Monday, April 20, 2009

listen to the warning

Chap rap. Don't blame me, blame Edward.

Does anyone know anything else about Deagan organ chimes? Apparently they fit into Edwardian (1900), if not Victorian instrumentation--and they have a truly fascinating sound. Here's an example of them in use, and the Dapper Dans again playing them.

But yes, we were still talking about Ursula, weren't we?

Ceera Murakami asks:

So the question before us is: Would we join a world where the company sponsoring the environment makes the residents pay for the company's mismanaged mistakes? Or, will we stay in SL, while LL insists on riding roughshod over its residents yet again, to correct a "problem" that only exists because Linden Lab CREATED this world in that image?

Pretty much, yeah.

Siryn Rosse offers a series of suggestions in his forum post; the one that made me laugh was this one:

4. I have segregated explicitly sexual animations to their own separate rooms, so nobody has to see them unless they choose to click on the explicitly named teleport markers. If you click on "XXX" expecting fluffy bunnies, I can't be held accountable for your terminal case of stupid.

A point we should all remember--we are not responsible for anyone else being too stupid to catch on.

It's all the same, really--someone can't type and makes mistakes, that's allowable. We may jest, we may make puns on the typos, but it's allowable. Someone can't type to the point where we're not sure they're even typing English? When English is supposedly their native tongue? Back away from the keyboard, learn where the keys are.

Someone really wants to dance in world, and they're two weeks from their eighteenth birthday, and they don't get caught doing it, fine. It's against the rules, but if they sounded adult enough, and weren't constantly clamoring for "teh sexx0rs", then I'm fine with it.

That same someone wants to dance in world, and they're two weeks from their thirteenth birthday? And they tell people? Too stupid to walk upright, go home.

There is a vast difference between ignorant-and-can-learn, and deeply, crushingly, stone-stick stupid. The deeply stupid won't catch on there's a problem; the deeply stupid barely understand the rules they read now, let alone later when there are (hoped for, but we know how the Lindens operate) clear divided content lines. All we can do with the deeply stupid is keep bouncing them out of our sims, banning them from our parcels, and warning our friends.

The ignorant can be taught. The deeply stupid? They "know everything" already, and they're not willing, able, or interested in learning anything else beyond their small stupid orbit.

Pretty Freck protests gently; but if you can't/don't want to read that, her basic points can be summarized as follows:
    * she is not payment-verified by choice; to retain anonymity, to keep herself safe
    * she is not identity-verified, likely for the same reasons
    * she plays in Mature sims and comports herself politely when far from their borders
    * she wants to serve, she wants to be respected for who she is, she wants to be valued for who she is; in any realm, when do those become bad things?
    * she spends real currency to support her virtual life
I think it's that last one that may matter most to the Lindens, but I have to admit, all of her points are valid.

Blondin Linden responded to someone else's post on page 101:

Originally Posted by Viciously Llewellyn
Does Linden Labs have a plan in place for dealing with this vacated land?

Ideas have been discussed. If we do a swap, even Steven on land, what would be fair for those who will have to move?

This is a topic on which the Lindens, in all their wisdom, have consistently failed to comprehend.

It's not about the direct, meter-for-meter, land swap. It's about the land choice.

Let me explain that. Say someone chose, as their land for their store, something with beach access, a pier, with gentle breezes swirling through the palms and plumeria bushes lining the front walk. Or say someone decided they wanted tundra, and specifically sought out land that had elevation, snow, pine trees secluding the store from most views.

Or my favorite, and I know several merchants who've done this--people who mapped out the Linden roads, and chose their parcels specifically because a Linden-rated road unspooled beside their land?

How do the Lindens replace these things on their continent separated into equal flat waffle squares of land and water? Have they even considered that?

Victoria Todd asks a pointed question:

Suppose my (nonexistent) Old West sim has saloons with rooms upstairs. We do not provide any prostitutes, but if people want to use these rooms to RP they are equipped with the appropriate animations. Some may do this for their actual sexual gratification, some for the giggles, some for strictly roleplay reasons that may or may not include actually USING the animations.

What I want to know here is, historic significance aside, is providing an occasion of sin enough to get a build declared Adult Content? Or does it have to offend in its own right with graphic images (either static or provided by sim staff/owners' avatars)?

Providing "an occasion of sin". I love that.

Beyond that wonderful phrase though, it's a good point: if you aren't actively soliciting clients using sexual terms in search, are you then an "adult" business? Or would that be reserved for "Muffy's Sex-o-Rama, triple-X frontal nudity sex sex sex shop"? Running Boot Hill for RP reasons, with a saloon bearing small hotel rooms upstairs, does that really count as fully "adult" in nature?

