Friday, April 16, 2010

maybe there's a side of us that wants to be denied

if you want a girl to be your mother
go find another
go find another one

MMORPG takes on major drama behind the scenes at a couple major games; I won't lie, I'm one of those who've found it both massively entertaining as well as puzzling in terms of StarGate Worlds. A friend of mine got into the closed beta, and her biggest complaint was that it was so closed; that it was difficult to tell how well the game was playing, if she was the only one wandering around in that section of the game.

Now StarGate Worlds (at least for now) is all but dead in the water; yet there have been no huge ripples of shock through the StarGate fan community. I agree with the article; I think a lot of the reason for that is that the people involved in playing the game can't really talk about the fact that they were involved in playing the game. (Which is nothing but the truth--the only reason I know that my friend was involved is that she got email and into the closed beta, and I didn't; and she made occasional small comments because we were living in the same house.)

you only call me when your life's going under
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover-up

They also mention an unverified-as-yet rumor of a possible BioShock MMO in development. Is it a substantiated rumor? Not yet. But 2K is production company behind both BioShock, BioShock 2 and Borderlands, so...if anyone's going to do it, they would.

Would people play it? Maybe. BioShock is a defined space, being at heart one undersea city; still, it could get larger (or spawn more project cities) at will. It's not the worst idea for a multi-player environment.

and then you wanna be the tough guy
with the appetite
well, I’m not gonna stop you

The MassHighTech blog conducts their equivalent of an exit interview with Jack Lester, departing Linden. He's remarkably positive about being booted to the street, but there may be non-disclosure agreements in place, too.

The thing that leaps out at me, in that interview? Is that they essentially hired a neurology researcher to be their chief marketing agent. The hell? Don't mistake me, I can see the connection; it's just a vaguely sinister one in my mind.

but if you’re looking for a bed to recover on
go find another one
go find another one

The Metanomics show in SL aired their one hundredth episode, and Mixed Realities covers the highlights, including a full transcript of the show. Professor Joshua Fairfield was a guest, and the topic externally was the new Linden Labs ToS...but as usual, that discussion led to one that's far more wide-ranging.

The immortal line from the show was, "The internet is not a typewriter", and in terms of actual ownership, this is true. No one can say, "I own the internet"; conversely, the business model that the Lindens are codifying, if broadly adapted, has some frightening and scary implications.

Still, to be fair, some RL businesses have always operated this way. Most software packages grant us a license to use the software, not ownership of the package we buy. And for at least fifty years, if not longer, Mercedes Benz has had a special agreement with their customers--we buy their cars, yes; but Mercedes Benz retains ownership of the engines.

and you're a grown boy, such a grown boy
don’t expect the world to clean up for you
'cause they don't have to
don’t expect the stars to line up for you
they'll shine right past you

All creative work is derivative, says Nina Paley, offering up a link to From the same source comes Copying Is Not Theft, which makes the whole conundrum a nursery rhyme, essentially. And while I get what they're going for, in the simplest terms, I would bring up one of the comments under the video, from vandorenw: "Rampant entitlement is causing us to feel that technology automatically makes everything ours."

Even with that, though, a trip to the main site is very thought-provoking. They are doing their best to clear the air, and to make very clear the difference between copying (retransmitting of ideas, music, stories and media to engage new listeners/readers/watchers to the concepts; in other words, usually beneficial, not harmful) and theft (stealing an object/idea/interpretation from the original owner of the object/idea/interpretation; in other words, generally harmful, not beneficial). Will it work? Who knows? But they seem earnest and involved.

you only call me when you're down on your dollar
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover up

While this is parlayed in game terms (and I'd be willing to bet money on the fact that that game is WoW), I am fascinated with the Dunning-Kruger effect mentioned therein.

According to Wikipedia, it's a cognitive bias that affects those of low skill level and high skill level (I guess those of average skill level are, y'know, average enough to recognize it?), and it's broadband--in short, idiots suffer from "illusory superiority" (they're not idiots, what are we talking about?!?) and geniuses suffer from "illusory inferiority" ("What? No, everyone knows what the angular incisure is, come on"). Which sounds simple on the surface, but it gets really, really out of hand, really quickly.

Stupid people keep making stupid mistakes because they don't think they're stupid. Really smart people think everyone is as smart as they are, because how could anyone not know the things they know? They're really simple things.

The clash between these two states is enormous. Frankly, I'm now shocked and astonished we haven't all killed each other yet in an insane game of playing chicken with depleted uranium rods, or something (true story: it's why the US Army isn't allowed to have nuclear research facilities anymore).

and then you wanna be the tough guy
with the appetite
you wanna eat your cake don't you?

Miss Grace McDunnough predicts a tipping point with the new ToS of Second Life, and I don't think she's wrong. She also references the Metanomics transcript, and, believe me, I know there's a lot there, but if you have any strong interest in technology, copyright, and ownership, you really should read through it.

But the thing that struck me strongest was what also struck her, reading through that transcript and M Linden's latest announcement. To wit, she states:

Second Life is no longer a "place" with attendant property rights it is a "service" with permits of use, or licenses.

That changes the game, on its most fundamental levels. That alters the terrain completely. Will people really notice? Maybe not now, maybe not for a while. But eventually? This may be my own 'ilusory inferiority' showing up, but I can't conceive of a world where this total a shift in perception goes unnoticed by the population at large.

you only call me when your life's goin' under
I'm not just a cover
not just a cover up

A note to all librarians and legal sorts interested in copyright law: as an addendum on the Question Copyright page, individuals interested in Professor Alan Story's work entitled An Alternative Primer on National and International Copyright Law in the Global South can get a free copy by following the steps given on that page. In fact, while the entire thing can be read online, for librarians specifically, they'll send out two copies, one for personal use, and one for the library's lending stacks.

Mr. Drinkwater, Miss Kamenev, I'm thinking of you specifically for the library/legal line of inquiry.

(Lyrics taken from Elizabeth and the Catapult's "Momma's Boy". Yes, I had a reason for posting it. No, I'm not explaining why. Though while you're there, check out their rendition of Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows. Cohen's remains the ideal, but their version is a drifting, sweet lyric lollipop...with a worm inside.)


Edward Pearse said...

To give you an idea on how different the various mediums interpret plagiarism, appropriation, IP theft and fair use in Oz:

Although it has gone to appeal, Men at Work were initially found guilty of copyright infringement for reproducing TWO BARS of an old children's song in their single "Down Under".

By contrast Sam Leach has won $25,000 in prize money for essentially repainting a 1660 Dutch painting without the animals.

And people wonder why everyday people think it's OK to reuse pictures you *find* on the internet.

Emilly Orr said...


And as far as I know, or have been able to determine, Australia has fairly reasonable reuse/fair use laws.

American copyright is insane, labyrinthine, clogged with side trips into legal obscurity. And the biggest problem is in application--most citizens on the ground aren't aware of the provisions, nor would know what most of them defined legally, anyway.

A lot of times, even attribution seems beyond people. Then you have musicians--Vanilla Ice is still denying he ripped off Queen; Hootie and the Blowfish had to pay a fine to Bob Dylan; yet Billy Joel blatantly plagiarizes, admits it, and gets off without a cost--but he also notes where and who for the most part.

"Where I steal an idea, I leave my knife", Michaelangelo is reputed to have said. Which goes as far as it goes, but everything on the net gets complicated.