Saturday, April 18, 2009

destroy everything you touch, today, destroy me this way

For every hundred days filled with sun and sand, for every month of dawns that rise, bright and searingly blue, there is one day that blurs at the outset, that grows slowly into grey fog, overcast and silent, birds asleep, all the world still and dim.

This was one of those days, slow, sweet happiness wrapped in tarnished silver, and the feeling continues to suffuse.

So, you'll pardon me if I'm not my usual harsh bitter cynical self; I'll try, but I keep smiling.

We're back at page 92.

Phoebe Hatfield engages again in right idea, wrong emphasis:

I think the problem here is that the Lindens aren't asking the right question.

They shouldn't be asking "How can we avoid alienating people with a forced relocation?"
They should be asking the real issue, which is "How can we ensure that nobody has to experience content they find inappropriate with minimal inconvenience or effect on the rights of others?"

Again, it's not about "rights", as we traditionally understand them. We live as creations within a creation, the only "rights" in that particular tone we've been proven out to have are certain content creation rights, which have been legally enforced. Beyond those? We have nothing, we own nothing, we are not discrete breathing bodies with the rights living, breathing humans elsewhere have.

We don't have them. Do. Not. Get over that illusion right now, you'll sleep better.

Past that, however, she has an excellent point. They should not have leapt first to the separate-continent idea. It won't work, it is profoundly a bad idea, and doomed to failure. I really wonder if there's a way at this point to reconsider, or if they think it would cause too much loss of face.

Still, it's a good point: what better options exist (that they're willing to seriously listen to) beyond Ursula-the-great-waffle-continent? Maybe people should be telling them those options, instead.

Windsweptgold Wopat has a list of solutions for the problem; rather than quote, I'm going to paraphrase (because I hate getting caught up in the nit-pickiness of correcting peoples' spelling and grammar errors).

For adults on the grid, who do not desire to be shocked:
1. Stay in PG areas. This is pretty much a given. Though:
a. Stay out of Welcome Areas. This will only expose you to things that will shock you.
2. Do not check the "Allow Mature Content" button under Search.
3. Do not map-hop; id est, hop randomly about region to region. Only travel to and from PG areas that you know about in advance.
4. Do not enter private homes. Trust me, it won't end well.
5. If all else fails, and you do land somewhere that offends you, or see an avatar that goes beyond the pale, simply point your mouse towards the menu in the upper left hand of the browser, and scroll down to "Quit".

Trust me. This will help. For the rest of us, back to the debate.

Patasha Mirikh commented:

Big business is not your cash cow... The wild unrepressed masses that wander though the world are, that's why big business is interested in you to begin with...

The suits don't get it, they don't understand why people are here, they just see a ton of potential customers and want in. Educate them on what the world is...

You will get investors, you don't have to try to suck up to the first ones to open their checkbooks while telling you how to run the business. Explain to them up front that yes the world is awash in sex and violence... just like cable TV...

And Lorelei Mission responded:

I found Patasha's post particulary fascinating because today I was describing this pg/mature/adult/verification mess to my husband -- a non SL user -- and he said to me, "What companies are interested in SL right now? That's probably where this 'cleanup' started -- some large company is leaning very hard on SL."

I don't know which companies are involved with SL right now, except perhaps for that IBM project...

From personal knowledge, IBM has been involved in SL for a long time. They are stepping up their involvement, yes, but their training islands cannot be accessed by the public: thus, anyone on them sees only what IBM wishes them to see, and never a thing more. It's not IBM. IBM understands and is working on implementing their own security procedures behind the scene; and happily doing so.

If any one company, or group of companies, is putting the pressure on? It's not from Big Blue.

The rest of Celestia Dreamscape's post deserves to be read, but I had to pull the end:

/me smacks the corporate entity that is Linden Lab around the head repeatedly with a clue bat.

Gods, I'd very nearly pay to see that. Can we name which Linden gets whacked? Can we film it?

Though admittedly, there was one jarring point of Celestia's that Phoebe Hatfield caught:

Actually prostitution is legal in most countries, with the notable exception of the US. Laws in other countries regarding prostitution are generally designed to make it illegal to do it safely. Regardless, what is offered on Second Life can't be legally defined as prostitution as there is no physical contact.

And even in the US, prostitution is still legal in some places (most notably, Nevada, where it is regulated, the women are provided access to health care and STD screenings, and there is very little "wanton crime and violence" associated with it). Therefore.

