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  Wells Fargo’s Virtual ‘Stagecoach Island’ Shows Cracks  
 
 
Posted 2005-09-27 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Earlier this month, financial giant Wells Fargo launched their own slice of the Second Life virtual world in order to market financial services to teens. Dubbed "Stagecoach Island," the family-friendly project was said to be completely sealed off from Second Life's often X-rated "Main Grid."

Stagecoach Island is still in testing, despite initial launch-hype from Wells Fargo (who said it was a "pilot program"), and is clearly not ready for prime-time. It appears that Linden Lab, the makers of the Second Life platform Wells Fargo's island is built upon, overestimated Stagecoach's impermeability. A Linden representative had once said that Wells Fargo's island was "not accessible" from the Main Grid, but based on eye-witness reports, it is possible (at the time of this writing) to transfer items between the two supposedly isolated areas. Not only possible, but not too difficult for any Second Life resident with coding skills.

An obfuscated back door to Stagecoach Island was recently opened by a handful of Second Life residents who quickly found a number of bugs, exploits, and similar glitches--the most serious of which, perhaps, is the ability to transfer items between the Main Grid and Stagecoach Island. At the time of this writing, the back door has been closed, and accounts created by Second Life residents have been deleted. Whether or not Stagecoach Island's cracks are filled is secondary to whether or not Second Life cracking foundations will be fixed.

The issues with Stagecoach Island reinforce my opinion that Linden Lab fundamentally misunderstands the difference between "not possible" and "not allowed." With the Second Life platform (and by extension, Teen Second Life as well as Stagecoach Island), there are a number of rules that overlay the code that runs the world. This is a major flaw. Something that is "not allowed" should, by default, be "not possible." Similarly, if it's possible, it must be allowed.

Currently, the nature of Second Life's cyberspace allows unwanted behaviour to take place. Stagecoach Island and Teen Second Life are part of that cyberspace. Therefore it is possible (although not allowed) for Second Life residents to transfer objects between shards. It is possible (although not allowed) for teens to speak with adults. It is possible (but not allowed) for residents of Stagecoach Island to build their own objects. Because of this separation between what is possible and what is permissable, Linden Lab (and the recently instated "Fargo" police of Stagecoach Island) are obligated to spend a good deal of resources monitoring, correcting and disciplining unwanted behaviour--processes that are (and have been) subject to human error, inconsistency, and favouritism. Virtual worlds are only as perfect as they are coded to be, and I'm not sure a less-than-perfect Second Life is a good platform for a huge financial player like Wells Fargo.
 
     
 
   
 
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  27 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 9:12 am
     
 
having come across the backdoor on the forums, i assumed LL was allowing residents to take a peek... or something (since the thread was rather long and still open). so i took a peek. and i mostly did so because while my curiousity level wasn't too high initially, it has been recently piqued by search engine queries sending people looking for "Second+Life+Wells+Fargo+Stagecoach+crack+password" to my blog.

so much for protected (cyber)spaces. ha.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 9:36 am
     
 
wait a sec. a Linden gave the okay to use the backdoor.

Reuben Linden: Both the download site and multi-use code mentioned by Roger are OK to use. You will not be violating the Second Life Terms of Service by entering. Enjoy.

forgot all about that. now reading the thread to get the details.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Jos 'Hyakugei' Yule
September 28, 2005 @ 10:10 am
     
 
I interested in the idea you put forth in the following sentence:

"Something that is "not allowed" should, by default, be "not possible.""

Really? Does that only apply to SecondLife, or all computer based environments? How about Meat-Space? Don't you think that there are things that are 'not allowed' but perhaps some wiggle room should be left for social norms to develop around them? Doesn't this kind of shut down any ability of a culture to define its own dos and don'ts?

This just seems a bit too iron-fisted an approach to may potential 'things' that one would want to regulate. There are also many edge cases, where something can be both good and bad, therefore there is not an easy way to make it "not possible" without also remove the good use.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 10:32 am
     
 
hyakugei, I believe that the guideline I've suggested should apply to all computer-based environments where maintenance/moderation/administration is a concern. It does not apply to meatspace because we can't control meatspace as we do cyberspace. In meatspace, it's possible (but not allowed) for one civilian to kill another civilian. In a perfect cyberspace, it would not be possible to kill another civilian if the designers of that space wished it so.

I believe that even with such a hard-coded system, a colourful culture can develop. People seem to find wiggle-room in the most restrictive environments.

