Fantasy Faire!

So I hardly ever go to Organized Events, at least not much; I’m not entirely sure why, maybe because there are so many more disorganized ones :) and I often like them better, and organized events tend to be crowded and/or laggy and/or drama-filled, and in general I have this self-image as being too eccentric and/or 133t to do anything that lots of other people are doing, or…

Whatever. :)

But v good friend Michele has been actively weblogging the 2013 Fantasy Faire this year, and I’ve now been there all of twice, and apparently it’s still going on at least for today (they are having a live auction of various parts of the Faire sims and builds, which seems really cool) and maybe for longer although I’m not sure, and I took a couple of pictures that I like, so here I am weblogging about it myself!

Lotus Valley Dream, harbor

There is the left half (depending on exactly how you’re viewing this) of a picture of me standing looking out at the dragon in the Lotus Valley Dream harbor; click through to see the whole thing, bigger sizes, usw.

And here is a closer-up of the Dragon emself:

Lotus Valley Dream, dragon

(or the left half, depending); enthusiastically friendly, no? Or maybe just hungry…

That’s just two shots from one gorgeous sim in a big collection of gorgeous sims in varying and wonderful styles. While I understand and sympathize with the tendency to use SL to make ourselves into our sort of RL ideals (90210-style, if you will), this is the kind of SL thing that really delights me: going beyond the RL-possible, into fantasy, and dream, and creativity, into worlds and realities beyond the ones that we happen to be born into. And the fact that it’s for a great cause, Relay For Life, just adds to that.

Also dragons are cool. :) Not to mention, shopping!

Here’s the group pool for the flickr group for the Faire, where you can see lots more. And assuming I post this in time, you can maybe still go yourself!

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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! :)

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.

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.

WordPress made a post for me! :) “2010 in review”

Wasn’t that kind of them? Here it goes, enjoy:

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 79 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 260 posts. There were 33 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about 3 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 18th with 205 views. The most popular post that day was Dept. of OMGWTF.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were twitter.com, davidchess.com, adric.us, slofdreams.blogspot.com, and wiki.secondlife.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for roger dean, dale innis, bank of ganja, ganja, and evony play discreetly.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Dept. of OMGWTF January 2010
12 comments

2

Play DISCREETLY on your browser NOW! July 2009
4 comments

3

The floating rocks (tx to Roger Dean) June 2008
5 comments

4

Harden the — August 2010
18 comments and 2 Likes on WordPress.com

5

The Narrow Gallery, in Hughes Rise August 2010
1 comment

Adric Antfarm

We note with deep regret the passing of a good friend.

Adric was a complicated person, a funny person, a person who often wore a clownish or grumpy or vulgar mask; but under the masks and the grumbling was someone good-hearted, warm, and I think more sensitive and caring than he could always bring himself to admit.

His weblog is a testament to humor and complexity and grumpiness, a wild place of talking cats and armed insurrection and sardonic humor. When he left us, he was working with Amalia on a Burning Life build that had a bouncy-castle, crayons, and a hopscotch court. Which I’m sure he would have taunted himself about extensively in the weblog.

Adric could always make me smile. I will miss him.

“Democracy” you say…

There’s been this meme going around the weblogs lately, on the notion that Second Life should (or shouldn’t, or could, or couldn’t) be, or contain, or support, or be structured as, a democracy.

I think this is a fun idea :) and will play with it here a little. This isn’t intended as a direct response to, or agreement or disagreement with, anything that anyone else has written. Well, except where it is.

Some folks have said that it’s really impossible, because you couldn’t have direct democracy because you couldn’t get all the Residents in one place to vote or whatever, and you couldn’t have representative democracy because who would decide which groups would get represented (furries? Goreans? dragons?), and anyway however you did it people would just cheat by creating additional accounts and additional Residents to get extra votes.

I think alot of that would really be not all that hard to get around. You could have direct democracy by just putting voting into the client or a web-page or whatever; no need to get all the Residents in one place inworld. Whatever question was up for vote could be voted on from wherever you happened to be when you felt like voting, and voting could be left open for a week or whatever.

You could have representative democracy, too, without having to establish an official set of interest groups, by doing it just like in the Atomic World. Representatives don’t represent Bowlers, or Married People, or Camera Buffs; they represent everyone who lives in a certain area. The idea being, presumably, that people who live near each other tend, as a general rule with countless exceptions, to have similar interests. In SL, this could be done by setting up election districts according to where people’s homes are set, say.

Or, acknowledging that people whose homes are set close to each other don’t necessarily have common interests even as a general rule, representatives could be by last name; since everyone with the same last name joined SL at about the same time (roughly, and with exceptions), they will have had about the same amount of SL experience and be at roughly the same stage of the enthusiasm / burnout / maturity cycle, and therefore be about as reasonable a group to be represented together as the people who happen to live in a particular suburb are in RL. (This idea makes me smile, although I’m not sure why; I realize it’s a bit oddball.)

Or, for that matter, we could not divide people up at all, but elect all representatives “At Large”. There are all sorts of clever voting schemes that lend themselves to this; cumulative voting, preferential voting, rank voting, instant-runoff voting… (See the Wikipedia article on voting systems for a variety.) Many of these have odd little quirks that have made people reluctant to actually try them out widely for electing actual governments; might be fun to see what happened if they were tried in a virtual world where people actually do care about the outcome, but no one was actually going to be shot or starved or imprisoned.

Who would actually get to vote? Well, that’s slightly tricky. Obviously you have to keep people from generating tons of anonymous alts just to vote. Sad to say, there might therefore have to be some sort of tie to RL identity; one vote per Premium account would at least make it expensive to generate lots of little fake voters, and one vote per instance of age-verification would solve things to the extent that that actually works (while at the same time disenfranchising people who can’t or don’t want to age-verify because of national or identity issues or not having a credit card or whatever I forget, which would be bad). One vote per 256m2 of land owned could work, but so blatantly giving power in rough proportion to wealth would probably not be popular.

And what would people and/or representatives be voting about? Whatever the Lindens decided to put up for vote! Or decided to allow other people to put up for vote. As many other people have said, SL is a private enterprise, and the owners can do what they like. So if they decide to institute some sort of democracy, they also get to decide which issues are democratically decided. All sorts of possibilities suggest themselves! We could vote on changes to the ToS, on the naming of new continents, on whether to have SL9B on PG or Adult land, on what color to pave Route 12. We could elect members of the G-team!

Probably we shouldn’t be allowed to vote on the banning or not-banning of particular people. :)

Whatever voting system was set up could also be used by sim (and even parcel?) owners, to hold local elections about local issues. Someone who owns a bunch of contiguous sims with a bunch of tenants could use it to hold an election about allowing the brothel to expand, or whether to change the blood in the fountain to water (or wine). The Blake Sea folks could hold an election (picking the eligible voters I’m not sure how) about expanding the tiny rezzing zones to be less tiny. (People who own land in Zindra could vote on whether to use the sim called “Zindra” for something actually useful in terms of helping people who come to it looking for information about Adult mainland in general, or to just plop down a generic Mole build there and forget about it. But that’s a whole nother can of worms…)

Anyway, could be fun! Chaotic! Full of unintended consequences and delightful surprises!

The stickiest thing, I think, would be preventing voter fraud without disenfranchising too many people. In fact at the moment I can’t think of a solution to the problem that would actually work. But maybe we will come up with something…