"Listen with an open mind, but don't try to remember this stuff. There's no quiz at the end." Jack Kornfield

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Does Rod Humble "get" the Secondlife Culture? I think so...

********************************Where we come from**************************
Rod Humble.
Can he turn Secondlife around?
I don't mean financially, both he and Linden Lab tell us that Secondlife is currently both financially stable as well as profitable.
In these last few days I've been reading some of Inara Peys blog posts. She has brought forward a couple of interviews conducted recently with Mr. Humble.
In the interest of a bit of bevity let me just drop in the URLs here:
Living in the Modem World...

The "Rodvik talks about"... is a 34 minute audio interview via Massively... worth taking 34 minutes of your time.
The last link is where he discusses Linden Lab profitability, and perhaps the monetary future.

When I ask the question, "Can he turn Secondlife around?" I don't mean financially... I mean culturally.
In very recent times we've had a CEO that seemed to believe that there was no Secondlife culture.
Not that Secondlife had no art, music, poetry, or creativity... Secondlife has all of that and yes that is culture, but that isn't "The Secondlife Culture", or it isn't for myself and a lot of others.
I suspect it's difficult if not impossible to initiate a corporate identity, a corporate culture, from the bottom up.
No matter how dedicated the receptionist or the mail room clerk... they can't influence those at the very top.
Conversely those at the top do have that power, and those recently at the top allowed, if not encouraged the rank and file below them to view us, their customers, as just a necessary evil to be dealt with as summarily as possible.
Get the money and ignore.
Part of the problem was we started going away...  we took our money and our culture with us.
I and so many others repeatedly talk about the current state of how difficult it can be for new users.
I continue to believe that leaving new people alone... dumped into and increasingly, at least verbally, hostile world is no success story.
Why not return to what worked pretty darned well for six years, work on what wasn't done as well as it could have been... the basics there were working better than what we have now.

10,000 new people are born every day in the USA, a country of 360 million people.
16,000 new people everyday join Secondlife... and traditionally our retention rate is around 15%.
That's not 15% that come to our world and become a part of.... that's 15% that perhaps log in a few times.

When I read what Mr. Humble says... when I listen to what he says, I sense that he "gets it".
I sense that he sees the Secondlife culture and believes in it.
I want to believe that he can turn those under him around. The key is to convince those employees that what we have in Secondlife is unprecedented and that instead of perhaps just focusing on the paycheck and time clock, embracing this Secondlife culture might well improve how they feel about their job and who knows, maybe someday improve their bank accounts.
I'm sure that on any Friday afternoon when all someone has done all darned day is struggle through lines of code looking for a killer bug or have just spent and inordinate amount of time trying to placate and unreasonable customer the last thing they're thinking of  is the Secondlife culture and what a fantastic, (and at least for me), once in a lifetime opportunity our Secondlife world can be.

I will continue to dream... and I know I'm not alone in this dream.
And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

"I, AVATAR" & why SL ain't easy. Plus Miso day... Nooblets...

*******************************Where we come from***************************
Wow! Just noticing the date of the last post, rare that this much time goes by without these pages calling my name.
More than a few things that have been going on in all my lives.
Several new people have come into my virtual world this past week or so...
Some came and went quickly, and I always wonder what happens to them.
One has come and is one of those joys that I see infrequently.
Another I spent a couple of days with... and because of either cultural differences or a clue pointed out by a friend of mine that maybe this nooblet's too stoned to be able effectively do Secondlife, I had to let that one go off on her own. Sad too, She was one that is a classic example of how new users, if they don't quickly "fit in", are subjected to less than a friendly environment. She had left a mike open while her music was playing in the background and the people at the Violet Infohub were verbally abusive to her.
 One day old, (Way to go Violet... running the new ones off doesn't help Secondlife)

