Tuesday, November 10, 2009

it feels like I'm stuck in between a rock and a hard place, we've been through the heartaches

Now, I grant you, the Alphaville Herald isn't noted for particularly hard-hitting journalistic integrity (but to be fair, neither am I)--but this made me ponder for a bit:

The controlled content creation issue raises concerns for significant parts of the Second Life population. Goreans, BDSM communities, ageplayers, virtual escort service workers, furries, and others created much of the novelty that attracted both press and players to the Second Life platform as an escape from a humdrum real life. Unfortunately for these groups, the ad-driven worlds appear to be moving in lockstep toward a real-life in virtual-life vision, while being cheered on by the Technology Review. Recent comments by Linden Lab's own Mitch Kapor also suggest that the freewheeling era may be passing.

From the Mitch Kapor link in that quote:

[...] mighty Mitch Kapor went out of his way to insult current metaverse residents by implying they are socially inept outsiders soon to be swept away in a flood of “pragmatic” business, education, and non-profit players -- though impartial observers wonder how this will happen, given the dismal peak concurrent user growth rate, unstable platform, and general lack of professionalism on the part of Linden Lab.

Now, those were both from July of last year; but in the year and a half plus of life on the grid since then, things haven't gotten better. Zindra popped and there was the chaos of Lindens confirming in no uncertain terms they don't care to listen when their residents speak; the complete and utter boiled hash of the camping/lucky chair anti-policy; the word that is slowly filtering out (though I have still not found a shred of Linden-based utterance for this) that Unlucky Chairs, by their nature, are Adult in rating and tolerance and need to be removed from any non-Adult-rated lands...It's been a progression of time where nearly every decision presented results in a fumbling, butchered attempt at some kind of vague intercession that never goes anywhere. Worse still, the Lindens, one must assume deliberately, seem to be encouraging the criminal element at the expense of their average citizenry.

What, I ask you, is the point of that?

I sit here drinking carbonated grapefruit soda from a 2012 glass and the irony of that movie's tagline--We Were Warned--is not lost on me. But would it be lost on the Lindens, and in specific, M Linden?

What is the end goal? The "bad element" walking away from the grid? So...all Goreans, gone? All furs, gone. All BDSM/kinky types gone. All ageplayers--illicit and defiantly licit--gone. Would that include all child avatars? All doll avatars? All shorter-than-average avatars?

Might as well eliminate the monsters, then, the shapeshifters, the elves, the orcs, the constructs, the aliens...vampires? Would pale skin and a mislike of daylight be enough to drop your avatar into "bad" areas?

And obviously any and all sex workers--from therapists to escorts, voice, text and cam, makers of adult products, likely all latex designers, probably all rubber and leather fashion houses...what about gays? Or the intersexed on the grid? Or those who identify as transgendered, regardless of their appearance?

Isn't that..at one point or another...everyone on the grid? What do the Lindens want, at the end of the day?

I will be quite honest, here: a world with no user content allowed; a world with no self-expression beyond narrow perimeters allowed; a world that cannot be accessed with anything but the official browser; this is not a world I have any interest in.

And it's not even a stretch to say--to know that I wouldn't be the only one leaving at that point.

Is that what M Linden really wants? A mass exodus of all 'undesirable' elements from the world? A grid safe and sanitized for business and corporate use alone?

He won't get it. I'm dead serious, he won't get it. He will never get that, if that is truly what he wants. Why? Because even with all the 'undesirables' logging off, never to return--even with all of us banned from the grid, our avatars slain, our inventories wiped from their systems--well, there are still the people in-world, aren't there?

Can anyone honestly tell me no one at IBM is into latex or has amusing kinks? Can anyone honestly tell me there's no one at Google or Yahoo that doesn't own a fursuit, or hasn't had a same-sex relationship, or hasn't been tied to something for a sexual thrill?

Because, when we break it down, at the end of the day, what do we find? Congressmen who get caught having public sex in public bathrooms. Church leaders who get out the whips and chains of an evening. Powerful people who go to work not wearing underwear, or wearing female underwear if they're male, or who have piercings in interesting places that might be covered by clothes.

And that's listing the tame end of things.

It may be private--no one around them may know--but they are there. They are there because we are there. And kicking all of us out won't do anything to eliminate that urge in the corporate types.

What price, then, your fully sanitized grid, M? What price, then, making things 'safe' and 'predictable' for the business world? Given time and creativity, they'll just do it all over again, because people want what they want. And they will go a very long way towards getting what they want...and keeping it once they have it.

"Grid sanitizing" makes no sense. And it's profoundly unworkable. The sooner the Lindens figure that out, the better it's going to be for all of us.

Oh, but I forget...the Lindens don't make mistakes.

That they admit to making, anyway.


Anonymous said...

I definitely remember a Linden saying that Unlucky Chairs would probably qualify as Adult Content in the pre-Zindra discussions, though it seemed clear that the Linden in question was speculating based on descriptions offered and had never actually seen one. (I cannot find the chapter and verse offhand, though.)

Anonymous said...

On further research, you cited Blondin on the subject back in May, actually.

Emilly Orr said...

Sort of. Blondin never actually went anywhere with that, there was just that one mention. There was some discussion on where the line is drawn between obviously fake, cartoonish levels of violence, and realistic violence, but nothing was clearly settled.

That's the problem with many of the Labs' policy--it's all vague, it's a fog of murky lip service and corporate doublespeak, and maybe they think they're being clear, but they're big on not saying anything. It's like pinning Jell-O to a wall.