Open Letter on One Billion Rising

Afghan women march in KabulSo you’ve probably heard about One Billion Rising, which was a Big Global Event yesterday, in RL and SL.

I don’t tend to talk about Big Global Events here, ’cause you’ve already heard about them, and I don’t generally have anything novel to add. (I’m more into the Tiny Local Events.)

But a friend pointed out a Whiskey Shots post taking a contrarian view of the whole thing (WordPress thinks “contrarian” is spelled wrong?), and I found myself this morning posting a couple of comments to the comment thread on it, and I thought I’d share them here as well.

I should be clear that I admire Whiskey Day, and sometimes :) admire Crap Mariner (although generally least when he gets into macho mode, as here). I felt moved to present my thoughts because the tone of the comments was so largely negative about OBR (turns out Whiskey’s opinion isn’t all that unpopular after all!), and I wanted to add some positive to the thread.

And also because I thought it was sort of true and significant stuff to say…

I don’t know, we don’t want to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here. Sure things like OBR aren’t going to solve the problem, but then no single thing is going to solve the problem. OBR works on consciousness raising and solidarity, and those are important things, and easy to underestimate. Maybe a few, or a few thousand, women will see something about it and get that extra push of confidence and support that will lead them to leave an abusive relationship, or get to a shelter. Maybe a few politicians will see something, see a bunch of voters expressing concern, and think hm maybe I ought to actually read that bill on violence against women, rather than just voting against it because my party says to. Really fixing the problem requires changes to society, and that happens slowly, and needs pushes from lots of different directions.

Heck, it’s got us talking about the subject! :) Maybe someone will see Whiskey’s note about the newsletter she is writing for, or what Celestiall said about the 2nd Amendment Sisters, and find out more, and donate or volunteer.

If it was a choice between OBR and something more effective, then OBR would be the wrong choice. But I think the choice is more between OBR and not-OBR. I doubt that lots of the energy that went into OBR was taken from something that would have done more good. The media coverage that it got would probably otherwise have been devoted to some celebrity’s nipple-slip or The Latest Funny Cat Pictures From The Internet.

If you know of something better than OBR, definitely go out and do it! But that doesn’t mean that OBR didn’t make the world a better place, even if it didn’t solve the problem all by itself…

… And I can’t keep myself from mentioning also that I’m pretty uncomfortable with this whole “the real solution is for women to dance on the graves of their abusers after they kill them” meme. It’s a cute weblog-comment soundbite, but are we really saying that an abused little girl should just kill her abusive uncle? That a woman facing a gang on a bus in Mumbai should just hope that her gun will be more effective than theirs? That an abused wife should just kill her husband the Sheriff and hope that the justice system understands?

Are we really going to say to a woman in need, look, we’ll spend millions of dollars to protect Disney’s copyright on Mickey Mouse in foreign countries, but if you need protection from rape you’re on your own; hope you’re well armed! That’s not something I’m comfortable saying, myself.

Again, what the Second Amendment Sisters, and anyone working to empower women for self-defense, are doing is great stuff. But it is ALSO not going to solve the problem by itself, and I don’t think it’s a legitimate reason to put down things like OBR. There’s a danger, I think, that it becomes a facile sound-bite, and a way to make this all Someone Else’s Problem. In this case, the victim’s. And that’s not a place I’m willing to go…

And even before I’ve pressed “Publish” on this entry :) Crap has responded; mostly missing the point so far I think, but by the time you read this maybe it will be a long and fascinating exchange. Come on over! :)

Diablo III: that was fun! Kind of!

So I got a free copy of Diablo III for promising not to quit WoW for a year or something (I don’t know, it was complicated, but it didn’t cost anything, and there were some vaguely non-trivial-looking benefits, so I clicked the buttons).

RL has been even more complex than usual and I haven’t been able to get into SL much, but I’ve had enough stolen moments in D3 that I’ve now beaten the game (the first time through, see below), and I can sincerely say that it was worth every penny. Haha, see what I did there? :)

Not that it was worthless, but on the other hand I can’t really see why it was such a big deal, or why it seems to actually have fans and forums and stuff. Unless there’s lots of new stuff in the harder modes that I haven’t tried yet, it seems about as worthy of having devoted fans or forums as, I don’t know, some minor Edward Bulwer-Lytton short story or something.

