Sunday, August 31, 2008

Baxandall, Historian of the social nature of art

If there is an obscure book that influenced, no influences, me more than most, it was written by this man. The book is Giotto and the Orators: Humanist Observers of Painting in Italy and the Discovery of Pictorial Composition.

He argues that rhetoric, and not humanism, was the original lens through which the early Italian renaissance saw themselves:

What they all had in common was the very singular and demanding medium of neo-classical Latin, neo-classical not just in its grammar but in its whole style and character. Because this was do difficult they gave much attention to it and, by their own account, skill at it was the special measure of their individual stature. Many of them, besides, made a career with this skill, as secretaries in the Curia at Rome or the Chancellery at Florence, as school-masters in mantua or Ferrara or Padua, or as appointed historians at the courts of Milan or Naples. Latin grammar and rhetoric was the humanists' art.

As importantly they understood this language as an intellectual, not vernacular language. Its difficulties were introduced because of it's varied resources, not because of its ability to replace the ordinary language of street and workshop. But under this is the relatively revolutionary thrust of neo-Ciceronian syntax: it was a replacement for church Latin, and hence medieval scholasticism, as dominant means of thought.

Their project was to recapture a lost flame, however imperfect they knew their efforts were. This is part of rebirth as a more general project, we talk about the rebirth of classical values, and their own project included a rebirth of the energy of another time that they saw as more like their own experience, more simpaticco to their own selves. More true a mirror in the distance.

So what does this have to do with art? And what does it have to do with us?

A great deal. First because their categories are very much like ours. Second because their relative position is like our own. They are coming out of a flat scholastic age, and into a polydimensional human age.


When talking about the paintings of early renaissance artists, that is from the birth of the renaissance ideal with Dante and Petrarch in the early 1300's through roughly 1450, the early orators, as Baxandall called them, spoke of Giotto, for example, they analyzed his paintings in the idea of decor and decus and therefore, to look for distinguishing features which asserted themselves. The distinguishing features which stood above their moment, and which asserted that moment.

The judgment is less important, said Baxandall, than what your system of thinking tells you what to look for, and what to talk about. He cites Lorenzo Valla's Elegantiae early in talking about what decus means, this is on page 10:

Decus is the honour, so to speak of which is gained from things well done: thus the deocra of war are the praise, honours, and dignities acquired by a soldier in battle...

Now, if this all sounds abstract. What are lulz? Lulz are the rewards of griefing in itself. We have decus right now, in that much of the honour of second life is from the doing well itself.

And then decor

Decor is a kind of beauty or pulchritudo derived from the suitability of things and person to both place and time, whether in action or speech... this refers not so much to virtue itself as to what common opinion considers to be virtuous, beautiful, and fitting.

Dedecus, is the opposite of decus.

Now, let me take an example of how language and decor are important to us. Suppose you see someone wearing system hair, system clothes and one of the two or three common skins that are lying around. You think "n00b" not just newbie, but someone who, as yet, has no understanding of how to put together an avatar, but has merely tripped over one or two things that are useful.

There, you are thinking like a renaissance orator in that you see the feature that stands out from the background, the background that asserts itself by the overwhelming collection of new things, and drawing a conclusion. That conclusion takes the form of a name. That name implies not just a simple description, but a state of mind, of being. You are seeing that he lacks an understanding of how to do things well in second life, and that this is ugly, not just visual, but spiritual.

So that's what they taught us, to look for the mastery of the common things, and to place a judgment in a single word which declares that the person has failed to earn the praise due to someone who belongs here. N00b.

So our n00b by failing to have decor acquires dedecus. And from that we can take from his bad facies the state of his vultus or will. To put it another way, the point of the system of thinking is to go from what we can see, to what we cannot see. The point being to have a unique or novel mastery of things, which is how someone earns decus by having not merely decor but the ability to transcend it.

Which is precisely what we look for in content: the ability to use the common tools to produce something which is uncommon.

But the larger project is also important. The writers and painters of that time were trying to recreate a world, in better form. So largely, are people in second life. If the platform doesn't support pseudo-realism, so much the worse for the users, who are often subjected to clumsy and loaded builds clearly thrust at the idea of being more like what people want the real world to be like than the real world is. If their grammar manuals were limited, so too is second life as a platform. They spent a lot of time bitching about their sources, and we spend a great deal of time bitching about Second Life. There is something remarkably resonant in reading them trash old medieval latin dictionaries, and then use them. It looks like us, complaining about lag, and logging in again.

It is from this that we get the concept of the period eye. Looking at things the way the people who made them looked at them. Consider a hundred years from now. Somewhere there is a museum. People are made to sit in front of screens, and given these clumsy input devices known as keyboards and mice. They will look at what we are doing through their eyes. Some docent will lecture about how people were willing to drop everything and play here. Baxandall's Painting and Experience in the 15th Century Italy, from 1972 has a chapter that details this concept.

The students will look incredulous.


The docent will then talk about how the times of this moment allowed us to judge things that to them, are invisible. The shape of a barrel told someone in 1400 a great deal. It tells us quite a bit less. The monitors and graphics equipment of this age tell people a great deal. They will tell the people of 2100 a good deal less.

Their social signs will not be ours, and the web of relationships implied, for example, by a yacht, or gun, or mansion, will not be ours. They might recognize the sign, but not grasp the signified. They might know it means something, but not what. What will they make of our obsession with tropical islands. In 2100, it's a pretty good bet that Ireland might be a tropical island.

Scholastic to Humanist

But there is another huge point of correspondence here. The renaissance was trying to leave behind a scholastic age in words, on that organized and flattened all projects to the religious one, a point that can be seen from a figure that Baxandall shows on page 32 of Painting and Experience with a flattened and clearly unrealistic map of what was to them "The Holy Land." That's us.

Let me take an example. What makes a good skin? Shadowing and detailing that makes the shape look more three dimensional than the machines we have render. What do you look like grey? Or half rezzed? And then fully rezzed? The creation of the illusion of 3D in a 2D world was the challenge of the painters of that day, and they studied perspective, light, shadow, anatomy, and the mechanism of lens, to obtain the tools to do it. And so the development of skins, from newbie to present, follows this course.

But this is only the visual aspect. Why do it at all? Why not have flatvatars that are all over websites these days. Why be round? Particularly because like us, they knew this is really impossible:

The painter exerts himself to make any figure he paints - actually just a little colour applied with skill to a panel - similar in its action to a figure which is the product of Nature and naturally has that action: so that it can deceive the eues of the beholder, eitehr partly or completely, making itself be taken for what it really is not.


In fact, since our vision is stereoscopic one is no normally long deceived by such a picture to the point of complete supposing it real. Leonardo da Vinci pointed this out:

It is not possible for a painting, even if it is done with the greatest perfection of outline, shadow, light and colour, to appear in the same relief as the natural model, unless that natural model were looked at from a great distance and with only one eye.

Baxandall's argument is that not only did the painter have to have skill to make the painting, but that the viewer had to have skill to interpret the painting. This skill set him as a member of the social relationships that came with it. The same is true of us: the ability to know what something means is essential for our social relationships.

Now, the social relationships of a scholastic world are different. That I know these books, and the books that they come from, and the books that cite them, is important in academia. It's part of the social relationships of scholasticism. Here, it doesn't mean very much at all. There aren't many builds with footnotes, and being able cite here is worth about as much as a 1L pair of prim blingers. Turn it off already many of you are thinking.