Kalypso Tugiri brings up an excellent point:

I can't say that I like or am comfortable with a lot of things that go on in SL but what adults do is their own business as long as it is consentual and within the law and if I am uncomfortable with anything it is very simple, I stay away from it. That is something that is very easy to do and it is certainly not the end of the world if I accidently stumble across something I don't like, in that case I TP out of the area, problem solved. The people who enjoy a more colorful SL should have the freedom to be there on their own land and not be shoved aside into some corner because some people don't like what they do. It seems like those who want this to happen are in the minority, like I said, I spend most of my time at Christian sims and I don't believe this subject has even been brought up, I was shocked to hear about it through the notecard today so I'm assuming it has little to do with what people are petitioning for and a lot to do with money, or for good PR in the media.

Now, here's someone we don't normally hear from--someone who is Christian in SL, and happily so, and has no interest in the sex and violence--sticking up for people doing what they wish to do.

I'm fine with the guideline of consent, by the way--do what you will, providing it doesn't harm another avatar, unless you have their consent. Why is this such a hard concept for people to grasp?

And it also reinforces what I've long suspected--while the various threads rage (and are then closed and cut off, one by one), no one else is being told--the people who don't read the blogs, read the forums, have no clue this is going on.

Am I blaming them, the ones who don't read? No, not specifically. One does miss out on much, but the forums can't be accessed for several reasons (from platform issues to lack of payment information on file) for many residents. And the Lindens have the simplest solution to the problem...mentioning things on login and transport screens...which, to date, they aren't doing.

One does wonder why.

There was a huge controversy that raged between pages 92 and 95 between DeeJay Kamachi (who, admittedly, I was already skipping past for saying mostly non-relevant things) and Lylani Bellic and Siryn Rosse. Rather than cast in my lot with any of them and go post by post, I want to clip two quotes from the callback-and-responses:

From DeeJay Kamachi:

In comparison to a wedding ring Yes, a choker would be considered indecent and vulgar to social norm. [ ... ] FFS I don't care if a gay or straight man or woman wants to enjoy his partner's name if it doesn't violate LL's Policy.

And Siryn Rosse's response:

As for the bigotry issue, I think it would help to point out that many of us put up with a hell of a lot of bigotry in the "real world" and that SL has been a relief valve for us. The last eight years with a conservative administration (for us Americans at least) has been nothing short of a horror show. Insisting that we lock down our behavior in the very world in which we relax in the evenings by role-playing, is nothing short of a slap in the face. And yes, a lifetime of abuse WILL make some of us touchy.

Absolutely. More to the point: it's senseless to argue that one isn't being bigoted and paranoid, when one comes right out and types out bigoted and paranoid statements. Siryn has it right.

We move on.

Marie Nakatani weighed in briefly as well:

And here we have a perfect example of the issue at hand. Everyone has a different attitude towards things.

I can understand where DeeJay is coming from (but not agree). For example in rl I am deeply offended every time I see a woman in a chador (burkha). That a woman's freedom is curtailed in such a way because of a book written about an imaginary friend around 1300 years ago should be illegal.

In sl though if someone wants to wear one, that's fine. In theory we're all adults in here and I know that it's free choice not cultural oppression.

It always makes me go all gooey when I see obvious signs of affection between couples, and I don't care what gender they are. However, you move it over the line into public sex and I'll turn the hose on you.

Same in SL, you want to use the furniture in my shop to have sex, you'll get a flying lesson.

She also makes an excellent point--several of them, in fact. Love should be celebrated, at least in a virtual space where we don't have to fixate on "right" or "wrong" genders; there's nothing wrong but we make it wrong, to our own definitions; and we each have lines of "allowable" and "unconscionable", and those are going to vary wildly, depending on age, race, religion, gender, and cultural bias.

And people who have sex in public stores are just tacky as all get-out and deserve bouncing. :D

Puppet Shepherd brings up Gor and "adult" considerations:

However, the Gor model I frequently see of taking one's slaves out in public, nude or barely clothed in 'silks', and having the slaves down on the ground in that odd posture when not walking should be considered 'adult', in my opinion. It's the whole combination, not just the collar - mostly the public display of nudity combined with the posturing - which makes me think that belongs in the privacy of one's home, not out shopping.

Put some clothes on the 'girl' and let her walk and stand normally when outside your realm, please. That's all I ask.

You know...much as I am enthusiastically for self-expression...this is not the worst concept. I admit, my relationship to silks and nadu--that's the name of the "odd posture", Puppet, in case you were curious--mostly comes from having a Gorean (well, semi-Gorean, red silk unrestrained) boss, and working in a strip club; it doesn't come from spending time in the Gor lands.

I will say something else, though--two of my friends in world are Gorean. They are Gorean, so very much in that "men are better than women" headspace--but he's fine with those not Gorean, and female, being of worth; and she's capable of standing up for herself, when needed.

And the big thing? When they're out in the world, and away from bondage clubs or Gor lands, she doesn't wear silks. She wears her collar, yes; but away from the Gor lands, she dresses according to place.