Midway down page 110, I had to mention Nany Kayo's blathering again:

Everyone knows that public sex is disreputable, even people who engage in it, profit from it and defend it.

Useless uptight friggin'...mrmblemumblemrmble...

Okay, okay, let me step back from wanting to smack her with a clue bat. After all, that might be considered overly violent. I just want to concentrate on this statement.

Maybe it's time I offered up a basic working definition of "public sex". Because maybe my definitions and everyone elses' don't match.

PUBLIC SEX: Sex, offered up with the intent to arouse others, or the direct participants, IN PUBLIC.

Strip clubs? Not public. Escorting? Not public. Dungeons? Not public. In the sense of not visible, out in the road, where everything's open-air and dotted with billboards featuring intimate acts.

Is that clear enough? Publically advertised dungeons, space stations, brothels, and dance clubs? Public spaces, but they are not specifically offering PUBLIC SEX.

Let's see if I can make this very plain and move on.

When I am onstage dancing, and I am removing clothing layers based on contributions from the crowd to see, I am dancing in public. I am not engaged in PUBLIC SEX. While that activity is Mature, it is not "Adult".

When I am buried to the full length of the toy attachment in a very tight portion of my boss's anatomy on the dance floor, on an elevated platform, and both of us are nude: PUBLIC SEX. That activity is "Adult", not Mature.

I hate to make things that graphic, but that's at least easily understandable, I believe, and I really, really doubt, personally, that the Lindens have a definition that is markedly different from that one.

So most of what happens in SL, unless one is specifically in an adult-themed roleplay sim, like Toxia, Necronom and Hard Alley? IS NOT PUBLIC SEX.

Grow the hell UP, Nany!

Kira Welty has one simple question on page 111:

When and why did the definition of mature become PG?

That's an excellent question, and one I enthusiastically second. Moreover, I would love to hear a Linden response to that. When did the definition of Mature change? Why? It worked before the change...didn't it?

Nany strikes again on page 112:

I get so tired of fakes claiming to be Native American. You people don't realize how easy it is to tell who is or is not Native.

With the right environment, we REAL Indians can educate the public to tell the difference, and put you fakes in the garbage where you belong.

It's an important job. It needs to be done. Real Indians need to be able to use this platform to make a real difference in their real lives.

Is it just me? When did this become about native peoples' rights? Native peoples are being harmed by SL adult content? Um, why? Is this a naive question?

Man, I hate to turn this into a Gor defense post, but if this tracks back to Norman's fantastical cultural cobble, lemme lay out a few things.

1. John Norman started writing the Gor books in 1966--well, let me temporize: he published the first Gor book in 1966, he may have been writing them far before the publication of Tarnsman of Gor.

2. Remember what 1966 was, beyond the ferment of cultural change: it was also the first time women stepped beyond the bounds of house-husband-family in large numbers. (At least in the US; efforts to recognize womens' rights independent of husband or family have existed in European countries, generally with greater success, since the 1940's.) With so many women stepping beyond the "traditional" responsibilities, there was bound to be some backlash against the emergent trend. John Norman--though heavily influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs' books on Conan, and on Barsoom and John Carter, stepped into that gap and produced an impressive--if, to me, not so impressively written--number of books, all tailored fairly distinctively to prevalent male fantasy.

3. On Gor, went the books, life was different; it was different partially because it was an alien planet, and different partially because the social rules were so markedly flipped: men were the dominant cultural force, women were designed to be more submissive, more giving, and were best pleased by serving men. John Norman said in the books--and there's evidence to support both the theory that these were fiction for him, as well as these were his personal beliefs--that this was how life evolved--on Gor. Thus, the "everyman" protagonists who arrive on Gor after long travel are flung full-tilt into the rationale that they can now "accept their natures", and move right in to the culture.

4. John Norman drew from a variety of sources to populate his forming world. He tossed in--and I think no one will defend that he didn't toss in nearly untouched--examples of cultures as far apart as the Vikings (Torvaldsland) and the Bedouins (Tahari desert region), and a lot in between (comprehensively detailing recognizeable world cultures from the Romans, the Greeks, the Inuit, and on down to the Mongols and yes, native Americans).