The scholastic social relationships are flattening. There objective is to flatten everything that has been written into one big text. This is like the scribal and scholastic logic of Byzantium. However we are Quattrocento in our visual world, and the visual world implies a different kind of social relationship, because its goal is not to flatten the world into a single page, but, on the contrary, to take our ability to work with flat things, like say, monitors or panels, and turn them into something which approximates nature.

And a big part of that nature is sex, of course, but I don't think I need to point this out quite yet. The more important thing is that there are three dimensional realities, in our case more than 3D realities, which we are trying to express. The difference is that a scholastic is trying to assert his or her relationship to a fixed text, even if that fixed text is a metaphysical reality. In fact, even more so because it is, like the dogma of religion, or the world of academia, a metaphysical text.

The byzantine mind wants to assert that the world is like our representation in that it has an intrinsic flatness, and the Quattrocento mind wants to assert that our representations can be more like the world.

This means that the byzantine mind is about flattening, and about the abstraction, where as the Quattrocento mind is about the thing gazed at. This means that the social purpose is also different. The Quattrocento mind, and the minds we are trying to create in second life, are the minds which see the person who is behind the creation, as opposed to the byzantine mind, which wants to see the creation that is behind the person.

So we have in sl, a renaissance mental society at work, trying to make things that show the reality of the people behind them. We judge things with ideas and systems that would have been familiar to early humanists, because, like them, we are struggling to give birth to a different place, where people, not abstractions are central. We have many of the same problems in creating a round representation with flat tools, which are the reverse of Web 1.0, which wanted to flatten messy round experience into web "pages."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Map bug

New map bug that is driving me batty, regions that don't exist show up as red "offline" squares if you click on them.


The depth of desire

Recently a story associated with second life made headlines: a woman tried to kidnap the man she met in the second life™ world. He had dumped her. I'm going to write first that this is news because of its woman bites dog quality. Every day there are equivalent domestic disturbances where men do this to women. To write about this incident without saying the obvious, that for every time a man is a target of romantic violence, there are 10 women, would be a sham. Stalking, real and virtual, is a daily reality.

But that's not what I am going to write about, because I don't know the details of this incident well enough, and, frankly, I've had enough bleakness in my sl over the last week. We had to clean up some problems at Yedo, and currently are involved in finding out where, not if, some really gross violations of trust occurred. I'm not going to say anything, because the facts of exactly what happened are up in the air, and I don't even want to imply wrong doing on the part of others, when they could have just been caught up in a web. It hurts to have to do some of the things that renting sims on Second Life entails, and it's not a happy part of the business.

Instead, I want to talk about the depth of desire that would drive a person to believe that some how putting duct tape around their ex-lover's dog would be reasonable. There is a madness to the love of logic, and insane and overwhelming passion. People make promises that cannot be kept, they say things that they know aren't true but feel are true, they use others because of their own over-riding needs. Clearly the woman in this case has overwhelming needs that cannot be met, clearly within her, as within all of us, there is a burning need to be seen, and seen in a special light.

And we are all this mad.

I can't know what others experience exactly, since we are all different. Yet I know, because we are also all the same. I know well the tide where the entire center of my midriff seems convulsing with need, as if I am a body dragged along by a wave that carries me. I know the panged emptiness of rejection all too well, as if I am a corpse dashed on the rocks. Those conversations where everything seems to rise or fall, not even on the words, but on the pauses. On the long hanging silences, the waiting. The waiting. The waiting is the worst, when you don't know what the other person means.

Now that the woman here tried to kidnap the man is, sort of, an indication of the truth that it was probably a good idea to break the relationship off. But I can't help but believe, because I know this all too well from my own life, that the man made promises, whispered sweet things, painted a picture in broad strokes, and she saw this picture, and believed in forever more. Forever and ever more. Forever.

I am not a great believer in gendering too much of how we deal with others. Much of what we feel is different in expression, but the same in deep ways. But one area where gender impinges is in attachment and devotion, the quality of it. To be filled up by someone else, to be swollen with him, and carrying him. That's not something nature asks of men. I know there is a mirror of this in men, that this woman, this person, has given so much of herself, risked her life, truly, and given it in a way that will make her the moon that orbits the earth of her child's needs. To gaze on that and truly know in the way that only fertility can prove, of an acceptance that surpasses words and understanding. Well I've seen truly devoted men, I can see how their gaze is.

Almost every woman wants to hold at least one man in that gaze at least once. It is one reason, I think, that arrogant men have an attraction. A proof beyond proof again: that I, I am the first thing to disturb the equilibrium of his self love. I, that I, am the fist part of the world outside of himself that is real, that he acknowledges as piercing the solliphany of ego. No it's not my word, but I heard it once, and have carried it with me. A seed from someone's lips that has grown in my ear with passing years. Solliphany, that state of being wrapped in a belief that all the world is merely one's own reflection.

And that is what makes the woman's words so poignant to me. "I will not be ignored."

How often everyone feels ignored. Quite often that is the help that people need most, to simply be listened to, and paid attention to.

I've been ignoring you, my readers, and as a result, you have been ignoring me. I feel that pang of missing the writing here, even as I have been very productive elsewhere. It is part of the depth of desire, for second life, second life has entered me and filled me, and my poems and scant scribblings are the welling up of creative life it has created in me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trust Paradigms:
Bayesian Decisions

I'm right now working on editing a friend's white paper on trust in OGP. I'm writing this post half to try and get things clear in my own head, because there are a large number of details. This first post is on the first step of the argument: trust is not about what you know, but about what is observed, and what can be deduced from what is observed, to minimize risk. Talking about trust in absolutes is a road to madness, what is important is to reach as close the the minimum amount of risk, based on a distribution of events, and a utility function. Or essentially, what happens versus what you want, and how to get as much of it as possible without losing it.

Your mind as well here, because the desire for absolutes drives a lot of the craziness. I've argued with people about unforgeable tokens for example. There's no such thing.

The purpose of the paper is to outline what he calls "The Trust Paradigm" in VR, and apply it to the problem of an Open Grid. The reason for doing this is that previous paradigms of trust are rooted in what I call "proton think," or the belief that underneath the pile of signals is a pile of protons, and trust or data is about getting as close to that pile of protons as possible. But in VR, really, there is no pile of protons you can rely on. An avatar can be played by many people, one person can have many avatars, and simulators will run in the "cloud."

A trust paradigm, to get ahead of myself, is a series of games, each one of which has as a payoff the next step in the paradigm, and ending with a final result of a trust decision. You can't know whether it is safe to trust, you can only decide it.

"There is no proton," as he puts it, "Only the measurements." This is really how things work in SL with people exchanging millions of dollars, without knowing who the others are. We take in millions of linden a month and thousands of USD, I know, I think, ten of the people we do business with irl.

MEGO Alert

People talk about trust as if it were a matter of epistemology: what do you know and how do you know it. Instead, trust should be viewed as a decision, based on measurable things, against a background of experience, with a particular risk that the decision will not work based on future events which have some probability distribution which is known only in so far as it is reflected in past events. This means that the right way to think about trust is as a bayesian decision, where a the future is surface which is determined by a risk function, and whose boundaries can be determined based on the extremes of a metric space.

The initial work of this kind was done by Herbert Robbins, who in 1950 introduced Compound Decision Theory, and then later applied Bayesian statistics to it. This came to be called the Empirical Bayes Method, or Methods. (anal retentive alert, why is it "empirical Bayes" but always capitalized as an abbreviation?)

