Nosing into Hobbit holes

This morning the Lab announced that the previously-announced Hobbit Holes — I mean, Linden Homes — are now available for inspection on the new continent of Nascera (not “NASCAR”).

So I blipped over to look around.

Hobbit Hole Borders

There I am (elf guy in green mohawk for visibility) standing next to the same model Home as in the prior posting(s), with viewing of parcel boundaries turned on. Note that the parcel boundaries are drawn very closely around the house; the bit that I’m standing on is the Linden-owned protected land that separates the lots. So if you have a Linden Home, you don’t own any yard (or “garden”, for those of you in the United Kingdom). Except, in the case of this house, on the roof. :)

The covenant for the (oh alright) Linden Homes is inneresting. Here it is in lengthy detail:

Welcome to Linden Home for Premium Account holders. Linden Home is a residential community, located on the Continent Nascera, owned and managed by Linden Lab, currently in a limited beta. For more information, see our blog:

The purpose of Linden Home is to provide an opportunity for Premium Account Residents of the Second Life virtual world to quickly own a home and belong to a community. Linden Home is available to Premium account holders with 512m2 of available tier. Premium accounts are provided 512m2 available tier at no cost.

As a Premium Account holder, you are eligible for Live Chat and Ticket support from our Support Portal. If you need support for your Linden Home, go to the Support Portal and submit a ticket. Select the Land and Regions Issues ticket type. Under the resulting Region Request dropdown, select Linden Home.

Linden Home is governed by this Covenant, Linden Home Terms and Conditions, Terms of Service (TOS), and Community Standards (CS).

Linden Home Restrictions:

Linden Home has unique restrictions in addition to those outlined in the Linden Home Terms and Conditions. By accepting a Linden Home, you agree to additional restrictions as follows:

* Linden Home is for residential use only.
* Business use of any kind is prohibited, including parcel rental, rental boxes, classified ads or other forms of advertising, and event listings.
* Land cannot be terraformed, sold, deeded to group, joined, or divided.
* Land cannot contain sky boxes, temp-rezzers, or individual prims beyond the allocated size of the Second Life Viewer build tools – 10x10x10m (no megaprims).
* Linden Homes may not be removed, modified, exchanged, set or deeded to group, or transferred.
* Linden Homes should be kept presentable and in-theme.
* Linden Homes should not be used as sandboxes.
* Linden Homes do not include traffic tracking.
* Ownership is limited to one Linden Home per Premium Account.

Linden Home Benefits:

* Use your Premium account’s 512m2 tier-free allocation towards Linden Home.
* Ready-to-move-in themed home on 512m2 parcel.
* Select your own Linden Home theme.

* Decorate your home with furnishings.
* Invite your friends to your home.
* Meet your neighbors and make friends.
* Linden Homes are allocated 117 prims.
* Set Home to here at your Linden Home location.
* Set land and objects to group.

Linden Home Etiquette:

Living in a community includes courtesy towards your neighbors. Here are some guidelines for etiquette in Linden Home Regions:

* Use local chat say, rather than shout.
* Adhere to the Maturity Rating for the Linden Home Region you are located in.
* Respect your neighbors’ privacy.
* Review general Second Life Etiquette suggestions and incorporate them into your Linden Home experience.

Help References
The Second Life Knowledge Base (KB) includes many helpful articles for beginning landowners and Residents new to the Second Life virtual world. The following resources will help you get started with your Linden Home experience:

* Linden Home
* Linden Home FAQ
* Second Life Quickstart Guide
* Knowledge Base
* Video Tutorials
* Invite friends to join you in Second Life using SLurl
* Shopping
* Grid Status updates
* Blogs
* Second Life knowledge Q&A
* Abuse Report

We hope you enjoy your new Linden Home!

Interesting. I have no profound comments on it at the moment, but there it is. (Speculation on the two Mysteriously Empty Lines in the “benefits” section is most welcome.)

One thing the original posting said that interested me was “most will not share a border with other Residents”. I was thinking in terms of a checkerboard pattern, where doing that requires like double the area. But clearly these parcels aren’t a checkerboard pattern. So looking at the neighbors, again with “show parcel boundaries” turned on:

Hobbit Hole Neighbors

(may or may not be clearer larger).

