• 23Apr

    Yesterday, April 22, was my fourth rezday. It was four years ago yesterday that I logged in to Second Life for the first time, and the persona of Jacek Antonelli was born.

    Yesterday was also the last rezday I’ll be celebrating in Second Life. A recent culmination of circumstances has pushed me away from Second Life, and triggered my migration to OpenSim. I’ll be wrapping up my affairs over the next month, then putting my Second Life account on the shelf. By this time next year, I expect SL to be mostly irrelevant to my day-to-day life.

    Continue reading »

  • 18Jun

    I received an interesting comment from someone last night. He said that his first impression of me, from reading this blog, was that I was an “angry SL pessimist”. You know the type: no matter what happens in SL, they’ll bitch and moan about it.

    Thankfully, he said that further reading had improved his impression, and I explained to him that the reason many of my posts are critical of LL, is because the things that get me riled up enough to write about are often things LL has done which I strongly disagree with. So, my blog only reflects the extremes; the other stuff doesn’t get blogged.

    In an interesting and related occurance, my friend Goldie Katsu tweeted a link to an article by Louis Gray, The Five Stages of Early Adopter Behavior. (You might want to go read it now, or at least skim the bold headings.)

    Continue reading »

  • 11Jun

    I hate to say it, but SL5B (Second Life’s 5th Anniversary) looks to be a bust. (I was going to use a different word there, starting with an F and ending with a D, but decided to refrain, in the interest of good taste.) Continue reading »

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  • 01Jun

    I don’t envy Linden Lab’s situation. Try to dodge the self-serving politicians and reporters nipping at your heels, and the Residents bring out the pitchforks and torches. It’s an impossible job, so it’s no wonder they’re doing so poorly at it. I’d have plenty of sympathy for Linden Lab. I really would.

    Except that they put themselves in this situation.

    Second Life is under external pressure because of a number of misconceptions (some more misconceived than others) that exist among the general public — the misconceptions perpetuated by the commercial media because they sell well: Sex. Weird sex! Lots of weird, kinky sex online! And kids?! What’s going on in this sick, perverted online haven of creeps and pedophiles?! Read all about it! Throw in a few politicians eager to prove that they’re “thinking of the children” on an election year, and you’ve got a lot of (self-)important people with a professional interest in painting an exaggerated, sordid picture of Second Life.

    The natural alliance here would be between Linden Lab and the Residents, based on the common interest in making sure Second Life survives, against the external forces that threaten it. Linden and the Resident, hand in hand, making a better, freer world, in the face of opposition. A beautiful image, no?

    Would that it were so. But Linden Lab, it seems, doesn’t want its Residents anymore. It doesn’t want a free, open, creative world. It wants a sanitized, media-friendly world, that universities and big corps won’t think twice about making major investments in. LL’s message for Residents now is: Thanks for making us so popular, but go away now. You’re embarrassing us in front of the cool kids.

    Continue reading »

  • 30May

    Just when the trademark issue started to fade away from public consciousness, Linden Lab has provided us with an even bigger fish. Continuing Linden Lab’s campaign to strangle your inner child, it seems from all evidence that Dusty, Everett, and/or other Lindens are stepping in and barring the SL Kids community from participating in, and possibly even attending, Second Life’s 5th Birthday celebration.

    For the uninitiated, the SL Kids are RL adults who express their inner child in Second Life, donning a child-like avatar, laughing, playing, and letting the worries and cares of adult life slip away.

    For some reason, some people find it disturbing that a grown adult might find it enjoyable to relive their childhood. Even more strangely, many of the people who decry child-like play have no objection to adults (or even actual children) pretending to shoot each other, chop each others’ heads off, run each other over, or any of the other themes that are so prevalent in video games and movies these days.

    Rampant violence? That’s fine. Hopscotch? My god, we have to put a stop to that!

    Continue reading »

  • 23Apr

    4.4 Without a written license agreement, Linden Lab does not authorize you to make any use of its trademarks.

    So reads the summary sentence for the now-infamous trademark clause in Second Life’s Terms of Service. That unfortunate choice of words, and the similar phrase contained in the full text for that clause, might just be the source of the confusion that has myself and other concerned Residents up in arms.

    The full text of section 4.4 reads (emphasis mine):

    You agree to review and adhere to the guidelines on using “Second Life,” “SL,” “Linden,” the Eye-in-Hand logo, and Linden Lab’s other trademarks, service marks, trade names, logos, domain names, taglines, and trade dress (collectively, the “Linden Lab Marks”) at http://secondlife.com/corporate/brand and its subpages, which may be updated from time to time. Except for the licenses expressly granted there or in a separate written agreement signed by you and Linden Lab, Linden Lab reserves all right, title, and interest in the Linden Lab Marks and does not authorize you to display or use any Linden Lab Mark in any manner whatsoever. If you have a written license agreement with Linden Lab to use a Linden Lab Mark, your use shall comply strictly with that agreement’s terms and conditions and use guidelines.

    Here again we see “does not authorize”. But how are we to interpret it?

    To a lawyer, it probably means, unambiguously, that Linden Lab does not grant special permission for you to use its trademarks. It’s not a restriction on your rights, just letting you know that you don’t get extra permission simply because you pressed “I Agree”.