But anyway! Here is my first character, Cathcart the Monk, the one that I beat the game with on normal mode:

Cathcart

That’s a screenshot, shown actual pixels, of him at like level 34, from the “Select a Hero” screen. It’s also apparently the closest that it’s possible to ever see any character in the game (not counting the pre-rendered cutscenes, which of course don’t show your character).

Here is a shot from within the actual game, after pressing Z I think it is to zoom in to the tiny extent that one can zoom in:

Little D3 People

Kind of small and far away, I thought. Want to see the actual expression on someone’s face? Well, too bad!

Crowded little D3 people

And, especially irritatingly, what minor zooming-in there is doesn’t understand about having to derender stuff that is in the way, so if you try to zoom in to take a screenshot of some noteworthy scene, your camera is likely to end up obstructed by a wall:

D3 zoom fail

or buried in opaque tree leaves:

D3 zoom fail 2

My first instinct in cases like that would be to spin the camera-view around, which leads to the next amusing feature of Diablo III: you can’t do that. There is exactly one possible viewpoint, looking down at your character from something like three meters in the air and five meters to the South.

I went to the D3 forums to see if this was really a limitation or if I’d just neglected to find the camera-movement keys, and was amused to see the True Blue D3 Fans forming roving gangs there and fending off anyone asking that question, saying things like:

I dont know man, that type of camera angle is one of the trademarks of the diablo series. Personally i like it as it is, it would not feel the same for me with a different one…

[T]he isometric camera is a staple of the true soul of the Diablo series.

The stationary camera is one of the pieces of nostalgia kept in place from Diablo 1 and 2 are very positive.

and

this isn’t wow

I knew the WoW kids would all flock to d3 with their complaints

and perhaps my favorite:

What legitimate gameplay reason is there to rotate the camera?

which invites two kinds of amusing questions in response: “Yeah, why would you ever want to look in anything but one fixed direction during a battle?”, and on the other hand “What legitimate gameplay reason is there for the characters to have noses?”.

Of course it’s only the WoW players who miss being able to look more freely around the world. Well, and the people from Second Life. And Skyrim. And Call of Duty. And pretty much any game made since 2005. And, well, DOOM. From 1993…

But anyway! :) The inability to see the character close up, or to have a first-person mouselook sort of view, or to look freely around the world, tended to keep me from feeling really immersed. Also the movement system is entirely click-to-move, which I find also detracts from immersion. Feels more like The Sims With Monsters in a way; more like playing with action figures, maybe, than like really being in an interesting world myself.

And it’s really short! As well as extremely linear. There are four “Acts”, each with various quests in them, and you’re taken from one quest to the next and one Act to the next with very little choice in the matter. There are a few side-quests, but rather than being things that you can run around doing at will, they are things that may or may not become available in any particular play through the game, more or less at random; that is, they are largely under control of the game rather than the player.

Once you finish the game once in normal mode (and it’s quite easy, all of the bosses are essentially “hit them until they die, being sure to walk into the health-globes that they spawn so you don’t die yourself”), you get to see the nice victory cut-scene, and then next time you enter the game you are without explanation back at the start, with all of your items and skill and level intact, but this time in Nightmare Mode. Which, as far as I can tell so far, means that the game is exactly the same, except that the monsters are all upgraded to about the same level that you are, so they are roughly just as hard to kill as they were the first time through.

So you get to play the same game over and over if you want (the modes are something like normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno), with the same character at successively higher levels, against successively tougher monsters (or they would be tougher except that you are higher level now too), with maybe a different random side-quest or two thrown in. Thrills?

(There is also an orthogonal Hardcore Mode, which you can choose when you create a character. Hardcore characters are different in that once one dies it stays dead, and you can’t play it anymore. I’d be curious to see a good Hardcore player deal with some of the encounters that seem specifically designed to require two or three deaths to get through, where more and more monsters just pile in. Maybe there’s an Aggro model that I just haven’t figured out, or something, but I’m not that interested.)

There’s a Stash that lets you store items that you find and share them among all of your (non-Hardcore) characters, and there’s an Auction House (not inside the world but just dialogs in the main game menu; another blow to immersion) where you can buy and sell things, and apparently there is or will be some way to buy gold and/or items with actual real-world money (which I have to admit baffles me somewhat; why would anyone care enough about this tiny game to want to spend real money to buy fancy equipment in it?).