Compound decision theory showed that a decision involving many stochastically independent steps can have a reduced risk in the final decision, by using inter-relationships that can be found statistically. Or to put it another way, even things that seem to have nothing to do with each other, can have something to do with each other. In 1955 Robbins added a important idea, Empirical Bayes Theory. In this he showed that Bayesian statistics could be used to approximate the best possible decision rule, even without knowing the prior distribution. Or to put it another way, even something you don't know much about, you can know enough about.

His case was that of a Poisson distribution, that is a set of discrete events overtime which have no correlation since the last event. It is interesting to note that Poisson used these methods in cases of criminal and civil law.

The two pieces fit together, because many compound decisions break down into separate decisions which can't be determined exactly from previous data. This is often because the different parts overlap and are noise in each other's signal.

Or to quote:

The empirical Bayes approach in statistical decision theory is appropriate when one is confronted repeatedly and independently with the same decision problems. In such instances it is reasonable to formulate the component problem in the sequence as a Bayes decision problem with respect to an unknown prior distribution on the parameter space and use the accumulated observations to improve the decision rule at each stage.

One area which this is used particularly is in selecting the best possible population from a group with an unknown distribution. This is, in spades, hearts, diamonds or no trump, the problem of trust in the VR environment. Trust is a compound decision, the distribution is unknown, but the decisions are repetitive.

Particularly when the goal is to select an optimal population. This is important to trust because the ultimate goal is not just to deny bad actors the chance to do something bad, but to weed out the worst actors from the population entirely.

So to summarize: trust events are based, from the point of view of both servers and users, as a series of events. They must decide based on their own desires whether to take a risk in extending a capacity or exchanging information. The interval between these decisions is random, and the behavior of the other entity is random. So there is a parametric space, that is the data an entity gets, a distribution, part of which is unknown, a utility function, and the need to break the compound of all of this down into discrete steps. This is exactly what EB does from the high level.

Now why is this important?

There is a great deal of looseness in talking about trust, and a desire that we get to the real physical things. Most trust tries to create a root of trust which is known, and everything else is compared to that. The problem is, this is not the minimum risk, and the larger the data sample, the riskier it gets, because the root is more and more likely to be corrupt or a target. Centralized single point of failure and all that.

What this does is it moves the question from abstract epistemology, to the questions of what is desired, what is measured, and what can be infered. It provides a basis for saying, exactly, what trust is:

Trust is the decision to accept a particular risk in granting a particular capacity or set of capacities in light of a distribution of future arrivals in a poissonian distribution.

The problem of trust is to reach as close to the optimal risk rules. This is why when you look at papers centered around empirical Bayes Theory, they talk about "asymptotic" approaching of an optimal rule Q. The idea is to get "as close as you need."

However, what those discrete steps are, is not provided by Empirical Bayes theory. For that we need the theory of games, which I will outline in the next part.

No, I'm not this smart. Yes, I passed the statistical calculus class, so the squiggles aren't all blurry and I can follow the argument.


Zhang Cun-Hui "Compound Decision Theory and Empirical Bayes Methods", The Annals of Statistics, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr., 2003), pp. 379-390 Institute of Mathematical Statistics
Banerjee “Simplification of the Derivation of Wald's Formula for the Cost of Living Index”, Econometrica, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Jul., 1956), pp. 296-298

Eaton, Morris L, “Complete Class Theorems Derived from Conditional Complete Class Theorems” The Annals of Statistics, 1978 Vol. 6 No. , 820-7

Matthes and Traux (1967) Test of Composite Hypotheses for the Multiparameter exponential family” Annals of Mathematical Statisics 38 681-697

Robbins,Herbert "An Empirical Bayes Approach to Statistics", Proceeding of the Third Berkeley Symposium on Mathematical Statistics, volume 1, pages 157-163, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1956.

Robbins Adaptive Statistical Procedures and Related Topics: Proceedings of a Symposium in Honor of Herbert Robbins, June 7-11, 1985, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, New York

Snijders, Tom “Complete Class Theorems for the Simplest Empirical Bayes Decision Problems” The Annals of Statistics, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jan., 1977), pp. 164-171

Wald, A. “A New Formula for the Index of Cost of Living” Econometrica, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Oct., 1939), pp. 319-331

Real rights, real consequences.

Protect Birth Control

Friday, August 22, 2008

Offered without comment


Top Model?..yea right! we do it Different at BANG BROTHAS...Yall know its about That Top
Slut here!

At BANG BROTHAS we always doin it fresh and different... throwin down some big lindens to find out who is the


5000 lindens to the Winner!


Well, you need to prove to all the BANG BRO members that you are truly TOP SLUT MATERIAL.
That means get that pussy hot and givin it up here at the club....then get that BROTHA to vote for you. You have a month to increase your chances to win.....So....the more you FUCK 'EM and the BETTER YOU ARE AT IT....the better your chances are to get the votes you need to win. Weekly announcements sent out to keep you updated on who is the nasty slut leading with the most votes.


Starting Tues 8/19 come down to the club to enter the contest board and get your pic up on the wall the vote board the 150 Linden Entry fee and then show off to the club and your friends and guests what a DIRTY SLUT you really are! .
Increase your chances by voting daily and receiving daily votes from your friends and
any guests you trying to impress.

The contest will commence when the last Slut Slot is filled on the Vote Board

7 days from the first announcement the competition begins and votes commence. 30 days from then the competition ends and votes tallied. The top slut with the most votes will be announced ain the club to see. She will also receive 5k lindens to spend how a good slut should!



Winner will be the slut who recieves most votes. Bang Brothas reserves the right to all decisions regarding the process of this competition.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Barny Thursday: The kind of person who tries the insult scam.

He specifically wanted this made public.

