Friday, 21 May 2010

Inadvertent generosity

I just figured out why my monthly payments have been so high the last few times: I've been paying an entire sim's worth of tier.

What happened was this: my neighbour T sold about half of her holding in Mugunghwa, to get down to an eighth of a sim. Her original parcel was irregularly shaped, so she ended up with a narrow stripe of land left over, adjacent to my land and including a strip of riverfront. She offered it to me, and without thinking I turned it down. I guess I thought she'd just keep it, but no: she put it up for auction.

Well, when I saw that I realized that I had to have it, else some jackass would come along and plaster the thing with hundred-metre-high soundfile-blaring porn site ads.

So I put in a bid, and, to make a long story short, won the auction. I paid over ten thousand L$ for 864 square metres. This is quite possibly a record.

Now, when you buy land directly, you have the option to buy for yourself or for a group; and groups get a 10% landholding bonus. Auctions don't work that way, you always buy for yourself. I immediately sold it to one of my alts, who bought for the group. And with that I forgot all about the episode — but the Lindens didn't.

Had my group bought this land directly, all would have been OK because the bonus would have kept my holdings under 36044 sq m. Because it became mine, I had to pay full tier on it, and so for about an hour I owned four square metres more than a half-sim. That automatically increased my tier payments to an entire sim's worth, but when my billable holdings reduced to under 32768 sq m, my tier level did not automatically decrease.

Dear Linden Labs, I just paid you the equivalent of two years' premium account fees. You're welcome.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

On the undesirability of advertising in SL

I was recently invited to take part in a survey on advertising in SL (I infer that the Lindens noticed my income stream from land rentals at Mugunghwa and concluded that I am running an in-world business). If the survey is still online, and if there was no non-disclosure clause in it, I'll post the URL here so you can see for yourselves.

Executive summary: Brace yourselves for the deluge, my dears, because to them SL is apparently no different from that glossy magazine on your coffee table. This will be "targeted" advertising, selected just-for-you based on your group affiliations and what your friends have been purchasing lately. (This is the reason for the media-on-a-prim features of Viewer 2, by the way, not so that you can surf the web from within SL.)

I think this is a really bad idea, but I also think that LL doesn't give a sparrow's fart for my opinion or yours. Advertising is coming, and I suppose we will learn to ignore it just as we now ignore the google ads in the sidebars of many blogs and websites.

I was — to speak frankly — horrified by the trend of the questions, which can be taken as Linden Labs' ideas for the future of SL. Not the fact of advertising by itself, that is kinda shitty but not unreasonable.

What horrified me was the suggestion that it would be possible to target avs based on their typists' RL gender and/or age and/or location. This really pisses me off. It may be that the new TOS permit this, and I too agreed to those terms — primarily because I had no choice: the only alternative to agreeing to all provisions of the TOS in its entirety, is to abandon your avs and your friends, your inventory and your home, and leave SL forever. You can't even move to an OpenSim, because the identity that is "you" in SL can't get there. There is no provision for transferring accounts or identities or inventories, and certainly not friends' lists, between worlds.

Whatever the new TOS might permit, this feels like a breach of trust. My clear understanding when I signed up was that my RL info would be used only by the Lindens themselves, and only in the service of preserving law and order in-world. Advertising does not fit either of those cases.

I'm disappointed as hell, and what upsets me most is to realize the enormous gulf between what most of us think SL is, and what the Lindens think they have created (i.e. a platform for media distribution, financed by the sale of advertising) — and to infer how little they care about what we have made in their world. Which part of "make your own world" and "all user-created content" includes me being bombarded with advertising from companies whose advertising I already ignore in RL?

Friday, 7 May 2010

Chatspeak deprecated

Look, I'm really sorry. I know it's snobby and literate-ist of me, but I just can't help it.

When you say "4" instead of "for", or "u" instead of "you", my estimate of your intelligence and possible interestingness takes a huge dive.

People, please: this is not cellphone texting. You don't pay by the letter here. It's awkward and I personally happen to find it rude: it suggests that I am not worthy of the extra time it would have taken you to type that second letter. Worse than that, it costs me time: I have to try to figure out what "cld" means in the context of your other abbreviations. And that's bad for you too, because it means that I've stopped listening to what you say while I work out what you said.

Can we just drop this crap and speak normally, please?

I wonder whether "get off my lawn" means anything to people who didn't grow up in the suburbs, where people had houses with private lawns? There was (still is) a great social divide between (typically) younger couples who had kids and therefore were used to children playing on their grass, and (typically) older people who didn't have kids and felt the need to protect their territory against incursion. It seems lawns can be populated either by children or by gnomes, but not both.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Shopping news

I want to pass on news of some really good animations that I recently discovered. I hate to call them "sex anims," although that is definitely what they are, because they are not the crude fuck-scenes that one gets so tired of seeing in clubs and on beaches: these have gestures and facial expressions, virtual eye-contact even. The participants (let's call them that) behave as though they know and like each other. These are animations for lovers.

The stores in question are Sticky Candy and Primal Dreams, the latter is particularly delightful. Sticky Candy has some safe-for-public-use single and friends' poses too.

Unusually, both stores encourage you to visit with a partner and try the animations out. Perhaps this liberality is a consequence of the shops' being sequestered on the new adult-rated continent; if so, then for the first time I would find myself seeing sense in the Lindens' decision to split the world up in this way.


Saturday, 1 May 2010

SL as place

There doesn't seem to be any convenient way to cross-post between blogs, so I'll just put in a link to a piece I wrote on the Second Lifer about memory and place.