Still, this aside? By and large, there's a very big point to understand, here. Trying to control "adult" content--in terms of prim furniture, adult-themed businesses, adult sims--that's one level of hassle. That's nearly impossible, just there.

But trying to control "adult" content in terms of dress? Yeah, we're very nearly talking Thought Police at that point. What is "adult" to one person--showing ankles; showing face--would be incredibly tame compared to the people who think calf-length skirts are all right. And even to those people, knee-length skirts might be okay, but microskirts are right out.

And that's without even tossing in the folks who, because Second Life is a game, will dress however they want because what does it matter? If "adult" means "no photorealistic genitalia", then this outfit would be very nearly staid--I mean, it's not as if they're trying to walk around in silks, right? Or nude?

[*coughs* That was the safest-for-work nude I could find, by the way...]

And past all that are the folks who are just in this for the jest of it. They'll wear whatever they want, whenever they want, whenever they want to. They'll go shopping in a strap-on and have sex in public places and chase people down with floating pink penii that shriek catchphrases if they touch anyone. It's going to happen. Because people are people, and a very large number of them are people who don't think, and don't particularly feel motivated towards thinking anything through at all.

[*coughs* I'd mention Stiv again, as prime example, he of the Desu Desu bomb he set off in Steelhead one day--but the boy's now taking anthropological sociology classes. I have fear.]

The point is, it won't matter if every potential thing that is "adult"-rated (which, at this point, seems entirely under user control anyway) is actually rated "adult"--that still leaves the people to enforce the policies, many of which will get it wrong, or won't follow the rules in the first place.

It. Won't. Work.

Siryn Rosse's response to this I'm quoting in full:

And this is where we get into the subjective arguments, and why it's going to be so hard to reach agreement on what is adult and what is not.

A nude woman (or man) walking around could probably be classified as "adult", but what if she's wearing a bikini? Now let's say we have two women in bikinis (or silks) which cover the "important" parts. If one of these women is wearing a collar, should we put restrictions on where she may go?

Now let's say both these women kneel. Should the collared woman be AR'd for doing this in a PG or Mature zone? What about the woman who's not wearing a visible collar? Does she also merit an AR?

The possibilities are endless, and it's going to be damn difficult to address all of them. And this is BEFORE the logistical nightmare of getting everybody moved, not to mention enforcing all these new regulations.

Precisely. "Nightmarish" doesn't go far enough, frankly.

Wikipedia, in describing their working procedures, urges the calm approach more than once, because they realize--their readership and authorship being scattered across the playing field, as it were, from a multitudinous array of cultures, religions, ages, all fall into a rather odd little psychological deficit--that of being able to say things, on the net, in ways one would never say them to the face of another living being. Most of us, even when opposed, will seek restraint before confrontation (yes, even me), because we seek accord with the main social group for us (however we perceive that social group).

The net is wide and vast, and has many pockets of oddity--the singular thing that is universal to all experience with the net is the curious ability to enhance intimacy (precisely because we do not have full access to the other body), as well as destroy it (because we fool ourselves into thinking we can say whatever we want, it's not like any of this is "real").

We are falling into the latter, in the thread, as it devolves and deepens (in pages, not relevancy).

I've only reached page 96, but I'm tying it up here with a point towards Kalderi Tomsen's excellent forum post; for those who can't access it, here's what leapt out at me as most relevant:

Arguments of the fora about whether it's a good idea or not, or whether a Disney continent would be a better solution aren't going to find much resonance with LL - it seems they have already decided (after much, or little, consideration). They obviously have their reasons for doing it - strong reasons, because in the short term I think they actually stand to lose money from this, due to lost business by the very lucrative adult community and the disruption of it. My guess is that their backers are insisting on it and that LL are concerned that they may lose their backing. That would be a prime motivator, because without the backers, I think SL would collapse.

If that is the reason, then it's the backers that are going to have the final say on what "adult" is. From what little I know, they aren't giving any direction, they're just going to tell LL when it's "good enough" or not. Comparisons with what is done in other societies, or even in the US, aren't relevant - this is a society separate from any nation, and LL can make the laws whatever it wishes. Those may well be biased by whatever the backers want, of course - they have to be.

We keep coming back to this point. Our world? No longer. Our imagination? Only if we play by their rules. Rights? No rights. Their world, their decision to make, ours to endure it or leave, and to try to guide where we can, knowing they may not listen to any of it because what we think will work, isn't in their diagram specs.

All we can hope is that, in the end, what they finally decide to do, either collapses utterly, and things go back to the jagged status quo, or our influence is faintly heard, and the crumbs we're then offered to compensate are deemed worthy enough to stay in the game.

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