Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I believed in your confusion, so completely torn

I love it when I'm right.

Miss Jameson tipped me to the Clockwork Cabaret podhosting site. They play what they call "the music o' gears", which includes:

jazz, blues, goth, folk, swing, gypsy punk, dark cabaret, steampunk, classical and other related genres.

And that's mostly been my pool of influences for everything I'm trying to do in identifying steampunk music.


Meanwhile, back to slogging through the forums.

Page 133, TLMars Bookmite's response to Nany Kayo struck me:

That work that would so greatly offend you has allowed me in my relatively short time here in SL to speak at a media event and also be interviewed in an high [quality] SL magazine where I was able to talk about sexual abuse and domestic violence and the recovery process. I was able to EDUCATE "because of" my work.

It's a damned good point. The SL sex industry is not just perverts in rubber, alien tentacle sex, homosexuality--whatever your personal line of "that's not RIGHT" is. It's also sex educators, sex therapists, sociologists observing the line between fantasy and reality, psychologists using SL as a platform to treat domestic abuse sufferers and rape victims, lay sex workers who speak on how to keep women (and some men) safe on the streets, and much more. It's not all just people bumping pixels; it's more than that.

You claim to care about the poor. Nany, I am poor. One of those very very poor. SL is providing me a way to attempt to make my own way in this world without being a looter - by giving me a way to both sell my art here and also promote my online gallery.

Oh, but Miss Bookmite, poor you may be, but you're not native and poor. Thus, you are beneath Nany's notice. Surely you understand.

There are a lot of people here who are going to suffer financial & other loses because of a few inconsiderate and selfish jerks. Those of us who have been considerate [neighbors] and residents are going to suffer because of others who are not. In essence we are paying for crimes [committed] by others.

[ ... ] The reason you have angered and offended so many is that you come across so very self-righteous. You act as if we are beneath you. We are not Nany. As Lord Sullivan suggested to you [earlier], a little tolerance of others would go a long way.

Damn straight it would. And it's to her detriment that she can't see that.

You know what really offends me in all of this? Forget the politics and the bureaucratic moments of the business of SL--we are given a world, that does not have to be bound by the frailties of meatspace; our physical issues, our emotional ones, our hatred of other races, creeds, colors, faiths, sexualities--and we are determined to drag each and every petty, bitter failing of our species into world with us.

We can be more than this, we are more than this--why don't we see it? Why don't we respond to it? I have fundamentalist Christian friends on the grid. I have friends who loathe homosexuality in all forms. I have friends who hate women. I have friends who hate furs. I am friends with them, and I do not believe I have placed my loyalties lightly.

Am I a friend with every kneejerk reactionary, every datamancer with a grievance? Of course not. I choose my friends, by and large, with great care. But I chose them not because of what they believed in, but because of who they were.

I'm not as close to everyone these days, and I know it's a failing, one I accept and am working on. But I still remember those friendships, and still support in ways I can, even if it's just to talk or listen. If the faces of my friends in world would stand against me in the real, screaming to my face on how I should burn for my choices--at least here, at least on the grid, they are seeing past that.

Why can't we? What stops us but us? What stops Nany Kayo from getting out of her own way, loosening that iron chain of intransigent pride she's so very carefully wrapped around herself, as shield and weapon both?

The great leaders of any nation, Cherokee or otherwise, understood this. The great leaders knew that life is compromise; that to gain, to remain, sometimes we must fail in some of our goals, or at least give up on some of them. To better protect all, sometimes there needs to be sacrifice.

Nany, it seems, would sacrifice every one of us if it would protect her MacArthur Foundation grant. More fool her for making untenable decisions.

Katheryne Helendale was wondering the same thing:

Please explain how Second Life can be used as a platform for facilitating a real-world economic recovery of your constituents. In other words, how can Second Life be used as a means of meeting one's real-life three basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter?

Now, please explain how Second Life can be used to those ends once "your world" has been purged of 90% of its economic base?

We'll just wait over here, Nany, while you think about your answer.

At the bottom of page 133, Nany responds:

I don't believe SL will be purged of 90% of its economic base. It may be purged of 90% of your economic base if you are engaged in sex trade.

In other words: "I'm not going to answer, and what you do is wrong anyway, so it's a good thing you're going."

There are astonishing opportunities to use this technology for real world business and education - so many it is difficult to begin to narrow the scope down to something that can be said in 10 minutes, I am discovering.

In other words: "I'm not going to answer, and SL is better used for education and business anyway."

Well, good to know she "responds" to honest questions asked...

I'm done with her.

....well, okay, outside of this:

Are you aware that there are nonprofits providing services to sexual abuse survivors and [transsexuals] on PG sims here in Second Life? They won't be asked to move anywhere. Why would you?

Now, that's an interesting point. First, of course, Nany's entirely missed what TJMars Bookmite does--beyond her work as a lecturer and educator, she runs a gallery devoted to female domination of men using graphic computer-generated imagery (Poser, to be precise). They feature full frontal female and male nudity, so she's going to have to move; that's not surprising.

But if anyone's forgotten, let me remind people that according to XStreetSL, transgender images or topics are considered too extreme for non-adults (defined as age 18 or older). So it's well within the realm of at least external observation that people are linking even transsexual avatars with explicit "adult" content.