I agree that borderline "good"/"bad" cases are a challenge. It's not easy for humans to discren in advance what all the possible issues are, but it is possible for humans to adjust a virtual environment as the cases come up.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 10:42 am
     
 
csven, thanks for sharing the search query info, I guess there's substantial demand for getting in for a tour of Stagecoach Island. That backdoor was sort of secure through obscurity if you know what I mean. Once discovered, it seems the Lindens figured they might as well hold the door open. Leave it to Second Life's curious and inventive residents to discover the seams in Stagecoach Island's plastic veneer. And thus, the door was closed. What surprises me is hearing that the island is in "testing"--given this, it seems the big Wells Fargo announcement about the launch was entirely premature.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 28, 2005 @ 11:01 am
     
 
Whether LL allowed the backdoor informally to a few to build buzz on the forums, or gave permission after the barn door was open isn't so material. The bigger story here is about the existence of the secret, big-business part of the grid. No one seems to ever get an answer to their question about just how many of the 1000 or so sims in SL are private islands -- but there are huge new numbers of them in the last six months -- hundreds (the jump from 600, which was a standard figure given out for all sims, to 1000, happened in a manner of months). At $995 and now $1250 a pop US, they aren't being bought by little old ladies who log in on Sundays.

Last night I asked Philip Linden in the WA during the impromptu GOM closing panic meeting why he was shutting down the Leader boards showing the networth of top players, and why the information about the big businesses on islands is secret. Of course the Lindens threw a $17,000 construction bid to the FIC, and then 20 FIC vendors were ushered into Stagecoach -- this wasn't any kind of open bid process. Philip seemed to affirm the value of transparency of information in some abstract way, but he also staked out a claim for an odd kind of philosophy: that if you're going to have privacy, have it for all islands, whether a mom-and-pop prefab store or a giant multimillion RL corporation. Um, ok, but the mom and pop store isn't capable of rocking the game economy, and throwing bids to a select few with LL's help.

An operative fact to note is that funds earned in Stagecoach by the select 20 vendors can be transferred to the main grid to those vendors' accounts -- an example of how special boutique economy is going to get fashioned that will lock out not only the great unwashed, but the feebs and choads or whatever the non-FIC are termed in the LL lexicon. One of these vendors tried to pfft me off this point by claiming she had only earned $10 -- but it's the principle of the thing, and it's only in its testing stage yet.

Everyone should have the right to click off the privacy options on their mainland or island land (more thorough, in that you can disappear from the map). More and more, I see Lindens spending time in these invisible places, working on these deals or the educational deals that are just more dear to their hearts then trying to chase griefers around the mainland and help individual landholders with their crashing sim problems. Who can blaim them? The metaverse isn't going to be carried by 50,000 beta accounts or a million people playing Barbie, it's going to be carried by these major corporations and the SL residents connected or nimble enough to get in on the ground floor with them.

What accountability will these entities have especially given that some of them grab a lot of our personal data, from avatar key to IPs (um, yes, please, they do that, let's not *start*) to shopping habits.

SL is like Russia, visible oligarchs that a less-and-less free press and game options are barely going to be able to cover, and lots of dollarized "black economy". I think the potential for corruption, extortion, and fraud, is enormous.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 1:02 pm
     
 
it does seem that the Wells Fargo thing is being handled... oddly. but other than observing, it's of no great concern to me.

prok's concern about the account transfer ability i'd say merits some discussion. but i doubt i'm likely to be as concerned there either.

as for "I guess there's substantial demand for getting in for a tour of Stagecoach Island.", i don't believe they care to take a tour. i suspect outsiders have read the news and are perhaps wondering if there is a link between the Stagecoach sim and some Wells Fargo accounts... something exploitable. we all know the best hacks occur in meatspace. combine some hacking of the client to facilitate gathering data with some inworld discussion to gather personal other information, mix well, and watch some hacker attempt to take over someone's account via a phone call.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 3:06 pm
     
 
Hey, csven, with regards to your recent blog post on this subject, I mentioned in the second paragraph of my post that "Stagecoach Island is still in testing, despite initial launch-hype from Wells Fargo (who said it was a 'pilot program')". When you say that the situation is not as bad as I let on, I maintain that I never made it out any worse that it reads.

I could have mentioned some of the buggier security issues specifically, and how they could affect the main grid, but I didn't in order to give Linden Lab a break. So if anything, I'm minimizing the event, not overstating it.

PS- I'd comment directly on your blog but comments are disabled. Which is a shame because there are often posts there I'd like to comment on.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 3:51 pm
     
 
the reason your entry here sounds - at least to me - to be worse than reality is that:

1) when you say an "obfuscated back door to Stagecoach Island was recently opened by a handful of Second Life residents, in this case, it's extremely important imo to make people aware that "a handful of residents" are also assuming developer roles. you don't do that and to an outsider i'm sure it reads quite differently than to those of us familiar with SL. furthermore, the brand-spanking new avatar (Roger Steptoe) who announced it was not specific as to where he found out how to gain entry via this secondary website. that's suspicious. and logic suggests that another resident (or perhaps Roger's primary account) had a hand in providing that information. it's not a stretch to imagine the other individual might be one of the primary coders working on the project, or someone affiliated with the project.

