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I just found Grace McDonough's insightful blog, Phasing Grace. In response to her thoughts about the Second Life trademark brou-ha-ha, I posted the following comment. Since it seems to stand alone okay, I offer it here for your thoughts:

Though my comment might be more well-placed on your March 26 post, I'm a johnny-come-lately to this discussion.

You are absolutely correct about the current situation reflecting a significant misunderstanding on the part of LL regarding the interdependence between themselves and the Second Life community. Following in Coca-Cola's legendary and infamous shoes, Linden Labs assume mistakenly that the brand equity of Second Life belongs to them alone. Coke learned, when it eliminated its storied formula for "New Coke", that the brand really belonged to the lovers of the brand. In order to recover from one of the in business history, Coke reinstated its original recipe as "Coca Cola Classic" and soon afterward allowed New Coke to slide into a deserved and unlamented death.

So the actual reasonableness of protecting the SL trademark can be said to be beside the point. SL provided the platform, but it has been the residents who added the value, creating the world to which so many are attracted every day, and the residents are just plumb mad as hell that LL is so clueless about that fact. It's the slap in the face that's creating the furor -- not the need to refrain from naming my blog "The Second Life Manual" or something like that.

Speaking for myself, I think it would be most effective to completely ignore all concerns in any case where it's not super-clear that our usage is improper. Let Linden Labs come after us. They won't start by exclusion -- they'll start by making a request. How many staff do you think they'll hire to police the entire web universe? Yeah, I don't think they'll get to most of us soon, either.

From District Administration - The magazine of school district management on the educational potential of Second Life for primary and secondary students:

Some educators also are reluctant to experiment with non-traditional teaching methods and are content to stick with lecturing in front of a class.

"A lot of the conversations revolve around fear — if we open this stuff up to the kids, it could get out of hand or you could open the kids up to danger," said Stephanie Sandifer, a literacy coach at Houston's Waltrip High School who uses Second Life as a professional development tool.



We all know they have a point, but most of us in SL know the following thoughts are probably predictive.
Today's teachers, the same ones who watched the Internet evolve, should know that they need to embrace this technology, proponents say. Even 10 years ago, it was tough to encourage teachers to incorporate the Web into their lessons.

"If you were talking to a room of educators, they would have looked at you and said, 'I don't have time for this. Get away. I need to make overheads for my class,' " Jarrett said.

Like the Internet, virtual worlds aren't going away, experts said.

"I don't think they're a fad," said Fred Fuchs, whose Houston-based consulting company creates content on Second Life. "They're here to stay."


And finally, a pretty constructive suggestion:
"Something that is that compelling, education cannot ignore, even though it doesn't make sense to us," said David Warlick, an education consultant and author from North Carolina. "What I look forward to is someone building an environment like this for education, where it becomes a sandbox for kids."

Rumor has it that some big companies who have ventured into Second Life for marketing and exposure purposes have gone away disappointed. I'm not surprised. I think they would likely be hampered by the shortsightedness inherent in any organization. Companies and organized entities don't meander, they go in with agenda and purpose. That's the right tool for many things, but not, I suggest, for exploration.

The upheaval in today's economy of resources, (brought forth by the internet but not even in its toddlerhood yet) is an economy of abundance rather than scarcity, outflowing rather than hoarding. It differs from our accustomed focus on the flow of capital which is a zero-sum, win/lose resource.

"Money" is deceptive, since it can appear to have worth of its own rather than as a medium for obtaining and creating things of real value. But it's easier to see the contribution of information and creativity -- its value is precisely zero until the right information meets the right creativity that will make something of it. So it's to the benefit of society as well as the individual that information, expertise, ideas, tools, and points of view flow freely with as little friction as possible.

In Second Life, we see a vivid illustration of where that might lead us in real life. None of us would have survived the initial learning curve in SL without freely-offered advice, recommendations, clothing and (if we were lucky) a decent walk replacement. In that way, amid the dross, some of the most significant contributors within our world made their way inside and became willing to stay.

How do people become value-creators of merit in SL? By learning (i.e. receiving knowledge freely), becoming skilled by practice (in a free sandbox on this free grid which does not charge for time used or anything stored in inventory), and then starting to offer their creations to others, either for free enjoyment or for sale. How do you develop a market for your sale goods? By offering high quality freebies so people will learn about you and return to purchase.

I don't know how much of this will ever be able to be translated into RL, but for this writer, it's a positive experience to participate in such a society here. The outlet for creativity, diversity of experience and learning is amazing, but it is good for my soul to give without hope of return and, similarly to be blessed with the generosity of others.

Somewhere, deep inside me, lurks a frustrated social psychologist. Yes, I know, the pioneering vanguard of Second Life includes bleeding-edge technology gurus, design wizards and the occasional person seeking another life simply because their First Life hasn't turned out so hot. But now, as we grow to include more and more of a general cross-section of society, some of us "people people"' will sneak in here underneath the radar.

I notice things, like:

  • When we get together with friends in world, we all sit down to chat. Why? Are you afraid your feet will get tired?
  • Raise your hand if you get a drink and a snack when you go to an in-world party.
  • Do you lock the doors of your house when you're not in world, even if you don't have private items around and realize that no one can steal any of your stuff? Why?

What fascinates me so much is the ways in which the society, relationships, economy, manners, customs and rituals of Second Life resemble (or don't) the RL in which we live when the grid is down. Second Life is a place where we can create a "self" in any fashion or form that we care to. What affects the level to which the persona we each create in SL resembles ourselves? Do we take on the character that we aspire to be? Do we bring our "real" selves into SL? Do we let the anonymity of SL give us the freedom to behave in a way that we would be ashamed to admit in RL?


Anyone else out there interested in this?

If real life looked like Second Life:



Encore, encore!

video

Persephone Milk is an extremely talented and popular creator of pianos in Second Life. The elegance of construction and sophistication of scripting are impressive. Here's a clip of an interview with her typist.

You can see the pianos and covet one for yourself at Musical Alchemy.

Hat tip to Dale Innes for the link.

Blown Away


Blown Away, originally uploaded by Solaesta Kilian.

Take a look at what AM Radio has done on the Far Away sim. Amazing work. It's the only place in SL that makes me happy to see an overcast sky.

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