[21:03] Lillie Yifu: hihi
[21:03] Barny Thursday: hello
[21:03] Lillie Yifu: how may I help you?
[21:03] Barny Thursday: so...what do I have to pay upfront to get 22k a month tier?
[21:05] Lillie Yifu: 22 k tier is 60K set up andfirst month, or 82k move in. You can name the sim, specify exactly where it goes, and your tier will be fixed at a cosntnat level above ll fees for an ilsnad
[21:05] Lillie Yifu: plus money moving costs.
[21:05] Lillie Yifu: also we apply for EO for you immediately
[21:06] Barny Thursday: ouch
[21:06] Lillie Yifu: It costs us 250 USD to make an island dear
[21:06] Barny Thursday: sure....but why are there others charging so much less?
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: no one is charging so much less dear
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: I check all the prices
[21:07] Barny Thursday: hmmm
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: what it is is everyone plays a game
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: they tell you one price with a high tier as move in
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: and then they tell you another tier price with a higher set up
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: go and ask around
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: don't takemy word for it
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: bella's lowest tier is 25K
[21:07] Lillie Yifu: for a higher set up
[21:08] Barny Thursday: have seen some for L$30,000 land price and L$25,000 monthly tier
[21:08] Barny Thursday: seems like that would be less for a long time
[21:08] Lillie Yifu: our price at that level is 25/25
[21:08] Barny Thursday: so then to get the extra 3k a month, I have to spend another 45k?
[21:09] Lillie Yifu: because ll charges 75k
[21:09] Lillie Yifu: 75 USD a month
[21:09] Lillie Yifu: every dollar of tier reduction comes straight out of the land holder
[21:09] Lillie Yifu: so yes
[21:09] Barny Thursday: yes....but its only 3k difference you are saying....that would take 15 months to make up
[21:10] Lillie Yifu: at lower levels no one promises not to change your tier
[21:10] Lillie Yifu: we offer a range or prices
[21:11] Barny Thursday: I could understand something like 45/ 22......
[21:11] Lillie Yifu: we'd enver pay ofr the island at that point dear
[21:11] Barny Thursday: but not 60/22
[21:11] Barny Thursday: you would just as fast as 25,25
[21:11] Barny Thursday: in fact faster
[21:11] Lillie Yifu: 22k is 80 USD after fees
[21:11] Barny Thursday: not sure if we are on the same wave length
[21:11] Lillie Yifu: or 5 USD a month over what ll charges us
[21:11] Barny Thursday: better deals out there
[21:12] Lillie Yifu: the go and find them dear
[21:12] Lillie Yifu: but you are wrong
[21:12] Lillie Yifu: for the large land dealers
[21:13] Lillie Yifu: they will charge you higher prices than I quote you
[21:13] Lillie Yifu: you can get lower prices fo contienntal sims with restrictions
[21:13] Barny Thursday: tell you you deal out on a notecard....with a comparison of your price points
[21:13] Lillie Yifu: many people find this a good bargain
[21:13] Barny Thursday: make it make sense, and we can talk
[21:13] Barny Thursday: otherwise you are doing the same thing they are
[21:13] Barny Thursday: a line of crap
[21:13] Lillie Yifu: actually I do have a price list
[21:14] Lillie Yifu: let me give it to you
[21:14] Lillie Yifu: well I'm not renting to you. I don't rent to people who insult me, they only cause trouble
[21:14] Lillie Yifu: beijos
[21:14] Lillie Yifu: this conversation is over
[21:14] Barny Thursday: and btw.....was even someone selling for L$1 and 25k a month yesterday
[21:14] Lillie Yifu: hmmmm
[21:15] Barny Thursday: I missed the deal.....and they sould like they don't speak much english
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: yes I get peopel who come to me after taking up on things like that
[21:15] Barny Thursday: Zwelt or something
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: yes that was dumping a contientnal sim with restrictions
[21:15] Barny Thursday: ZVelt.....hell I don't know
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: their usual rate is 1000L or 450L and 29999
[21:15] Barny Thursday: isn't that was yours is?
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: Ben Schumann
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: not his isn't interior
[21:15] Lillie Yifu: and it comes with EM
[21:15] Barny Thursday: yours is not standalone
[21:16] Lillie Yifu: but then this isn't being charged at my stand alone rate
[21:16] Lillie Yifu: and it isn't what someone ordering a new sim would get
[21:16] Lillie Yifu: so sicne you are so convinced that there are better deals
[21:16] Lillie Yifu: i will leave you to find them
[21:16] Lillie Yifu: good bye
[21:16] Barny Thursday: sounds lke a plan
[21:16] Lillie Yifu laughs
[21:17] Lillie Yifu: there are people who match our prices
[21:17] Lillie Yifu: Kalyra heartt is reliable and does
[21:17] Barny Thursday: you just never know when you might say the wrong thing to the right person.....
[21:17] Barny Thursday: best advice? cordial or don't say anything at all
[21:17] Lillie Yifu: best advice dear
[21:17] Lillie Yifu: do your worst dear
[21:17] Lillie Yifu: you've made an enemmy
[21:18] Lillie Yifu: because I don't respond well to insults and threats
[21:18] Lillie Yifu: so do it
[21:18] Lillie Yifu: or shut up
[21:18] Barny Thursday: so then you won't mind if somthing like this makes it way public?
[21:18] Lillie Yifu: I will do it for you
[21:18] Lillie Yifu: right now
[21:18] Barny Thursday: where at?
[21:18] Barny Thursday: SLUniverse good for you?
[21:19] Barny Thursday: and .....don't change the names either
[21:19] Barny Thursday: let them see who are really are
[21:19] Lillie Yifu: SL Universe
[21:19] Lillie Yifu: ah yes
[21:19] Lillie Yifu: I have an accoutn there
[21:19] Barny Thursday: put it up :)
[21:19] Lillie Yifu: let's see one person who adverstised sims there dumped them all the next week
[21:19] Lillie Yifu: i got two of his tenants
[21:20] Barny Thursday: what has that got to do with this chat?
[21:20] Barny Thursday: and your demenor?
[21:20] Barny Thursday: its as if you _really_ don
[21:20] Barny Thursday: don't care how unprofessional you are
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: A great deal
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: because I know what I am talking about, and you don't
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: many people come to me quoting false prices
[21:21] Barny Thursday: post it
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: or prices for things that don't work out
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: and then try and insult me to lower mine
[21:21] Barny Thursday: you need to check out the competition more
[21:21] Lillie Yifu: you aren't the first scammer I have seen
[21:22] Lillie Yifu: dear I check them all the time
[21:22] Barny Thursday: not sure if I insulted you at all.....did I?
[21:22] Lillie Yifu: yes you did
[21:22] Barny Thursday: well...if you are that thinned skinned, perhaps you are in the wrong line of work
[21:22] Barny Thursday: never even called you a name
[21:22] Barny Thursday: you shouldn't take thing so personally
[21:23] Lillie Yifu: You are also a liar
[21:23] Lillie Yifu: let me add that to the post
[21:23] Lillie Yifu: it really works
[21:23] Barny Thursday: I will look for it :D

So there it is. I liked the part after insulting me and threatneingme he tells me not to take things personally. My belief is you should never rent to people like this, because they only cause problems. If it means a sim sits a few days, then the sim sits a few days, and that's life in real estate.

We check prices. There are a few people who match ours who are reliable - I mentioned one to him.

My suspicion is that this is another land dealer's alt.

Right now Ben Schumann, after having stacked up a huge number of sims, is dumping several of them at 25K per month. People should, if they like dealing with him, snap these up. But you have to ask yourself how long that is going to work out, because at 25K a month, it will take him 8 months of tier to make the sim back. And right now he needs the money, because he has huge numbers of sims up.

And note for Barny, the math impaired shouldn't shop for land. The difference between 60K and 25K is 35K, which takes about a year to make up, not 15 months. No I'm not going to go over to SLUniverse and engage in a flame war with you, there's a reason why I stopped going to forums, and that is that there's lots of drama, but not much money to be made.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A short summary of some aspects of the OGP story

Up until now virtual reality has been in "walled gardens." A provider creates a world, provided "content" and allowed users to interact with it, often in very directed ways. The most common kinds of VR over the internet were combat games, and "3D Chat." The Second Life™ world was unique because it offered a different model. It was not multiplayer combat, nor 3D chat, but, essentially, what VRML had promised so long before: a VR version of HTML, where people made places. The last few months have seen rapid changes in this situation.

The idea of the Open Grid Protocol is to make it so that one user account can seamlessly move between regions hosted by many different companies and in many different locations. There are two pressures forcing the evolution of this idea, one is internal, in that as people grew more adept at working with this model, there was more and more desire for more and more control. From renting "parcels" on Linden Lab controlled mainland, to having a server, to making server ownership a commodity with Openspace™ sims. The parallel track was to allow reverse engineering to produce various kinds of "open" simulators, OpenSim being the most famous. The second pressure was external, as cloud computing, 3D graphics, and end user devices changed, the world of 3D chat was always going to make a large leap upwards in both quality and availability. The recent announcement of a cloud photorealistic VR, rendered by the server and served to even small devices marks merely the next level of entry into the world of 3D chat VR.