2) no where in your write-up do i see mention that the Lindens (at least three iirc) were both aware and unconcerned with people gaining access to the island. when i read your third paragraph, there's no mention of this. further, you only then go on to mention that the door is closed and the accounts deleted which sounds as if LL was unaware and took action after they were alerted to people gaining access.

hence my comment that it's not quite as bad as you let on in this write up. your comments on security are still valid imo, but the tone and context change pretty dramatically i think.

btw, comments are on and have been for about a week. turns out the spambots are targeting one set of (large) posts apparently now a part of some central spam database. so now i'm trying running open/closed entries.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 4:47 pm
     
 
Regarding
1) I'm not sure what you mean by "assuming developer roles." Residents joining Stagecoach Island using that backdoor code created normal accounts, not developer accounts. The code to get in is just a multi-use referral code. It's not "secret" per se. It was just not public knowledge. Same with the backdoor.

2)Ah, but Linden Lab *was* concerned. Initially they weren't. Then they found out what residents were getting away with. As I mention in the post, "At the time of this writing, the back door has been closed, and accounts created by Second Life residents have been deleted." When Linden Lab discovered the dangerous exploits (only one of which I detail in the post) they took action. It's not that the backdoor caught them off guard. It's that the discovery of some major security holes did. When I wrote the post, I didn't believe it was necessary to make that distinction, since I considered it to be too much detail.

I still maintain that the situation is worse than I made it out to be. If Linden Lab hasn't deleted the specific forum thread replies, there are some details there that indicate exploits were possible that could have messed with the Main Grid's economy. Those bugs, unless Stagecoach Island has been patched, still exist. There's been no Linden statement yet (that I am aware of) to address the measures they're taking to counter the exploits.

Thanks for the discussion and feedback about this, I am always interested in improving my reporting skills.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 5:17 pm
     
 
1) residents have been hired by the company contracted by Wells Fargo to help with coding and provide content; hence "developer roles". so there are SL residents who have regular access to Stagecoach Island and who are earning a real world salary to assist in this project. they are paid by the company WF contracted (swivelmedia). so the line isn't as clearcut as if someone said for example that WoW players had opened a backdoor to another game (sim) based on the same engine. in fact this practice is relatively unusual - basically unheard of - which is why it's important to point this out here.

2) which is why your point is still valid, but omitting that Lindens were aware of this from the beginning skews your entry imo. it makes things sound much worse, when for all we know, Roger Steptoe is one of Philip's alts.

the issues raised in the forum weren't deleted last i checked. they only asked that people not broadcast them. and some don't seem all that major to me tbh. the real issue, and the one that seems to come up again and again, is that LL seems to let so many things slip through the cracks; more human error than code error. to me, that is the truly big issue.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 28, 2005 @ 5:28 pm
     
 
I believe there are cracks, because it was not just the residents who got to be junior game devs, it was their friends, and just happenstance people who read the code on the forums that the kewl kids couldn't help leeking. Some of them even went in and griefed, then returned on alts. They did what a lot of kids do to games, they bang on them to see if they'll break somewhere -- that's the game too, and senior game devs plan for that. The whole thing was a little game...except too many flaws were seen and admitted in the process. I agree that the biggest security flaw in any operation is the human tongue -- or typing fingers. The whole thing needs to be investigated, and I think Tony did a good job of gettting it from a number of sources and reporting it accurately. I don't think he's sensationalized it at all. I first began getting wind of this project months ago, and then got stuff the last few days about the leaks but all from two sources that couldn't be checked really so I'm glad he got the story -- it's a valid one at many levels, and I'm more concerned about what this says of the coming closed elite society.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 5:54 pm
     
 
Ah, csven I see what you meant by the "developer" angle, and it's something I've reported on in the past, but didn't see how it was directly relevant to this story. I did, however, link to the information.

The backdoor itself is really a non-issue to me: it's merely an alternate way of getting in the front door, and it's the way that the media and other interested parties would have gotten access. What is most important to me is what happened after residents got in. The way I see it is that the fact that Linden Lab knew about the door isn't as noteworthy as the fact that they didn't know about the exploits (one of which involved generating a theoretically-endless supply of L$) possible in their own system.

I'll try to be more careful next time in my reporting. I'll skewer anyone, but I attempt to be somewhat fair--although I don't think any story can be interesting without some kind of slant. You're the second person to suggest recently that I have a hate-on for Linden Lab, so obviously I'm leaning too hard on them. Thanks for the comments.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 28, 2005 @ 6:05 pm
     
 
prok thanks for the support, but I probably could have added some info that would have made csven a little happier in terms of the tone of the report.

