So there’s a slightly disturbing post on the official SL weblog, by the newly-minted Wallace Linden, titled “Will the Real You Please Stand Up“.
The title is imho very unfortunate, because although the theme is officially “let’s start a conversation about the tools that we want and need to manage all of our various identities in whatever ways we want to”, it’s easy (especially with that title) to read it as having a subtext something like “get used to the fact that we’re going to be bringing RL identities more and more into SL, whether y’all like it or not”.
I hope that’s not actually the subtext.
I wrote a reply to it, and here it is:
Just to add my voice to what seems to be the main trend of the comments :) I think that the current “1st Life” tab (made searchable, ideally) is a fine place for people who want their RL information disclosed to disclose it, you can’t use RL names as SL names because RL names aren’t nearly unique enough, and any effort the Lab spends on “integrating” with Facebook or Twitter or similar “social media” puffery is effort that I’d rather than Lab spent on something more useful.
By now we’re quite familiar with the positive network effect of being connected to other people in a social network or Web service like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or the like. The more people you’re connected to, and the more people they’re connected to, the more useful the network becomes.
Hahahahaha. No. The more people you’re “connected” to, and the more people they’re “connected” to, the more useless the network becomes, because it is full of notices about how someone needs your help in fighting a dragon, or has found a cache of machine guns, or has posted a picture of their niece’s new dog.
Certainly expose the APIs and things (as long as you can do it SECURELY) that people can use to create Facebook integration frobs and whatnot if they want to, but don’t waste precious Lab time writing the frobs yourselves. Make the 1st Life tab searchable so if someone wants to look for someone who claims to be the RL drummer Trivett Wingo, they can do that. But please don’t make it so that if Trivett Wingo wants to have an SL AV that lets him get AWAY from his crowds of adoring fans, that AV will end up being stigmatized as a result.
The thing not to miss here — and it bears stating despite how obvious it sounds — is what all these online “identities” have in common. At the center of them all, the hub that ties all these personae together, is the very real, non-virtual, analog and offline “you.” Whether the connections are public or not, your Second Life avatar, your World of Warcraft toon, your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn employment history — all of these and more are just different aspects of a single entity: the person reading these words. They are all already connected to each other, via you.
Is this Linden Lab officially disowning the hardcore Immersionist Digial People among the Resi’s? Or just you needing to be educated about them? This may sound incredibly obvious to you, but there are a significant number of Residents who would disagree. Surely you’ve been around SL long enough to know that?
Please keep in mind, as you go about thinking about these issues, that there is no single “right answer” to these questions that you raise. Your job is not to “start a conversation” that will result in some Official Consensus position that the Lab is then free to go off and impose on everyone, whether we agree with it or not. Your job, as I see it, is to enable the conversations that will help the Lab be more aware of the huge variety of Residents, and the uses to which we put SL, and to therefore avoid doing anything that would mess that up.
Thank you. :)