Plus ça change…

If I was vanitous enough to believe I have the slightest impact on things happening, I’d believe in the theory that writing eulogies on people leaving SL Y-K-W in my blog is a good way of bringing them back into the fray.

As it stands, Katharine Berry has reopened her fabulous AjaxLife and resumed its development, even un-cancelling her account on the Teen Grid for the purpose. As I wrote in an addendum to Age and Treachery revisited, that does not make all well that ends well :

It seems Katharine has eventually listened to all the people telling her how much her work on AjaxLife is appreciated, and how much she will be missed. She has un-cancelled her account, as she mentions en passant on her blog. The point I made in my Age and Treachery entry still stands, though : confining a talent like Katharine’s to the stifling atmosphere of the Teen Ghetto for the next three years hardly qualifies as good policy.

Still : good to have you back, Katharine. I hope you hang on there until better times.

And « Mad Patcher » Nicholaz Beresford doesn’t seem able to leave the mess the Lindens call their viewer code alone either. Though he has kept away from patching release candidates at an insane pace, he has taken on the « megalomaniac » (his own words) task of freeing SL Y-K-W users of the « ass-tachment» plague instead. I guess my blog entry on him should be re-titled Sysiphus gives up goes hobbyist. Do I have to say it’s great to see you back, too, Nic ?

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Age and Treachery revisited

Katharine Berry’s love story with Second Life You-Know-Where ends today on a sad, personal note. Shamelessly, I will quote my own comment on her blog :

Dear Katharine,

we have never met, our worlds lying far apart as I have come to realize, but I would like you to believe that your achievement with AjaxLife (alas the only sample of your skill I had an opportunity to profit from) outshines what most of us will ever be able to achieve — whatever our age (how the eternal « for someone your age » must hurt ; why can’t they just shut the f*** up ?). At 32, I bow to you. And I sympathize. I’m not old enough to get away from the fact how unjust and arbitrary people can be, not jaded enough to not understand your anger and not feel sympathy for the rejection you feel.

It is easy to tell you not to give in to it, but that is just insinuating that we, your elders, know better. I will not do that, because we don’t, even if we don’t like to admit it. So all I will tell you is that you and your stupendous mind will be missed by many people you do not even know, because you made our world a bit richer and no one can afford to lose somebody like you.

So long, Katharine Berry. If the grids you know where ever merge, I hope to meet you there.

I will not comment the flame war accompanying her farewell. Talent should buy you a modicum of leeway when it comes to rashness and occasional lack of social graces, but then, that is just me speaking. To those saying it was her peers and her own age driving her out, all I can say is : had the Teen Grid you know where not been such a thinly disguised excuse for the real thing, people like Katharine (and her antagonists) might be less frustrated, choice and a more rewarding experience replacing the often stifling closeness of such a tiny peer group. We are all at fault.

Farewell, Katharine Berry.

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Wild, wild west 2.0 continued

Sometimes, you just stumble over something and think « my thoughts exactly ». Now I admit this happens rarely to me, as I am a chronic dissenter, but Doug McMahon’s statement « Why » he is developing a Constitution for the Metaverse (while admitting to not using Second Life You-Know-Where actively, fancy that) strikes me as the straight continuation of my own thoughts in « Wild, wild west 2.0 ».

The question of why I would seek to draft a constitution for the metaverse, and why I think it might need one, is an obvious one. I genuinely believe that any online world in which users seek some kind of autonomy from the real world cannot function satisfactorily without one. To this you might reply that Second Life You-Know-Where, the leading metaverse, seems to be doing just fine. But I would question whether the benevolent dictator model for metaverses is really sustainable. All the power in Second Life You-Know-Where is concentrated in the hands of Linden Labs, they are the archetypal judge, jury and executioner with the added twist that they are also the law makers and the executive in the world. I am by no means accusing Linden Labs of anything underhand in this, I recognise the efficacy of this for their business model and that without it the world may not exist, but I am questioning whether this is a system under which one would or should chose to live.

The fundamental goal of a constitution is to distribute power in such a way that it allows for a fully functioning society whilst protecting the individual from the state. The goal is the rule of law – power under law, not under men. To those who resist the introduction of law into the metaverse I say this: first, it need not look like the law of the real world, indeed it should not look like the law of the real world; second, law is already pervasive in the metaverse, in the form of the ToS document, copyright and contract law, law suits brought in the real world concerning metaverse events. The only way to restrict the impact of laws not suited to the metaverse is for the metaverse to have its own.

I think we might have to watch this one…