It's difficult to do the kind of reporting that good newspapers or magazines do on a weblog like this. Instead of an internal editor, my sounding board is my readership. It's very difficult to self-edit, so the postings here are a little raw at times. When I have a "scoop," I can't sit on it for too long, so most of the breaking news type of postings here represent 10-60 minutes of research and writing. For some of the less time-sensitive pieces I can write it, and then look at it in a few hours with a bit of distance--but still, it's not an editor's eye. On the one hand I enjoy the immediacy of blogging, but on the other hand, it's a real challenge to get a good polish on the writing here.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 28, 2005 @ 6:08 pm
     
 
Precisely because your sounding board is your readership, you should let, say, the first two fanboyz who come along and whine about your being too hard on LL as being a sign that you need to pull back. You don't. Yes, I realize that blogging ruins you for journalism. It's ok, the breaking news and commentary is way more important in a dynamic community like this which is a wacky game environment anyway. You'll get a chance to fix it all up in your book, later.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 28, 2005 @ 6:11 pm
     
 
*should NOT let I mean -- just because you got two whacks on this and tekkie corrections, don't let it stop you from getting to the heart of the matter -- which is 1) the secret sim with the big customer and the throwing of the special deal to the FIC (weren't you the one to break that story?) and 2) that the backdoor opened, and they seemed to paper it over with "it's ok now kids come on in" but then that was just a kind of damage spin control -- then it comes out maybe they had about 10 too many problems going on there to say it wasn't in beta.

This is what I don't get about all this -- could someone explain this to me? These are kids coming in here, right? And handling play money? Money generated out of the game -- extra stipend packets as it were, like we got in our boxes each week. It's not that the parents buy the kids the game money packets. So kids take this extra printed stipend money and buy wares from those 20 special FIC vendors. Those vendors then get to port this back to their own accounts and cash out for RL money. It's like an extra subsidy just for being you in the FIC.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 28, 2005 @ 11:58 pm
     
 
"You're the second person to suggest recently that I have a hate-on for Linden Lab, so obviously I'm leaning too hard on them."

i'm disappointed.

i'm not suggesting anything of the kind. how you make the leap from my comments to me thinking you were being intentionally unfair toward LL is beyond me. to be honest, i thought you better than this.

all i'm saying is that i believe you left out some important details that needed to be included here - and not in some link to another entry. if you're rushing to post something to get a Scoop and to garner MSM attention, and truncating them further than they should be, then that's an issue imo. so is attempting to skew something to give it some kind of dynamic Slant. i'd call that dishonest. i also consider that one of the biggest problems with the press today. it's really that simple to me. and suggesting it's something else is a distastefully defensive posture. don't make this more than it is.

wrt how prok obtusely refers to my comments as those of a fanboy, when my relationship with Linden Lab is far from approaching that qualification (quite the opposite, in fact), that strikes me as the kind of behavior i associate with... well... someone working towards their own selfish ends (how many people are writing books i wonder). even when i support prok's position, it's always easy to not speak up on her behalf.

perhaps the last couple of comments in my last post didn't register with the two of you. may i suggest you read it again... and this time, read it with understanding.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
September 29, 2005 @ 8:39 am
     
 
csven, if I understand correctly, I originally (and incorrectly) interpreted "skew" as "skew against the Lindens" and apparently I've disappointed you as a result. I think I see now that you meant is "skew to sensationalize," but since this is an unflattering story to Linden Lab any sensationalism does them a disservice.

With regards to issues of my reportage:

"...i believe you left out some important details that needed to be included here - and not in some link to another entry."

I'm pretty sure I understand this now, although I we don't seem to agree completely on the important details of this story.

"if you're rushing to post something to get a Scoop and to garner MSM attention, and truncating them further than they should be, then that's an issue imo."

It's an issue to me, too. Rushing a scoop out the door is one thing. Writing for the purposes of gaining mainstream media attention is entirely another. I am guilty of the former but not the latter (if I really wanted MSM attention, I'd go out and get it, as I have done for some non-SL-related articles). I try not to rush stories. But sometimes I do. If I was a MSM journalist, I'd have the benefit of having an editor review even a rushed story. Here, I don't. The advantage I have over the MSM is that I can immediately correct an error or omission.

"so is attempting to skew something to give it some kind of dynamic Slant. i'd call that dishonest.

Journalism does not exist in a vacuum. Every story has skew--if not by opinion, then slant by virtue of what facts are reported, emphasized or downplayed. Opinions on what the crucial, important, or relevant facts will vary by writer and reader. It is impossible to satisfy everyone. That's honest. What's dishonest is claiming to be an unbiased journalist. I don't do that. I try to be critical but fair, although I'm aware that I don't always succeed. I do not lie. I do not consider myself to be dishonest. I do not intentionally overhype stories. I do consider myself biased, and I think bias is what makes a story interesting--otherwise, articles would read like a laundry-list of facts.