While we aren’t sharing any borders in the picture here, the lots are separated by very thin strips of protected land. So it’s nice that your neighbor’s tree can’t stick through your wall (without crossing Linden land), but you’re still going to look out your window and see mostly the neighbor’s house.

I’ve looked only at the fantasy-themed area so far (I got distracted, what a surprise!), but I’m sure other people are out there also nosing around, and will have published lotsa good information before I even get to hitting “Publish” on this… :)

Update: For instance, Ari Blackthorne’s pictorial catalog of pretty much all of the houses in all of the styles! (I think I like the hobbit ones the best…)

Free Hobbit Holes!

Hobbit Holes!I mean, Linden Homes! :)

In a recent posting to the official Second Life “blog”, the Lab has announced that they will soon be beta-testing a program in which Premium members can get a free plot of land, with a pre-installed Hobbit hole house on it, to live on. For free.

These Linden Homes will be limited in various ways:

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

If you can’t remove the house, I imagine you also won’t be able to modify it so that it consists of a single invisible phantom prim buried a meter underground. :)

My initial visceral reaction to this was sheesh here we go again with the Lindens sort of dipping down and futzing around with the world and the economy.

Sort of like having Athena Herself open a free pizza-place on the corner. Okay, maybe she only offers three toppings, and no Sicilian crusts, but I’m not sure how happy I’d be about it if I had a pizza joint in the same town. Or, alternately, if I was a big fan of Sicilian pizza!

I’ve read Jacek Antonelli on the subject, and she is hopeful that this will turn out to be a good thing even for the people that might look on it as wildly uneven competition.

I’ve read most of Second Thoughts on the subject (I admit I didn’t read the entire long chat transcript); Prokofy Neva thinks this is all part of the Lindens’ systematically destroying the mainland.

Whether or not the Hobbit Holes program succeeds in its stated aims, my larger impression is that, as I’ve noted before, the Lindens still think of Second Life as a thing of theirs, that they can of course do whatever they want with. They are not Deistic creators, setting the world spinning and then keeping their hands off; they are hands-on deities, reaching down and twiddling in ways both small and very large, not worrying all that much about what mortals might be swept asides in the process.

I have the feeling that the internal economy is in some sense not real to them; they probably know it exists, but it doesn’t figure at all largely in their calculations. They like being able to show big numbers in monthly press releases, but on the other hand they regularly do things that have large and disparate impacts on various sectors of the economy (freebie policies on xstreet, the Zindra exile, now the Hobbit Holes), and the only sign that they’re aware of this is typically some vague reassuring noises in the forums and the weblog.

And as I’ve probably also said before, this is entirely within their rights. It’s just a continuing sign that the way the Lab as a whole views the world, as a thing that they are doing, and that we are allowed to play in, and that they will periodically fiddle with in ways they think we will overall like, is quite different from the way that I would like to view the world, as a place where the Lab creates only the basic ‘physics’, and the Resis then create an actual functioning world on top of it. To me it is much less fun and interesting to see what a few dozen people in a California company would do with a world than it would be to see what thousands of random people from all around the world would do.

I’d like to be able to say that the world is gradually moving from the former model to the latter, but I don’t see it. It’s all too easy to tell a story in which things move the other way: in order to attract some possibly-imaginary set of neophobic corporate and mass-market users, the Lab wants more control, not less, over the way the world develops. And so over time the doings and the imaginations of the Residents become less and less important.

I hope that’s not the story we end up telling, ’cause I like Second Life, and I would hate to see it all cleaned up and sterile and dull and controlled. I hope that either the Lab decides that reducing Resident influence on the world is in fact not the best way to grow the business (and I think that it isn’t, myself), or we get some sort of compromise, where (sigh) parts of the Grid are all sterile and clean, and parts are allowed to remain as wild and wooly and unpredictable as (well) our imaginations…

Update: oh, and here is Ordinal, who I intended to quote from but forgot:

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

Exactly. And exactly what I fear for the future of SL.