I’m still paying Act I in Nightmare Mode with my Monk a bit, although it’s sort of dull. I’ve also created a second character, Eolfrida the Barbarian woman:

Eolfrida

You will note I have to take a taller picture there, ’cause of she is Big. :)

Here she is running toward battle at like level 2:

Eolfrida running toward battle

and standing around looking blurry and undefined a few levels later:

Eolfrida again

Playing a Barbarian is slightly different from playing a Monk, more emphasis on smashing things, more use of healing potions and glomming onto healing drops ’cause of not having any healing magic (so far?), but basically still “click until you have enough magic whatsit saved up to right-click, and throw in a spell from the 1, 2, 3, or 4 buttons once you are high-enough level”.

The story is okay, sort of what you might find in a decent Conan-style pulp novella, with one loudly-foreshadowed plot twist just where you’d expect. There’s some amusing repartee with and between the NPCs, and there’s a little variety and thought involved in equipping the three follower NPCs and deciding which one to take along at any given time, although in fact they seem mostly interchangeable.

Probably worth more than the nothing that I paid for it. But if I’d paid the, what, sixty US$ that it costs retail? I do not think I would consider it a good investment…

Life after Google

There’s certainly lots of turmoil within Google right now, between the clever and non-evil people who made it successful, and the “Google Plus At Any Cost, we will own the world!” people; and there’s no telling how it’ll come out.

But at the moment the g+ fanatics seem to be winning. (Even this Official Google Announcement was apparently posted only on Google+, so I can’t give a real link to it; but hopefully the URL there will continue working and pointing to the right thing.)

Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name.

If we flag the name you intend to use, you can provide us with information to help confirm your established identity. This might include:
– References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc
– Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
– Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following

We’ll review the information and typically get back to you within a few days.

(Gotta love that “typically”.)

And for anyone that’s nervous about sending their driver’s license to strangers, we are assured on mashable that

Google will destroy all documentation you send them once the account verification process is complete.

Everyone who feels they need more quasi-governmental agencies in their lives, demanding proof of identity and scans of your driver’s license, and assuring you that their random employees can be trusted with your information, raise your hand…

Didn’t think so.

There are at the same time reports that in order to sign up for any Google service these days, you have to also sign up for Google+ (including, presumably, telling Google your real name, and being prepared to offer official documentation for any nicknames you might want to use); and Google’s search results are starting to return Google Plus pages even when they are by no measure the best hits, which is incredibly stupid and the techs are already telling us how to get around it.

So there are clearly two things going on:

  • The Google Plus people at Google either don’t understand Internet culture, or think that they can change it (with themselves as the central storehouse and universally trusted driving engine of that change), and
  • Someone with power at Google thinks that (unlike Wave and Buzz, which were allowed to die when it turned out no one really wanted to use them) Google Plus is so important that all of Google’s other services can be taxed to supported it, by forcing anyone wanting to sign up for those other services to also sign up for Google Plus (and, if they don’t want to sign up for Google Plus, to go off to Yahoo or someone instead), and even corrupting search, which is Google’s base offering and frankly the only thing (well, maybe webmail) that we really want from them.

Of course Google may still save itself from these people; it’s far too early to give up.

But what if they don’t? Where will our bellweathers go to escape the stupidity, leading most of us along with them? Facebook for social stuff presumably, because that’s where everyone is anyway. But who will we use for search, and for webmail? And whatever else Google does that I’ve forgotten to mention?

Maybe the best thing would be for us to fragment again, and have there be more than one Big Obvious Search Provider, and more than one Big Obvious Webmail Provider, and even more than one Big Obvious Facebook-thing, and so on. If nothing else, Google’s failure would be a lesson on the dangers of bigness and obviousness, and the arrogance that tends to come with that.

On the other hand, Google’s implosion would open a very big opportunity for someone else to come in and take its place, by doing the good stuff without the dumb mistakes. Not sure who that would be; opinions welcome. What’s Yahoo doing these days? I tend to think of them as an old company that fell into the “web portal” rathole and never really returned, but maybe there’s potential there.