"don't make this more than it is."

I think we're all making this a little more than it is. I appreciate your feedback, criticism and participation in this discussion. I am geniunely trying to understand your position, and trying to elaborate on mine. I had thought the tone of conversation was pretty light. I am probably not injecting enough smileys :)

"wrt how prok obtusely refers to my comments as those of a fanboy, when my relationship with Linden Lab is far from approaching that qualification..."

Agreed. I don't see you as a fanboy in the least. The other person who took issue with my article isn't even a Second Life resident. So there are no fanboys here.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 29, 2005 @ 9:06 am
     
 
Csven, I think suggesting that either I or Tony are unable to read and comprehend a simple paragraph on a blog without re-reading it and "this time with understanding" is probably a worse sort of "oblique offense" than suggesting you might be in the fanboy choir. I've always seen you take LL's side and even the FIC's side in any debate I've ever seen you in on the forums. If there is a "quite the opposite" it's just not visible.

Tony's tongue-in-cheek response about "having a hate-on" was just that -- a humorous flippant response to let readers know that he was willing to fall on his sword or re-examine his position -- if they could show some corrective (like the major one would be claiming that the Lindens in fact deliberately did open up Stagecoach -- which is how Reuben's spin on it looked -- but in fact we came to see that he may have been closing the barn door after the horse on that one).

That's good of Tony to be willing to hear corrections and rexamine the story. But when I reread his column and his critics' remarks and looked at the LL forums again, I didn't get why he would have to retract a thing, nor did I understand why an accurate and critical column would have to be exaggerated into anything as hysterical as a "hate-on".

I would be inclined to accept that anyone who has joined SL, spends a certain amount of time there studying it, participating in events, developing an avatar, etc. and then writing seriously and critically about it isn't "hating" it, but in fact "loving it". Critical engagement isn't "hate".

And why *in a blog* would it be inappropriate to include a previous story in a link as a shorthand to the back story? This isn't the Wall Street Journal here.

Csven, are you denying that there are cracks in this sim -- that enable people to bring stuff back and forth from it including cash -- or are you claiming that this language of "cracks" is just too incendiary when you think the proper stance might be to praise LL now for doing such an ambitious project with a RL business in the first place?

Why? There's already enough of that 1) on LL's own website 2) in the mass media that picked up this story by merely cutting and pasting the Wells Fargo press releases.

If anything, "what's wrong with the media" isn't this chasing of a "slant" that you attribute to it but its laziness in cutting and pasting off the Internet and email in particular. I see nothing "dishonest" in finding *an angle* to a story which is different than *a slant* to a story -- a slant implies bias, an angle implies interest. Thank God at least on a blog, a journalist didn't do this happy little story about the happy little kids learning banking.

Tony, I'd urge you to remain strong and not let the disease of the LL forums spread to your blog. That disease involves starting to pull your punches because you have to pre-cringe in advance to withstand the stinging and hurt rebuttals every time you say something "outside the holistic group-think of SL" and also includes caving to emotional blackmail and accepting injured statements at face value in good faith, when they are often much more complicated.

The comment about "Tony's book" was just said as a joke -- I have no knowledge about any book, I don't think he's doing one, and it was just in the vein of the announcements in the last week that not only are Uri and Walker doing a book but now Hamlet is doing one. That's all.

Csven, like my lack of awareness of any position you've ever taken that departs from the forums core group-think, I'm unaware of any position you've ever taken in "supporting Prok's position". ? Oh, and BTW, you'd know from being an avid reader of the forums that people who refer to me as "she" are in 99 percent of the cases doing this as a form of unseemly torment and intolerance, as my avatar is male. I'm not writing a book, and I don't have any agenda here -- I'm not trying to cut a deal with an RL corporation and I don't make or sell or attempt to brand some top line of clothing, especially not lingerie (oops I forgot those tie-dye boxers for $5 made in appearance mode, guess that's the kind of truncation that can happen on a blog).
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 29, 2005 @ 1:04 pm
     
 
I've always seen you take LL's side and even the FIC's side in any debate I've ever seen you in on the forums. If there is a "quite the opposite" it's just not visible.

then you've apparently either not paid much attention to what i've said, or fully comprehended the meaning in what you've read. and that's fine. but considering so many of the mythical FIC violate both trademark and copyright laws when creating their content (or support those who do), it's frankly ludicrous for you to suggest that i might be on their side given my very public stand on those issues. there's a reason i've pointed out griefing issues in the Hotline. a lot of the people to whom you apply the FIC label don't much like the position i take. but i guess that hasn't occurred to you even when i've effectively slapped down some of the people you've clearly labeled and with whom you've gone toe-to-toe in the past (perhaps you don't "register" my posts because i attempt to be respectful even when i'm disagreeing). and of course i don't expect you or anyone to be aware of anything that's occurred behind the scenes; i intentionally don't air my private issues. however, sometimes one can draw conclusions from what doesn't happen; from someone's inaction. perhaps that's a new thought for you.

regardless, you can certainly label me all you want. but your affinity for labeling people encourages me to place a label on you when we engage in discussions such as this, and i find that distasteful. hence i'll avoid responding to this rude practice of yours as best i'm able going forward.

