The real me is having a nap, tyvm

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.

But anyway!

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. :)

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Give the real money first

There’s alot of really admirable charity activity in Second Life; builds and events and auctions and awareness-raising and all.

In the back of my mind there’s always a worry, though, about the actual fund-raising that SL charitable activities do. With a handful of exceptions, the amount of real-world money raised in SL tends to be on the small side of middling, in RL terms.

I know that for myself, I feel pretty generous if I give 1000L to some charity donation box, whereas I’d feel sort of cheap giving US$5 in real life. But 1000L is of course less than US$5, so it’s sort of silly. And if giving 1000L inworld makes me feel subconsciously like I’ve Done That, so I never get around to giving say US$25 in real life, that’s not a net gain.

SL donation tends to be extremely convenient, of course, and if that leads to people who would normally not bother to give anything at all giving a few hundred or thousand Linden dollars, that’s great. But for people who want to, can afford to, and can remember to give real money, I think it’s a good idea to do that first. And if you (we) then dive into the SL activities, the Red Cross benefit sales, benefit concerts, and all the other things happening in and around SL, that’s terrific; every additional bit is that much more good done.

But I would recommend at least considering giving the real money first…

Dept. of OMGWTF

I had an alternate title I was going to use for this posting:

Linden Lab: where every day is April Fool’s Day.

but I decided that would be a little harsh.

Anyway! It has belatedly come to my attention that there is a new public-facing Linden: Wallace Linden, who will be “Conversation Manager” at Linden Lab.

“Conversation Manager” is a chilling-enough phrase, certainly; the whole problem with the conversation between the Lab and its Residents is that it is too managed. But perhaps it’s just an unfortunate choice of words; from Wallace’s posting it sounds like his main job will be to prod other Lindens into actually posting things to the official “blogs”. This is a fine thing to have someone do, although one wonders if a simple “post stuff to the blog or you will lose your foosball privileges!” wouldn’t have sufficed.

It would be wonderful if someone could change the culture at the Lab so that the blog postings could be the actual thoughts and feelings of the Lindens who run the place, rather than the chirpy marketing releases that they currently are; but someone whose title is “Conversation Manager” isn’t really where I’d expect to see that come from. (Maybe he will surprise me!)

But anyway the actual OMGWTF thing is that prior to joining the Lab, Wallace Linden was (among other things) a founder of the Herald (Alphaville Herald, Second Life Herald). This is like, like… I don’t know, what is this like?

This is like finding out that the new White House Spokesperson’s previous job was as a managing editor at the Weekly World News (“Alien Vampires Demand Access to Government Blood Banks!!!”).

The Herald is basically a humor magazine thinly disguised as a tabloid news sheet. It is all about the buzz and the hitcount, and not so much about the facts; facts do creep in, but it’s very hard to tell them from the satire and the simply made-up stuff. Not to mention the pictures of pretty naked AVs. I don’t know what it means that this is the sort of content preferred by the Lab’s new “Conversation Manager”.

I’ve had a couple of discussions in the last couple of days about how one might explain this. Leading candidates include:

  • He Knows Someone.
  • Entirely Random (“whoa I promised I’d hire a Conversation Manager this week; anyone know anyone?”; “there was that guy who wrote that book?”; “which book?”; “I dunno, Wallace… something?”; “great, he’s hired!”)
  • There is actually some perfectly good explanation that the Lab is keeping to itself for the Usual Mysterious Reasons.
  • Second Life is prospering so wonderfully that those scamps at the Lab can afford to do this sort of thing just for the pleasure of freaking ppl out.

I hope it’s some combination of the last two, myself. :)

So anyway anyway, welcome Wallace Linden, and please ignore your job title and try to make the conversation as genuine and unmanaged as it can be…

Enterprise Warcraft(tm)

Since covert propaganda lackey investigative reporter Adric Antfarm recently spilled the beans in a weblog comment, I will take this opportunity to confirm the report: the next incursion of Global Megacorporations into the Virtual World space will indeed be into World of Warcraft.

