Thursday, April 9, 2009

how do we relight the flame when it's cold

Commonsensemedia offers a moderately startling (because it's rational) review of Teen Second Life. Go them.

And back to the adult fare.

At the very bottom of page 30, Lindal Kidd offered a somewhat startling observation:

The new continent, "Ursula", is in the process of being put in place and terraformed. At least at present, it appears that minimal thought and effort is going into the design. Slartibartfast is NOT working on this one.

It's just a grid of flat rectangular sims, separated by narrow waterways. Your basic "tropical island waffle" estate sim, writ large.

But not large enough. The new continent looks to be around 250 sims...which would be OK, if LL's estimate of "2-4%" adult content is correct. But we all know that's ten times too low an estimate.

Oh, the hell. I would think with this much riding on public opinion of Linden Labs, there would at least be more thought put into it than two hundred and fifty mysteriously square islands!

And really--really, now--two hundred and fifty sims? They think they're only going to need to offer up two hundred and fifty moving parcels? Or what?

Kidd made another pointed comment one page after:

This whole scheme is completely unworkable as LL has set it up, because to work, you would have to do five impossible things:

1. Define "what is Adult".
2. Insure privacy. "In the privacy of their own homes" means NOTHING in SL.
3. Implement an identity/age verification scheme that actually works. It must be usable by all, difficult to spoof, reliably protect users' personal information, and accurately identify those who are and are not verified. (Note that even the government and banks fail at this. We routinely hear of databases of personal information being hacked or stolen).
4. Give existing land owners a fair swap.
5. Implement a search filtering system that effectively filters out adult results without losing non-adult ones.

You've tried and failed at several of these things before. The ones you haven't yet tried to do are even harder.

I don't mind if LL wants to beat their heads against a stone wall, that's your privilege. But please stop flinging the rest of us against that wall along with you.

I still shudder when Deltango Vale uses "Xtreme" as the word of choice for the new sim description, but this comment I wholeheartedly agreed with:

Don't force people to move. Don't treat sexuality as a blight to be frog-marched out of society; treat it as a blessing for which a new continent is an enhancement, a magnet, a new opportunity. Use the carrot rather than the stick.

I think that, right there, has been my problem with this entire issue. Not the moving; not the impossibility of doing something that pleases the majority of those having to move. This idea, this growing concept, of sexuality as a bad thing that needs to be pushed into a dark room along with all the other "bad" things.

And I say that living in, and working in, several Victorian-themed sims.

There is a difference, a vast difference, between discretion and isolation. There is a great difference between sexuality and shame. Do I want to have sex in the public square? Of course not. Do I want to live in a society that realizes that sexuality is a vital part of experience? Yes.

This move, this continent, this entire feels like purging to me. It feels like denial. It feels like yes, segregation, so that only the "good"--by the Labs' definition of "good"--businesses and individuals will remain. "Clean" businesses. "Wholesome" businesses.

I don't want to live in a world where I have to guard what I say, guard whom I say it to, guard my attire, my appearance, where I choose to go. I'm already in that position when I walk the grid as a doll--I have to make sure enough of that doll registers as "adult female" or I risk being AR'ed as someone engaged in "ageplay"--a term that used to mean something entirely different than it does now on the grid, after Germany.

I don't like feeling paranoid, feeling like I'm being watched, feeling like I can't speak, can't express, can't exist. It's stifling. It's not in any way fun. And since, for me as well as others, a large part of Second Life is the ability to relax and get away from First Life pressures...feeling like I can't breathe on the grid means I don't want to be on the grid.

That's not good, either.

Very Keynes ponders a thought:

Those who do not relocate, but have anything not PG in their homes, will throw up ban lines and access lists and protect sky-boxes with security orbs, rather than risk being AR'd by wandering prudes.

We may get Adult businesses off the mainland but we could also inherit a siege mentality amongst those that remain.

I'm surprised, honestly, that this came up so late in the conversation. It's practically guaranteed this will happen.

Shockwave Yareach addresses the Lindens directly:

Remember the opensim debacle? You could have stopped selling them - you didn't. You could have found the big offenders and corrected them - you didn't. You could have addressed the problem in a hundred ways. But your solution was to cut the prims and raise the price, following some obsolete management guide from the 60s. What was the result of your stubborness? How many simulators are now sitting offline and unused in Dallas - servers that you are still having to pay for?