5. The "Red Savage" people of John Norman's books are the people that most closely resemble native Americans in any regard; if they're close at all to any particular tribe it's the Sioux, in the early stages of Sioux culture. A descriptive passage from Savages of Gor states:

"The Red Savages, as they are commonly called on Gor, are racially and culturally distinct from the Red Hunters of the north. They tend to be a more slender, longer-limbed people; their daughters menstruate earlier; and their babies are not born with a blue spot at the base of the spine, as in the case with most of the red hunters. Their culture tends to be nomadic, and is based on the herbivorous, lofty kaiila, substantially the same animal as is found in the Tahari, save for the wider footpads of the Tahari beast, suitable for negotiating deep sand, and the lumbering, gregarious, short-tempered, trident-homed kailiauk. To be sure, some tribes do not have the kaiila, never having mastered it, and certain tribes have mastered the tarn, which tribes are the most dangerous of all."

6. These were works of fantasy. Let me restate that, as it sounds vaguely important: THESE WERE WORKS OF FANTASY. They weren't intended to be textbooks, they weren't designed as accurate depictions of any existing culture. Fantasy. IMAGINATION. Do I need to say this any other way?

Does it bug Nany that, amidst the Middle Eastern baladi-style outfits, the medieval attire of the City nobles (depending on the city), and the pseudo-Victorian togs of the Free Women scattered throughout SL's Gor lands, can be found people who want to live out the lives of the Red Savages? Of course it does. Knowing that these folks name themselves (on occasion) in traditional "native" ways, and dress in beaded leather, moccasins, and feathers, living in small tribal groupings in tepees in various sims, does that bother her, too? I'm sure it does.

Does that mean she's wrong to feel that way? No. Does it mean she doesn't understand what they're doing? YES..

And how I adored Patasha Marikh in this moment:

To catch your edit: Tribes do not NEED SL for education. What we need for education is wise stewardship of resources allocated for education. Both the Tribes that are flush at the moment with Indian Gaming receipts and tribes who have decided not to participate in gambling. Quite frankly the Peoria model pleases me greatly. Any child in the Tribe who wants to go to college GOES! as long as they maintain a decent GPA the Tribe pays. SL is media, it's not an education program. The Tribes don't need SL anymore than they would need cable TV. LEARN THAT.


Rock. ON.

Let me add in something else here, considering the--past that point--deluge of responses from Pacific Islanders and native peoples combined: Nany Kayo is apparently part of the design team being funded by the MacArthur Foundation, as an educational grant/project to develop virtual tribal lands on the grid. So is she right when she says she represents native peoples on SL? Yes, according to the terms of the grant.

However, this fact should not subsume the knowledge that she really does have a mind as tightly closed as a welded iron sphere, and seems to believe, wholly and without reservation, that:

* Anyone who lives in non-traditional homes, like tepees or other native-influenced dwellings, is wrong and needs to be banned;
* Anyone who engages in Gorean practice outside Gor is evil and needs to be banned from the grid;
* And anyone who attempts to recreate part of a series of fantasy books set on an alien planet written more than four decades ago needs to be stopped and potentially banned from "destroying native expression", or some such.

It's ridiculous. It's sheerly ridiculous. This is a virtual world. Do I get upset when I see people in Nazi uniforms? Yes. If they're on my land, I ban them. If not, I leave where they are. Do I get upset when I see people wearing tartans who aren't tied in some aspect to Celtic peoples, though? NO, and there's the difference.

Valerius Constantine brings up 'freedom from offense' again:

Nobody has freedom *from* offense. I get offended every time I see one human being leading another by a leash, or some woman in silks referring to herself as "girl". but it *isn't* my business, unless they involve me beyond my just *seeing* them. If I go to something called a "sex mall", then I expect to see and hear things that I might not agree with. But *I* am the one to TP'd there.

Patasha Mirikh's entire post on page 116 bears reading, but this was the best part for me:

One simply can not claim to be of all American Indians. We have no national governance for Tribes other than the US Federal Government. Each Tribe negotiates separately with the BIA when the BIA looks at new rules and regulations. When the BIA rescinded Tribal constitutions in the 90's, each tribe rewrote their own, when new compacts are made with states/municipalities each Tribe negotiates for themselves.


Argent Stonecutter responds more cogently to Nany Kayo:

Originally Posted by Nany Kayo
The problem is, Second Life has been turned into a strip club.

You can make all the outrageous claims you want, but since you can't authenticate any of them you're not going to persuade anyone with them.

I have shown SL to my last three bosses, and not one responded by acting as if it was a "strip club", or a disreputable place to be involved in. Another guy I didn't, but I wouldn't have let HIM know I was interested in Warcraft or had a Playstation or played anything but Wii Tennis, because to him any kind of game that doesn't involve exercise is childish. One later said "you know, when you showed me SL I figured it was another dead end technology, but you seem to have picked a winner this time".

