Friday, March 27, 2009

What's Your Take? - Patent Trolls

A small company claims to hold the patent on virtual worlds and has stated it will sue World of Warcraft, Second Life, and other online spaces for damages. What's your take?

Bunnypet Hugsalot
Gesture enthusiast

Friendly Buttons
Hat advocate

Voice griefer
Excellent. This is the perfect legal precedent for my patent on cybersex.Can't BenBernanke Linden just print up like a billion linden dollars and buy them off?A corporation is a fictional person. The patent is fake. These worlds are virtual. And yet my fears are so very real. Help!

Friday, March 13, 2009

You Need a Real ID to Look at Fake Tits

This week Linden Lab donned its best BDSM latex Master's gear and pronounced a shoveling of all adult-oriented content to some as-yet unbuilt sexual ghetto. Possibly this new Red Light island will be named Pervopolis or Fruitopia or Freakville. We just don't know.

The delivery of this Commandment was accompanied with all of the usual tact and delicacy we have come to expect from the All-Seeing Eye-Hand, coming in the form of a blog post with disabled comments and a cheery FAQ featuring such euphemistic clabble-dabble as: "implement certain access controls designed to better serve certain constituencies," which is probably trying to say they want to prevent naked dickgirls from walking around the Disney Library, but not one can be quite sure.

Fortunately, we at Tiny Dancing have been leaked an early, first draft of the FAQ, whose answers might prove a little more illuminating... The following is the original frequently answered questions document prepared for and written by the Lindens...

Why is Linden Lab choosing to do this?

Power is not a means, it is an end.

As we sit in the indolent luxury of our secret sims, surrounded by Gorean slaves, captive coders, and imprisoned artists that cater to our every whim and fetish, it is easy for us to grow too complacent, too relaxed. You are always out there, plotting against us, so we must demonstrate out absolute mastery and control of this world we rule, this world we made.

So from time to time we single out a group of degenerates -- age-players, griefers, gamblers, or dildo vendors -- for special humiliation and punishment.

This helps instill fear in the rest of you, turning group against group in bitter acrimony and useless struggle, while we sit triumphant and ascendant upon our mighty thrones.

Why now?

Are you fricking kidding? Have you looked at the economy lately? Look, if one of our high-flying corporate partners demanded it, we would not hesitate to take further action, such as requiring all schoolgirl skirts to extend below the knees or confining furries to some sort of "Monster Island" where they will caper and scritch for the amusement of paying tourists.

What are the short- and long-term plans?

The short-term plan is to watch our forums and blogs for the most outrageous, ridiculous comment you users can create. We will then email them around the office under subject heads like, "LOL! Those crazy pervs r mad again!!". Whoever finds the funniest comment doesn't have to pay for lunch all week.

In the long run, everybody's dead.

Is this something that Second Life users have asked for?

Absolutely. Many of our users are from the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, countries with robust and growing police states, featuring such regressive policies as close circuit cameras on every street, Internet block lists, extraordinary renditions, and secret prisons.

We want those users to feel at home.

How does this move prevent minors from entering Second Life or accessing content?

Actually, we expect most teenagers are smart enough to get around our blocks. It's the senior citizens and technophobic ministers and teachers who will be unable to figure out how to access Monster Island, let alone rez a shopping bag, thus saving us from further embarrassment when we go home and our parents ask us what we do all day.

Will this initiative affect Teen Second Life?

What is this "Teen Second Life?" you speak of?

Will this initiative prohibit certain kinds of content in Second Life?

The following content is now prohibited: pictures of giant penises on your estates that are visible from the map, non-age verified users drinking "alcoholic beverages", particle-driven narcotic attachments, and "Power Idling with M Linden" t-shirts.

Has Linden Lab consulted third parties as part of this initiative?

It is highly unlikely that any actual Second Life users would ask us this question and in such a stilted and clumsy manner; however it is quite likely the third party consultant with whom we are consulting on this initiative was compensated handsomely for contributing this question and its answer to our communications strategy document.

Second Life has always been an open environment; is Linden Lab deciding to abandon that principle?

We are not "abandoning" our principles. We are selling them to the highest bidder.

Is Linden Lab trying to deemphasize the community so it can focus more on the enterprise market?

Communities are for communists. We are a fast-paced, agile process, user-generated social media site that is seeking to monetize its userbase through synergistic embeddable marketing opportunities.

If I have already been age verified, or have a payment method on file, will this carry over for the new initiative?

If you have already been age verified, you will be able to access adult content zones…for now. Ultimately, our goal is to convert you into a paying customer, and if that means indirectly prostituting our many fine entertainers and escorts to get you to sign up for a monthly fee, so be it.

Will this bring any benefits for vendors in Second Life?

Yes. You will have fewer customers, leading to lower sales, eventually driving many of your competitors out of business. This will serve as a net benefit to you.

How will this program help attract new users?

We're thinking a few lurid and exploitative articles in Maxim, Playboy, and Cosmo about SL's new "adult-oriented entertainment district" ought to do the trick.

How will these changes affect XstreetSL?