Csven, are you denying that there are cracks in this sim -- that enable people to bring stuff back and forth from it including cash -- or are you claiming that this language of "cracks" is just too incendiary when you think the proper stance might be to praise LL now for doing such an ambitious project with a RL business in the first place?

and THIS question is why i suggested you read my previous comments. you obviously either are failing to realize that my comments are really just a superset to your issue (which you consistently drag into everything with a passion) or you're attempting to artificially ratchet up the level of this discussion (which is also consistent with your behavior). i'm not going to explain it for you if you sincerely don't understand what i'm saying. go figure it out... when you're not busy letting soap opera lines bounce around the inside your head (e.g. "Tony, I'd urge you to remain strong and not let the disease of the LL forums spread to your blog." *gag*).

in addition, no where do i suggest Tony is writing a book; that comment was in response to you (but of course you probably drag him in for your own reasons). and if you read my comment regarding supporting you, please note that i specifically said "it's always easy to not speak up" (although i've done so inside the sim on occasion). i'm probably not alone in not wanting to support someone who is, imo, vocal beyond the point of being obnoxious (which is, again, perhaps a means to meet some future end).

wrt to the gender issue in my response, i will only say that on the SL forums i dislike the use of "she" in regard to your person because within the realm of the Second Life services i respond to the avatar and expect others to do the same. i dislike it less when people use "s/he" or "it" and make mental note of those who engage in this practice because it is, in my opinion, a childish and rude attempt at being hurtful. however, as this is outside the confines of that environment i made a conscious and entirely respectful decision (if someone hesitant) to use what i understand to be the more accurate term. if you prefer that i use the masculine even outside of SL, say the word. my use was not intended as a slight but more as an acknowledgement of the real person i believe is behind Prok and other virtual world avatars; a person with experience beyond Second Life. my apologies if you took it as anything other than an acknowledgement of that fact.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 29, 2005 @ 2:05 pm
     
 
I don't view the trademark abuse issue as central to the identity of the feted core, nor a critique of their abuse of trademarks as really a devastating critique of them in any kind of real way. It's a sidebar.

If someone were really try to take some of these people to court, their lawyers would no double invoke the "right-clickers' rights" issue of copying the copyable jpegs, and using thumbnail icons a a "reference". In this dollhouse of SL, what some might see as trademark abuse could be plausibly construed as "legitimate reference" by others in some cases.

Re: "i intentionally don't air my private issues. however, sometimes one can draw conclusions from what doesn't happen; from someone's inaction. perhaps that's a new thought for you." This kind of line is exactly what I mean by "SL forums disease". I don't view the use of that term as "operatic", given the obvious self-justification, touchiness, and personal slights you're demonstrating now(suggesting a thought might be 'new' for someone, etc.). They're not worth arguing on Tony's blog, however, it isn't the place for it.

The notion that I'm "dragging Tony in for my own reasons" is that silly sort of ascribing of evil motive that is also part of the "SL forums disease" -- it's his blog, and I felt he deserved a defense, and challenge to you about just what you mean to say when you accuse him, me, and others of having some kind of "agenda".

If someone signs their name with their SL avatar, and that avatar is male, you should refer to them as "he". I think that's just common courtesy, without having to enforce some whole new realm of political correctness on people. But you obviously think avatars are mere masks, mere conventions, mere role-playing. I don't. I think they are a valid, real, authentic extention of one's self. So please, don't do me any real or imagined favours by positing that there is "some real person I believe is behind Prok" etc. I don't inhabit that world where you make that claim and it's not valid for me.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 29, 2005 @ 3:39 pm
     
 
I don't view the trademark abuse issue as central to the identity of the feted core,

whether central or not to you is immaterial. the issue is central to me because you're making claims about my associations. and the confrontations over these issues - which, again, are important to me - with people you've labeled as FIC certainly doesn't put me on the same side as them. if anything, it's put me, a RL content creator, at odds with both LL and many SL content creators (even if i don't find it necessary to attack them in the manner and style you seem to prefer). how you apparently fail to see that is baffling. however, when i consider that you likely have no genuine interest in hearing anything that conflicts with the "associations map" you're apparently constructing, i can then assume you'll either refuse to understand or feign lack of understanding; and either way continue on as before for your own purposes. as you will. but if i don't fit into any of the convenient little slots you've carved out for the limited number of labels you assign to people, that makes me happy even if you get it all wrong.

