Monday, May 26, 2008

Just Because the Mermaid Was Very Girlie

I made a more masculine set.

Available on the beach in the middle of Caledon Lionsgate. Fall off the port side of the blimp and you're there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Beta launch of Navigator Mermaid Movement Override

Beta launch brought up due to the Havok 4 release in Second Life having broken most of the swimming overrides. Ordinarily I'd have tested it longer, but seeing as I can use it as a Relay For Life fundraiser and fill the new gap in the market at the same time, here are some shots.

 Fall off the port side of the blimp and you've found the kiosk.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Governance In Second Life

First half of a screen of this largish post, to do with increasing sizes of groups increases the complexity.

When alone, you need to agree with no one else how you will occupy your time and resources.

Add one other to form a group, you need one agreement, reciprocated.

Add another, and the number of necessary agreements becomes three.

Add another, then six.

Another, ten.

Another, fourteen.

At this point, barring Star Wars premieres, it's becoming almost impossible to pick a movie as a group. Adding more members only increases the number of agreements needed to achieve unanimity.

In the past, this necessitated a hierarchy or authority to get anything done as a group, done.

A pet hobby, and one of my chief fascinations, is watching various groups form or dissolve in Second Life, and on the Web as a whole. [Pimp Book Again] <---All sorts of observations on forming and dissolving of groups. Perhaps it's due to my studies in economics and organisational behaviour, but in the case of Second Life it may have more to do with my finding humour in websites like this.

Canned laughter aside, I do respect the intelligences of the people making attempts at legal systems and governance attempts in world.

For the purpose of this post I'll label anti-social behaviour 'deviance' and such individuals 'deviants'.

Type A Deviant: The griefer (Troll)

The type who enjoys being disruptive.

Type B Deviant: The fraudster

Makes promises and doesn't deliver, or exploits systems to take possessions through questionable means. Caveat Emptor

The Type A Deviant is a momentary problem in most cases, handled by area/estate bans, freezing them until they're forced to log out and try someplace else. Some cases involve co-ordinated denial of service attacks directed at individuals, groups, or Second Life as a whole. These rely on an avatar's disposability.

The Type B Deviant is a bit more difficult to root out, Second Life supports Caveat Emptor. Lose your land parcel to a land bot? Too bad. Take on a partner and lose your shirt? Too bad. Hire someone to do some work that never gets done? Too bad. These rely on both an avatar's disposability and portability. This is the type the in world governance groups would like to take on.

They're doomed.

In the physical world we have economic constraints on supply. We can afford a certain neighbourhood in which to live, certain amounts of clothing, housing, travel. The supply, be you Bill Gates or a noodle eating college student, is finite.

You are not disposable. You are only so portable. There is no Join Here link in the physical world; logging out is forever.

In Second Life, the laws of economics are turned on their heads. There are no precious metals, the supply of land grows and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It is the number of servers that dictates total resources available, and that's increasing all the time.

Human beings, being social animals, gather into groups. The ease of forming these groups is laughable given the tools in Second Life. Forming a group large enough to actually matter is another thing.

About the only 'punishment' you can mete out on an avatar is shunning them, forcibly removing them from your grouping.

Suppose 10% of the grid joins a mutual legal entity pact. That leaves a great deal of stomping ground for would be con artists and the innocent mishandled by the 'government' that disposed of them.

Now suppose 90% of the grid joined such a pact. (HA HA. FAT CHANCE.) That only leaves, oh, 1700 simulators, and growing, and likely filled with some of the most awesome anti-establishment wild artists you'll ever meet, if they don't just go build their own grid. There are always the Mac/Linux nerds with open arms. There will always be room on the grid. The good stuff always floats to the top, past the median.

Looking back at the trouble of complexity increasing faster than size, add that to the portability and disposability of an avatar, picture a democracy of 100 members. There's a crucial vote that requires 2/3 vote for some structural change to a process. It passes, 72 to 25, one absent, two abstentions.

And all 25 take a walk and buy their own simulators, soon joined by one of the abstentions and the absentee. The net result is two groups, easily portable, both refined in homogeneity, tighter in communication, and less complex by more than the size they shrank.

A democracy works for the physical world. An individual has a stake in their nation, and difficulty in picking up and leaving for another nation.

In world, an individual may be more than one avatar, may dispose of an avatar, may start another avatar. With ease.

For these reasons, given the tools in Second Life we have right now, a government cannot stand. No one's less than a teleport away from somewhere else.

Why Hierarchy Might Be Doomed

When alone, you need to agree with no one else how you will occupy your time and resources.

Add one other to form a group, you need one agreement, reciprocated.

Add another, and the number of necessary agreements becomes three.

Add another, then six.

