Thursday, April 23, 2009

how much can you take before you snap?

The world has its first fully digital pop star. This is "melody..." in English, and this is "Yukkuri Shiteitte ne!!!" in original Japanese, and...this is Israel's national anthem?? Also Still Alive.

According to her creators, she's sixteen, and is beginning to write her own songs to pair with digitized melodies. I'm not sure if that's accurate or not, but it's fascinating if true. She seems to exist partially in 3D, and partially in two-dimensional, drawn animated states. Sort of like the Gorillaz' Noodle went to Japan, and this was the penpal she met to spend time with.

Soanyway. Back in we go, to the forum thread that cannot end soon enough at this point.

But speaking of that, Cristopher Lefavre made an excellent point on pornography, and art, and the blurring of the lines between them:

I would consider Quentin Tarantino's movie "Pulp Fiction" to be a work of art, but it does contain scenes with lots of blood and gore. Some people will certainly be offended by it.

I would consider Salvador Dali's picture «One Second Before Awakening from a Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee Around a Pomegranate» to be a work of art, but it does contain a drawing of a nude women. Some people may be offended by it.

My nightmare vision of the thoughts that LL is now doing is that every depiction of nudity and violence that may offend someone will be force moved to the red light district, effectively shunning it out of SL because most artists will not like their work to be associated with porn. I have no problem avoiding porn in SL, but I guess I would if I had to search for art exhibitions in the middle of an «adult continent» filled with porn shops.

Another effect this will have is to create a marketplace for porn in SL, actually raising the number of porn-related SIM's and the use of SL as a platform for porn.

So please, even if it makes it harder to enforce: [Don't] do a syntactic definition of adult content. Make sure artistic impressions are still free to be displayed outside the porn continent.

Nany Kayo had bleated a few single-line posts before Noxx Everidge responded:

I don't know why these people can't stand their own childern. I don't care.

(*left unedited; the sole entry for forum post 2388.)

I want our kids here with us.

(the sole entry for forum post 2391.)

This was Noxx's response:

Nany, I socialize with my children in real life. They don't need to be on SL until they're old enough to use the web unsupervised. It's the same reason I don't give my child a MySpace page, an AOL Screen Name, or even so much as a WoW toon. SL is not a place for children. Disney and Nickelodeon offer services for that. Buy them Animal Crossing if you want them to have a safe and friendly game. No amount of rule enforcement offers 100% protection on any service, let alone one that is built on the foundation of user-made content. This isn't about us not wanting kids around. This is about ridiculous changes for the purpose of making SL more marketable to corporations. We can expect billboards to go up next. SL Advertising, the wave of the future.

EXACTLY. This is not about child hate. This is not about denying the underage access to SL's wonderful opportunities. I just don't want a thirteen-year-old tagging along even through the cuddlesome Lost Gardens of Apollo, say, let alone shopping at Kayliwulf Kingdom! I don't want to round the corner in a dark roleplay sim and hear two obviously underage guys talk about how evil homework was in social studies that day while watching a werewolf make his victim hit E above middle C.

Why am I the bad guy for wanting adult experiences left adult? Not everything is for children, and it shouldn't be!

Case in point, Fawkes just sent me a link to the Bang! Heroes Flash game. It's fun, it's bouncy, there are steambots! May take me a while to get the hang of jumping, but jumping's always been a fail point in games for me. And then I caught the posts scrolling up below the game:

[ cutiegirl, Thursday, 23rd April ] hey boys anyone want to lay me i got big tits
[ dragonkiller, Thursday, 23rd April ] hi kickbutt38
[ kickbutt38, Thursday, 23rd April ] hey cute girl i want to get laid
[ h, Thursday, 23rd April ] runes u mega nerd chick i wanna lay u
[ cute girl, Thursday, 23rd April ] im a cute girl who wants 2 get laid
[ runes, Thursday, 23rd April ] runescape rules!
[ guy, Thursday, 23rd April ] wow this game sucks
[ edinburgh, Thursday, 23rd April ] any cute girl who wants to get laid tonight, im quite buff and nice
[ nikki, Thursday, 23rd April ] i suk nikki

Sex? Is everywhere. Should kids be exposed to it? I think they should have a basic understanding, yes--because their own hormones, once they reach puberty, are going to drive them insane, and abstinence education is, start to finish, an abysmal failure.

Do I think they should be wandering in and out of SL's fleshpots freely? NO. But, by that same extension, do I think SL should be made safe for kids, so they won't come across anything they can't handle, or that their parents don't want them to see?

NO. Not only no, but HELL no. And there's the argument. And beyond even the obvious insanity of making adult sex safe for children, what about adult topics?

Do I think I can have an involving, reasoned debate on the moral qualms and conundrums inherent in the choices open to parents of a son who kills his girlfriend (either pro or con)? Do I think I can have an involving, reasoned debate on whether or not fundamentalists who shoot abortion doctors can effectively use the Christian Bible as defense of their actions? Do I think any thirteen-year-old on the planet can adequately reason, either pro or con, on the morality and ethics involved in seeking consent to at another human being?

Let me be plain here: I am not saying kids aren't smart. Many of them are. Many of them I value deeply their outlook on the world, I am astounded and amazed at their thinking processes, I am given hope by these kids for the future of this country, and all the others.

But there are certain concepts that people just shouldn't deal with before they're at least eighteen. Or twenty-one. Or thirty. Pick your arbitrary number--but make sure it means, in some legal, defined sense, adult, and not underage.

Kara Bluxome brings it up again:

You are moving the majority of SL on to one continent, and leaving the rest to a minority. Dose that seam right? 90% of the sims I've seen are mature. So to pacify a small group you are going to move the large group? That's nuts.

How many times do we have to say this before the point sinks in? Oh, wait, it's not going to sink in.