The notion that I'm "dragging Tony in for my own reasons" is that silly sort of ascribing of evil motive that is also part of the "SL forums disease"

would this be in similar spirit to effectively assigning a FIC, LL fanboy label to me? that certainly seems like a disease as well.

and once again, i didn't suggest Tony's motive was to have material for a book. please read more carefully and spend less time needlessly defending his honor. i'd say he's done much better than you in addressing the issues i've raised.

challenge to you about just what you mean to say when you accuse him, me, and others of having some kind of "agenda".

where did i imply anyone but you had an agenda, Prok?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 29, 2005 @ 5:25 pm
     
 
Csven, my original point about the fanboyz in fact wasn't a direct slam against you -- trust me, if I want to call you a fanboy directly, I'm capable of doing that. I said that Tony shouldn't feel he has to cave to "say, the first two fanboyz who come along and whine about him being too hard on LL". You didn't whine about Tony being too hard on LL, but you did appear to rush to LL's defense in this Stagecoach thing, and needlessly so, when it is demonstrated easily that they didn't really deliberately open this Stagecoach backdoor up -- it happened in spite of them, and they merely appear to have put a good spin on it.

Are you a fanboy? Ermm...I could write extensively on this but who cares? If the shoe fits, wear it.

The trademark issue is one of those topics that LL has been lax on -- they're even lax with their very own Fatima-hand trademark and they only sporadically seem to get on various entities' cases for using the term "SL" in ways they think are misleading (like that original "SL Superior Court" which now changed its name).

Trademark complaints seem largely to be made by residents angry at other residents and looking for a way to trip them up and get them in trouble -- it's like luring people into PG and getting them to swear to get them a 3-day suspension.

Your vaunting of yourself as a "RL content creator" in contrast with even the loathsome FIC in SL makes me chuckle and want to come to the defense even of the hated FIC -- why is a RL content-creator able to one-up himself over a virtual content-creator? Huh? I personally don't accept RL credentials as the coin of the realm in SL. If this issue is important to you for RL reasons, then you'll find yourself playing with either the net nannies who just like to fuss about other people's breaking of the rules, instead of leaving it to those who make them to enforce them, reporting on others as in a police state, or worse, you'll be with the kids who are merely seizing on the trademark issue speciously to punish former friends and current enemies. Either way you lose. When RL big companies come into SL -- when it's ready -- they themselves will take care of these issues pronto. Until then, it's a dollhouse.

So your picking up of this arcane issue here doesn't get your credits with me for being tough on the FIC (a term you don't even seem to buy, and seem to relegate to some improper "labeling" which is "narrow-minded". There is a FIC. In case you had trouble identifying WHAT it is, well, see this and other articles on this blog about certain SL residents who got feted with a contract with a RL bank. And see the list in the Herald about who those feted ones are, and figure it out. I don't make this stuff up, I just comment on it.

As for this claim that you *weren't* claiming that anyone but me had an agenda, what do you make of this: "that strikes me as the kind of behavior i associate with... well... someone working towards their own selfish ends (how many people are writing books i wonder." "People" plural.

I'd challenge you to prove that I have some sort of nefarious "agenda". What's your indication of this? That I challenge you? From everything I've heard you tell me inworld, and what I've seen on the forums, you're the one with a plan and an agenda for how to use SL for things you think are important in ways that best use what you perceive as your talents. You'd like to think this is not an "agenda" but merely a hope or a plan. I disagree. But anyway, I'm sure what this is really about is your favouring of socialism and me favouring capitalism (that's usually what I find at the root of most SL differences anyway), even if I am for social responsibility, so, whatever, I'll challenge you to a dual in SL, don't clutter up this blog any more with SL forum like hysteria.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 29, 2005 @ 7:42 pm
     
 
Csven, my original point about the fanboyz in fact wasn't a direct slam against you

i didn't say it was a "direct" slam, did i? no. no, i didn't.

Your vaunting of yourself as a "RL content creator" in contrast with even the loathsome FIC in SL makes me chuckle and want to come to the defense even of the hated FIC -- why is a RL content-creator able to one-up himself over a virtual content-creator? Huh?

