Events, Second Life

Lock Up Your Kids, Tie Up Your Kajira, It’s Time to Celebrate

Second Life will celebrate 5 years of “Your World, Your Imagination” by excluding three of the most active communities on the Grid by holding a celebration (SL5B) that excludes kids, Gor, and BDSM in a “fit for prime time” celebration which, I assume, will be dominated by squeaky-clean examples of business collaboration, education, and maybe a bunch of Greenie floats.

The Lab announced the 5 year celebration with that kind of rousing libertarian call to action for which it’s renowned, following up with the kind of community relation fiasco which is the hallmark of its execution on the great dream of a Grid for everyone – connecting all of humanity for its betterment and all that.

This celebration of diversity was all about pride, according to the Lab:

Each year, on the date that Second Life came out of beta (June 23rd 2003), Residents and Lindens have gathered to celebrate the amazing world we’ve been creating. This June 23rd, our community marks its Fifth Birthday, and the volunteer Birthday Team (who has been planning this party since last year) picked a theme that will be hard to resist– “Celebrating the cultural diversity of Second Life”.

Who do you hang around with in Second Life? What are your communities’ traditions and signature characteristics? Are you proud of your sexy blue fur? Your excruciatingly detailed tea ceremony? Your murky environments? Your sculptures? The help you’ve given to others?

But since their call for builds, they’ve shut the gates on the kid’s community, Gor and BDSM, bowing perhaps to pressure from our paternalistic fear-mongering members of Congress, and worried about press coverage on Sky News showing some kid next to a Gor Master. Daniel outlined the communication back-and-forth with the Lindens. And our dear friend Robin Linden, she of the beautifully handled trademark issue, responded with a “nay, your kind are not welcome to build here”.

M Linden’s Second Week
M Linden arrived and applauds the vibrant community, applauds the bunny sitting next to him at the staff meeting, the observant crowds, the hurly burly masses, and must have watched in astonishment as his first blog posting was piled upon within minutes before hitting the 150 cap (why they have a cap is beyond me, as an aside) with both pleas for help in stabilizing SL and well wishes, among them some of the brighter lights of the kids, Gor and BDSM communities.

At least there’s someone at the switch. I still remember Philip’s blog post of NOVEMBER 21st, and I quote: “For my part, I will start writing monthly blog posts like this to let you know about some of things that are on my mind.”

Thanks Philip – just so you know, while time is accelerated in Second Life, it didn’t somehow decelerate in the actual world – November through June is 6 months, and now we have your proxy telling us that he gets the magic:

As I start my second week, I can happily say I have a sense of what makes Linden Lab and indeed Second Life such a magical place. It’s people with passion for the virtual world. And, it all starts with the Resident community. Thank you for a wondrous first week!

Photo: Loki via Flickr

Well, first – welcome to week two M. The honeymoon period is over. Time is compressed and there’s no magic 90-day grace period. Step in and show some guts, it’s already running away from you. But while you’re at it, why don’t you tell us what you think of the gonzo coders and PR flacks who can’t match words with actions and don’t know how to handle even the most basic mechanics of outreach.

Hubris and Complicity

In all deference to Grace who took me to task for saying that the sarcasm and arrogance of a Linden on the SLDev list was all about the context of the rough-and-tumble world of innovation and code-jockeys, I stand by my assertion that it was a demonstration of the kind of hubris and gonzo policy-making that’s come to define Second Life’s idea of supporting, building and relating to the community of users.

And if there’s one word that sends shivers down my spine in today’s age it’s hubris. No, wait, the second is complicity. And you can be a journalist, say, and buy whatever line the party’s dishing out these days, and you can be a corporation and cover your well-padded ass and tow whatever cultural meme Congress has in hand, or you can have some backbone and remember what values got you where you are in the first place.

Why Does Gor Matter?
Look….I know business. And it’s a tougher sell when you need to explain that sure, the Grid has Gor, and the Grid has adults who like to play as kids – live in families, be a boy scout or a Goonie, act out the fantasy of being a steampunk kid in a kind of techno Oliver Twist roleplay. But I was trying to explain the Internet back in the 90s, and the Internet had porn, and scams, and geeks in their basements putting up Star Trek fan sites. But the Grid also has schools, and enterprise, and music, and opportunity, and artists, and a culture all its own – and if you want to get a sneak peek at the future, come aboard….there’s enough room for everyone, and by some estimations it would take 8 or 9 years to see every sim on the Grid anyways, it’s not like you need to cross to the other side of the street to avoid whatever it is you’re afraid of.

So, sure, you can come aboard, and you can lock up your private island and keep the weirdos out – OR, you can come aboard and realize that this is the flowering of something different. If you want safe and sanitized go to or sponsor some furniture in the Sims – but you’d better realize that this IS the Wild West, and it’s that way for a reason – because THIS is the frontier, this is where the great ideas are arising, this is where the creative classes, the prosumers and the hackers, the griefers and the savants are mashing up the future, and if you want some sort of hint of how the future’s going to unfold you’d better at least suck it up and have a look around.

Photo: MK30 via Flickr

The Community Responds
Well…here’s the good news. Because in a community built on “Your World, Your Imagination” the community itself still has a bit of a say – the power of purchase, and the power of the prim, and already two of the key organizers have backed out.

SignpostMarv regret(s) to announce that I am withdrawing from my position as organiser of SL5B, due to irreconcilable differences between myself, Dusty and Everett Linden over ethical issues, and the degree of Linden Lab involvement in what is a Resident-ran event (and has been for at least the last 3 years).

According to Tateru at Massively, “Organizer Ariel Otafuku has also stepped aside”.

And the kid’s community is planning a counter-celebration of its own. And based on the past creative contributions to things like Burning Life and previous year’s celebrations, it will be a far better build, and probably a lot more fun.

What will be interesting is whether any of the other usual suspects pull from the party as well – will Rezzable send over some statues? They should send over a Crimson Shadow tribute if anything at all.

There’s very little difference one green dot can make, but for myself, I’ll be avoiding the celebration other than to see which of the participating groups I should be boycotting, and I’ll continue to toil away, trying to shake this feeling that in sanitizing Second Life they’re shaking off the good stuff and that sooner or later I’m going to have to spend more time on OpenSim than the main Grid if I want to get a feel for the real 3D Web, because it’s going to start to feel a lot less interesting when all you can do is wander around some “corporate collaboration centers” and a bunch of university campuses, most of whom will probably decamp for Wonderland sooner or later anyways.

Happy 5 years. Oh – and for a little trip down memory lane, here’s a quiz:

In their effort to keep their gated gardens pure and clean, and with a sole focus on revenue as compared to current customers, Compuserve and AOL ended up being, on a scale of 1 to 10, how relevant to the Internet today?


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