A day or so ago I received an invitation to a surprise party for my friend Miso... a celebration of Miso Day!
What a great party... I wasn't able to remain long, but I was thrilled to be invited.
Miso has been around virtual worlds for a very long time and we had a chat some weeks ago about her history with the earliest worlds. During our talk she had mentioned, "The Well", and while that name was somehow  fuzzily familiar, I guess I filed it away as stuff barely heard... 'till yesterday.
One of the first things I did after joining Seconlife was to purchase some of the books written about Secondlife and this entire thing about avatars.
Enter the book, "I Avatar", by Mark Stephen Meadows.
There was a reference to The Well... along with a ton of other information.
I didn't find, "I Avatar" a quick read... obviously... because a reread has shown me so much information, information that I saw before but had no reference point for it.
One good example can explain why Secondlife will never be easy:
I don't care what viewer The Benevolent Monarchy gives us...
I don't care how "basic" they make that viewer... the very thing that makes Secondlife as we see it be what we want is exactly the thing that will preclude "easy".
A brief quote from "I Avatar" page 15:

"Please note the difference in number of users and complexity of avatar:
290 million for the simplest kind of control-only avatar:
25 million for the next simplest (the customized, yet not controlled):
10 million for the most complex of avatars that requires the highest technical skill (in The World of Warcraft)"

control rooms. FailBook?
customized... Sims Online?
most complex... World of Warcraft?

To that I will add Secondlife avatars. Remember, Mr. Meadows copyrighted his book in 2008 and the text seems to indicate it was compiled during 2006 and 2007... the heyday of Secondlife.

In the next day or so I will link to and interview on Massively with Rod Humble. Few in any world have greater credentials in on line gaming than Mr. Humble. He found Secondlife to be a challenge.
Secondlife as we know and love it will never be easy.

This past week I really tried with the nooblet I said was a joy to mentor... I rezzed and alt using spewer 2.7.
I worked with her for nearly a week every day trying to allow her to use that viewer. Last evening I had her download a TPV... now I don't log chat, I wish I did. You will have to take my word... her response on relog with a TPV?   "WOW! This looks so much easier! Is there anything hidden?"
[Heh heh...only the advanced menue dear, and there's a reason its not default!] =^..^=

And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda

Post Script...
Just looking at sitemeter and where we come from... guess it's time to start adding a fourth image and occaisionaly just a post of images only.
Again, I'm humbled that you readers come from literally all over the world.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

FailBook, Unix, DOS, Commodore 64... connected how?

*******************************Where we come from*************************
OK... I know a few of my readers either don't have a TV... or if they do own one, they never watch it.
I confess, living alone my TV runs constantly, now I don't actively "watch" it that often , I use it as background noise. But even as background noise I've noticed a fair amount of references to FailBook.
"Friend us on Failbook" is a common plea in more than a few commercials.
With more than and estimated 700 million reported users world wide, FailBook is arguably the single most successful entrepreneurial enterprise ever created, and with that popularity there's no doubt why Linden Lab would choose to attempt to ride that bandwagon in their constant push for new account signups.

"San Francisco, we have a problem".
Secondlife doesn't have a new user sign up problem.
Secondlife has a new user retention problem.
Perhaps the "Boys" are attempting to follow the old Fuller Brush business model. For those of you too young to remember Fuller Brush, they ran a door to door cold call business selling various brushes for home use.
The companies marketing philosophy was simple... the more doors one knocked on, the more brushes you sold. Sound familiar? The more people sign up for Secondlife, the more stay? 
It doesn't work that way, any idiot can use a brush... Secondlife will never be easy.

I'm starting to see a lot of articles about Failbook and how certainly the USA user base is falling.
{Curious? Search: FailBook user base shrinking.}
Has FailBook passed its peak? I'm reminded of how a friend of mine is still paying AOL for email services.
AOL passed it's peak a long time ago....
My Space passed it's peak...
Unix, DOS, Commodore 64, all are gone.
Buggy whips as well.

FailBooks time will pass. Attempting to hook Secondlife to Failbook is short sighted in my opinion.
There is a chasm between these two platforms. Where one can get tired of reading what someone has posted on their FailBook wall.... Secondlife and other virtual worlds are open ended. There is no finish line in virtual worlds... only ones creative genius.
Come on guys, let's don't screw this up.

And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda

Monday, June 20, 2011

News from the Edge of Secondlife

********************************Where we come from*************************
Heh heh, news from the edge  (remember Gary Larson the cartoonist and his "Far Side" cartoons?) That's sometimes how I feel. {See below, can't remember where I collected this... but it's often how I feel} [This isn't by Larson]
I've mentioned before that one criteria I use to measure any success at Benares is whether those that have to leave us return. That other life we all have required Otto to leave us for a few months... Vic called me a couple days ago informing me that Otto had returned and wanted a parcel. Welcome back Otto!

