Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sculptie image protection

I thought I would help spread the word of one workaround proposed to better protect your sculptie images: make the files 32-bit alpha transparent, says Neph, passing on the advice from a poster tmp on SLCitizen.

This will of course increase the file size, and I've heard some grumbling recently about the dangers of lag produced by excessively large sculptie map images. If anyone out there is an expert and can comment, that would be great.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Bridges of Second Life

I'm one of those many people drawn to bridges. Even in Second Life where we can fly, people love bridges and photograph them all the time (I loved Jill Linden's series of Linden bridges in 2005). This weekend I decided to run around Second Life and capture as many bridges as I could find, and put them up in a Flickr set [link]. I'm not planning on making a book out of these since they're just quick snapshots, but wanted to share.

I hope you enjoy the pictures, and if you know of bridges I can add to the set please let me know.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Beware the tyranny of the majority

I've been bothered by Daniel Linden's response to Hamlet on New World Notes in regards to the latest furor to sweep Second Life (but one that has been brewing all this time). To quote:

Hamlet: You say "our community has made it clear to us that certain types of content and activity are simply not acceptable in any form." When did the community decide simulated rape was broadly offensive? Some consensual roleplay areas include activity that would arguably be called that, and some are relatively popular.

DL: The Community actively defines what is and is not acceptable in Second Life by providing feedback to Linden Lab via Abuse Reports, blog commentary, forum discussion, and other communication channels. Linden Lab sets standards and acts in-world according to the expressed wishes of the Residents.

I understand that it's hard to discuss some of the current issues around unsavory behavior in a soundbite, but Daniel's response is dangerous in its scope. I firmly believe that the individual and the minority needs protections from what de Tocqueville called the tyranny of the majority -- pure democracy without protections can become an ugly thing. Daniel's statement is unnerving in its implication that the individual freedoms Second Lifers have enjoyed could fall prey to the mob.

Some folks have long called for an avatar bill of rights, while most have been content to live under the benign and hands-off dictator of Linden Lab. A fundamental trust has existed between LL and residents that Linden Lab has to be careful not to break. What does an avatar bill of rights even mean in a new, intangible world which has no real regulatory standing, since at the end of the day, we're subject to the laws of our nation of residence and policy is just starting to wrestle with the supranational issues brought upon by the Internet?

I will say that one of the brilliant things about Second Life has always been its libertarian nature. There were a few basic rules to respect, and if you felt the need to wrap yourself in "more government", you could do so on a local level (Neualtenberg, now Neufreistadt, was an example of a local government). It has been a world based on choice rather than compulsion. Second Life to so many people has meant freedom -- freedom to be who you really are or even who you are not. Freedom to stretch your wings outside of the norms and confines of your local society. People are exploring a new world and in doing so, exploring themselves. SL will inevitably turn more mainstream but these dynamics will remain.

I've always said that SL is a reflection of humanity, from our best to our worst. Unfortunately, and inevitably, SL is used in some horrible ways, including some ways that should not be permitted. However, human beings have a tendency to get over-emotional on certain issues and throw a lot of good out with the bad. I have no tolerance for child pornography or abuse (as a father, it triggers a primal reaction in me as in most people), but when the torches start being lit for every small avatar or playful childlike avatar in SL, rationality and balance have lost their sway. It's all fine and good if the number of torches remains loud but limited, however history shows plenty of wreckage where mob mentality took hold.

Am I really really worried about all this? Frankly no, because I think the Linden leadership cares too much about individual rights to let this run amuck. But I would love to see further clarification from Linden Lab, and I imagine there are some intense discussions taking place among the company's leadership and legal advisors.