I have never been much of a political activist. The way I see it, however passionate you are about an issue, politics have a way of wearing you down by making you argue the same things over and over again, until anything you say is but the n-th rehash of things said countless times before. And while repetition might hone your skirmishing skills, each pass blunts your heart as much as it sharpens your tongue.

That, and the fact that I am a hopelessly shallow person of course, have been enough to keep me away from the nitty gritty of political work. Oh, I might cheer and wave, I might even run that first, glorious mile when events are still fast paced and exciting ; but don’t look for me when the going gets slow — unless it is in the boutiques we passed on that first mile. It has always been that way. I have always been that way. 

But life moves in strange ways, especially when you have two of them, and in one of mine at least things have been… different, lately.

Not entirely surprisingly, this has to do with trademarks ; trademarks as made into policy by Linden Lab, and as protested against by so many in the blogosphere. And then again, more surprisingly maybe, it has not. It has not because when all is said and done, what the issue really boils down to is not a silly set of writing rules for bloggers, nor even the presumption to enforce these by brute force if need be, but one simple and far more general question :

What kind of world do we want to live in ?

Yes, yes, I know how that sounds. Don’t call the orderlies yet (later, maybe : being put in a straightjacket and manhandled by burly men, then locked into a cell, only ever to get out for an ice bath or some electric shock therapy … but I digress).

Let me explain what I mean. Continue reading

Est-ce une révolte ?

Non, Sire, c’est… well, actually, we’re not quite sure.

Following the call by the eminent Ms Gwyneth Llewelyn for a general strike of the gallant fraternity (and sorority) of bloggers against the unbearable tyranny brought upon us by His Majesty’s legal and marketing departments (as documented here, here, and here), this blog will be on strike from today April 15th until April 18th 2008. No post will be available for perusal but those linked here, and none will be added until then.

As a diverting and topically appropriate interlude, we offer a reenactement of M. Hugo’s Les Misérables with a superb contemporary cast, starring Codebastard Redgrave as Jean Valjean (left), Ana Lutetia as Éponine (kneeling on the barricade), Jacek Antonelli as Marius (second from the left), Kit Meredith as Gavroche (right), and Gwyneth Llewelyn as la Liberté (center); also guest starring Catherine Linden as Thénardier, Robin Linden as Javert and Philip Linden as His most gracious Majesty, the King of France.

La Liberté menant le peuple, par Eugène Delacroix

La Liberté menant le peuple, par Eugène Delacroix

Now if I could just think of another song to sing on the barricades but this one:

Ah ça ira, ça ira, les aristocrates à la lanterne…

Post scriptum

it has been brought to our attention that the following blogs are on strike:

We have also been notified that not content with shutting down its entire SL related blogosphere, Portugal also witnesses its bona fide RL press picking up the issue. Ah, felix Portugal

Please do not hesitate to notify us of further developments.

Post Post Scriptum:

The strike has ended, but the story around it has not. Those interested in both its past and future might find this odd beast of a post of interest.

The Silence of the Lindens

Catherine Linden does not listen.

She does not answer questions asked of her either.

Granted, the marketing director of Linden Lab did post a second time on the official Linden blog about the new trademark policy, in response to the outcry in the Second Life You-know-Where blogosphere, but this was nothing but a reiteration of the original position. The Lindens did not budge a millimetre.

Truth be said, there was one good thing about the second post : with the rephrasing cutting through the legalese, shortly after the revised ToS enforcing it was force fed on all residents at logon, many more bloggers started noticing things are really amiss — for one example, see Ciaran Laval’s change of mind on Your2ndPlace. Most important maybe, it spurned Gwyneth Llewelyn, whose « Second Life® Bloggers Require Clarification » (reproduced by express permission on my own blog) clearly put the blogosphere’s questions before the Lindens, to the next logical step of presenting them with a petition to reconsider their policies. Thanks to Gwyn’s efforts to mount a real campaign, the petition has been open to for review and suggestions by other SL Y-K-W bloggers before publication.

Whether you think already this is an issue, are convinced it is not, or are at loss about what to make of the whole fuss, I urge you to take the time to read the petition. Because, as you will realise when you do, Linden Lab are going far beyond the legitimate aim of protecting a vital business asset of theirs in the form of their trademarks. Not only did they suddenly revert a policy which has led thousands of residents to create blogs, fansites, services and similar around the world they live in, and that quite in agreement with the then lenient guidelines of Linden Lab, effectively thanking good and unpaid community building with a kick in the vitals and breaking all rules of good faith, both legal and moral, in my book — they also have abrogated themselves a censor’s right to decree how, and what is to be written about their products anywhere on the internet as long as you are a resident and wish to stay so, as Kit Meredith succinctly resumed.

But don’t take my word for it. Gwyn and her contributors have put all of the matters at hand much better than I could ever do it on my own, and the petition even offers what I think is quite a reasonable compromise to the Lab. Find it quoted in full after the fold : Continue reading

Dear Catherine Linden,

following up on your post on the Official Linden Blog on the Brand Center, I turn to you today in my quest for an instance able to certify that the measures I have taken on my blog do indeed make it conform to the new trademark policy of Linden Research. Not wishing to incur costly legal disputes, I have made the following amends:

  • All mentions of Linden Research’s trademark ‘Second Life’ have been replaced by ‘You-Know-Where’ throughout all posts, pages and comments.
  • All mentions of Linden Research’s trademark ‘SL’ have been replaced by ‘Y-K-W’ throughout all posts, pages and comments.
  • All mentions of Linden Research’s trademark ‘grid’ have been replaced by ‘you know where’ throughout all posts, pages and comments.
  • Common derivative terms have been adapted as fitted this  ‘Second Lifers’ for instance has been replaced by ‘You-Know-Where denizens’ throughout all posts, pages and comments, ‘SLURL’ by ‘Y-K-WURL’, etc.
  • Related uses of Linden Research trademarks have been corrected likewise: the subtitle of the blog now reads ‘Rheta Shan’s You-Know-Where blog’, and posts relating to the trademarked product are now tagged ‘you-know-where’.
  • The Disclaimer page has also been amended to conform to the required form.
  • Finally, all errant ‘s’ appended to Linden Lab have been removed throughout all posts, pages and comments.

I have left these edits documented for inspection, and will do so for the length of the grace period generously offered by Linden Research, or until a crack team of censors trademark lawyers from your office signifies the all-clear for this measure, preferably with an official seal of approval (a large watermark ‘TM’ might be fitting). I must however preemptively beg your leniency as to an issue that is bugging me: the title of the post Second Life Guess, which, as any expert you care to consult will probably be able to explain to you, is a pun, or play on words – I’d appreciate a proposal on how to handle the translation into the new terminology in this case. I also must apologize for not having converted the incriminated trademarked terms to the new form in URLs, as I have not found a solution to do so this without breaking the link to the targeted page. On this matter too, advice would be greatly welcome.

Once approval is given, I will extend this corrections to all other statements on the web I have made, as far as I have editorial rights to these (I am very much afraid there is not much I can do about old Twitter posts, barring deleting them all. Would that be the suggested course?).

If I may, I would urge you to accede to my request in a timely fashion, allowing me to turn this blog into a shiny example for the entire Second LifeYou-Know-Where-related blogosphere. I can promise that, once your and the censors’ trademark lawyers’ approval has been given, I will use my influence in blogger circles for the blogosphere to follow my example and conform to your expectations.

Do not hesitate to contact me, in-world or here, in case of questions.
Cordially yours
Rheta Shan (avatar)