Wednesday, March 25, 2009

there's always some loophole technicality you buy into and pay until you die

Steampunk style guide, anyone?

AKA, muahahahaha, more fun things to run down!

Both Blondin and Cyn have now assured us that, basically, the official pages about this are wrong. Cyn says "Remember, this is highly explicit content we are talking about", but that's very different from what the official statements say. The official definition of "Adult" includes any public area in which there is "photorealistic nudity". That's rather different than "highly explicit" the way I've mostly heard the words used.

I really appreciate Lindens like Blondin and Cyn assuring us that only the most extreme and egregious things will have to move. BUT if that's the case, then the official statements on the subject should be updated to reflect that. Currently, it's easy to read the official statements as classifying a VERY broad range of things as "Adult", and therefore to be exiled from the normal mainland. In fact it's hard not to read them that way: you have to assume that they don't mean what they actually say, but instead they mean some milder variant of it.

Dale Innis said that, and it dovetails neatly into something I want to bring up, just for a moment.

Now, I will grant you, I have done my fair share of Linden-bashing. Generally specifically, generally by name of Linden, but I usually don't come off as terrifically favorable to the Labs.

This likely won't change; I try to keep an open perspective, but I walk around in their world, I see the changes they've wrought, and I go to open office hours and read transcripts of 'town hall' style meetings, and...I'm not overly impressed. It seems a great deal like the goals of the game designers, and the goals of the gamers, are not only disparate, but actually involve two entirely separate concepts--like someone comparing apples to oranges in a classroom setting by holding up a tire iron, and you look down in puzzlement at the coconut on your desk. There doesn't seem to be a way to relate what's said with what's heard with what's played out in world, and I don't know if it's ever going to get better.

That having been said, I want to go back to what I started out with: Dale Innis and his succinct breakdown.

To the Lindens' credit, they have:

* opened the dialogue early, not way too late
* listened (mostly) and kept responding (mostly) without the usual "This is why you're all wrong/We're going to close comments" messages [*]
* not made major plans, save for the development of Ursula as a continent, which means when they say they're waiting for input, they mostly mean it

These aren't bad things. These are, in fact, good things, things we want to encourage, things we want to offer praise of, not condemnation for, as ungrammatical as that was.

But my main point--weaving in and out of the warp and weft of raving and confusion--has always been this: What the Lindens say, and what they do, are ofttimes two separate things.

The clearest example is with the current (they say "working") definition of adult. For example, that bit on photorealistic nudity. So what's considered photorealistic? Playboy playmate images? Sure. Anime images? Likely not, at least, not right now, because that would be animated nudity--or, at least, artistic nudity.

So drawn nudity (id est, art galleries, unless the start of the nude image is a photosourced one) would not be under the potential ban. But would the "art" of skin designers be? In which case, would anyone walking around in a photosourced skin, who is naked, also be banned?

Two of the Lindens are taking great pains to assure us that only the most extreme and egregious offenses will be booted to Pervistan. Which is all well and good, save for the fact that what they say and what we read are not adding up to the same intent.

This may well be theoretical now; and we can do our best to hope for good hearts and understanding minds amongst the Linden staff. I, myself, am rather more cynical than most, and I'm thinking that having a stated boundary limit in print, and then saying something different, is eventually going to rotate around to enforcing the limit stated in print.

Bonibaru Navarathna said:

I can already see a difference in the way people are talking about starting a new "non-adult" area - they talk about it in terms of freedom, of choice, of organic growth, of opportunity. A fresh new place for a pleasant new start. When they talk about creating an "adult-only" area, though, the tone is complete opposite: restriction, constriction, inconvenience, disruption, penalty. From a purely PR/marketing standpoint, I should think LL might take notice of that distinction. A positive response to creating a new "no adult content allowed" area, self-policing, move in by choice .... vs. the current proposal which is being met quite unhappily by the users who will be most impacted. Yet both proposals would achieve the desired outcome of keeping adult content away from those who do not actively seek it or who find its presence unwelcome. I hope someone perceptive enough is noticing that nuance in tone.