So the worst feedback I got about SL was that it might be a *technical failure*.

As far as I'm concerned, this is NOT ABOUT the "sex industry", this is about the disruption to the fabric of this "dead end technology".

Absolutely true, that.

Deltango Vale complains about American hubris:

The term 'adult' is employed with an American bias to mean 'pornographic', but in the rest of the world, the term 'adult' does not equal 'pornographic'. The very language used in this discussion is biased toward a US-centric view of the world.

In continental Europe, it is common to see 'pornographic' advertisements on television. Topless women appear daily in British tabloid newspapers and Parisian bus shelter posters. Japanese men read graphic novels on the subway. "Ebichu", a popular TV show in Japan, would be banned in 0.026 seconds in the United States. Belgian students fall over themselves laughing at "Man Bites Dog". By contrast, many Saudi women swim fully dressed at the beaches of Taba, Egypt - and you just try walking down the streets of Tunis as a woman with your long, blond hair uncovered!

[ ... ] Folks, get the picture here. No one holds a wet T-shirt contest in Salt Lake City. No one wears a Hijab in the casinos of Las Vegas. I give 100 people from 100 countries 100 photographs of human beings in various poses in various stages of undress and good luck deciding what is prudish, silly, normal, acceptable or pornographic. No matter how you twist and turn, there is no way to set 'community standards' on a virtual world as complex and diverse as Second Life - at least not without alienating a significant proportion of the population.

The only problem with saying this? The Lindens have stated more than once that, being a US company, they are forced to comply with US laws--and in general, just those laws.

On the other hand, that explains banking and gambling going away, and not ageplay, because what is illegal in Germany? Is not here.

Yet again, inconsistent application of declared rules...

Darien Caldwell--who may likely be very affected by this whole discussion--brings up a post by Professor Milos I'd managed to miss:

One of the key problems I think we face, is that we (humans, living in meatworld) tend to equate, or try to compare the virtual world (SL, in this case) to real life. It's a natural tendency, everyone does it to a greater or lesser degree and it has to do with things like our ability to defamiliarise, our levels of immersion, how we respond to fantasy and how we individually manage our emotions. Linden Lab knew this when they developed SL, we knew it when we signed up to be part of the experiment.

We even use the same terminology and language for things, which compounds the problem. We are invited to become 'Residents', our avatars have character, depth, they take shape, we build 'homes'. It all feels - even to the powers that manage the rules and 'standards' - like it's reality, when it's not, it's some sort of hybrid hyper-reality, in which meatworld humans are still on the first rung of the ladder of, evolutionary-wise.

However, as I see it, if Linden Lab want to develop their/our 'world' by responding to real life socio-fiscal-political pressure (e.g. the issue of adult content in SL) they really should make the decision, right now, between two clearly definable routes, either of which will make things a lot easier:

1. Linden Lab is god (lowercase G). It makes a decision and carries out its own policy change. Don't involve Residents, in fact remove your TAO and change your profile also, so that it's clearer. Stop inviting us to be Residents and just issue the edict. Don't expect Residents to take any responsibility or help in any way. You just have to take the risk and live with the effects of your decision.

2. Linden Lab wants its user base to take responsibility (to a greater or lesser degree) in shaping the future of SL, therefore it has to re-assess its position somewhat and grant some sort of 'rights' to its Residents. If LL feel this is the direction it would like to go (and as far as we thought, this was why many of us signed up to use SL in the first place), then it has to implement some form of democracy, even if flawed - a blog announcement and a forum just won't suffice (e.g. in this case, a clear, transparent poll for every Resident account in SL). Personally, I favour this approach, as I see this being a much more creative and exciting prospect for LL's future.

There can't really be any middle ground anymore, which has obviously been the case for a few years. Like a number of posters have said, users leaving may well be replaced by others, community instability might eventually settle - but your vision will have irrevocably changed.

If it already has, just close the thread and tell those that are left in SL when you're ready.

I had to quote the whole thing. Darien further commented on it:

This is really an intelligent post, and very true. This is what upsets residents so much, is the indication that LL intends to listen, and then, there is no follow through.

So either actually listen, or stop pretending. Either way is better than the current system.

Yes. Absolutely yes. And at this point, for many of us, we no longer care which one the Lindens pick--we just want them to pick one and hold to it!

Viciously Llewellyn asks:

Has anyone considered that some of this may be a reality check on how well a company the size of Linden Labs can actually enforce something like banning hard-core pornography from the mainstream?

