vocal proponents of censorship, age verification, and "sim rating" that the Lindens had. I know this quite well, as Katt Linden and I tangled to some small extent during the chaos surrounding the nigh-daily revisions of what was and was not allowable during SL5B.

Will this turn out to be a good thing? I don't know yet. All I know is by mid-February, they will be gone, and six months from now, we'll see what the changes wrought now will lead to...be that a merged grid, with eighteen-plus age verification, and parental responsibility called down on any minor who misrepresents...or, as I very much fear, a merged grid that is 'dumbed down' to a family friendly rating grid-wide, PG for everyone.

Considering the international situation, I'm not for either of these; the tale of Germany still resonates for the Lindens, whether or not they're an American company on American soil. But I'm closer to accepting of the first scenario; I do not want to live my Second days on a kid-friendly grid where, if it's something a thirteen-year-old can't see, it doesn't exist.

One eye on the horizon, one eye on the grid; it's not a comfortable position to be in. We can only wait, and watch, and see what changes these departures bring. Six months from now, if the adult grid merges with the teen grid, then we'll know.

[UPDATE: This from a friend:

[14:30] Sphynx Soleil: they may already be essentially merged
[14:31] Sphynx Soleil: I saw a note scamper across the blog aggregate that someone saw the teen grid islands appear on the main grid map

Does anyone know if there's truth for this? Who knows the names of the teen islands? Can anyone verify this?]


Rhianon Jameson said...

Not having seen the Teen Grid, I'm not really certain what they do there - dress in baggy jeans, ride skateboards, and practice lol-speak, I'd guess. (I suppose I shouldn't be too critical, as I know of at least two children of noted neo-Victorians on the Teen Grid, including one offspring of a noted neo-Victorian Land Baron.) (And, actually, I'd guess much of what goes on is a virtual version of what teenagers do everywhere, which is (a) hang out, (b) try to be/look/act cool, and (c) try to subvert authority wherever and whenever possible.) (Mind you, this is a dim recollection dating back to the Carter administration, so maybe teenagers are completely different today.) (Ha ha ha ha ha.)

But I've always thought that the ban on teens on the main grid was silly, in large part because it's so ineffective. And is it really protecting the company legally by having a rule that says teens can't join the adult grid when it is so easily subverted?

One reason that I like the Victorian sims is that they largely, though not completely, discourage the casual yahoo. If you don't want to have (most) teens around, just encourage the young ladies to put on a bustle dress, or the young gentleman to wear a cutaway jacket with patent leather shoes.

Emilly Orr said...

While that's true, for me it's not dealing with the casual yahoo that disturbs me--I get enough practice with nimrod behavior both out of Caledonian airspace, and on rare occasion, inside. What bothers me with any melding of Adult and Teen grids is simple: I don't want to date twelve-year-olds. I don't want to see them in adult clubs. I don't want to have to figure out by behavior alone that I am dealing with someone underage.

Believe me, back in Rivula, I did enough of that--and I banned more than one thirteen- and fifteen-year-old. And I'm still not convinced that my former kitten-love was not, in fact, under eighteen when we met--just that (according to him) he turned twenty six months after we stopped dating. Which was very nearly two years after we'd met.

I also understand the reasons they want to participate--and not just for the supposed 'insta-sex' options. Many young women and men on the net are, at least mentally, older than their compatriots, and they tire of dumbing things down just to be accepted. They desire an environment where how old they are won't matter, just how intelligent they are--and it's not the worst thing to hang out with adults, in that sense.

Me, personally, above and beyond any actual protective laws, I have no problem with underage souls on the adult grid who can pass, and be accepted, as adults. But I have a tremendous problem with kids on the grid who are kids--and frankly, the extant protections don't go far enough yet.

Icterus Dagger said...

While I've read about these issues now and I again, I must confess I haven't paid particularly close attention to them.

How would age-verification work, exactly? In what context would one need to be "verified?"


Emilly Orr said...

What all previous efforts want is one of two forms of documentation to be prepared and either uploaded electronically, or mailed to the actual Linden Labs office in San Francisco:

* Social Security number (which, in America, regardless of how often it's used to prove identity, is actually an illegal document to ask for to prove identity) (which non-domestic players will not have); or

* Driver's license numbers (which again, though it is frequently used to prove identity in America, is only a document drivers possess; non-drivers will have a non-license ID) (which, again, non-domestic players will not have)

It's a muddle. That, plus the facts that they have chosen to go with a company known for selling private information to third-party sources, and that they are a company which is requesting this information which has been hacked for private information twice in the past (both times for credit card information, which now, they tell us, is stored on a 'separate server' detached from name identification).

I don't trust them, until they come up with a better way to age-verify. Sadly, the best way is right in front of them:

1. Pick a half-dozen retailers, here and abroad; offer them a new product, a five dollar (or local equivalent) "ident card"; to get it, one must pay five dollars and show ID. The ID would be viewed by the clerk, a standard transaction procedure.

2. The ID would not be stored, but would be checked off as having been viewed, the card would be activated, and the buyer would take the card home.