I really ought to make some bold prediction here, so that if Google does implode and my prediction turns out to be right, I can prove how clever and prescient I am. :) But for the moment I will just cross my fingers and hope that someone smart and powerful over there decides that shilling Google Plus isn’t worth corrupting all of the company’s other offerings, and that Google goes back to being the good guys. ’cause I am always an optimist!

(I will get back to the Combat System Scripting eventually, I promise! Or at least I have a good-faith intention to. But you know… shiny things!)

Is Frogger More of a Virtual World Than Second Life?

This morning in the tub when I was trying to think of some more headlines that would make Second Life sound bad without being too obvious about it, I decided it was again time to make some subtly negative comparison of SL to something else. And the perfect example was right there on the bathroom wall, on my poster of old arcade games: I would make a post saying that Frogger is more of a virtual world than Second Life!

Now this might seem weird at first glance, since people don’t usually consider arcade games to be virtual worlds, but the thing is, there’s no one agreed upon definition of “virtual world”, so really I can write anything that pops into my head, and no one can say that I’m wrong. So nyah-nyah in advance to all you negative commentors!

In order to make Second Life look as bad as possible, I think it’s useful to think about all the ways Frogger is more or at least as much of a virtual world than Second Life, and not think about any of the things that suggest the opposite. Here’s at least eight:

  • Frogger is geographically contiguous – Second Life is not. Long ago, it was possible to walk from one end of Second Life to another. Now, SL is dominated by thousands of private islands, many of which are artificially inaccessible. By contrast, you can hop from one end of Frogger to the other, if you don’t get run over, just like it’s possible to walk from New York to Australia in the real world.
  • Frogger has an internally consistent, universal physics — Second Life does not. In some areas of SL you can fly; in others, you cannot. You can even change the position of the sun, and soon, the very way light is filtered. And so on.
  • Frogger has a pre-existing ecosystem of flora and fauna — Second Life does not. Alligators and speeding trucks thrive in Frogger. Outside of virtual pets and the rare virtual ecosystem, SL is mainly bereft of animal species, and has none that exist independent of their human creators and owners.
  • Frogger is self-contained and relatively separate from the the wider Internet — Second Life is much more integrated with the web, and therefore, arguably less “worldly”.
  • Frogger doesn’t have much dynamic user-generated content — but Second Life doesn’t have “natural” dynamic user-generated content either. In Second Life, user-created objects artificially instantiate out of thin air; also, Minecraft is better than Second Life, too.
  • Frogger is a single unified experience of a world — Second Life contains multitudes of very different world-like experiences. A “world” that contains, for example, space marine shooters, fantasy MMOs, urban roleplay, furries, Goreans, real life educators, metaverse artists, and so on and on, seems less like a world, than a platform for multiple worlds. The real world, after all, contains only one kind of thing, not many different ones!
  • Frogger has not stubbornly continued to be successful despite my constant sniping — Second Life has. Not that I’m bitter or anything. But someday SL will finally fail, and then people will stop snickering at me behind my back, pointing and giggling about Blue Mars! Someday they’ll all pay!!11!1!

Ehem. Sorry.

Of course, none of this suggests Frogger is superior to SL, oh no not at all, didn’t mean to suggest anything like that, any more than I did in my “Why call it Second Life when it has a low retention rate?” story, or my “Coffee and Power can succeed unlike SL which is a pathetic failure” story, or my “Second Life has failed due to poor execution and market timing” story, or my “Second Life is doomed because I am not in charge of it” story (parts 1-27). But I will say this: If you’re interested in widening the market for virtual worlds (and I am), it’s a good idea to widen the definition of the category, preferably enough so that it includes some CEO that will reliably return my calls.

SL Merchants: stop with the cruft!

… and in this case I don’t mean the mediocre-quality 2007 freebies on sale for 99L.

The cruft I’m referring to here is (are) the unnecessary scripts that many of your vendor devices are delivering to customers’ inventories, with names like “Floating Text” or “rotation script” or “vendor script – delete me”.

(Or most adorably of all, “New Script”.)

Vendors all too often deliver this stuff along with the stuff that the customer actually wanted (and sometimes annoying non-script cruft like pose stands, multiple landmarks, and so on), and they (you) ought to stop. Not only because it’s annoying to customers, but because it makes you look sort of clueless and unprofessional, and because annoyed customers are that much less likely to be repeat customers.