XstreetSL already separates Adult content, so we expect no changes to that system at this time. And since it's fairly easy to get age verified on XstreetSL, we expect more purchases of adult items to go through XstreetSL.

We need a bigger piece of the pie, you see.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Bright Swatch of Color in the Old Gray Lady

There have been a lot of puerile things written about Second Life. Last year it was a bunch of alarmist hand-waving from the mainstream corporate media who equated the disappearance of ill-conceived, money-burning corporate "branding islands" as the death of the community itself -- as if the only kind of community that could possibly exist is a corporate community, a notion so oxymoronic and problematic I don't even know where to begin with that. Let others do the debunking.

Another annoying but regularly recurring type of article is of the "I tried Second Life but I just don't get it!" variety, as if a failed attempt to use a piece of online software is something worth publishing and of interest to an avid reading public For example, here is ComputerWorld's riveting chronicle of success, just one of many such articles I could have cited:

"I moved rather easily from Orientation Island to Help Island, where I found no help and from which I could not escape. I ran into a fellow newbie there, and I asked her if she knew how I could get to a more interesting place, like a big city.

"She said she had read somewhere that newbies had to wait for "greeters" to take them off the island. She was waiting for a greeter, and I was welcome to wait with her. We waited, but nothing happened. I logged off and immediately ordered "A Beginner's Guide to Second Life" from, paying extra for one-day shipping.

If I wrote a review of let us say, a new airplane, which began with me taking flying lessons and ended with me sitting on the runway with a stalled engine, I don't think anyone interested in airplanes on any level, novice or expert, would find my article of much use.

But the most insidious and ridiculous type of writing about SL is the juvenile taunting and finger-pointing from the social media misfits, that pack of self-promoting mercantilist drones who have nothing better to do than bicker and snark while trying to promote their own pet network as the next Facebook or MySpace.

I don't care one twisted nipple what some twittering twat plurks about digg, let alone the grid. Social media has already eaten itself; it is a now busy defecating out what's left for further cropophilic cannibalism. Fittingly, SL's most petty, jealous little gadfly was itself recently swallowed up and shat out.

So there I was this morning, puttering around in SL, the travails of inept writing about Second Life the farthest thing from my mind, when I received an update from Laura Weyland about her comedy schedule, which happened to include a link to this morning's New York Times Sunday Magazine. The article, "Portrait of an Artist as an Avatar," is a refreshingly honest, clear-eyed, and mature article about the thriving arts community within SL.

The writer, Sara Corbett -- unlike too many of these so-called journalists -- actually entered the world as an avatar, allowed her subject to guide her, and then spent a considerable amount of time familiarizing herself with her subjects and their world.

What a concept! Having a topic to write about and a plan on how to accomplish it! She chooses a single subject and stays focused! And shockingly, none of the so-called social media or technology "experts" about Second Life were quoted. Hell, there wasn't even an obligatory quote from a Linden Lab P.R. spokes-creature., the usual hallmark of a captured technology press.

Blithely ignoring whether or whether not Madison Avenue is wasting money or not, she writes primarily about the artist Jeffrey Lipsky, known in-world as Filthy Fluno, but she also touches on AM Radio's breathtaking "The Far Away" as well as the collective critical eye known as Brooklyn is Watching -- an interesting concept I'd not never heard of before. She doesn't shy away from the adult nature of the world, but she avoids the usually lurid, tabloidy "point and laugh" tone that many mainstream writers inevitably adopt when they clumsily blunder across the metaverse in their crapatars.

Here is one passage I found both warm and wryly amusing:

"The person behind AM Radio ... carries around a traditional sketchbook where he does watercolors and pencil drawings, but that it is not half as rewarding as building a beautifully textured virtual scene and opening it to the avatar masses -- even when he sometimes finds them having sex next to his steam engine."

Great job, Sara Corbett a.k.a. Marshmella Muggins. You get it. Too bad too many don't.

So everyone, go read an enjoyable article in the mainstream press that talks positively and informs about an aspect of Second Life you may not even have been aware of, before it disappears behind the old Gray Lady's subscription wall.


Around the Grid

Prim Baby Returned to Inventory

An abandoned infant left on the lot of the Black Box Night Club was returned to its owner's inventory automatically. There it will stay in the Lost & Found until it is found next week, when it will briefly be displayed at a pool party for general merriment, before being lost again.

Supreme Court Overturns Furry Marriage

In a split 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned the marriage of Bunnypet Hugsalot and Fuzzy Lumpkin, ruling that a Second Life handfasting union between a woman and an anthropormphic draco-kitsune was not legally binding in the eyes of the law.

Ginko Financial Now Less Worthless Than CitiGroup

The value of Ginko Financial, a collapsed Second Life pyramid scheme that vanished after taking $750,000 worth of investors money, is now less worthless than CitiGroup, a global financial services conglomerate whose $5.4 billion market value has been exceeded by the more than a hundred billion dollars of government bailout money it has received, let alone the incalculable trillions of dollars of off balance sheet derivatives this den of thieves and gangsters has yet to dump on taxpayers.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tiny Dancing Dating Center