    To a layperson, though, it can easily be interpreted to mean that Linden Lab will not allow you to use its trademarks. You can’t write or say any of Linden Lab’s trademarks, anywhere, ever, in any form, or Linden Lab will ban you faster than you can say “nominative fair use”.

    I’m sure it’s a perfectly benign phrase, when translated into plain speech. Heck, they even granted us a license to use “SL” and “inSL”! Linden Lab’s General Counsel is probably utterly baffled as to why we’re not genuflecting and thanking LL for its supreme generosity.

    But, in general, we’re not lawyers, and we’re not fluent in the twisted dialect known as Lawyerese. To many (if not most) of us, it reads as a restriction of our rights, and a threat of legal action. And as Residents watching the gradual “crackdown” on various freedoms we had enjoyed in Second Life, we’re especially prone to interpret Linden Lab’s legal moves as being hostile and restrictive, even if they were not intended to be.

    There is one sore point, though, that isn’t directly attributable to poor communication: the “taking-back” of the phrase, “my Second Life”. Linden Lab doesn’t want us to talk about “my Second Life” or “our Second Lives”, because of the potential for confusion and/or genericide. That issue is a legitimate concern on the part of Linden Lab, as well as a legitimate complaint on the part of the Residents.

    However, I’m willing to find an alternate phrase (“my virtual life,” maybe?) that does not have the potential to damage Linden Lab’s marks. And just maybe, Linden Lab will be willing to find an alternate phrasing that is less prone to being interpreted as overtly restrictive. Then maybe we could put this whole mess behind us, and get back to living our virtual lives.

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  • 19Apr

    The three-day bloggers “strike” ended yesterday, and Linden Lab issued further clarification on their new trademark policy. I wasn’t really sure what to say or how to feel about it.

    At first, I was excited. We (bloggers, whether “strikers” or not) managed to evoke a response from Linden Lab. And a seemingly sympathetic response, at that. It was a well-spun post, I’ll admit. I was suckered in for a while. I so very much wanted to believe that everything was all good now.

    But it’s not. Linden Lab has now confirmed that they are waving the banhammer threateningly at anyone who doesn’t comply. Their assurance that they will issue warnings first, reads like a sherrif from an old cowboy movie, brandishing his gun and saying, “Come along quietly, now. I don’t wanna have to shoot you, but I will if it comes to that.”

    Continue reading »

  • 15Apr
    LL policy woes Comments Off

    Mouth in Foot Logo

    This blog is on strike from April 15 to April 18 as a symbolic gesture of protest against Linden Lab’s™ ambiguous and over-reaching new trademark policy and change to the Terms of Service (section 4.4). From the Terms of Service:

    Except for the licenses expressly granted [in the Second Life® Brand Center] or in a separate written agreement signed by you and Linden Lab, Linden Lab reserves all right, title, and interest in the Linden Lab Marks and does not authorize you to display or use any Linden Lab Mark in any manner whatsoever. [emphasis mine]

    Due to the ambiguous wording of both the policy and Terms of Service clause, they could easily be interpreted to mean that one is not allowed to even mention the words “Second Life” or “Linden Lab”, even in non-commercial contexts such as a fan site.

    Normally, the effects of such a ridiculous policy would be mitigated by their unenforcability in courts, where nominative use — using a trademark for the purposes of referring to the product, service, or entity it represents — is recognized as fair use.

    However, Linden Lab has put itself above the courts for determining fair use. If Linden Lab decides that it does not like how you are using its trademarks, even outside of the Second Life service, you are in violation of the Terms of Service, and they may may simply ban your account, shut down your business, and reposess your land. In such an event, your only means of redress is a costly law suit against Linden Lab to restore your account.

    I find this policy therefore objectionable, and quite frankly foolish. Linden Lab has, at a glance, killed off its most effective marketing tool: the word of mouth of its fans. No longer can I write freely about all the cool things that happen in Second Life. I must be on guard at all times, making sure I place the proper trademark notices just-so, at peril of my virtual life.

    But in actuality, the simplest way to avoid infringing on Linden Lab’s trademarks, is to make no mention of them. Ever. So, no longer do I reside in “Second Life”; I now reside in “a Certain Trademarked Virtual World”. I can no longer recommend “Second Life” to my friends — even if I had the goodwill to recommend it.

    Thus, to protest this policy, and to symbolize the silencing of Second Life bloggers, no new posts will be made until after April 18, and this blog shall instead display this explanatory notice.

  • 06Apr
    Art, Gripes, LL policy woes Comments Off

    It seems the good folks in the networking department aren’t the only ones having connection issues.

    Disconnect

    Tags:

  • 31Mar

    Mouth in Foot (JPG, small)

    I’ve created an image. I hope you find it amusing. If you so desire, you may download it in your choice of image format (listed at the bottom).

    They are copyrighted, but permission to use the images (and any derivatives thereof) is granted to you under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. The images are not trademarks, and you won’t be sued or legally threatened for displaying them on your blogs, web pages, in virtual worlds, or in other places. You can even make good-natured parodies of them with absolutely no fear of retribution.

    Enjoy.

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