Another, ten.

Another, fourteen.

At this point, barring Star Wars premieres, it's becoming almost impossible to pick a movie as a group. Adding more members only increases the number of agreements needed to achieve unanimity.

In the past, this necessitated a hierarchy or authority to get anything done as a group, done.

First there were the tribal hunter/gatherers. We're wired as a species to form groups, the ones who were not, didn't pass on their genes very well. In these smaller groups amidst the grunts and scratching of nether regions, there is little known, and presumably little capacity to communicate with outside tribes.

Agriculture led to, or perhaps it was the other way around, written word. Lore could now be transmitted through generations, and given enough generations, across emergent city states.

And the hunter/gatherers became obsolete. The cause, the lettered word.

These city states made possible due to the transformation 'civilisation' underwent from the written word. Manuals for recipes, irrigation management, tax structures. The Sumerians knew these things. Improvements on technique passed through city state to city state, nations rose and fell under the weight of their growing infrastructure and complexity. Professions begat specialisation of skills, and made individuals of great importance. Remove that individual, and do great damage to the whole of the group.

The printing press became as momentous an achievement as the written word itself, it changed almost everything. Where before, scribes would copy text after text to preserve knowledge. This method virtually unchanged since clay tablets thousands of years prior. Now, many copies of a single text could be produced easily and cheaply. This was the beginning of broadcasting information to masses at once.

And the scribes became obsolete. The cause, mass produced lettered word.

Even though this printing device, then radio and television had the capacity to broadcast, the expense of such still made it so the few broadcast to the many. Specialists, professionals, editors, governments decided what would be broadcast and for what reason. The difference in this world is that literacy was the norm, not a profession in and of itself.

Enter the Web/camera phones/blogs/IM/virtual worlds. Now everyone can broadcast all around the world.

And the editors/publishers are becoming obsolete. The cause, ridiculously easily distribution of media by and collaboration of projects by anyone.

Take music labels. No longer necessary for a musician to distribute music. Are they dead yet? Not quite, but it took a century of disorder until civilisation settled into new routines after literacy became widespread.

Take newspapers. What's in the news today, I knew about yesterday from an RSS feed.

Take television. What's on the 6 o'clock news has been posted by someone on the scene with a hand held video camera for the last five hours. Wittier commentary too.

In the past, every civilisation has collapsed under their own growing internal weight, specialists, professionals, tasks so complex and the tools so difficult. In each case of major transformation of civilisation, it was the introduction of a new tool. A tool that made communication much, much easier.


  • A dictatorship/monarchy.

  • A corporation.

  • A church.

  • A democracy.

Since before mass broadcast or collaboration by just about any individual was impossible, a hierarchy was needed to keep things coordinated. A hierarchy is a method of communication as much as a distribution of authority. Mass broadcast/collaboration removes in many cases the need for a hierarchy to be the sole means of communication management.

This scares the hell out of governments. In China, I couldn't get BBC News.

This scares the hell out of music labels. In Canada, I can't buy downloads on

Specialists are good! Professionals are good! Governments are good... due to the sheer numbers of people involved. We'd get nothing done otherwise.

An able, informed, and educated layman is also good. Professions opened up with new tools for the masses are fantastic. Groups of laymen with collaborative tools available to one another to share knowledge and information may be the ones who stave off future collapses of nations.

Or perhaps make nations obsolete. We don't yet know.

Remember the century of change brought about by the printing press. The scribes railed against change, those made obsolete by a new tool always have.

Beware a segregated Web. This is the tool that is driving this transformation of society, and so it has enemies.

PS: Buy this book: Here Comes Everybody

Monday, May 12, 2008


Is the inability to understand satire indicative of an anger management problem and/or insecurity?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Under The Sea

One thing Caledon did not forgo is waterways. I wish there were more waterways in Caledon, but it's striking how many of the successful theme estates all focus so heavily on water. But, like most areas, underwater decor is few and far between.

Today I ran into the asset upload bug and began to teleport around the grid, in case it was merely a faulty connection between my region and the asset servers. I landed on the mainland, old continent, and gave up trying when I failed there in multiple regions as well.

And I explored, tried to reach the Ahern Welcome Area region by water travel. Things I discovered:
  • There is a lot of water on the old continent.
  • It's protected land, IE no ban lines.
  • There are elevation changes to the water level.
  • And most of it is boring. (Exception: the tunnels in Sistiana.)
I washed up on Luna beach after cheating with one teleport and a break for lunch.

Back in Caledon, I found these little gems. Not saying who made them, or where, explore that on your own, but that is a tip jar in that sunken temple. All you undersea voyagers, tip like you got a pair. People like this make the grid beautiful and full of hidden treasure.