Come the revolution

It may have been a while back now, but i’ve been revisiting recently what went on at Big Omaha Live, some of which resonates with my conclusion in my last post and the comments that have been made about it. i was particularly interested in what Philip Rosedale had to say – frankly, i was a little surprised because there was nothing really new or innovative there, just a re-hashing of  old ground. Then again, i’m not sure what i was really expecting – if Philip does have any groundbreaking new ideas, he’s hardly likely to want to spill the beans until he’s had ample opportunity to make a fast buck from them. Not that i blame him in the slightest – whatever you may think of him, Mr Linden himself has always demonstrated a singular sense of business acumen. It’s pointless pointing the finger and accusing him of selling-out or abandoning sl – business is war and, if you want to succeed and make a killing, there’s always going to be casualties. i don’t think we’ll be seeing Philip come crusading back to sl, with his underpants over his lycra leggings to wave his magical prim wand and make everything better, even if Rod would let him. Besides, judging from his tweets, not so long ago, he’s been more than caught up with Coffee & Power and, apparently, replicating the behaviour of flocking birds – how apt to be sharing his thoughts on birds, via tweets!

Twitter is one of the few things about the internet i don’t understand at all. It makes no sense to me and i have no compunction to become more fully acquainted with it. i take the same stance with Facebook, Google+, that Pictionary(?) thing, Reddit, anything to do with ‘the Cloud’ and absolutely anything that’s white and prefixed with ‘i-‘ – coming to think of it, with the exception of Youtube, that’s probably most of the things that people these days tend to associate with the internet, so maybe it’s actually most of the internet that i don’t understand at all!

Don’t get me wrong – i’m no technophobe – it’s just that none of the above have any real meaning for me… i can’t see the point of them and i really can’t say that i feel my life is in any way the lesser by way of their absence. If i’m honest, the real reason i don’t understand any of these things is simply that none of them enthuses me enough to make me want to be bothered to try and get to grips with them – to me, they are utterly meaningless add-ons to life that do little to add value and only seek to confuse the issues, if not create them in the first place. Dammit – i even have a toaster that falls into that category!

My old toaster blew up – actually, it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but it did manage to knock out all my electrics and defrost the fridge, consequently i bought a new toaster. My old toaster had a knob to select the preferred burntness of my toast, a push-down thing to commence burning and an emergency eject button, for when flames started licking out of the top. My new toaster has all of those things, plus 3 other buttons, that all light up blue, whose purpose eludes me completely – so i ignore them – my bread toasts in admirable fashion and all is well with the world. (i’ve just found another knob, hiding on the other side – it makes metal things poke out of the slots: i have no idea for what purpose). These additional nonsenses are the toastotorial equivalent of Twitter and Facebook – they serve no real purpose, apart for confusing the issue – they are meaningless add-ons, as far as i’m concerned.

All of which conveniently brings me back to Philip’s Big Omaha thing, in which he likens people – the inference being sl people – to herd animals. We are, apparently, like docile cows that like our routines and the familiarity and safety of herd behaviour. Sometimes, that can seem all too apparent – we all like to moan about the Lab and have our say when things go wrong; a quick analysis of sl demographics demonstrates that we’re pretty predictable creatures of habit; and, most of us will follow pretty much the same evolutionary pathway during our SLives. So, fundamentally, perhaps Philip is right and, just maybe, that’s why Linden Lab are able to manipulate us so easily and exercise such a profoundly Machiavellian hold over us when it comes to running the business of sl. Certainly, Machiavelli recognised the value of his citizens’ contribution to the state and even encouraged them but, at the end of the day, the prince called the shots and everything was for his benefit.

This is exactly how the Lab profits from us, but even princes are not invulnerable – to quote an old Japanese proverb, “even monkeys fall off trees”… even more so when on the receiving end of a concerted pelting of stones from a bunch of people who are fed up with monkey business! It’s always wise to bear in mind that in every herd there will be a few mavericks – those who give the impression of being the same as everyone else but who, in reality, walk their own path and can be liable at any time towards the unexpected, even the revolutionary.