No, you know, that honestly hadn't occurred to me yet. Intriguing. Not that I'm saying it's what's happening, but that does put an odd spin on the potential, doesn't it?

Selkit Diller responds to several more accusatory posts of Nany Kayo's:

Nany, I can tell by viewing your profile that you have recently joined Second Life. No, Second Life will not "be fine". Sex has been a part of Second Life ever since llSitTarget was implemented alongside .BVH imports. People have multiple accounts; They have accounts for sexual purposes and they have accounts for nonsexual purposes. They have accounts that with hidden groups, and a cleaner avatar, serve both purposes. One of the greatest scripters I work alongside also has her own private sexual life on Second Life. By your token word, about how people with a sex life do not meaningfully participate on Second Life, you have shown me just how little time you spend interacting with the diverse culture of Second Life.

And how little interest she has in exploring the grid, above and beyond sexual/adult content.

Selkit continued:

I find your lack of an open mind and sweeping categorization of whole groups as a mindset very unfit for a community outreach specialist or educator, Nany Kayo. I sincerely hope you have other qualifications rendering you suitable for your job, as your mindset is incompatible.

I have some little experience with this. A comparative religions teacher in high school was very, very Christian. To the point that he said (upon being questioned about various mainstream denominations, by people not me or my friends) to my Catholic friend that he wouldn't put Christianity into "the same garbage bag as Catholicism". (And yes, that's a direct quote.)

We were shocked, offended, and very angry by this comment. But that was the times, that was that particular culture, and we were students--we had no rights in the situation, we had to take what he said and just endure it. Nothing happened, not even complaining to the school board--which we did--changed things.

But we remembered.

Teachers, educators, do have bias, and will show educational drift--it happens, it's common, we're human. We are for or against many things, we express those things.

But an educator, any educator, who has stepped away from "This is what I believe, but I will teach you other things, that may not be what I believe" towards any level of "This is the TRUTH and you will HEAR IT because you are WRONG if you BELIEVE ANYTHING ELSE"--that is a bad educator. That is an educator who needs to stop educating. Because that is an educator who cannot educate, because their mind is so firmly closed to new thoughts.

Selkit Diller on the very bottom of page 131, which is all I think I can bear for tonight:

Ironically, between the last set of postings and this one, another far more serious consequence of the free account system popped up; A pair of griefers with the usual obscene-particle imagery and screaming cubes.

Tell me something, Linden: Which do you think is more important to me as an educational service provider and business consultant? People engaging in consensual (Don't even begin to tell me that virtual 'slavery' is nonconsensual) adult behavior on their own time, or people entering communities and spreading obscene, replicating spam for the deliberate purpose of disruption. Please get your priorities straight.

They won't. I'd love if they did, but it's just pointless to assume that they care at this point, or can stop idiot griefers being idiot griefers for lo, their myriad idiot reasons--because stupidity, like hydrogen? Is universal.

It seems to me...and while I will press on, I don't hold out much hope for anything more to come out of this...that we've identified several concerns residents have, ranging from proper enforcement of existing rules, all the way down to bettering client stability and lag. In all the cascading concerns and issues, though? Only a very, very few--Nany Kayo being the chief protester--are holding to the "please make Pornodelphia and keep it far from us!" party line.

Most of us? Just want the grid to work, griefers to go away, and people to leave us alone. It's really not that much to ask...but it may be too much to execute.

After all, they have to properly lay out Ursula so each resident Pornodelphian has their correct and precise portion of waffle-grid glory. Don't they?


Alexandra Rucker said...

You know, I have SUCH the urge to lay the smackdown on the resident net-nanny SO bad after reading that. Grrrrrr. She needs to get dropkicked back to the dark ages she crawled out of.

Emilly Orr said...

Trust me, it was worse reading through everything I didn't quote.

I really, really, really don't like her...and it has nothing to do with bogotry, racism, or lack of respect for native peoples.

She could be a small spotted poodle for all I care. I don't like her.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

Can I buy a ticket in this smackdown too?

People like her give Native Americans a bad name.

Rhianon Jameson said...

Sadly, the Clockwork Cabaret ( enjoys the work of Mr. B, Gentleman Rapper. I find that he is, while occasionally amusing, not my cup of tea.

Emilly Orr said...

Edward: she gives a bad name to anyone with a brain, it has nothing to do with race or skin color.

Miss Jameson: Thank you for the Clockwork Cabaret link! Somehow I'd missed them along the way. Also, while he ties in--sort of--by his own admission he's less "steam" and more "dapper"--the 1920s, say, not the 1890s. Still, it remains mystifying why people want so to rap about tea, and other quintessentially civilized things.