Wednesday, March 10, 2010

what is courage now? is it just to go until we're done?

Found via Miss Kamenev on Twitter, comes this lovely blog entry on specifically black Victoriana. For far too long history has painted Victorians as nearly exclusively white English sorts. This is good to see.

Mr. Lalo Telling reminds us that resistence is not futile; that SL's culture is bigger, broader and more diverse than any attempt to stop it by the Labs. This is hopeful. I'll be thinking on this for a bit, I believe.

News from MMORPG on the Portalarium project. It's ambitious terrain--finding the key bonding points between casual players of games (think PopCap and FarmVille) and hardcore gamers (think WoW). Find that bridge point, they say, and everyone will follow into the games that use it.

In essence, this is sounding like what the Labs are trying to do, only, you know, not in a completely brutalizing, stupid fashion: namely, figure out what people want from online gaming in the first place, and how to pair all effective styles, and then--be that. They have a point--if they figure it out, from a sociological standpoint...they'll get people invested. And involved.

Mentioned this blog entry yesterday; now it has a very interesting reply to its "Linden Labs is a "we" company" position:

Most of the original Lindens are gone now, the visionaries who lent their efforts to this pioneering dream that became something unexpected. They were the soul of Second Life. In their absence, It seems to have become a cold corporate shell who interests are less devoted to fostering strong communities and building new ones than to push forward with a business model more intuitive to industry executives and educators. The 2.0 viewer is a strong testament to that. They want real life identities integrated in and less screen names. Less sex clubs, more educational institutions and corporate alliances. [The] heads now seem to want to appeal to that demographic rather than nurture the many outstanding diverse communities and industries already there. It's disheartening to see such a chasm develop further. There is no one explicitly dedicated to community in a formal role anymore. The have purchased things like SLX and readjusted fees. They've done more things that have negative implications on traditional, casual users in an effort to expand their portfolio and increase their fiscal intake. Not a bad thing, it is a business after all, but a business built passively on the backs of hard working residents who now, often, have no awareness of Linden lab, and vice-versa. Each year, mutual awareness, and interest dissipates further, and there's not one reaching out to remedy that. They don't listen to their customers. They plant their fingers in their ears and trot onward with a blind, ignorant self confidence. Suits make the choices now because the passion that drove Second Life internally is almost completely gone.

Yeah. What Phaylen said.

Miss Dio's put up the second part of her educational...commentary? Series? Who knows...and again, she makes damned good points:

Should the colleges and [universities just] de-rez their virtual campuses and go back to meatspace?

No. Hell No. Things are just now
starting to get interesting.

What she suggests to all university/campus/college-owned sims--ditch the prims they've got. Keep the land. Their younger students are already learning fine in the environment they have--namely RL. What Miss Dio is saying--and seeing--is that older students, students getting back into college life for the first time or for higher education the second go-round, learn best in nontraditional environments. Brick-and-mortar reproduction schools just don't cut it for them. Experiment, Miss Dio says. Be open to the possibilities inherent in the medium.

And what can the Labs do to help?

I think the Lab needs to stop trying to just make money off educators by simply trying to sell them classrooms in a box. The Lab should encourage schools to think about how they can actually utilize the platform for new approaches to learning. And LL should encourage academics to look upon the grid's diverse communties and [residents] as potential partners--not just as curiosities to be "studied."

Damn straight. Will their students wander into dangerous areas at times? Yeah, maybe. It happens. But will their students learn, and more's the point, pull better grades if they free their campuses from typical restrictions? Yes, and isn't that the goal?

And for [Chrissakes], they need to do something about the grieftards who make the initial experience for newcomers such an unpleasant mess...Nobody is going to learn well in an environment that comes across as hostile from the get-go. So LL must clean that up. It's bad for learning, and by gawd, it's bad for business.

Hear, hear. In fact--HEAR THAT, LINDEN LABS? That is the sound of someone who is talking to people who can influence universities to join SL telling you how to get those university contracts. LISTEN!

The whole entry is worth reading. There are a lot of gobsmacked-by-the-salmon-of-truth moments in there.

Paired with that, though, was the news that Pathfinder Linden is leaving the grid. The simple statement given seems to indicate downsizing was the culprit--or revising the Linden corporate structure to edit out what Pathfinder did. Which is wrong on so many levels, but even more, Pathfinder spearheaded a lot of big educational accounts to join the grid in the first place.

Does this mean Mark Kingdon has no further interest in promoting educational resources on the grid? Has he decided solely to focus on bigger business? Or, as Tenchi Morichi said in a comment to that entry, have the Lindens leading the Labs decided this thing is now a cash cow to be milked until the cow dies, so they can cut their losses and kill the world?

It's a daunting prospect. How many "good" Lindens are left? How many even mid-range Lindens are swimming the poisoned waters of the home base, wondering how things went so wrong? How long before Mark Kingdon kills SL and moves on to--whatever the hell he's really after, since he is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not interactive virtual environments?

Who's next on the chopping block? Beyond the residents.

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