Monday, November 17, 2008

Second Life Protesters Set Themselves on Fire...

Never failing to amaze, there is another case of hacktivism occurring in Second Life, and this time the result may be a large number of users leaving the virtual avatar-populated community altogether.

Here's what's happening. The owner of Second Life, Linden Labs, decided two weeks ago to raise prices on "Openspaces". These Openspaces were designated for "light use", meaning that if someone bought the land then they could preserve it so that they had a nice view out of their bedroom window or have extra space for virtual sailing.

But what happened next was, as described by Wagner James Au, "a case study in the challenges inherent in managing user-generated content". Apparently, many Second Life residents ignored the "light use" idea and instead began building massive constructions and businesses on their Openspaces.

You might think to yourself, "So what? It's all virtual real estate anyway". Which is true except that it had a very real-world consequence. The servers that Linden Labs uses to maintain the Openspaces were overloaded by all of the unexpected massive activity; and the maintenance of those servers cost an awful lot of real-world money. Thus, the company decided to raise prices on all Openspaces, whether someone violated the "light use" principle or not.

As a result, "sign-waving avatars were soon gathered outside Linden’s SL office, in protest. Some even set themselves on fire."

Linden Labs has since revised its price hike to only affect those who violate the "light use" policy. However, now that there seems to be a meaningful and open-source alternative to Second Life on the horizon, known as OpenSim, some avatar-crazed fans may decide to leave for good for having finally been pushed over the edge.

(That's in the metaphorical, not virtual, sense. I swear that I get migraines trying to remember that there is a difference between the two when talking about Second Life.)


At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is nuts.


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