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. :)

8 Responses

  1. Being connected is overrated. My social network is made up of the people I personally know and that’s enough to be getting on with.

    Real names (birth names, I should say) will have their uses in SL: people involved with rl universities in an official capacity for example, and some business people may find it preferable. As long as its a choice and not a requirement we’ll all get along.

    Note: I’ve signed this post with my real name, just not the one on my driver’s license. Both are just as real. Wait….dammit! Now everyone in the world who cares to look now knows that I have a driver’s license. That means I must be 16+ years old. See? That’s what happens. First its letting slip a trivial piece of information. Next thing you know you’re lulled into a feeling of complacency and talking about the incident of the trip to Sweden and the factory inspector’s daughter. Oh! Wait…..

    • :) Thanks, Rez. And you’re quite right that’s your real name, or one of your real names. And reading Wallace’s post generously, that’s what he’s saying: that all of these identities that we have are “real” to a degree, and we need to the tools that will help us manage and control their reality the way that each of us wants to.

      Unfortunately, “real” also has strong RL-related connotations. So it’s not hard at all to read “Will the Real You Please Stand Up” as meaning “Please give us your First Life details so we can tie your SL life to your RL identity on MyTwitBook”.

      /me goes off to Google “sweden factory inspector daughter scandal”.

  2. I struggle with this. I *do* want to keep my lives apart, but not with friends – there are those in SL with my RL name, phone number, flickr acc, the works because they are my friends and that’s what I share with friends – SL or RL. But I want to keep the real me out of SL as much as I can so any idea that I’d be forced into linking the two would see me leave SL.

    • Definitely! And again to read Wallace generously, what he’s saying is that SL ought to provide the tools, if any, that would help you in that struggle. To read him ungenerously, he’s saying we ought to relax and give up the struggle. Which imho would be bad.

      I don’t worry too much about keeping my lives apart, myself, but I have a great deal of respect for those who want to. I don’t have my RL name and email in my profile, but anyone who actually wants to know and has any skill with Google can dig them up pretty easily. But SL should, I would say must, continue to allow not only that approach, but also the strict separation of the two realms, and also the direct tying-together of them.

  3. Oh yeah. I am overly-connected in social networks. Some days I feel that I am drowning. Easily 95% of what crosses my path there is of no interest and is a complete waste of the time it takes to mute it. BUT… 5% of what I see/do IS important to me. Managing those networks so that they remain useful is the key. And I’m not doing that well.

    Having given permission recently to let someone “out” me if need be, this struggle is still quite fresh. I want to choose who knows me in all my incarnations. But the more people who know you, the more likely that one of them will slip. I would prefer SL to stay out of the business of linking my avatar with my atomic. I know that anyone who REALLY wants to can probably find out anyone, no matter how “hidden”. But leave me my illusion of privacy and choice.

    • Yeah, for me I’ve mostly decided that the effort involved in paging past the 95% of dull stuff isn’t worth the benefit of the 5% of good stuff on Twitter / Plurk / Facebook / Xing / etc / etc. Not that I’ve erased myself from them, but I hardly look at them at all. (I signed into Plurk on a whim yesterday, to find that my “Karma” was 0.00; down from 50-odd.)

      Wallace’s posting talks about “tools” to let us manage our identities better, but it doesn’t give any examples. Some people have suggested making the “1st Life” tab of profiles more searchable, so if you want to find out if your favorite musician has an (“out”) AV, it’s easier. Getting Facebook to stop booting out AVs might be a good thing. Other than that, I’m not sure what kind of “tools” I’d want, beyond what’s in SL now. And I do wonder what Wallace is thinking of…

  4. […] I’ve read some incredibly brilliant, insightful and wonderful posts, such as those from Dale Innis, Botgirl, Emily […]

  5. […] Dale Innes: “The real me is having a nap, tyvm” […]

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