Honour McMillan’s post today got me thinking. There seems to be a lot of SL residents who are very insulated into their own little corner of the experience. As Honour points out there is a reluctance to learn even the most basic features common to all viewers. There is already a hue and cry over Server Side Baking and the necessity to update viewers (it will only get worse over the next few weeks as SSB rolls out to the grid).
Philip Linden once described SL as “perpetual beta”. Anyone who has been around for a while knows what he meant, there are almost continuous updates and new features. We, the residents, have some responsibility to keep up!
It is not like people are on their own. LL (and Torley Linden) have lots of video tutorials. They could drop by any Info Hub and there are links to help, sometimes even helpful people; or read Blogs; there is a list of them on the right side bar here, just click a picture. But they have to show enough interest and initiative to learn about the world we are in.
Illegitimi non carborundum
Rodvik’s decision last week not to bring back last names rings a bit hollow, especially in the face of the massive community support for returning to them (the jira post has 2453 votes and 737 watchers). His primary reason not to make a change is that it is inhibiting to new sign-ups; a valid point, but easily resolved with a simple (optional, you can do this later or not at all) in the sign-up process. One of the reasons for the changes in what is required of Third Party Viewers was that newbies were being harassed based on the viewer identified in their tag (unfortunately this has been independently verified). I am sure there is even more widespread discrimination based on “Resident”. Simply removing the Resident or .resident in as many places as possible will only help a little, we are not fools, anyone without a space in their name is a newbie! Display names only confuse things, for all practical purposes we must see actual names in order to know who someone is, display names and appearance are too ephemeral.
I suspect that one of the unspoken reasons for not re-implementing last names is that coming up with continuing supply of acceptable names is a time consuming pain in the ass for the Lindens.
A better way:
- Allow deferred last name adoption at sign-up.
- Create a database of names suggested by the SL community, something similar to a jira where we can not only suggest but comment on suggested names. Make it searchable and so it can be ordered alphabeticaly, by most recent, or by most recent comments. That would provide a continual supply of names for LL to choose from. Preload it with existing names (marked “taken”) and vet it occasionally would be all the maintenance LL would have to do. The list would, of course be clearly labeled as suggestions. What names are used and why is solely at LL’s discreation.
This would result in last names reflecting the time frame when names were adopted, rather than rez date but I suspect there would not be much difference.
Lastly, this IS win/win. It will get the community off your back (this will not go away until you address it constructively) and we get last names back.
Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable. ~W.H. Auden
I went out to dinner with an RL friend the other night. Some years ago I introduced her to Second Life. At first she thought it was weird and strange, but over time she has spent more and more time in world until now it is a regular part of her daily routine. The conversation turned to the unexpected ways SL has influenced our RL.
Our only partly tongue-in-cheek list included:
- You start seeing RL people as avatars.
- You try to camera around a web page.
- You find yourself converting RL prices to L$.
- You try to double-click teleport out to the mailbox.
- You mentally click on someone’s dress to inspect it.
- You use chat abbreviations in normal conversation ( RL, SL, brb, afk, etc.)
- Everyone else at the table thinks you are talking in tongues.
- The jewelry is not in your jewelry case, it is in SL.
How about you?
Names in Second Life have undergone a couple of changes in the last year or so, not completely for the good. The resulting issues serve as good examples of LL and the law of unintended consequences, although they were warned by many residents.
One of the busiest posts at the SL jira is SVC-7125 Bring Back Last Name Options! I understand why LL made this change. When they looked at new account creations that were aborted, picking a last name was a major stumbling block. Their solution, however, did not take into account the impact on the social fabric of Second Life. We now have an entire “class” of residents with the placeholder last name of .resident. Because not having a last name restricted the selection of non-duplicate first names, there is a proliferation of names that are not really names, like 1357Bob246. These things may be accepted in “Gaming” invironments, but they really interfere with the more social environment we have in Second Life.
And then there are Display Names. I suspect LL thought these would solve the problems with not having a last name. The way they prioritize them in lists and such certainly leads one to believe so. If display names acted only like the titlers people used to use, they might have a case. However, the use of ansi coded characters has made them all but unusable in conversation and all of the potential for abuse is coming to pass. As an example, recently there was a case of someone setting their display name to the account name of a well known content creator and hanging out at her store. To my knowledge there was no attempt to defraud anyone, but simply being there and unresponsive to customers did harm to the business.
Display names are with us to stay. The third party viewers are implementing ways for us to customize how we use and see them and these will find their way into the LL viewers. We will have to live with that and LL will have to live with policing the inevitable abuse.
Something can be done about last names, however and the residents can help if LL creates a system for them to do it. The problem seems to be finding enough names and vetting them for suitability. A jira type system where residents can suggest names and comment / score them would give LL a list of names to choose from. Cycling names into the availability list for 3 months with the oldest being replaced on a regular schedule would maintain the sense of names being attached to rez date “era”. This could be implemented retroactively with current “.resident” residents having an opportunity to pick a last name based on those that would have been available on their rez date. Personally I think suggesting and vetting names could be a lot of fun.
Linden Lab is so incredibly out of touch with Second Life culture I have been thinking we need some kind of “Council of Elders” or something to have a little authority when communicating our concerns to LL about the many ways they impact our society. This, of course, leads to wondering exactly what is “our society”? Perhaps something from another age will help:
1- The Nation States
Zindra & the larger adult community.
Gay & Lesbian
2- The Guilds and Artisans (content creators)
Contract / big project builders
3- The Mistrals who entertain us
4- The Gentry
Land Barons big and small
Linden Mainland management should fit here ……. if only………
5-The Wizards and Witches
Those mysterious people who live in the misty wood between civilization and the mythical mountain of the Lindens. Chanting incantations like “HTML” “Packet Loss” “OpenGL” they can cure or drive you to madness.
It seems to me that everyone who has been in Second Life for a significant period of time identifies with one or more of these groups (or others like them, the list is incomplete). We should be able to speak with a more cohesive voice than the rants and tantrums so often seen in the various communication streams we expect the Lindens to pay attention to. Surely there are cool heads among us.
Council of Elders anyone?