Sunday, February 5, 2012

drag him out your window, dragging out your dead

Near the beginning of the comments on the throttling JIRA from February 2nd came this:
I'm importing this issue; we will investigate to see whether the throttle can be adjusted without risking grid stability.
~~Maestro Linden
Okay, so whatever the issue is, it's still affecting total grid stability as a whole; it wasn't just a temporary exploit. Still, without knowing what that issue was, I can only assume that the cure is worse than the original sickness, at least where merchants, gallery owners, event organizers, and the like are concerned.

This is unfortunately the problem with griefing as a whole--without telling us what the issue was, we're left with the scant information we have to try to figure out what went wrong. But if the Lindens tell us exactly what form the griefing took, that so impacted their systems, they're also revealing to any present griefers what the problem was. Which means griefers will, sooner rather than later, start attempting to fix the fix--and get into the systems again.
Could I suggest something to solve this fiasco? Add a object owner check that cross checks if the object owner is also the sim owner OR an estate manager. If it is the sim owner operating the device, do an exception on the throttle. Voila. Problem solved. Sim owners that operates SoM like system won't be throttled and endure the side effects of it like vendors getting blocked, and it still solves the griefing problem. Unless I missed something about the issue.
~~CodeBastard Redgrave, maker of machinima, photographer, and designer of poses and scripted HUDs designed for fellow photographers, among many other things she's done in SL
While I'd normally agree with that, it's not just sim owners that need a workaround for this. And as some others point out, it establishes a clear caste system in LSL as a coding language. Not good. (We already have a clear caste system in SL, that only varies depending on which dominant group runs any particular sim/collection of sims. We don't need more fuel on that fire.)

Creepers are terrified by cats. It's true. (There's a longer version, like a bit over twenty minutes longer, by the same fellow, but that's the short and punchy version.)

Do you value online piracy? According to the FBI, that means you're a terrorist. I am not liking this development. It seems we're not so much creeping towards dystopian government-versus-the-internet cyberpunk futures as sprinting on fire at this point. Not good.

In the meantime, there is still fan rage over the concept of prequeling the Watchmen comics. I truly think the best thing I've read so far comes from Sean Witzke: it is cogent, incisive, and pulls no punches. But it's also a reactionary piece, to an original commentary from Josh Flanagan. And while I recommend fervently that you read Witzke's article, I'm going to spend more time breaking down Flanagan's. We're starting with a paragraph near the beginnning:
Well, yes of course they have the rights. When they signed a deal with the creators, the deal stated that the rights will revert back to the creators when the book goes out of print. At the time, it wasn't a big deal, but the book kept selling, so they kept reprinting it. Rights never reverted back to the creators, because it didn't happen.
Here's the basic problem with this perception. Throughout the history of publishing, there have been contracted works. Each of those contracts were presented to the author, the artist, the scripter, whatever--and while there were good and bad contracts (there always have been), they generally always get to a clause about how long rights will last before reversion.

This is not new. I think what might be new, however, is Flanagan trumpeting that the dodgy language in the Watchmen contract to Moore and Gibbons simply means Moore (especially Moore, since Gibbons is later stated as being "all for it. He’s a team player") wasn't as legally savvy, and signed whatever was put in front of him, poor dupe that he was.

Whether you favor Moore, or dislike him (and there are oh, so many reasons to dislike Moore on principle), in the end, it's not so much about him, is it? (Though it might very well be about the things he's done as a comic writer, in the end.) It's about the medium, and who's currently in charge of the medium. And about what they're willing to do to deny the rights of the creators, not specifically because they're trying to deny creators' rights, but because they seem to believe creativity is just something people do. That anyone can do, really, it's something interchangeable between one artist and another artist, one writer and another writer. Between the poet and the screenwriter, it's all one thing--a commodity, to be fully regulated and exploited like electricity, or any other mindless, exploitable force.

Now let's go back to a sentence in the first paragraph of Flanagan's article:
They want and need to replicate the immense success from the launch of the New 52, and keep their momentum going, and show the parent company that even though their revenues are sort of miniscule in comparison to other divisions of Time Warner, they’re still valuable.
Now, let that fully sink in a moment. What are they saying here, exactly? Point by point:
  • the "New 52" launch of DC titles was incredibly successful from both a marketing and a sales standpoint (Big tip: that's not true)
  • DC Comics has a vested interest in pushing that "success" forward (which they do, but that success wasn't there to begin with)
  • DC Comics needs to parlay that "success" into a reason to continue existing, so that Time/Warner won't sell them off to a competitor, or piecemeal to the highest bidder
And it's that last one that's so telling.
It could go badly, but that line wide relaunch got a lot of similar reactions too, and look how that turned out. Huge success. For a time.
Not huge success, is the problem. But yes, even that minimal success was better during the first month of the relaunch than during the second, or any month thereafter. (At least until you hit January of 2012, wherein DC rebounds with ten solid titles in the top ten...though Marvel still picks up the overall top share in everything sold, not just individual books.)

Flanagan on Alan Moore:
His best stuff (which he regularly decries) does not belong to him. That's not a great thing, but it's also important to remember that he exists on a timeline of evolving stances on [creators'] rights and work-for-hire practices. The deal Moore got was better than the deal almost anyone before him got.
And that's depressing indeed if true.

Here's the point I'm aiming at, what all this boils down to for me, because while I am a fan of the Watchmen books, I largely do not admire Moore as the mini-god people seem to cast him as, again and again. What is becoming inescapably clear with this article, and countless others over the years, is that someone--and likely, a whole boardroom of someones--at Time Warner really equates art with any other commodity that can be bought and sold. In one sense, why shouldn't they? Traditionally, comics artists, pencillers, inkers, and writers have been very nearly phobic about unionizing, or even protesting and standing up for better working conditions. Even the companies that form from artists and writers who've gotten sick of life with the Big Two are scared to take any negative stance--and sadly, I understand that as well, because their artists and writers might get hired by one of the bigs to take on a new comic, which could make money, and end up giving them a little more to survive on at the end of the day.

It's like watching trickle-down economics in action, and trust me, it's not pretty when you're standing under the stream.
Was it a bad deal? Maybe. Rumor says the creators get something around 2% of the profits on Watchmen. But at the time, there was no precedent. Moore and Gibbons would get the rights back after DC stopped using the characters or printing the book for a year. It never happened. It broke one way no one expected, and as happens, the house won.
And that, right there, is the problem. At the time there was precedent, established, literary precedent--only DC Comics didn't want to continue literary contract history.

Because comics aren't literature, right? They're just for kids. They're momentary, discardable, meaningless. And I guess artists and writers are, too.

The problem we should be having with the Watchmen prequels isn't particularly about the creators of comics, however, or any other artistic medium. It's about corporations treating the creators of comics, or writers, or artists in general like something infinitely replaceable. This mode of thought leads to buildings with windows that don't open, or social groups that band together to kill music programs in schools. And that's the real issue.

Create the book, don't create the book--DC has the rights to it. It's not the worst thing they've done; really, it's not the worst thing they've done in the past two years, even. But they need to abandon the disposable-artist mentality. They need to start fostering creativity, not grinding it for the sellable by-product. They need to ensure that their writers and artists don't starve; get medical care; have decent places to live.

Do that, and there'll be no stopping them as a comics company. Because those stories and pictures they so desperately want to validate their existences to Time Warner will emerge, and shine, and glow, and radiate, with the same life and health and joy that their artists and writers know.

Unfortunately, this won't ever happen. The greed for the best product for the least amount of coin is too entrenched at this point. And that's the problem with comics at DC.

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