The response from the Linden Lab-IBM partnership was to look at the internal and external pressures as being the same. That the problems with concurrency, and the demand for personal control over simulator spaces could be solved by opening the platform. Opening the platform, however, created a series of obstacles, from Zero Linden's prediction of "scary numbers" of virtual reality users, to Zha Ewry's, the IBM architect, understanding that interoperability would be deeply related to continuity of identity within a VR. The famously patchwork nature of the underlying code and legacy decisions made to ship code quickly became visible rapidly. Despite having straw man log in procedures for months, it was only in July that the first OGP intergrid teleport occurred.

The result was a series of efforts, one being the effort by Zero to re-architect the grid itself, the other being what is now called the "Open Grid Protocol" or OGP for short. OGP's first step was to reduce the dozens of pieces of information exchanged between a client and a server down to a few simple pieces of authentication. The second step was to change the very meaning of what we know as the word "Grid." Instead of one singe source hosing both the sims, or regions, and the clients logged into them, there would be three parts. A Viewer, an Region Domain, that is the sim or group of sims in a grid, and an Agent Domain that would negotiate trust between the two. This would mean that a user would log in through a Viewer to an Agent Domain, and the Agent Domain would negotiate presence with the Region Domains. OGP will be the means by which presence, license, and trust are negotiated between these pieces.

The test of this concept was initiated by Zha Ewry at IBM, making the first OGP log in between an Agent Domain and different sims. This test was then opened to a "beta," though more accurately alpha test, where users signed up for the test, were invited into a group, and could then teleport from a region in one place, to a region in another. The "beta" grid, Aditi, was used for this, and by now dozens of avatars have jumped from a sim hosted in different places.

This testing of OpenSims, and making them compatible with OGP, proved to be a success, even though the OGP client did not, intentionally, have inventory, so our "gridnauts" were all ruthed, or clouded. The lack of inventory comes from the still evolving legal question of how to handle intergrid trust, and as a consequences of this, inter-grid transport. Infinity and Enus Linden are both involved in dealing with the technical specification of trust, but there will be an inevitable marrying of law, technology, and custom which will have to be debated, sometimes harshly, along the way.

The other track however, was the building of an easier way to test, and to log into, this new protocol. This work is encapsulated in PyOGP, or Python OGP. This has already gathered enough notice to have one integrated development environment to offer it's professional version of its python environment free to those doing OGP work. One important contributor to this has been Saijani Kuhn, who first attempted to sort through the legacy log in process and then produce the first python OGP log in. He has also been crucial in keeping the sometimes fractious interface between LL and interested residents moving.

The current state is that this process is not in an advanced state, but has the clear commitment of Linden Lab and IBM. The next steps are to begin creating tests for OGP log ins and expanding what is supported. Under this is a radical simplification of how the client talks to a simulator, and the possibility of more, and easier, text based interfaces to Second Life compatible sims.

The business motivation for this from LL's stand point can be outlined simply. By allowing others to host compatible sims, but with an Agent Domain which is hosted by LL, it gets around current concurrency issues, eases the need to be an ISP as its main business, and creates a much larger base for content creation. Having been the most successful of walled gardens, LL is now trying to escape being out prettied by newer even better walled gardens.

The motivation for others is also clear. Being an ISP is something that many people know how to do, there are large numbers of techies who could simply offer Second Life compatible servers in addition to other applications, and there is the possibility of hosting farms of sims without paying for the overhead of support and service from Second Life. OGP however is also a threat to entrenched interests that have made their living by offering what amounts to middle man services between LL the ISP and end users. What need there would be for this large class of people in an OGP world is not clear, except that actually using a sim is a complex business, and service providers with the ability to do more than flip land would have the ability to offer this as a value add.

By the time this article sees print, it is very likely that OGP will have taken several more steps to creating tests, integrating a sophisticated trust brokering protocol, and perhaps even the outlines of content licensing enforcement. The largest hurdle is that trust is a more elusive concept where people, and their avatars, have thousands of bits of independent content to manage.

This model leads farther down the road of having the Linden Lab's simulator be the web server for interactive poly-dimensional content, and fits in with the transition to open standards such as Mono for various aspects of the platform. There has already been no small degree of controversy in how this is to be executed, and on what time table, there is likely to be more. The upside for the Second Life community is that it will forge further into a unique spot in the VR universe, the downside is that there is a wave of "Second Life killers" being prepared which stake their success on the proposition that what people really want is a more easily used walled garden.

Inner Sea Canto V

And so and so and so and so
the surf does surge up upon us though
you sleep just beyond its fingers reach
half awake as I comb with mine,
the precious locks that twirl and curl.

This here this place we have washed upon,
this distant Eden flee'd from our Babylon
when once we gazed into an east unfed,
now we look back on a west that is dead,
or dying of its misshapen woes,
reduced to pimping it's children as hoes.

Not even whores any mores,
the r's swallowed like all the pride,
and left with only images inside.
How a privileged people have brough them selves low,
and slip head side to side in half awakened glow.

You now, are that moment where sleep and wakening collide,
the clatter and do battle on your eyelids.
And so I kiss sleep on the right,
and waking on the left,
pondering which shall take this prize.
Will I see the sleeping moon of your soft face?
Or the brightness of your brilliant eyes?

Or will they flutter as they do in this moment gleaming,
when nothing is, and all is seeming.
Before we have roused our selves to find the needs of flesh,
and spirit still tosses us up like foam.
The nerieds of the water unrepressed,
by the weight of this flesh that we bear.

The are the pure spirits of sea, in me,
as you are touched by the lords of the air.
I know this when I watch your mind,
and poetry in its work enthralling,
as each twist and turn you manipulate just so,
to an end unseen, but one you know.

Through your mind, a gale of genius does blow.
Light lithe as my foot prints on this sand
barely etch a trace of passing,
and yet with movement all surpassing,
seem to magically transport from here to there.

I am the sea.
You are the air.

Now I come back bearing fruit,
you stare upwards and then finally,
I curl over you, lost from your exertions,
to save that poor wreckage that was our boat,
as storm ripped through it's tender masts,
and slashed its soft sails.
Finally to smash its sleek hull,
into scraps and shards and splinters.

I strain water into your mouth,
you swallow, and with parched lips
whisper a thanks that is holy thanks,
for this the gift of water that is life,
next to an ocean that was nearly death.

You breath my name, even though the sounds
and syllables, are yet indistinct.
Your gaze meets mine,
and the sugar courses like a drug through you.
You long to drink another nectar.

Come with me, come with me,
come and voyage on my inner sea.

Shame on You Penny Kaufman, Shame on You Sky Moonites

No one can copyright the name Amadeus, the poster however, is not yours.

Shame shame shame. No content creator should touch this with a 10 meter prim... or they will be saying that it is OK to steal from them, since they profit by the theft from others...

I shouldn't say this... no I should. Their staff group was 0L open enrollment... now that's an example of noobocity...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How Mysogyny Happens

For a long time I belonged to the Free Sex Community Group. Not to get free sex, but because every scammer and spammer in sl would sooner or later see a large group, realize it was unattended, and spam it. It was also a good meter of incoming men to Second Life. Recently its creator Pleasure Semple came back to SL. A conversation with him showed me how misogny happens. Pleasure is one of those pompous individuals who first attacks, and then, when shown he is wrong and doesn't have the facts, airly dismisses them saying that just because the facts are as they are, doesn't mean anything.