Take me, for example: blogger, sl resident, tuned in to the techfest that is the internet – at least that’s how it looks on the surface – but as you know, from the preceding paragraphs, despite appearances, i have absolutely no interest in following the crowd; and there are lots of people in sl, just like me. People who will go along with the status quo, simply for a quiet life but then, one day, they decide that they’ve had enough… and then, anything can happen. Once one member of the herd makes a bolt for freedom, the others follow suit and before you know it, you have a stampede! Herd behaviour then becomes a potent force to be reckoned with – as they say at rock concerts; “if we all stand up, they can’t stop us!”

And so, to all of us who are thoroughly disheartened by the way in which Linden Lab are managing sl, (‘Your world, your imagination’, remember), perhaps there has to come a time when the herd starts to act as if it is their world – but for it to have any impact at all, it has to be the herd that takes the initiative. If a few fed-up mavericks choose to leave sl for pastures new it’ll make no difference at all – no-one will notice and nothing will change for those who are left behind; but, just imagine if all of us left, not for long – just for a week or two. Imagine if we decided to take a 2-week break from the virtual world, closed our businesses and shops for the duration and just didn’t bother logging in… you can bet your bottom dollar that LL would sit up and take notice, pretty damn quick! Better still, imagine if all of us got down to the serious business of making sl work, imagine the possibilities?

So often we complain, but rarely do we act, and even more rarely do we act as one… sometimes it takes a revolution to overthrow the prince – remember SOPA and Blackout Wednesday? Those familiar with the history of sl will know that in the good old frontier days, residents were made of sterner stuff than they appear to be today and that resident-instigated revolutions changed the course of sl history – our forbears weren’t prepared to put up with SLecond best, so why should we?

If all this gives you the heebie-jeebies, perhaps we should consider where we would be today if that original maverick and revolutionary, Philip Rosedale, had let the establishment ride roughshod over his own ideas and vision for a virtual world in which the residents called the shots… because, somehow, i don’t think i’d be writing about sl right now, if he had.

s. x

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We’d all want to change the world
The Beatles – Revolution 

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4 Responses to Come the revolution

  1. There is no simple way to define SL (bear with me, I’ll get to your point), but one I like is therapy. Therapy in a broad sense; SL in some way enriches and improves our RL. For some is it is at the level of casual entertainment, a pleasant distraction. For others, however is fills a desperate need, and those people will not leave unless a) SL’s ability to fulfill their need is threatened or diminished. AND b) there is a reasonable viable alternative.
    When conditions are right, no one will have to organize anything and there will be little warning. The giant sucking sound you hear will be the beginning of the exodus and the death gasp of SL.

    • Although i’d never knock the therapeutic value of sl, there’s always a danger with any sort of ‘therapy’, particularly when unregulated or unmoderated, that it becomes something quite different. The ultimate aim of therapy is to make itself unnecessary to the person seeking it – if that person becomes reliant on the therapy, then it is a very different story.
      i’m not saying that there is anything wrong with sl filling a desperate need, even if it is as a substitute for something more rooted in reality, but i’d hate to think that there are some out there for whom there is no viable option, other than to go down the plughole with sl.
      s. x

      • You sent me to wikipedia to find the right words.
        First I think the strength of therapy in SL is that it is not directed, in fact it is not announced as therapy at all. It is covert, you do what you want, after a while you find yourself acting out your RL needs and desires.
        Second, while SL therapy sometimes leads to a “cure”, it is more often supportive therapy. It fills in some of the gaps(?) the unfulfilled / unfulfillable things in your RL without the necessity of scrapping what is working for you already in RL.
        We all know of examples, I will leave them to you to fill in.

        • i take your point.

          Perhaps ‘therapy’ isn’t quite the right term when considering sl, ‘therapeutic’ fits much better. If we consider sl in terms of extending our capabilities – including those that are lacking or suppressed in rl, then it makes a good deal of sense. We are used to surrounding ourselves, even relying upon a great many gadgets and aids that extend our capability in rl, to the point that we might even struggle if they were removed and find ourselves hugely disadvantaged as a consequence – i see sl in much the same perspective… there are those for whom sl provides a very necessary support and bolster – if it were to be taken away, life may not become impossible, but it might certainly become more difficult, particularly in those areas where it serves to dissipate feelings, emotions and experiences that rl cannot necessarily offer.

          s. x

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