Having sucked dry fully leveraged the potential of the Second Life(tm) World(tm), we at the controls of the heartless behemoth that is world capitalism will shortly announce Enterprise Warcraft(tm), an enterprise productivity enablement platform that combines the sensory immersiveness of a Second Life dance club with the strict warrior discipline of a party of level 80 Orc hunters.

Why base an enterprise virtual space on the World of Warcraft, you ask? As compared to Second Life, the World of Warcraft platform offers several advantages to the corporate purchaser:

  • Easy sharding: since the World of Warcraft server architecture is already based on a number of separate “realms”, there is no need for redesign to obtain an isolated environment: we will simply add a set of “Corporate” regions to the current “Americas”, “Europe” and “Oceanic” regions. Players (known as “employees”) will be able to connect to realms in Corporate regions only if they have a paid-up Enterprise Warcraft (EW) account (these start at a low introductory price of US$5,000 per year.)
  • Built-in hierarchy: unlike the hippy egalitarianism of Second Life, the WoW platform is all about rank and hierarchy. In EW, a character’s level is limited by the player’s rank in the organization. Rank-and-file employees may not advance beyond level 50, nor possess gear beyond Superior. Senior managers are given pre-built level 50 characters with Heirloom gear, and executives begin with level 80 characters in Epic gear (fully gemmed and appropriately enchanted). Lower-level characters will be forbidden from using the “ignore” function on higher-level characters, and from declining their duel challenges.
  • No troublesome creativity: while it has proven infeasible to entirely wipe out user creativity in Second Life, creativity in World of Warcraft is limited primarily to sneaking sexually-suggestive guild names past the censorship filters. By limiting EW players to a set of Enterprise Quests(tm) centered around corporate goals, management can assure that employees are not distracted by independent thoughts. And there is no sex in WoW! (That patch that lets you see Draenei females naked will be restricted to senior executives and authorized system administrators.)
  • Flexible interface: for Enterprise Warcraft, the open-source programmers that became mindless zombie slaves valuable collaborators during the Second Life project will be redirected to writing EW UI add-ons, in support of calendar management, project scheduling, and computing golf handicaps.

In addition to the changes mentioned above, Enterprise Warcraft will include an enhanced dungeon and party structure that more accurately reflects corporate culture and organization. First, the large monsters that are the main target of a run will no longer be called “Bosses”, but will instead be referred to as “Team Goals”. The traditional five-member party of one tank, one healer, and three DPS (damage-dealers) will be replaced by a mininum ten-member party, consisting of:

One tank, whose role is to absorb monster attacks and take the blame for all technical problems that occur during a run.

One healer, who attempts to keep the tank alive long enough to finish the run and achieve the Team Goals.

One DPS, whose role is to actually kill the monsters (this role is de-emphasized in Enterprise Warcraft).

Four Project Managers, who shout contradictory instructions at the tank, healer, and DPS during battles, and call for frequent stops to perform detailed analyses of the battle statistics and try to determine why the run is taking so long, and why the Team Goals have not yet been met.

Two Middle Managers, who run ahead of the tank and aggro any mobs encountered.

One Senior Manager, who has no role during the actual battle, but who determines whether the tank, healer, or DPS will be punished after each wipe, and who allocates all XP and loot after the run. (The Senior Manager automatically receives half of the total party XP gains for each run. If the Team Goals are not met, the Senior Manager designates either the tank, healer, or DPS for a level-based XP penalty.)

While the release date has not yet been officially announced, I am confident that within a year or two, the media will be reporting that the EW hype is now over, and that World of Warcraft is dead…

The Classic Dungeonmaster

Another WoW posting; feel free to complain. :)

In the relatively recent Word of Warcraft achievement system, there’s an achievement called Classic Dungeonmaster, which involves getting nineteen sub-achievements, each of which requires defealting the last boss of (or otherwise completing) some classic (i.e. included in WoW even before the first expansion came out) dungeon.