On page 162, Dogboat Tauroq weighs in:

anyone want to buy a full sim?
600 USD almost 1 month tier paid on it.
im me inworld if interested - same name.

And another one leaves.

Vahn Dagger experiences a shocking thing:


I just read the Knowledge Base's article on age verification..

Charging a fee for age verification?
.. are you seriously even leaving that option open?
You're the ones forcing this upon us! There's NO reason anyone should be handing over a single penny for age verification purposes!

Oh, but you see, because they are having to contract out with a firm noted for reselling private information and data-mining for lobbyists, they can't actually foot the bill for demanding age verification for every resident of the grid, whether we want it or not--so they have to leave the charge option open, in case it begins to impact their profit margin.

Surely that's reasonable, yes?

Though in LL's defense, that's an old article, and the provisions for verification have substantially been revised since. (Though they're still using Aristotle/Integrity for their verification procedures.)

In response to another comment, Argent Stonecutter had an urgent question:

Originally Posted by JustAnother Lomu
I dont want to see unnatural sex stuff everywhere if I'm playing sl.

Where are you people hanging out that you see it "everywhere"?

No doubt.

GreenKnight Kaul echoes the sentiment:

Define unnatural sex stuff please?
Please also define Normal?
Please define your idea of pornography?

Personally I think people should be required to have a license to procreate. They should have enough stable income to support thier children, and any future children. They should have an IQ over 100. They should be held accountable for every action [their] child [takes], kid kills another, parents should be arrested and prosecuted for that. Anyone not meeting these requirements should be [sterilized]. But that is my personal opinion, and by no means would expect the world to live by them. I am by no means "normal" and proud of it.

I'm pretty much with GreenKnight, save for the sterilization. That's a touchy point for me, considering many states in the US routinely sterilized poor people until 1982. (And no, not kidding.)

But these are exactly the things the Labs need to realize they're facing, in trying to come up with these definitions and concepts: What is "normal"? What is "unnatural"? What is pornography?

Because I guarantee you, there is not a majority definition on any of these terms.

Deltango Vale gets it right again:

Linden Lab seems to have forgotten that Second Life is a VIRTUAL world. That which cannot be achieved in RL, due to physical, racial, gender, legal, professional, social, marital and financial constraints is possible in Second Life. This applies not only to Mitch Kapor's 'freaks', but to all of us.

Anyone who has been in Second Life for a year or more has witnessed the progression - within themselves and among their friends - from initial drama and/or sexual gluttony to calm maturity as RL frustration is sated by SL roleplay. It is nothing less than a social revolution with far-ranging consequences for mental health. I wonder how many RL rapes have been prevented because fantasies were unleashed in SL rather than RL. How much RL domestic violence has been reduced by membership in SL society? How many marriages have been saved by virtual rather than real mistresses?

And I have to enthusiastically agree with this, because it's absolutely true. Everyone who comes onto the grid comes on mentally/emotionally "younger"; I've seen it happen over and over again, in every community in which I'm involved, and with myself. We live on the grid, we have that moment of game-playing abandon, we learn to walk, we grow up.

Some people reach that point and log off, never to return. The rest of us want to find out what happens after we can relate to the world, and understand our place in't.

Patasha Mirikh begins the advance mourning of her business:

I have shown LL that 40% of my business comes from "free" accounts, and those accounts aren't newbies who just joined and hit a few lucky chairs on their way to my store. My animations are on the expensive side and when a 'free' account snaps up $L6000 worth of them it's fairly obvious to me that I WANT free accounts to have the ability to see my stuff. But alas Blondin has already slapped me down on that one, stating in no uncertain terms that if someone doesn't verify they don't get to see Painful Memories.. .... so I'm preparing for the worst, which com'on, lets keep this all in perspective. I mean I make a few thousand dollars a year off SL. If I really needed to make that money I could work a couple of shifts a week at starbucks part time. So I'm moving on to the acceptance of my fate phase of all this and getting all philosophical.

If a Linden Labs server crashes on the grid and there is no one around to get logged out, does it make a sound?

Nobody; we're not there, in that reality.

But in the reality where we are there, I am seeing the outlines of a more damaging financial change to SL in this: mainly, that there were already a ton of big-money players that left, when gambling--and financial speculating, in the forms of banks and virtual stock exchanges--went away. Now they're going to move/relocate/disturb hundreds, if not thousands, of virtual businesses and service-oriented operations, art galleries, discussion centers, and that will drive--in my opinion, conservatively--25% to 30% of current players in that realm directly from the grid.

One-quarter less players, playing on half as much money moving through the economy. Friends and neighbors, we're going to see a whole population struggling desperately to make rent on the grid.

Colleen Marjeta also makes a logical point in her forum post:

As a sim owner of 3 roleplay sims, which do have some mature content, I've got real concerns about this.

I see a couple of main issues here:

1) Age verification as it stands is broken. What happens to the landowners in my sims who are from Europe and don't have age verified accounts?

2) The [vast] majority of my players do not have age verified accounts. We've been making a huge effort and investment of both time and money to reach out to european players, virtually none of whom have age verified. What happens to my traffic when I lose those players?

What we're talking about here is a potentially severe economic impact on a thriving business. 95% of my players are not age verified. 95% of my STAFF is not age verified. 95% of the landholders who pay the monthly tier on my sims are not age verified.

These are necessary questions; they deserve honest, truthful answers, not Linden dodging about.

Also, is it just me, or are Nany Kayo and Wildcat Furse mostly just talking to each other?

Alisha Matova brings a bit of humor to the proceedings:

Is anyone else baffled by their use of AO? Are they realy that out of touch with us users?
Though I do see an easy fix to this whole mess. =P

/AO off

Point, yes. Were it only that easy...

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