Why does this cruft come up in the first place? A little background: there are two different basic ways a vendor can work:

  • Vendors that you buy things from with the “Buy” option on the menu, where you get a little popup that says “Buy a copy of Whatever and its contents [list of contents] from Whoever Resident for 235L?” or “Buy contents [list of contents] from…”; we’ll call these “Buy vendors”, and
  • Vendors that you buy things from with the “Pay” option on the menu, and you get a little popup asking how much you want to pay, usually with just a single button with the price on it, but no list of exactly what you’re getting; we’ll call these “Pay vendors”.

A vendor can be set up so you don’t need to select either Buy or Pay, but you just need to touch it, and it acts as though you’d selected Buy (or Pay). You can still tell a Buy vendor from a Pay vendor, though, by the kind of popup you get after you touch it: either the list of contents that you are buying, or just an amount to pay.

(Not being much of a Viewer 2 or Viewer 3 user, I haven’t verified the exact contents of these popups on those viewers, but I think they are similar; feel free to leave comments if things are significantly different there.)

But anyway!

The interesting difference between the vendors for our purposes is this:

  • a Buy vendor always delivers everything in the prim to the buyer, but it doesn’t need to contain any scripts at all, whereas
  • a Pay vendor does have to contain scripts, but it has total control over what it delivers to the customer (so in particular it doesn’t have to deliver any unwanted scripts to anyone).

So the two primary sources of cruft are:

  • Buy vendors that contain scripts that they don’t need mixed in with the goods, and
  • Pay vendors whose scripts are poorly written, and deliver stuff (often including themselves!) that shouldn’t be delivered.

So how do we fix these things?

Remove the scripts! (Buy vendors)

So Buy vendors don’t need to contain any scripts at all in order to sell things (they just need to have the appropriate “For Sale” boxes filled in in the Edit window). Then why do we so often end up with useless scripts in our inventories when buying from Buy vendors? Because sellers put scripts into the Buy vendors in order to get various effects (floating text, spinning, etc), and then they leave the scripts there, even though they don’t actually need to.

If a box that is a Buy vendor has a Floating Text script in it whose only function is to make the box say “Awesome Blue Hat 240L” in floating text above it, the merchant should remove that script; the floating text will stay (it’s like, after you paint a wall, you don’t have to keep the paintbrush around for the wall to stay painted).

If a box has a rotation script in it whose only function is to make the box rotate around in an eye-catching fashion, the merchant should remove that script; the rotation will continue. (This is true for the common ways that people make sale boxes rotate; there are some kinds of rotation that will actually stop if you remove the script, but your sale box is unlikely to be using any of those.)

If a box has that ubiquitous “anim SMOOTH” script in it that makes the textures on the box rotate around, the merchant should remove that script; the cheesy attractive texture animation will continue.

If a box has a “New Script” in it whose only function is to make the box shoot pretty colored sparks out the top, the merchant should remove that script; the particle display will continue. (Again this is true for the common kinds of particle-displays. More elaborate kinds may stop if the script is removed, but in that case you should consider switching to a Pay vendor instead, or moving the particle script to a different prim, or otherwise avoiding delivering it to your customers.)

The result of removing these scripts is that when your customer buys one of your products from your Buy vendor, they get only the product, and none of those baffling and annoying extra scripts. They get a more satisfying shopping experience, and you get a higher customer retention rate. Goodness all around!

Don’t deliver the scripts! (Pay vendors)

Okay, so for Buy vendors the important thing is to just take out all of those visual effects scripts that don’t need to be in there anymore. What about Pay vendors?

In a Pay vendor, there’s always at least one script involved, with the job of noticing when someone has paid money to the vendor, and figuring out what to do about that. (For Buy vendors, SL itself takes care of seeing the buy action and delivering the goods.)

The script in the Pay vendor can do basically anything it likes; it can deliver copies of the items that are in the prim’s contents, it can deliver just the single boxed item that was selected at the time, it can contact some central server that will handle the actual delivery to the buyer. (That last kind is what you are using when you use a Pay vendor to buy something, and the actual item is sent to you by “Fred’s Central Vendor Server” or whatever.)