More news from the edge... My so loved adopted Secondlife daughter Lala graduated last week from University in Bucharest Romania. I got photos as well as a video of a speech she did in front of the students, faculty, and a lot of parents.   I couldn't be anymore proud were she my blood... Lala was my very first friend here.

While demonstrating to someone that land parcels self limit prims, I logged in and alt I hadn't used in some time. As soon as Leee entered the world, I saw and IM from another longtime friend of four years Katina Cazalet. Katina and I haven't been face to face for years... and yet it's not uncommon for one or the other of us to send a simple, "Meow" **hugs**,  sometimes months may go by between, but we still treasure that we started this journey so long ago.

I've been working quite a bit with Anna, our newest. Working with new people constantly reminds me just how much there is to learn in Secondlife.
Downloaded the Firestorm viewer... I absolutely hate learning curves, that viewer does address a lot of my complaints about spewer 2 point ought oh. I guess it's something I read some years ago here though, devs develop... that's their job. Look at prince Phillip... soon as the initial "fun" was over with Secondlife he drifted away.
Did attempt to log in with 1.23.5 this evening... guessing it's now gone. It's been a long time since 1.14.0.

And so it goes
My love to all, brinda

Post Script June 21st:
 Either I totally screwed up last evening... or Google ate about half of my post.
 {And Google Chrome wanted to know why I was uninstalling that browser....pffft}

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are You Poor? Are you Grateful?

*************These are not representative of blog readers as I usually publish**********
The three most dangerous words in my vocabulary...."I've Been Thinking"!
Actually I do a lot of that and my latest thoughts have been concerned with gratitude.
Gratitude is apparently and often forgotten feeling for the vast majority of us.

First, there are no poor people in Secondlife... well, let me qualify that. There are no poor people in Secondlife that are using a computer they own and connecting to broadband with a connection they pay for.
Yes, some of us are financially more affluent, but no one here is poor.
No one is living in a mud hut, or yet worse... simply lying down at night to sleep where ever tiredness finds you.
If you are very young, or if you skipped geography in school, a brief primer.
Using metrics from the countries I'm familiar with, the average income in India is approximately $800USD a year or roughly 100 rupees a day, Bangladesh is a little bit lower. A person with and IT degree that would earn upwards of $80,000USD a year in the USA can expect around one fourth of that in Delhi.
Still terribly common is the practise of maiming children so as to make them more successful as beggars. While usually done by criminals that have abducted the children, it still happens to the children of those maimed years ago.
You can't beg well?... starve.

I don't bring the above numbers up to denigrate in anyway the countries I mentioned... while I've not visited Bangladesh, I have gone to India and I tell any that will listen that I love India and the people.
India was a life changing experience for me.
I do mention those figures to demonstrate how ungrateful so many of us in virtual worlds can be,  myself included.

I believe that the vast majority of the people in Secondlife never read the forums... they never read what we write in these blogs... they go on, happily or not... oblivious to all we whine and moan about.
Those are the ones that come to Secondlife to have fun, to enjoy themselves, to forget the kids, cars, grass that needs mowing, the boss at work that's and ass. That's how I was my first  year and a half or so.
No politics.
Now there are a few of us that do invest a lot of time, creative skills, as well as money in virtual worlds.
Why? Why does someone like myself pay The Benevolent Monarchy nearly $6,000 USD a year?
I started wondering just how many people actually make any money in Secondlife, since a lot of the constant rant about what the "boys" do to our experience seems often to be linked to whether we are free to do as we please, be that crossing sims un impeded, using group chat successfuly, being able to find our content in search, or being upstaged via off world content sales ran by the company.