Had to be said.

This had to be said also:

The definition of Madness is to keep doing the same thing over and over, and expect a different result. We are trying to give you better ways of accomplishing your stated goals. You aren't listening to us... just like you didn't listen in the voidsim disaster. We are willing to be good customers because we do love our virtual world and we want you to succeed. But we can't steer this ship away from the rocks - only you can do that. All we can do is tell you where the rocks are and how to get clear of them.

Shockwave has a definite point, there, too. It's not our world, so we can't just turn on the brakes and coast to a halt. All we can do is reach out from the back seat, telling the Lindens to turn before the wall. Meanwhile, they seem engaged in endless meetings, and don't even appear to be watching the road...

Ciaran Laval made me giggle:

1. They obviously got overexcited on this and suffered premature explanation. Now they're sorry about that and trying to fix it and won't let it happen again.

What a way to put it...

Then Photon Toyoska had to get all unionized on us:

Well I'm going to call you out Linden Labs, if you think this is such a small issue, affecting a small proportion of people, then lets see. I think we are bigger than you! Yes you hear me - we - the builders of your world will put our foot down. We are SL!


Yeah, um...much as I'm listing the highlights of the protesting voices, here? I must reiterate: SL IS NOT A DEMOCRACY. Truthfully, they're a business; ideologically, they're a mostly benevolent dictatorship. What they say goes. If they say tomorrow all of us have to become small pastel ferrets, then our choice is to comply or leave.

All we can hope to do is persuade them--and threatening their bottom line? Is not the most effective persuasion. Because once you and your potential "thousands" of users leave? The Labs will just market up a new campaign that will replace every last one of you with people strung along on chains of vague promises.

I'm all *for* a walk-out, obscurely--but at that point, keep walking. They won't be able to push around users they can't find.

Anabella Spark failed to get it, as well:

It is time that SL residents strike back. This is our world. We created it. Nothing can stop revolution. Remember that without you this entire SL project would be impossible. We are the people - not the drones. We have our dignity. The time to act is now. Do not be afraid.

Tch. How to strike back? Protest in print. On the forums, on the web. Protest in person--during office hours, as many as we can attend. Send notecards. Send IMs.

Nothing else will ever work. We may be the residents of the grid, but it's still the Lindens' grid. NOTHING CHANGES THAT.

Though it wanders far afield from the main, I had to quote the end of Puppet Shepherd's post:

And what is this business about furries being "mature" and lumped in with sexy clothing and naked human skins??? Are you saying that LL's stance is that simply being a creature with fur is some sort of non-PG activity???

*falls down laughing*


Okay. See, this is what kills me, there are so many varieties of fur out there, but if one isn't in the fur community (on or off the grid), the predominant image in peoples' minds--if they have one at all beyond "They dress up in what?!?" thoughts--is:

1. All furs are gay. (And I mean that in the literal sense, the supposition being that they're all, one hundred percent of all, gay men under the plush.)

2. All furs--being all gay men, see--want sex all the time.

So in the minds of many people, just being a fur, any fur, of any gender--means you're gay and want to yiff constantly. That all you think about is sex. That all you want out of life is sex, and sex in every perverted variation the goggling minds trying to think through this can imagine.

I think my friend Serenity--who's very straight, very Republican and very female--would have a problem with that concept...And she's not the only one.

But, as said, this takes us off track. I just wanted to note the hysteria of that comment and move on.

Past fifty pages in, I admit, my steps more than started to drag...I was just exhausted hearing the same rants, the same questions, the same demands, over and over, with nary a Linden in sight. Ian Undercroft's observation caught me, though:

I own such an island and do not use it for commercial purposes. I have not sought to restrict access to groups or specified individuals as I cannot see the point. I used to allow the island to appear in search. Since removing it from search I have wooden signs on the pathways leading from the teleport location saying "Private Land. Please Leave". Ironicially, since the land has been removed from search the only univited visitor has been a LL crawler bot! I have a relatively small number of sex items there but you would need to explore to find them. The said items are hardly ever used. To the casual observer everything appears tasteful and respectable. Birds and insects fly and sing, ducks swim and quack, and waves roll and roar.