So if the script in a Pay vendor can control exactly what is delivered, why do these vendors also end up delivering unwanted cruft? Because so many Pay vendor scripts are incredibly simple and basically just deliver everything found in a particular prim. So this can include both all of the kinds of unnecessary scripts that Buy vendors tend to deliver (Floating Text and family), and also the vendor script itself!

This is easy to fix. Typically your vendor shouldn’t be delivering any scripts at all, so you or your friend who scripts can just look in the vendor script, find the place where it’s making a list of prim contents to deliver, and be sure not to add any scripts to that list.

So for instance if the script has a place that says:

    integer n = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_ALL);
    for(i=0; i<n; i++) {
        items += [ llGetInventoryName(INVENTORY_ALL, i) ];
    }

that is building up the list of things to deliver, you can change it to:

    string item_name;
    integer n = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_ALL);
    for(i=0; i<n; i++) {
        item_name = llGetInventoryName(INVENTORY_ALL, i);
        if (llGetInventoryType(item_name)!=INVENTORY_SCRIPT)
            items += [ item_name ];
    }

which leaves any scripts (including itself!) out of that list.

(If you do need to deliver scripts, you can use llGetInventoryName() to find out the name of the vendor script, and at least not deliver that. More sophisticated vendors have a configuration notecard or something like that, so you can explicitly tell them what to deliver; those don’t generally have the problem of delivering extra script cruft in the first place.)

Waring: llAllowInventoryDrop (PSA for all)

As an Extra Bonus for those who have read (or even just skimmed) this far, here’s a Public Service Announcement and a warning.

There are a bunch of legacy “copied from person to person for years” scripts out there that contain the line:

    llAllowInventoryDrop(TRUE);

I’ve seen this line in at least some Floating Text scripts; it may well occur in some other kinds of scripts as well.

While I’m sure that whoever put it into the original script had some good reason to do it given what that particular script was intended for, it’s definitely not something that you want in a random vendor.

If you have a script in a vendor that contains this llAllowInventoryDrop TRUE line, you may be opening your customers (and therefore yourself) up to being pranked and griefed in ways that might range from amusing to very harmful, depending on the prankster and the point of view.

(I’m not going to go into detail here on the exact vulnerability to avoid encouraging pranksters and griefers; a few minutes of web searching will find all the necessary information quickly enough.)

And if you do have one or more of these it’s not enough to remove the script or to remove the offending line from the script. If you find one or more vendors of yours have this line in a script, and you don’t know exactly what it’s doing there, you should change the TRUE to FALSE and re-save the script. So instead of the line above, it should say:

    llAllowInventoryDrop(FALSE);

You should also check the contents of any vendors that you find the dangerous line in, to make sure that they don’t contain anything that you didn’t put there.

And about those posing stands…

Okay, that’s all for the “avoiding script cruft” issue. But while we’re on the general subject, I doubt I’m the only one that’s annoyed when Every Single Item I buy at a store comes in a box that also includes a posing stand with the store’s logo, and two or three landmarks for the store and its various branches (and the owner’s boyfriend’s Rock club, and…). I mean sure, have a little vendor that gives away free logo posing stands to people who want them, and by all means have a landmark-giver in the doorway, but if I buy five items from your store, I don’t want five copies of your posing stand, ‘kay?

So could y’all please leave those out, too? :)

So is Google evil after all?

Or, more specifically, are they evil because they are (or may be) deleting (or forbidding, or something) “google plus” accounts that are opened using SL avatar names, or usenet or forum pseudonyms, or basically anything else that fails some kind of naive “real name” sniff-test?

I dunno. Maybe. Or probably. Or maybe not. Probably not, really. But is this guy a jerk?

If you see a person with an obviously fake name, go to their profile and find the “Report Profile” link in the bottom of the left column. Report it as a “Fake Profile”. We want Google+ to be place for real people to connect with other real people.

There has certainly been something of a flurry of concern about it. I sent him a little note after reading some of the furor:

I think you really meant something like “if you see a ‘person’ that is obviously a company or a spammer, go to their…”. Real people use all sorts of names, “Fake” and otherwise. It’s the fake people you want to keep out, not the real people with “fake” names…

No reply yet, but he has now come back with one of those “wait, wait, what I meant was…” posts (which I can’t figure out how to link directly to; scroll down on the one above):

Holy cow. I was offline most of yesterday and it looks like I started a firestorm by accident.