My first call was to Crap Mariner,  I appreciate his involvement in our world and I know first hand how it is to run a small estate. I did find that CMs experience is much like mine... more about that in a minute.
My next call was to Tateru Nino, She always has a good view of most Secondlife metrics.
My question to her was did she have any information on how many people in Secondlife actually made enough money to cover their time. I was thinking 40 hours a week (which I certainly come close to) and an income of $45,000USD from either content sales or land sales. That number is achievable, go back and look at the furor over the 'Red Zone' stuff... that guy make a killing!
With her permission here's the salient part of her email response:

"The closest I can come to a figure is looking at the last positive monthly Linden flow data, which showed about 220 users or so with a positive flow of over 5000 USD.
A quick guess for how many are making 45K or over would then be "under 200". A slightly less quick guess would be "under 50". But I can't really back that up... it could be "under 5" for all I know."

For me... and I think for CM... we come in world, we pay tier... {most all of that tier is covered by our estate residents} and we do it because it's fun. It is a way to meet people we wouldn't otherwise meet, a way to establish friendships all over the world.
I've mentioned before that most of my computer basics were taught to me by Twinkle Villota.
Twinkle is from Bangladesh.
Poly is from the middle part of the USA... she took over where Twinkle left off.
Without her skills I would never have had the skills to run and estate.
I have friends from places in the world I will never be able to visit and that, to me is priceless.

Am I thrilled with some of what The Benevolent Monarchy does?  NO!
Am I going to leave? NO!   I plan on being here as long as the servers are on.
Do I need to perhaps change my attitude? YES!
You see, Secondlife has also been a life changing experience.
I need to remember to live in the now, to grateful that I am not poor and never was.
I need to learn to accept the gift that each of you gives me... remember, my chances of meeting anyone of you are around six billion to one.

And so it goes
I love you all, brinda

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's the People... It's the Community... It's about us

******************************Where we come from*****************************

Secondlife can be a very lonely place, I know it was for me during those first few weeks. But while I found it lonely, that had more to do with me than with the Secondlife community. Secondlife was just exploding resident wise in those early days of 2007, a busy day in May of that year was 28,000 on line.
Things seem to be much different now, a recent post of mine mentioned my perceived view that there is a definite change in the newer people joining our world today. Newer people now seem to have a "what's in it for me" attitude. Maybe I'm viewing the past with rose colored glasses... but I don't think so. I'm hearing the same sentiment from others as well.
A few days ago I saw someone just a few days old standing off to one side at an Infohub. After chatting for a few minutes I asked if she would be interested in a tier free furnished house on a small private Isle.
Her response was guarded to say the least, as in "What's the catch?"
No catch, I sent her the link to kains offer of a couple days earlier... an hour or so later... after seeing the house and taking a tour of our estate, she was amazed. 
What she found was what I experienced four years ago.
What she found was the kind of thing Pituca Fairchang has written about.
The things that Effulgent Brown told me about when Secondlife was more like high school.

I can name at least six people that claim the reason they are still active in Secondlife after 2/3/4 years is because of how they were treated when they were minutes old... I believe them... I was there.
I have to believe the reverse is also true... log a nooblet into a place where they are teased, jeered at, or otherwise harassed... I'm betting they quickly find that red "X" in the upper right screen corner.
I've mentioned before that I think Mr. Humble would learn a lot about "The New User Experience by e-mailing those that log out quickly.

There is another way to have what would be, for me, a lonely Secondlife experience... 
I have met a person that seems to have alienated virtually everyone they have contact with. They never appear to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
I think about those six people I mentioned...  if their earliest exposures here in Secondlife were disagreeable... would they have wanted to stay?
For me... Secondlife is about people... it's about community... it's about us.

And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Why Are New People Harassed?

******************************Where we come from**************************
Today in our virtual world there are a couple things that bother me... things that degrade our cumulative experience of Secondlife.
Here's the deal, visit almost any of the so called Welcome Areas or the Infohubs. You don't have to go as a new account, just drop in, walk to one side, set your preferences so you hear voice from camera position, and listen. Often you will hear a steady stream of negative and or demeaning comments both to and about various new accounts.
Why? Am I looking back a couple years with rose colored glasses? Was it always this way everywhere?
I don't believe it was, yes we have had a couple of WA's with a bad reputation, but today the verbal teasing and or harassment seems pervasive.
I'm wondering if I've hit on a reason... well a couple reasons.
{If you're super happy with "display names" and "resident" as a last name stop reading here.}

AOL chat room type names.... ie: 123coolguy... Sweetbuns16.
There have been studies done in California some years ago that indicated that people tended to drive much more courteously when their car license plate was their name. Now I'm not and advocate of real life names in virtual worlds but many of us that came long before the "resident" names really identify with our names, brinda Allen IS ME.
This last year or so has seen a very big difference in the way new people tend to act... do these people talk to and about the newer people because that's the way they were treated?
Are we producing a resident population where only the "thick skinned" rule... until they're bored?
In this latest push to appeal to the FailBook/Farmville crowd are we making Secondlife a "throw away" passing faze?