It's a specious argument at best that Nany's trying to make--that of "If you truly are an educator, and not a perverted sexual deviant, why would you have to move? You'd only have to move to Pornodelphia if you are a perverted sexual deviant."

*shakes head* Yeah, so had it with Nany.

Blondin Linden finally surfaced again, and Lord Sullivan had some pointed questions he wanted answered:

We need to know why this change is happening, not corporate BS but a clearer reason than "we just want to clean the grid for others". What are the real honest reasons for this policy change LL and who is driving it forward at LL HQ?

It's a point, and it's definitely something we want to know. Blondin took another stance on it...

Tough questions

Right now, our priority is what it has been since we announced the plan - to gather feedback. Once the the feedback has been collected, the priority will be the creation and implementation of a plan that has the least amount of community disturbance. We want to try and make the process as painless as possible.

We always intended Second Life to be a platform that could be used for the widest range of applications as possible. And as Second Life has grown in size, the diversity of its Residents has also grown. As such, we need to support everyone's needs and choices. This is why we have made this decision.


So, no real concrete answers, then? Good to know.

Blondin blithely skipped off for another twenty, thirty posts, which led us to Lindal Kidd:

Originally posted by Blondin Linden:

"We always intended Second Life to be a platform that could be used for the widest range of applications as possible. And as Second Life has grown in size, the diversity of its Residents has also grown. As such, we need to support everyone's needs and choices. This is why we have made this decision"

This is pure NewSpeak.

You ALREADY have a platform that "can be used for the widest range of applications as possible." Everything from IBM to Fancy Nancy's Fairy FroliXXX is here already.

SL ALREADY supports everyone's "needs and choices". Hundreds of us have already pointed out that you are proposing to take AWAY choices. It's Nany's *choice* as to whether she visits a PG sim or a sex club on a Mature sim. It's my choice if I go to a philosophy discussion at Metanomics or a wild nude party. We HAVE choice.

What you really mean is, "a few puritanical prudes want to impose their view of the world on everyone, and we are going along with it because it will get us favorable press."

This is a bad decision. This is a bad decision. This is a bad decision. We've given you better alternatives many times in the last several weeks. Unmake your bad decision and trade it for a better one.

They won't, I know they won't, everyone reading this knows they won't--but, you know, it's like whistling in the dark, or continuing to strive against overwhelming odds--I'm programmed to protest even when it makes no difference in the end. Flailing against futility, maybe.

More than that, though, Lindal's not wrong. Even more, considering Blondin's quoted words, which, while not actually NewSpeak, are pretty damned vague, all things considered. A platform truly dedicated to the "widest range of applications [ ... ] possible" would not be concerned about forming an entire "adult continent"...on a grid where everyone is presumed to be over 18, anyway.

And with another of Lindal Kidd's posts from page 148, I'm giving up for the day:

LL says they want to make everyone's Second Life experience more predicatble. OK, let's take that to its logical conclusion.

1. Remove anonymity. Every resident is given their own Real Life name, and an avatar corresponding to their Real Life gender.

2. Remove all resident-generated content. Only Linden-approved content will be used. This has the added advantage of greatly reducing the load on the asset servers. Sims won't be overloaded with all those weird prims, textures, and scripts.

3. Remove economic uncertainty. Land will no longer be sold, except by LL. Everyone who owns land will pay tier directly to LL, in real currency.

4. Remove the linden dollar. Since residents won't be creating and selling their creations any more, the $L is redundant. Keep XStreet open, and let residents purchase Linden-approved items there for real world currency.

There you go, Blondin. Safe, clean, predictable.

Say...does any of that remind you of IMVU? Isn't that being described these days as an Epic Fail? Never mind that, though. Gotta have predictability.

True. Gods help us all if our even virtual life experiences aren't predictable and completely free of anything that might complicate our thinking. We can't be complex beings, no, of course not. We must preserve our rights, including the right to be offended, and the right not to see anything we might deem icky or disturbing.

I'm reminded strongly of Kurt Vonnegut's story, Harrison Bergeron. In that society, complete equality was brutally enforced. Anyone of above-average intelligence was sentenced to wearing ear transmitters, that by law sent out large, varying sounds to disorient deep thought. Dancers were forced to wear weights on their ankles, and masks on their faces, so they wouldn't be any more graceful or beautiful than anyone else. All thought, creativity, and beauty had fled the world.

It's a broadly sarcastic story, there's no chance of misinterpetation. Vonnegut doesn't slice lines with a scalpel, he hacks at our reading minds with a bloodied cleaver in one hand, a hammer in the other. The story is anything but subtle.

But then, neither is the whole "adult" content debate. It's not subtle. It's reductive, it's invasive, it's unnecessary and it's happening anyway. All we can do is watch the train wreck come, essentially, and comment on how pretty the metal looks ablaze.

It won't be the grid we know when it's done. Here's to it being something we can at least tolerate once the continent is live. Because if it's not, I don't want to stick around and watch more restrictions come into play, whether that's the Labs' intention or not.

I don't think, I really don't think, I could bear that.

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