Kevin McCurley’s comment sums up the spirit of my post better than I did: “In the meantime please interpret this post in the loosest possible sense – only flag things that are clearly not representations of a real person. We’re not out to ostracize people or enforce unreasonable conditions. Businesses and organizations will have their own profiles in the future”

The policy page (http://www.google.com/support/profiles/bin/answer.py?answer=1228271) leaves some room for interpretation and says: “For this reason, Google Profiles requires you to use the name that you commonly go by in daily life”

It doesn’t say anything about your legal name.

I’d better not say anything more about this since: a) I’m an engineer and b) there are plenty of edge cases that I’m sure are legitimate and not explicitly covered in the ToS.

… and (c) he’d like to remain employed if that is still possible at this point.

Which does more or less correspond to what I said. But still, “commonly go by in daily life” certainly does leave some (“some”) room for interpretation.

And really this whole thing gives me a creepy feeling. Why is Google policing the appropriateness of names and the “realness” of accounts, anyway? (As opposed to, say, the spamminess or otherwise of behavior.) The full quote from that policy page is:

Google services support three different types of use when it comes to your identity: unidentified, pseudonymous, identified. Google Profiles is a product that works best in the identified state. This way you can be certain you’re connecting with the right person, and others will have confidence knowing that there is someone real behind the profile they’re checking out. For this reason, Google Profiles requires you to use the name that you commonly go by in daily life.

This is actually pretty stupid. (Botgirl’s autotuned version is at least amusing!) How do they, in the 21st century Internet, know how their just-launched product “works best”? And why do they feel it necessary to forbid other ways of using it? The fact that someone is using the name “Fred Muggs” rather than “Teh Fredster!!” doesn’t mean anyone “can be certain you’re connecting with the right person”, or that anyone “will have confidence knowing that there is someone real behind the profile they’re checking out”; names are not magic.

And really, “checking out”? That phrase plus the fact that initially google plus required not only a “real” first and last name, but also a (publicly viewable) gender, makes me wonder…

Is Google Plus really intended as a dating service?

It would explain alot, anyway. Maybe they will notice that they didn’t really plan to take over the world with a dating service, allow pseudonyms as long as they aren’t being used to spam or defraud, and this will all blow over. I continue to think, at least in my crotchety moments, that maybe all of the boring people will vanish into Facebook and Google Plus, and the rest of us can go back to using the rest of the Internet. The end of the Endless September? If Google could give us that, I think I’d forgive them for a certain amount of arguable low-grade evil… :)

(Thanks to the NY Daily News for the nice little evil-Google graphic, heh heh.)

Second Life’s Transformation into Profitable Chicken Farm Seriously Threatened by Second Life Users’ Hate and Fear of Change

I was recently talking to one of my very good CEO friends with whom I regularly hang out at exclusive meetups and other trendy events, and while I don’t know if he agrees with me about everything, I do know that many present and former Lindens, US Presidents, and the prophets of all major religions, including Philip Linden, probably do, because after all I am right, and Second Life is doomed unless it changes completely.

In particular, Second Life will inevitably vanish into oblivion unless it does three things:

  • Implements “click to move your little person around” like the Sims,
  • Integrates intimately with Facebook,
  • Transforms itself into a chicken farm.

And I don’t mean some stupid virtual chicken farm, I mean a real-life chicken farm, with chickens and stuff. Have you seen the profit margins those places make? It’s insane!

The chicken franchise is, after all, orders of magnitude larger than the Second Life franchise, or even the Sims franchise. Everyone eats chicken! mmmmm, chicken!

Of course Second Life’s current stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid users, who don’t listen to me and even satirize me in their weblogs even though they have probably never even talked to Rodvik, will moan and whine and kick their little feet about this, because they hate and fear change. And chickens. They are chicken-haters!

The inevitable changes to the UI that will allow you to click and move your little person to the window where they can buy Linden Lab stock, the only necessary operation once the company is transformed into a profitable chicken farm, will be met with stuffy narrow-minded piggish repulsive decaying stupid whining, but I will counsel my good friend Rodvik (who I call “Rod”, or even “Roddy-baby”) to ignore them, since one’s current users are always less important than the millions of users that one might have in the future if a miracle occurs.

And you should by no means read or pay any attention to people who advise listening to current users, because they are wrong.