As in, which basket(s) to put them in.

Several months ago I sold my remaining sim in Second Life shortly after one of the two tenants I had left. I realized I didn’t want to be a landlord, and the cost of owning a sim had become much larger than the entertainment value it was worth. So I did a cost/benefit analysis of sorts, and I decided how much money I was willing to pay each month for my fun in Second Life.

Having been in the frame of mind of renting the bulk of my Second Life property directly from Linden Research, I replaced my sim by becoming a premium member again, contributing tier to a group I control, and buying a chunk of mainland for the group. That seemed like the best way to get the most prims for the least money. (For those who don’t know, tier on mainland is less than tier on private sims; groups get a 10% bonus above the amount of tier contributed by group members; and tier on mainland is paid in US$, eliminating the exchange fees.) Prices for land on the mainland are also at what may be historic lows, so it was cheap to buy the land.

Then came the mass layoffs. And I thought, I’m not sure I want to put so much money into such an unstable business. So I reduced my mainland holdings by half in order to drop to the next lower tier level. (Monthly tier, not the purchase price, being the major expense of owning mainland.)

And then came the news of Qarl Linden being let go. I never met Qarl, and I have no idea what the whole story is of his employment at Linden Lab. But the situation, nonetheless, only increases my sense of unease about the business health of Linden Research.

Tateru Nino continues to be one of the virtual world commentators/analysts I most value reading. She estimates that layoffs at Linden Research will total 60% by the end of September, “if all goes well”:

“If all goes well”? Yes, it doesn’t sound very good, does it? But it will mean that the company is still there, and hasn’t gone all – which would be the worst possible outcome for everyone, including Linden Lab’s competitors. Few people would actually want to see the Lab go out of business, and it certainly appears to be making all the right moves to ensure that it doesn’t.

And in the comments:

Without faith in virtual environments, generally, the opensim grid could well wind up in the same position as previous generations of online virtual environments: A niche-corner of the Internet with a small market of users shared between them; barely noticed by the public at large, and ultimately not sustainable for more than a decade or two without enough growth to offset attrition.

I do not want Linden Research, Inc., to go out of business. I enjoy my Second Life. But when I look at what I pay each month not just as a fee for server space but as an investment in future pleasure, it’s clear that the added value has little or nothing to do with Linden Lab. Second Life is the best platform I’ve found for what it offers (none of the OpenSim grids come close—yet). But the only pleasure it offers, in and of itself, is landscaping and building. Almost all of the joy I get out of Second Life is the result of communities.

So I’ve now eliminated my mainland holdings, and I’m putting my eggs in baskets that have the potential to outlast Second Life: the communities that bring me joy.

This week I became a true resident of Steelhead. I’ve owned land there, in various sims, for a while, but I now own a good-sized parcel in Steelhead St. Helens that will be my SL home. There are several reasons I chose Steelhead, many having to do with the owners, TotalLunar Eclipse and Tensai Hilra: I’ve met them in real life and liked them; they are actively engaged in Steelhead socially; and they keep up with the cutting edge of virtual world-related technology, including keeping an eye on alternatives to Second Life. (It is this last characteristic that makes them stand out from my other favorite land barons who share the first two.) And to the extent that I’ve been socially engaged in Second Life of late, it is with the people of Steelhead.

After a few months of wandering, it’s good to be home.

Supporting alternative music in Second Life

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A reality rant

Miss Diogenes Kuhr addresses one of my favorite topics:

There is no difference between so-called “first life” and the unfortunately named Second Life.

If you are doing something…whatever you are doing and whatever context you do it in: it is life.

Do you enjoy it? Does it help you pass the time when you are not doing shit that someone else is making you do? Then it is valid. No one, and that means NO ONE has the right to tell you that you need to “get a life” or that you “have no life.”

That is the heart of her argument, but it is placed within a truly first-class rant (with exceptional cursing). Do go read the whole thing.

“and drugs” ? !

Taser Sues Second Life Virtual World Creator Over Gun Sales.

“All of the defendants that sell virtual weaponry like plaintiff’s real ones, under the mark Taser for use in the Second Life programs and grids, also sell adult-only explicit images and scenes” and drugs, according to the complaint.

First, I don’t understand why trademark infringement would be anything other than a straight yes/no question. Either someone is using your trademark or not. Why should other products sold in the same store make any difference?

But notice that the “and drugs” is not a direct quote of the complaint, it is something that Bloomberg made an editorial decision to include. Even though (I trust) the complaint may claim that drugs are sold by Linden Research and Virtualtrade, it is irresponsible to report this as though it is possible.

And finally, I find the idea of tasers far more disreputable than either pornography or drugs.

“Real” life

Tateru Nino has a trenchant post on Massively: Exposing human nature through virtual environments.

That virtual environments, like Second Life, manifestly have not and do not rapidly devolve into random and uncontrollable anarchy is an interesting commentary on how little we know, and how much we assume about human nature.

And more broadly, we are who we are, even when we’re pretending to be something else.

Also of note from Tateru on her personal blog is her decision to honor her time and effort at the keyboard: Breaking a habit: No more RL for me.