That's it exactly. This is the biggest chance the Lindens have to do things right, maybe the best chance they've ever had: with this entire continent. Make Ursula the center for culture in SL. Bring in live musicians who play concertos in tastefully appointed halls. Hire lecturers to lecture in expansive spaces on the best servers; pipe those lectures, concerts, whatever content is deemed appropriate, worthy and good to the rest of the grid. Have designers make gardens, make waterfalls, create dizzying expanses of beauty to feast upon with eyes and heart.

Let the rest of the grid struggle. Let Ursula be where we go to be polite, and be respectful, be good and kind, be gentle with each other; let Ursula be where we go to learn (on most topics), to listen (to music and birdsong, to breeze through waving leaves), to experience (oceans; glittering space; glass domes and rising spires; painted rocks and deep caves; lush verdant greenspaces, suffused with multiple shades of flower, leaf and bud, butterfly and bird, deer and rabbit).

Why is this a wrong idea? Why can't segregation be used to protect, not to imprison? Why can't it be a safe zone, a place of worship, of nature and the gods, of seeing where technology can take us, where it could take us? Why can't this be to the highest and best good of all the residents?

And why can't the Lindens see this? So far, no one I've heard objects to a solid G (or even PG) continent; but nearly everyone objects to Pervistan, on a variety of levels.

I've said this before. I'll say it again, most likely. And I'm saying it now: we're speaking. We're speaking very loudly, very stridently, with a great amount of passion. The Lindens need to listen.

([*] One additional note: as of this writing, they have closed off comments on all five comment threads in the forums, and moved all "remaining" conversations to one thread "because the conversation was dying down". As has been pointed out by more than a few residents, the conversation "died down" because the Lindens closed comments.)


Sphynx Soleil said...

Amusingly, you're mentioned over on the Pixel Scoop blog. :)

Emilly Orr said...


Though it's *so* true--there really needs to be an option for [Y]es, oh yes, bite me - [N] No get away from me, I'll scream - [X] marks the NEVER ASK ME AGAIN YOU MUTANT box

Don't you think? :)

Seraph Nephilim said...

First off, I'm all for plan B: create a G continent/region, not an X one. That being said, here's why I think it will never happen: there are too many existing, wonderful builds that would end remaining in the wild west. In fact, all of what LL has been touting, up till now, exists in that PG/Mature zone. They want people to feel "safe" venturing out to said displays -- free from all possible glimpses of anything above a PG rating. Removing the "extreme" stuff accomplishes that. Creating a G-only region does not.

This, I believe, is why we get so much pushback from LL. *That* is their goal -- to make most of SL free to explore, not just a small section.

That's my guess at their motivation. Mind you, it's *not* what *I* want. I'm firmly in the create a new "safe" zone camp.

Emilly Orr said...

See, it's that 'safe' thing. That 'freedom not to be offended' attitude (mostly American, I'll grant, but nevertheless).

We have no "right" not to be offended. We have no "right" to "always feel safe". We have the ability to speak out against what we don't like, against what we think is bad, against what we think should be changed--but we have no "right" not to be offended.

Besides which, this point has been brought up ad nauseum--in the safest place, in the most G-secured environment on the planet--people will still be people. People will still walk in and have porny things in their inventories, or be dressed suggestively, or hells--even piercings shock some people.

But hey, even forgetting all of that--people are still people. They will say inappropriate things. They will do inappropriate things. There is no effective way to make anything "safe" for everyone, without making it "safe" from every resident.

Seraph Nephilim said...

Unfortunately, corporations seem to feel that any "inappropriate" exposure is too much. And, given the current state of our legal system, they might be right. Unfortunately, our universities have this attitude as well. It all makes me very sad.

Even more unfortunate? This is the market that LL is now attempting to cater to, not the folks who actually got them here.

Emilly Orr said...

Which is why land sales are staggering, why so many land owners are now selling off or just abandoning their sims. They lost a lot of players with the Homestead issue; this is going to lose them more.

But then, maybe that's part of the plan, too--I'm cynical enough to think that if the only people who remain are the academics, the easily offended and the business people, they'll be happy with that.

Depressing thought of a morning.