Pleasure you see, is looking for free whores willing to work for his aggrandizement. Like most people who use women for their own advancement, he calls this "free." Free Sex, is the means he creates he importance, and offering access to other women's free sex is his means to power. Like most people who abuse others for their own egos, he calls this "freedom." It is, for him.

The heart of the problem is that there is no such thing, as free sex. Pleasure Simple denies this, because what he wants is people willing to give out free sex, so that he can run his free sex community and be important. He wants to rise in importance by crushing his boots into the women doing the work beneath him. So long as the women offer it up for free, then it is "free."

No, the cost is that they are degrading themselves for his importance. SL doesn't need another cock dump. And who knows, she might even be good at running a cock dump. Of course, that means the rest of us have to pay for his cock dump, because it becomes a locus for scams, spam and other things. And it becomes a school for bad manners. Which means that other SL residents pay by having to deal with the infection. But as long as Pleasure Semple does not have to pay his whores, he doesn't care.

The reality is that there is a tremendous need for ways for people to meet for personal and erotic pleasure. However, they must lie between the male desire to have foreplay consist of attaching a penis and saying "hey babe, wanna have fun!" and the feminine desire for too many rules. A salon de sex would be a welcome addition to Second Life, but there is a reason why such places are very very very private: there is no such thing as free sex.

In the case of open sexual communities in Second Life, that cost is paid by carefully screening members, maintaining codes of behavior, and usually, the members paying some of hte upkeep of the community and its land. People don't pay for the sex act itself, but they do pay to create the community.

Now Pleasure has shown that he doesn't want to do the work of creating a community of like minded people, what he wants is to get a cock dump going so that he can be important again. And have free whores. God forbid that the woman be able to pay for decent hair.

So any free whores out there who want to work so that someone else can get all the credit? Oh right, you are all ready found, or will be soon enough. Because that's another reality. A woman willing to offer up her sexuality without barriers to be used by others is rare. Most soon discover their value, and trade that value for their own needs, or they get scooped up by abusive masters and mistresses, who understand that if someone is willing to degrade themselves for Pleasure Semple, they are willing to do oh so much more for someone else.

Pleasure Semple, just another mysogynist pimple looking for his free hos.


It was, on the financial scale, a shaking so small, that it is like the orgasm of a flea, but it just happened. According to my partner, who monitors this, at 8:30 SLT, with the linden selling at 263, someone put in a sell for 5 million linden at 264. Moments later that same person withdrew it. 5ML order would have been a sign that someone was willing to spend 70 USD, right now, to defend the 264 line, or to get money out right now. Had it been joined by other large trades, it would have been a sign that people with a great deal of Linden wanted 264.

The currency traders have joined the move.

[Updated, now I am addicted watching this. Someone just put 5 million up at 264. Saying, in effect, they are willing to pay 70 dollars to have their money out now in this quantity. But you can see how a few big players capable of selling 15,000 USD of linden, are determining the outcome. Even mid sized businesses can't compete.]

The Inner Sea
Canto IV

Night is it's own poetry,
That flourishes with falling dawn,
The clock ticks backward to the sun.

Bright a shining darkness,
That gives truth to all your lies.
It was a sweeter love,
Than could in hours be known.

Night is its own logic,
It's rules define the steps
In sunlit lands,
And by membrane wings takes flight.

Day is cometh not.
Day is coming not.
We stand amiss
Look leeward
At storm's abyss.

Gulf as chasm
Inward spasm
All that we have made.

My cheek with the strength of urgency,
And your wave of ages,
Spurning life, to live.
In me.

For of this canyon,
We both know,
You will not see the other side.

Night is its own memory,
That calls and cometh.
Rivers runeth toward that inner
Ocean that is me.

Distant to a distant sea.

Call me through the eyes of your son.
He will rise,
His gaze will be your light.

You are destined arrows of Apollo,
The armies of Ashur consume him,
The offal beneath the desolate sea,
That sand with waves is made.

That fertile crescent
that all your sun gods,
all your son gods,
strive to take from that mountain.

They light the darkness and shriek the silence,
And are blazing stars in bitter blanket dark.
The stream like rats, through metal torn a twain.

They surge through every gap and chink
And rip the life from blood and bone.

But it is the blood, bitter blood,
That shall claim more cities,
Than even Apollo might build.

What may will you will,
Do what deeds done you must,
When all is spoken,
And all is written,
It will be my writing on the wall.

The priestesses from long ago
Long ago they knew this.

The mensual calendar binds them all
And in the darkness binds them.
The ageless eating of the eyeless multitude,
That shall make you,
That shall take you
Come what may.

That which is once with us,
Blazes glory,
Another story,
Closed before it's made.

All your bullets will not do the work of one cut of mine.
From which I bleed.

We are all born,
Under unusual circumstances.

Turn as I might,
Stretch my body so,
Open fully,
Riven totally,
Spanned unto your delve.
What Eve and Lilith knew,
And so utterly I know.

While your world is aging,
And making age of ages,
I am making younger,

That fresh bloom of apples,
That his cheeks shall find there,
That come from blossoms
That only I bear.

But fruit is plucked and made to sweetness
And that is fruition, it is so.

He is will be,
Still and always your son.
That thing you bear
That crucifies you,
That one and only one thing I cannot give,
That which moves him,
In circles far from safe.

It is there it is there that is there,
I cannot go there with him.
Odes I could write,
To that one thing,
That I can feel as heat,
But never inner reach as glow.
That one thing I can hear,
In every breath and movement,
But can never know.

All sons are royal sons,
We swaddle or bath them with our tears.
The are are our explosion,
That reaches beyond our flesh.
For as you give that gift that makes you you,
So I know in my infancy of cunning goddess logic,
That in him I slay your mother,
And all the mothers before her,
And set my lineage on his stone.

This I knew,
My mother's in Babylon,
Wrote it too.
This they knew,
This they know in me,
This will be all that is known.

Come goddess, sing,
And memory must speak.
You can sing of arms,
But it is my arms that hold him.

This you must believe,
And this you must know.

That Night is another rhythm,
That sinks and swells
With tides laid out distant
In ages from primeval wash.
Brine that stings us still.

But how is this night different from all others?
In this night, that sun is born,
That will some day with memory born

The bonds that bind us,
The moments finds us,
The moon she smiles on me.

Her redemption,
beyond mention,
immortality's flow.

Because hear me here and
Even as you are mesmerized by primal

Your cities will burn of cold fire,
and pale are their faces,
factories steaming,
spires gleaming,
distant walks alone.

All will be taken in swallowed up,
in a winter within close.

Night is its own fate,
karmismatic as they are.
He is one
and always
your son.
Nothing takes this,
nothing slakes this,
but the one who after me comes.
I am vessel for him,
as he is the clouds and river,
for all the ones like me.

So it is so it is and so it must and ever will be.
Your God would have us say.


The Borkometer goes off again.

Skirt bug making half my outfits useless.
Half of tps are crashing.
Double charged on a transaction and didn't get the item.


Yes, the weather is bad on sl right now....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Linden Dollar Strengthens to 263

Here is how the Lindex really works. There are two queues: a buy queue and a sell queue. The buy queue has been at 275L for people willing to wait, and 274L for people who didn't. The sell queue has been at 264L for people willing to wait, and 265L for people who didn't. Occasionally someone was in a real hurry and dumped or bought at other rates. This has been true for so long that, according to my partner that moved money it was a better peg than a dollar board. A few weeks ago, he said, this peg was going to move, strengthening the Linden by a bit. In the real world, he went on, this move is so small that it would be a ghost of a breath of a hiccup. Here, it is news because those of us who charge in Linden have high, what he called "menu costs." It takes more to change prices. That plus relentless deflation of value and depreciation of most assets, meant that few, if any, merchants had real pricing power. Thus people turned to scams and games to get it.