The majority of people in my contact list are age verified or PIOF. I will reclassify "adult" as I have no intention whatever of removing the small number of sex items and succumbing to this moral crusade on the part of LL. It will mean that a friend who has resided in a PG build on my island for the best part of year and who is not age verified and has no PIOF will have to leave. That seems such a shame and needless. It will also mean that some other residents will no longer be able to visit me and attend, typically, non-adult parties on a terrace overlooking the ocean with not an "adult" poseball or "adult" piece of furniture anywhere close by. To my mind this is a completely ridiculous situation.

I agree. And he's right. On virtually all of my parcels, and all parcels I've owned previously, there have been adult poseballs, at the least, if not full equipment. The equipment and pose sets are not "public", as we on the grid understand such things--id est, anyone determined can port right in, but there's that presupposition that if it's not visible on the ground, then it's meant to be myself, and those I choose to invite up, only--but they are there, they have been there. Do I consider my work studios public spaces? No. But are they barred by ban lines and security orbs? No.

While it does not seem to be their intent, a case could be made that the work studios, by virtue of equipment, and the "cuddle garden" in Rivula in ages past, would qualify as "adult" due to what animations could be found within them, even discreetly tucked away. Were I being completely circumspect--which I won't be--I'd likely shrug and list all my lands as "Adult", but then I'm barring customers from my shop (the one place without "adult" animations), and barring anyone who wishes to wander around on the ground, on land I own.

I don't want that, either. There seems to be no effective middle ground.

Think this has gone on long enough, I'll only post one more, which happens to be Blondin Linden's response to Dekka Raymaker:

Originally Posted by Dekka Raymaker
The big question being, how do you protect 'Age Verified' residents who inadvertently land on the Adult Continent and don't want to see that content?

If a resident does not wish to encounter this type of material then they should have the choice not to. Access to Adult content will be a choice offered to all residents. Its an interesting question and I'm not sure exactly how to answer it. What do you suggest?


Okay, whoa, just wait. All this fuss, all this bother, to ensure that "extreme" content, involving violence, sex or both, be relocated to land that can be generally barred from anyone not age- and payment- verified...but then the plan is to throw open all content to ALL RESIDENTS.

Are they KIDDING?!?

Access to Adult content will be a choice offered to all residents.

Man, I am hoping beyond hope that's a typo--that what Blondin meant to say was, all residents previously age- or payment- verified.

Access to Adult content will be a choice offered to all residents.

Because if not? We're back at ground zero again...and all of this will have meant nothing.


Rhianon Jameson said...

"This idea...of sexuality as a bad thing....And I say that living in, and working in, several Victorian-themed sims."

Actually, I see no contradiction between the two statements, Miss Orr. One gets the impression that in the actual 19th century sexual innuendo was common (perhaps in a less-overt way than we have now). In a Victorian (quasi-) role-playing community, the coy references are, if not half the fun, at least a goodly percentage of the fun. And, in any event, one of the pleasures of neo-Victorianism is to take tropes of the 19th century and give them a 21st-century twist. But I agree with the thrust (ha!) of that part of your comment, that there's a time and place for everything, and that circumspection is often a good thing.

Emilly Orr said...

Well, and gently perverting accepted tropes is always an amusing diversion. While Lord Bardhaven went far beyond such things, he also knew the value of dropping a single word, one slightly twisted concept, into the conversational pool and then watching the ripples.

I admit I've done the same thing myself from time to time.

The real tragedy for me is, I know we have these straitlaced sorts in Caledon. I know they're there, the ones who want no reference at all to sexuality in any form, and who bleat and bemoan their fate at whatever they find, to whomever will listen--be that neighbor, business-owner or Guvnah.

But I truly believe even they would not be happy if every prim, every bit of pixel cloth, every possible attachment were banned from the grid. Removing all sexual content is only slightly worse than removing all content from "official" view.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

*begins checking the Wynx catalogue for small pastel ferrets

Furries are all gay yiffers 24/7. Yes! That explains it!

Her Lyonesse? Yep
Elda? Yep
Kandace? Yep
Mr. Scaggs? Yep

Obviously! I have been so blind. It all makes sense now!

Emilly Orr said...

*cackles insanely*

Don't forget the entirety of Raglan Shire, in your figures.

(Though the concept of Tiny sex? Makes my brain curl for some reason.)