A solution? Sure, first return to the old legacy names. In my case Brenda was't available... lower case "i" was fine. Next... hire one Linden who's job it is to manage an Official Mentor program. We don't need 1600  Mentors, (I think Doc Gascoigne told me that was the approximate number), a couple hundred to start with should be able to randomly cover the places where our resident idiots gather to prey on nooblets.
Monitor those Mentors... log the times they actually mentor (no tag hunters). A good reason for Lindens to actually come in world... if wearing a Linden tag is a problem? Don't.
Figure out a way to document harassment in voice.
How about write a line or two of code that tracks new accounts and if those accounts don't return... if they log out after just a few mins or a couple days, send them and e mail asking about their experience.

I believe Secondlife can return to the community it used to be...
Yes, it's rather geeky.
No, it will never be easy.
But if we make new people feel we care... I think it will grow.

And so it goes
My love to all, brinda

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What is the cost of love?

Ive settled down a bit since my post of yesterday, not much, but today I'm a bit more rational.
A young man ended up paying the ultimate price for his inability to deal successfully with his personal identity issues (never mind his attempting to deal with the betrayal he must have felt from the way his father treated him)
Some of his story is mine as well... I too learned early on to "just go numb"... they beat you, you don't cry- you go silent. It's too late for sympathy for that young man, and I'm not looking for sympathy... what I do want is to bring something to the table of public discourse.

I've sat here for several moments trying to find a way to link this terrible story to virtual worlds... it's not possible for me. Nothing I could say would do anything but diminish the absolute  horror that was perpetrated those many years ago. In real life I can tell you that there can be a very real large price we all pay when children are treated with a lack of love and understanding. In my case the tax payer and society at large paid a very large monetary price. My behaviours over thirty plus years cost in excess of one million US dollars in court costs and resources spent in incarceration, never mind the cost to society in general with disruption.

My only link from this post to virtual worlds I guess is this....
People I deal with everyday love me...
People see me as kind and loving, willing to give...
I will never live long enough to repay the debt that my behavior created... but if I don't start now, then when?

And so it goes
I do love you all, brinda

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rage... not anger, rage.

There are times when the appropriate words fail me.
I sit here so angry... so full of rage at not only the "researcher", or the "father", or even a society that could conceivably condone these situations.
The silence will be deafening, the righteous will attend the religious service of their choice, the bigots will be smug, and the band will play on.
The time that my Buddhist compassion should calm me isn't happening.
Sadly, nothing will ever happen... to anyone.... except the ones that are experiencing this same thing today.
If you have any compassion in your heart, please take a moment to read this...
And wonder at the thirty years of pain this kid endured, you see the pain didn't stop when he left home,

Tomorrow I will tell you a story.
A personal story.
A story of those that "survive", and the cost to the rest of you.
Not just a cost that a dim memory will cover, or a drink will dim.
A cost in money.

And so it goes
While I am trying, I can't say I love all today.

Monday, June 6, 2011

People like kain Canare are why I stay...

*********************************Where we come from***************************
Over the years I've asked this question often of people in Secondlife, "What keeps you here"?
I don't have the metric but there still must be tens of thousands of us four years or older.
What is it we find that keeps this experience interesting enough that we log in thousands of times?
Commonly the answer I get is, "It's the people".
Yes, there are those that spend and inordinate amount of time creating content, but the overwhelming answer is, "It's the people". I know it is for me.
Lately I, and some of my blogger friends, have commented that those of us that bitch and complain about some of the perceived failures of The Benevolent Monarchy aren't necessarily just doom sayers and/or recalcitrant about change, we truly want to see Secondlife grow and flourish. Otherwise, that red "X" at top right ends any problem.