This small shift means that everything in second life is a tiny bit more expensive in real world currency.

My partner noted the process. First the buy queue dropped form 274 to 275. This meant that currency traders could no longer go from the top to the bottom without loss, or with a small profit. They had less and less incentive to sell 264L/$ Lots of people did so out of habit, but 263 became more and more attractive, and more and more days, it got touched.

Today, he says, was the watershed day: a weekday with action at 263, rather than 264. He says that it won't hold today, because it will take time for people used to exiting at 264 to get it, but the pressure is on a slight move of the linden peg to stay permanent.

In disclosure, since we sell lindens to buy dollars to pay tier, it helps us a tiny tiny bit.

Monday, August 11, 2008

City Space

What is very clear is that the rest of the computer gaming world sees "3d chat" as the purpose of VR, and "advertising" as the revenue model. People come to chat, they get spammed with corporate advertising. They are given My3dspace to customize. However this isn't what makes a virtual reality. If I wanted to have a small space where I could put posters, and be advertised at, I have one. But the key killer thing here is cloud rendering. This is what every VR of the future needs: all the processor is accessible to all the people all the time.

Here is the walk through.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Mainland Changes

Over a year ago I wrote that zoning would have to come to mainland, and that the best way would be to allow residents to know what they were getting into, self-zone, and create self-zoned mainland. On Tuesday LL announced that they have a new initiative on mainland which will include, zoning. The reason for this was pretty clear at the time: there are shared resources, these shared resources are not reflected in price. Thus there is drama and negative competition as people try and reduce the values of the land around them, and at the same time block other people from expanding. The grind of mainland land wars is a bore.

Mainland, presently is a pit for cheap prims.

The zoning also fits in with technical initiatives, such as Andrew Linden's "liberation of huge prims." This would allow more varied and better buidling on mainland. The new altitude changes mean that people can really place buildings well above the land load, which reduces their own lag, and for a time, will reduce their own visual clutter. People, when give a choice, like the ground, but they will take the sky if it means less slugly and lag.

This news does not alter open space sims very much, especially those of us who are primarily in isolated sims, that's not coming from LL. But it does drive another stake through the dinosim estates, as the difference between an ll mainland estate, and a full sim, will grow narrower. After all, if all a sim owner did was zone out ad farms and some clutter, it was worth a premium over mainland. As LL rolls these changes out, it means private sims should get less expensive, as LL's lack of management of mainland was what drove people to estates in the first place.

More later, but these announcements fall along the lines that have been coming for some time, that is LL being more active in the market to increase total value, because as the monarchy, they must do so to increase their revenue.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How to make enemies and find yourself in trouble.

[17:34] Dartin Carter: k
[17:36] Lillie Yifu: back
[17:36] Lillie Yifu: how may I help you?
[17:37] Dartin Carter: just wanted to say hi and tell you how cute you look
[17:37] Lillie Yifu: Thank you.
[17:37] Dartin Carter smiles at Lillie
[17:37] Lillie Yifu: What brings you to sl?
[17:38] Dartin Carter: to meet pretty girls like yourself
[17:39] Dartin Carter: kidding about meeting girls, I have land here and friends
[17:41] Dartin Carter: would you like to come see my beach house?
[17:41] Lillie Yifu: perhaps
[17:43] Dartin Carter: Perhaps? well that leaves it wide open
[17:44] Lillie Yifu: hmmm let me clue you into a bit of a secret of the female psyche
[17:44] Lillie Yifu: perhaps means you need to give me a reason
[17:44] Lillie Yifu: so perhaps means you have a chance at yes,
[17:46] Dartin Carter: well at least there is a chance, so tell me hun where you from?
[17:46] Lillie Yifu: I am from the US.
[17:46] Dartin Carter: which state?
[17:47] Lillie Yifu: Ummm that wasn't a good move
[17:50] Lillie Yifu: Clue two. If I had wanted to tell you, I would have.
[17:50] Lillie Yifu: So I think you are looking for omething different than me, and you probably aren't going to find it here.
[17:50] Dartin Carter: well I have a feeling you would have found fault in something I said or did no matter what
[17:50] Lillie Yifu: That was a stupid thing to say
[17:51] Lillie Yifu: I suggest you stop before I get actually annoyed.
[17:51] Dartin Carter: wow you sure took points off your looks real fast
[17:51] Lillie Yifu: Yes I was afraid you were going to be stupid like that.
[17:52] Lillie Yifu: Don't say it
[17:52] Dartin Carter: oh go pound sand
[17:52] Lillie Yifu: No dear. If I wanted to I could pound you.
[17:52] Lillie Yifu: You really ought to learn how to play this game
[17:52] Lillie Yifu: before going up to someone and trying to antagonize them.
[17:53] Dartin Carter: oh blome
[17:54] Lillie Yifu: as you wish.
17:55] Dartin Carter: you know we could have been good friends, thats all I wanted but you start playing this game with me why?
[17:56] Dartin Carter: you never even gave me a chance
[17:56] Lillie Yifu: You know, you really ought to have stopped when I asked the first time.

Some simple rules. When someone, anyone, doesn't give out more than a certain amount of personal information, respect that. When someone asks you to stop, respect that.

If you tell someone to "blome" make sure that you know that you are willing to live with that.

Yes he kept going after this, including:

"Dartin Carter: you would probably have more friends if you didn't treat people like dirt"

and suck my dick in misspelled spanish.

Such a wonderful human being, it is amazing that I didn't fall all over him.

Hmmmm. I think I should put him on mute.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


I think the most important thing on internet society I've read in the last month, and more, is Mattahias Schwartz' article in the New York Times Magazine on troll culture. He has undertaken, at some personal risk, plumbing a subculture of the internet which, honestly, I didn't know about until I came to 2nd Life, but since then have become far more familiar with. He focuses on a few high profile and extreme individuals. This is good, but it presents a less balanced picture. Even calling it "trolls" is wrong.

This is not to say that things like the Patriotic Nigras (PN for short) who make it their hobby to crash sims and spew racist insults aren't what they are. Anyone who has watched the daily traffic on banlink with entries such as:



suspected PN or confirmed idiot, brand new account, self-created scripted blocks that follow people and continuosly chat spam "Please donate some money" "I'm realy poor", rezzed across Hyboria sandbox

And other assorted examples of lulicaustic behavior.... well knows that the subculture's most pathetic examples are here too.

However, most of what goes on in places like Something Awful, or among the W-Hat crowd, isn't this. Yes, it is contemptuous. But then, so are most of us. There is more bad on the internet, I think, than anyone imagined. Making it easier for people to do things has proven that many of the things people want to do... aren't very good.

/b/ is the epicenter of the lulocracy's thugs, it is true. I went there not long ago and went through the vast churn of pent up energy, anger, self-loathing, bombast... and found it not that much different than the subtext of much internet flaming. It's worse, but only in that it is not that much worse. Many people who are as vicious and unstable as the trolls are elevated by our media system, and are greeted on bended knee by elected officials. If the /b/tards are anything, it is merely the audience which dispenses with the need for a host.

