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. :)

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…