Some of the readers of this blog know that since the earliest days of our home, Benares, I have kept a guest house for new people. I've never forgotten my early days of flying to the top of tall buildings to try and dress myself. I believe that everyone needs a place they feel they are "part of", a place they feel they belong, and so the Benares guest house.

About seven months ago kain came to Benares... and as with all new people she was offered a stay in that house.
"Stay as long as you need".
I have never in over three years had anyone take advantage of that, and kain was no different. She ended up getting a small parcel, built her own house, and over these last months furnished it with her own original sculpted creations.
Kain sent me and IM yesterday... She wanted to offer her furnished house tier free as a place for another new person to receive the same care and love she had when she was new.
My suggestion was that she offer it free for ninety days to anyone with less than say...45 days.
So that's the deal... images below... tier free, ninety days.

Kain and people like her are why I continue to invest time and treasure in Secondlife.
Kain Canare... she has made Secondlife the place I wanted to see so many days ago.
She is doing for others as Prissielou Flora did for me.

And so it goes
I love you all, brinda

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What's Live Music? or who cares?

********************************Where we come from***************************
Funny how a day or so goes by with nothing I want to chat about... then I suddenly find topics calling my name.
This post won't take long... it concerns a "subject" that's just worn out.
The subject?   LIVE MUSIC in Secondlife... or what is live music?
I saw a tweet today from a self appointed music critic/aficionado that came to Secondlife the month after I did (co signed by a very smart person that came to Secondlife six months before I did).
Their on going shtick is that if everything you hear on a stream at a music venue isn't being performed live, "then it's not live" music. To me that says that every venue that only has only one instrument playing (or rarely a group) is the sole criteria for "live".
One of my residents is a professional vocalist that performs with a group of great musicians in Portland Oregon. Now FezFatale does occasionally do a live stream in world, and my resident, Porter Paquot, does occasionally play piano during her shows here, but most of her shows are sung to recorded music. That's "live"... live as in listen to the stage chatter during her performances, she has a degree in performance art if I remember right.
The bottom line?
People go to music venues for entertainment. If they aren't entertained they won't pay (tip), if they don't pay the venue will close for lack of revenue, it's totally self limiting.
Over these last few years I have heard this subject come up every few months... at least one musician has told me that he just lets this drivel  go in one ear and out the other.
I offer that if someone doesn't like a particular venue or performer...  don't tip, TP away, remind yourself to not return..... and please don't bother to tell us that the music wasn't "live".
Be direct enough to call the show out publicly if you choose, but perhaps save the screen space as far as repeating that same tired stuff about, "it wasn't live".
Who cares if it is or isn't if  people enjoy it.

And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Miso & Wizzy.... NPIRL

********************************Where we come from**************************
After one has been in Secondlife for awhile and settled in we come across the letters NPIRL, Not Possible in Real Life. Obviously much of what goes on in Secondlife isn't possible in real life, for instance flying or walking underwater, but our immediate thoughts usually end up going to the fantastic content that so many of our Secondlife residents create. For myself there is so much more to all this.
Virtual worlds allow a tremendous amount of personal freedom. Yes, we have the role play that perhaps few would engage in in "real life", but there are other situations we will find ourselves in as well.
In April, 2008, at age 66 I attended  my very first birthday party... it was held in Secondlife.
As a measure of the selflessness of some in Secondlife... it was a couple weeks later that I discovered that one of the residents that helped put on the party had a birthday on that same day.... She hadn't said anything because she said she wanted that day to be mine alone.

There is a rezz day party scheduled for this evening in Secondlife. {For time & place see yesterdays post}
While I don't know if Wizzy has ever had a public celebration of her start here in Secondlife (it's her fourth year), I do know our friend Miso hasn't, and that's after 25 years on the Internet and being a member of the earliest virtual worlds.
We get to celebrate Misos three years here... we get to celebrate Wizards four years.
Happy rezz day to both of those I consider my friends... people I would never have met were it not for this virtual world we call Secondlife.  You see, this is truly Not Possible in Real Life.

And so it goes
My love to you all, brinda