3. At the next login, the login screen would lead to a yes/no 'card number' request: if you had it, you would provide the number; if you did not, you could request either a 30-day extension, or a smaller set of 10-day extensions (after which your account would be locked to the 'general'/PG level, due to non-compliance).

Why would this not work? This would work. Other companies do it; in fact, most other companies allow external-to-game card purchases for special equipment, game funds, and the like. Why don't the Lindens do this?

Easy, simple, gets them additional profit, little muss, little fuss, and everyone who wants to be is age-verified. Why don't they?

Icterus Dagger said...

Good thoughts on how.

I'm still not getting the why.

Why would or should I want to be age verified? So I don't get locked to the PG level? What would benefit me to be age verified? Would this be required to have access to 'M' regions? To find 'M' events?

Like I said - I only glossed over this issue some time last year when it came up. I haven't paid much attention to it.


Emilly Orr said...

When age verification was first proposed--with a suggestion-to-implementation understanding of two months--it was going to be tied to a 'nominal fee' (the 'nominal' fee suggested was $9.95 US, and I was unemployed with no hope of getting that), which would be paid to the Labs along with handing over of full legal name, address, phone number and proof of age--usually discussed as Social Security Number or a copy of the birth certificate. A *notarized copy*, in fact.

Forget everything else, I couldn't have gotten the ten dollars--but at the time, they were talking that in two months, anyone not age-verified would only be allowed in PG-rated areas.

At that time, I was still escorting. All my dance clubs were in Mature zones. My main workspace was in a Mature zone. With one stroke, I would have been barred from the ability to play SL as I had been playing it.

To say I freaked out is severely understating. And I wasn't the only one.

If (and/or when) they implement age verification, yes, a portion of it will lock away all mention of Mature rated events, Mature rated sims, from being found by non-Mature rated accounts.

Considering even now, where I work, where I live, where I like to spend my time--are all on Mature rated sims? This *still* scares me somewhat.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

Apart from the vast concerns aired at the time about the company LL had decided would be collecting and storing the Age Verification information (with no details on Privacy of this info or it's use under, say, Department of Homeland Security), the hoops they had set up for foreigners were just ridiculous.

I flatter myself that my own government has a file on me. I don't think it's big but I've been part of various protests and have written in letters complaining about various government policy. While a new President in the WhiteHouse makes for nice editorial, I'll wait and see the fruits of any change in US everyone is a terrorist policy.

Mind you, gods forbid the UK government try to actually get their shit together with data security. At least I don't get semi-regular news items about Washington bureaucrats leaving classified documents on a train. Of course that may be a cultural thing with cars too but you get the drift.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Perhaps not classified government documents, but I know of a number of confidential ones left on trains. Haven't done it myself, thank goodness.

And forgive me for the next comment, but Mr. Pearse's remark about government dossiers on citizens and the U.S. government's attitude toward, ah, foreigners reflects a larger truth that the political left generally misses: if one is concerned about abuses of government power, one should want less government, not more. Maybe you like the guy in charge now, maybe you don't, but it's a near certainty that you won't like one of his successors. Do you want [insert your favorite exemplar of evil] running your health care program, or determining what car you drive, or deciding how much of your income you may keep?

Emilly Orr said...

Edward: No, somewhat typically, Americans are more known for leaking national secrets (or selling them) to our dates, not the simple happenstance of leaving documents behind.

Many of us were actually horrified when Australia became a suspect nation, among others on that list (which also obscurely includes Canada, off and on); Australia had always been an ally, so what the hell? But so much else was going wrong, it was more a case of "we'll get to that after": we had to jump out of the burning building first, and worry about how we'd stop falling later.

And apparently it's a common LL failing; because part of the slow Labs-pushed drive for a merged grid is, in part, due to the utter mess the Teen Grid has become for non-domestic teens: one in thirty or so is actually able to make an account, the system is that broken.

Miss Jameson: I actually agree with you. I voted for Obama, and bad or good, I'm standing by the fact that it felt like the only option this country had; but one of his stated pushes for the new economic restructuring is to completely computerize medical records, so that--purportedly--any American anywhere can get help at any hospital they happen to be at, eventually.

What these broad-sweeping plans never state is the flip side: that any American anywhere, having their medical records computerized, can then be tracked, analyzed, accorded or refused accommodations, hacked, and refused various services, based on both legitimate and illegitimate access to those records.

The problem is larger than simply being right- or left-leaning, as it seems both major parties, along with the Libertarians, at this point, want larger, not smaller, governments anyway. Myself, I'd be ecstatic with various city-states conjoined to share (limited) information with the equivalent of a large oversight committee chained to a judicial body running things. This is, of course, not what we have now, and not what we're likely to have with anyone in power.

But then, I'm not a complete anarchist either: I'd be overjoyed with turning over half my income (and, by proxy, half the income of everyone else in the US) to get in return working socialized medicine, the freedom to get prescriptions paid for, hospital stays paid for, doctor visits and preventive care treatments paid for. Bring it on, I would not mind, larger government or no--but we keep voting it down.