Spennix has been taking a break recently, since I’ve been having fun leveling lower-level characters like Deminestia, and since Spennix is mostly a soloer and so isn’t all that enthusiastic about the new easier group-forming stuff in the latest patch. But it occurred to me / her / us that it might be fun to go for this achievement, since as a moderate-geared 80 she can probably solo each of these dungeons, it will give me a little experience with them so I will be better prepared when Deminestia or someone gets to them, and if we are going to do it ever it would be good to do it before the older parts of the world are torn apart by Cataclysm.

At the moment we have just a few left to do! Here is Spennix doing a victory dance over the temporarily dead body of evil Archmage Arugal:

Spennix defeats Archmage Arugal

She is modelling a female-gnome-sized copy of his robes, which for some reason he was carrying on him when she defeated him. :)

Here she is during the cleansing of the Scholomance, temporarily turned into a skeleton by some rude bad guy:

Spennix as a skeleton in the Scholomance

And here she is at home in K3, showing off the Bad Mojo Mask that she got from the boss of Zul’Farrak:

Spennix and the Bad Mojo Mask

Pretty silly, eh? :)

The next one on her list is Sunken Temple (actually the Temple of Atal’Hakkar, but no one remembers how to spell that). The final boss of that place is a big phantom dragon, but he’s asleep and you can’t defeat him until he wakes up. He doesn’t wake up until the big High Priest guy is defeated. And you can’t get to the big High Priest guy until you bring down the glowing green barrier, which you do by defeating five or six little sub-priest guys who are scattered around the instance. And the instance is a flippin’ maze and we are always getting lost.

So here is Spennix taking a little nap with the sleeping final boss, getting up the energy to take care of all of that:

Spennix and the Shade of Eranikus

Zzzzzzz…

The main reason I’ll never be a Serious WoW Player is that I like having fun doing silly easy stuff like this at least as much as I like going on Big Serious Raids for Awesome Gear, which is what the Serious Players do.

(Click on each picture for the flickr page for a larger version.)

An Art Challenge!

This just in from Sabrinaa Nightfire:

Call for Artists!

Erato of Caerleon is having another Imagine Create Challenge. This time the challenge is to create a work of art that uses no texture.

Here are the rules:

1. You may either use the Default texture, transparent texture, white transparent or Blank texture on your work. You may use color and shine and transparency.

2. The maximum size of your piece is 10x10m foot print. Your piece may be taller than 10m

3. You may use a maximum of 40 prims.

4. Only low lag scripts may be used (as determined by our script police)

5. All work must be submitted to Sabrinaa Nightfire by midnight on Friday, February 12, 2010.

The management reserves the right to not show any piece that we determine is inappropriate for this show.

This will be a judged show with a panel of judges determining the first, second and third place entries.

The show will open at 1pm slt on Sunday, February 21, 2010.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Please contact me, Sabrinaa Nightfire.

We look forward to a great show. Please feel free to pass this notecard along to your friends too.

I think I might actually make one for this one. If I don’t get distracted. :)

Have to decide whether to make something random that just happens to not use any non-allowed textures, or whether to make something that is all about its lack of texture.

(And if I do get distracted, at least I helped spread the word!)

Fishing the Pristine Waters

Deminestia, who got her first mount just the other week, is now level 46 or 47 or something, has her first Swift Mount, is wearing mail, crafting stuff using Thick Leather, and running all sortsa instances that I’ve never seen before (because the only other WoW character I’ve had at this level is Spennix, who leveled almost entirely by questing, not in instances).

Here she is, with her still-faithful Dragonhawk Fido, fishing in the Pristine Waters part of Maraudon, after the first time I ran that part of the (three-section) instance.

Deminestia Fishing Pristine Waters

Sitting and fishing is so relaxing. :) I should post some fishing pictures from SL sometime…