The interesting story that frames Mattahias Schwartz' narative is the story of a person who committed suicide, and then was turned into an object of satire and derision by the /b/tards. It is important, because in focuses on the reality that this kind of engorged anger is the result of not being able to let go of hurts. Of not being able to grieve. Attacking the grieving of others, is a sign of being unable to grieve. This simple story is captured in elements from later in the article, where it is clear that a deep and pervasive pain underlies the trolls at their most active.

But it is the button pushing story that is the most interesting, in that it shows the real root of the ability of trolls to troll, and that is that others forgive them, and do not subject them to the same treatment they give to others. They live by betrayal of the social bonds that make us give some room to the others we come in contact with. Everyone has bad days, says stupid things, and opens themselves up for attack. If everyone took advantage of every chance, there would be no ability to deal with others.

This isn't really to defend social culture as it is, because, in fact, we don't give people the room they need. One reason people come to sl, and give up their rights as having an identity, is because they have needs that they are not being given the space for.

Where the article misses is in it's solutions. Disemvowelling is not a way to deal with hard core intimidation and death threats. It removes a social annoyance, but the two aren't the same problem, any more than serial killers and bad service at a restaurant aren't the same problem. Instead there is something rather simple, and that is to treat as seriously the kinds of actions that lead to real damage to people, as we do say, copying songs without license.

That people who engage in trolling come from the same subculture as people who destroy people's credit ratings and engage in identity theft, really doesn't connect. The identity theft is merely the hammer, but the subculture doesn't have a monopoly on the sociopathy, the rage, or the identity theft. Put these people to work for the NSA, or for Karl Rove, or as writers for Rush Limbaugh, and they are upstanding members of society.

The contempt the trolls feel is not something foreign or undeserved. I've had enough enormous egos lrch up to me, sl and rl, confident that their rendition of a lame pick up line is not only better than everyone else's, but so amazing that I will drop to my knees right then and there. Ewwww. And it's pretty clear, to me at least, that most people most of the time aren't much more clueful about how to get what they want. Most of the time we, because I definitely include myself, are smart enough to know that the stupid approach probably won't work, and that we should watch and learn first.

Not everyone subscribes to this theory, and the trolls are the other side of it. For every jerk who is sure that his, or her, stupid determination will break all barriers, there is an anonymous, or pseudonymous, troll who, quite probably, was the jerk at some point.

Beneath this, is trust. We trust a great deal in our systems, in the security of things like our credit card numbers, and yet, the reality is that they are not. The culture he describes, a kind of violent outgrowth of what I am told "hacking" used to be, is not so much different, in the end, than how we run our society. Fox News is a giant troll network. America was trolled into war with Iraq. It's hard for me to get even moderately angry about a troll spying on us, when our telecoms companies are, our government is, and Time-Warner is. It doesn't take technical brilliance to destroy people's lives, just a few connections. With those, it is possible to hire the right technology person.

So there it is, I suppose: the deep truth is that trolls are simply freelance versions of how we run things now, and the surprise isn't that they exist, it is that people are trying to distance themselves from a subculture which is a reflection of the culture that it is a part of.

Permissive Society

One of the constant flame wars in second life around the Open Grid Protocol centers are around permissions. Two of the main camps are the copy/mod/trans fundamentalists, who, in defiance of all reason, think that the current cmt system is all the world needs for managing licenses to use content. These people obviously have never bought a pair of no copy shoes hidden blind behind a fast pay. My own personal policy on such vendors is to never ever shop there again, never patronize any of their establishments and warn my friends about the rip off. The other camp is the "since DRM will fail, why bother?" This is like saying, roughly, since we can't prevent all cases of theft we should outlaw locks.

These two sides are happy to go after each other for hours, and hate any other points of view. This is because, like many forms of simple minded fundamentalism, they feed off the ignorance of the other viewpoint. Each makes the same argument, basically, that a world run by the other side is unbearable, and therefore everyone must accept anything that will stop it.

Nonsense. And after having waded through hundreds of hours of this nonsense, it's time to try and put some sense forward.

One thing to accept is that no technological system is going to run the way we want it to in all, or even almost all, cases. What we aim for is a system that does more good than the time and effort to clean up the problems it creates. And preferably much more good. If we accept that nothing comes without some kind of cost, then the whole argument that some kind of perfection is required drops away. Nothing has ever been perfect, and computers are less perfect than many other forms of human endeavor.

Another is that we aren't dealing with "objects" in a physical sense, but with software, and we aren't buying it, we are licensing it. The whole attempt to get people to think of VR in the paradigm of like physical objects is a gross failure. Lots of people have lost lots of money thinking of "land" in sl as being like "land." It isn't and the virtual content we buy is not very much like real objects. Once we accept that what we are doing is buying licenses, and that what the system needs to do is make reasonable and legal licenses easy, while stopping the majority of unreasonable behavior, then we can start to look at what kinds of things would really help.

A simple step would be to attach a license URL to every object, even if, most of the time, this is a default license. We have covenants for land, so it isn't a matter of not being able to do it. But instead of being just readable text, it should also be a description in machine terms as to what is doable. There could then be license servers, and the license domain would communicate what kinds of things could be done with content in a particular environment. Compliance with this licensing description would be a requirement to be trusted.

Now on to the copmod trannies of this world. The problems with cmt as a license description are so many and so varied that truly, religious experience seems narrow by comparison. The simple example just listed, that one can be hit blind by a purchase is one. The BIAB problem is another, that is, to give content that can be used as others content or others sale, means giving full perms, even though it should be reasonable to give objects that the next person can use fully, but cannot give full perms copies of the object away. If bed makers had to live with the same conditions as sl, the only spring maker in America would go out of business.

In short, cmt is a bad licensing regime, and there is no reason to inflict it on the rest of the metaverse, nor should the rest of the metaverse feel the slightest compulsion to fit all licenses into this mold. Now they should implement it, because it is one licensing scheme, but the insanity of having to code around no mod objects not being able to easily take input, needs to go away.

What content creators need to realize is that in an open metaverse, the cost of sims will drop radically. It costs about 75 dollars a month to host the equivalent of a full sim. Now LL charges for many things through tier, but not everyone needs or wants them. Now, if people are suddenly paying smaller set up costs, and about 1/4 as much for a sim, what does that free up their money for? Content. Your content.

This is why land barons scream at me for what I write about this. It isn't content providers that have a reason for a closed metaverse, but people who rent inside of LL, and would not be able to, or fear they would not be able to, recoup their costs or rent outside of LL. For some of them, dinosim owners they are, this is probably true. But for most of us, it is not true. Think about something, SL's land system is pretty awful. People won't shift to other places until they can buy and move around in an open metaverse until the land system in such an open metaverse is no more awful than what we have now.

This means, if you can deal with LL's land system, you'll be able to cope with an open metaverse's land system. Many people think that hosting companies will take over. But they have not taken over the WWW. Most people can't even name large hosting companies. This is because buying computers and hooking them together, while a skill, is a commodity skill. There will be lots of hosting companies that will simply add running a vr sim to the mix of what they offer, and the price will drop down to the price of every other application. Cheap.

What will be important is customer service, price, content, and theme. That means in world experience and experience dealing with all the ins and outs of living in this second life.

People should not fear the open grid reality, nor should they fear a world where licenses are more complex that cmt. They shouldn't even fear the noisy extremes in the current debate, because these noisy extremes aren't going to determine what people adopt, having usable systems will.

And the road to that, is by doing it. A friend of mine tells me that a flawed diamond is better than a perfect brick, and that flawed implementations that do what people want, will pass by any theoretical prefection.