"vaunting"? where in this comment do i "one-up" myself, Prok:

if anything, it's put me, a RL content creator, at odds with both LL and many SL content creators"?

i don't. and if anything my endorsement of people like those in the SL design community is unheard of among RL industrial designers. you should see the response i get from the design community when *i raise the subject of talented amateurs getting tools like those available in SL* and taking their jobs away (and you're more than welcome to read my posts on the subject over on the Core forum. here's a snip for you:

issue isn't offshoring. it's how technology affects industries and jobs people always believed can't go offshore. or be done by industry outsiders. or "common" people. that's a dangerous attitude imo. arrogant.

yeah. i'm the kind of person that "one-up"s. right.). but did the point i'm making go over your head, or is attempting to characterize my otherwise neutral comment here and earlier in other comments simply more of what i've noticed you doing both here and on old SL forum posts: grafting your personal, interpretative spin onto other people's comments and then regurgitating it all back out as if the mess was still somehow valid?

When RL big companies come into SL -- when it's ready -- they themselves will take care of these issues pronto.

apparently you have read some of my forum posts! well i'll be...

So your picking up of this arcane issue here doesn't get your credits with me for being tough on the FIC

who cares? "tough on the FIC"? hahaha! why would anyone want to get credit from you, Prok? are you somehow "one-up" over everyone else or somehow so worthy, so special, that your blessing - your "credit" - is desirable? Huh? the only issue here and now is in pointing out how you incorrectly label others, including me. directly or indirectly.

As for this claim that you *weren't* claiming that anyone but me had an agenda, what do you make of this: "that strikes me as the kind of behavior i associate with... well... someone working towards their own selfish ends (how many people are writing books i wonder." "People" plural.

i make of that to mean anyone other than you in this thread (i.e. not including Tony). what i make of that is that Hamlet recently mentioned that he's writing a book (and you're always questioning his agenda). and - oh my stars and garters - you even posted in another entry here that there's another book coming out by two more SLer's! imagine that. let's see... i posted a comment in Tony's previous entry, you posted additional information on more authors afterward, and now you still can't figure out who the "people" are to whom i'm referring. sometimes you do seem rather clueless, Prok. at least you got the People=Plural part correct.

I'd challenge you to prove that I have some sort of nefarious "agenda". What's your indication of this?

why do i need to prove anything when you can make the same kinds of assertions without proof? besides, i don't recall saying you had an agenda. i said your behavior and comments struck me as someone who had an agenda. so i might have implied it, but i made no declarations. there's a difference, Prok. and recognizing the difference is kinda the issue.

From everything I've heard you tell me inworld, and what I've seen on the forums, you're the one with a plan and an agenda for how to use SL for things you think are important in ways that best use what you perceive as your talents. You'd like to think this is not an "agenda" but merely a hope or a plan. I disagree.

huh? i'm not sure how you got off on this tangent. do i have something i want to accomplish in SL? a plan? an agenda? sure. it's in my Profile in full view for everyone to read (surprise!). and my "agenda" includes the above portion between the astericks. call it what you want. i don't care. hahahaha.

I'm sure what this is really about is your favouring of socialism and me favouring capitalism

now this is the FUNNIEST part. what an amazing revelation! a peak up the nostril and into the mind of Prokofy Neva. jesus. you really have no clue about me.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 29, 2005 @ 8:00 pm
     
 
Um, I got it about the "people writing books," Csven, I had long since "figured out" who they were and referencing them *back to you,* duh --remember, I'm the one who first mentioned that Uri and Walker were writing books, then Hamlet. I figured you were saying they all had an agenda. I was going back to point out that you had used the plural, therefore your sudden claim that it was only about me was absurd. So that's not cluelessness, as you seem to want to gleefully point out, but just commenting.

It seems *awfully* important to tell me I'm clueless, not able to "get it," unable to read paragraphs, unfamiliar with your many no doubt superior and witty SL forum posts, and a host of other crimes -- but you know, this *is* one-upmanship Csven. I'm not sure what the root of it is, but hey, you're welcome to feel superior, have the last word, and just generally "be right". These things seem very important to you. They aren't to me.

Geez, I don't get to get away with implying you are a fanboy by saying to Tony, "don't give in to the first 2 fanboyz that come along" but you get to first imply twice that I'm "someone with an agenda" and then back away and lecture me that I better understand the difference between statement and implication. Um, I do, hon. Yeah.

So, are you for a parliamentary democracy and a mixed economy? You'd rather make silly face metaphors than just answer the question.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
September 29, 2005 @ 8:39 pm
     
 
I figured you were saying they all had an agenda.

you figured wrong.

this *is* one-upmanship Csven.

with you, perhaps. not with anyone else. and the reason for my response is your rude, indirect labeling of me. so no, you "don't get to get away with implying {i'm} a fanboy" bc i don't much care for being labeled by you or anyone - correctly or incorrectly. so don't act so surprised. or hurt. you're not the only one who can dish it out. and you certainly don't seem to me to take it very well.

So, are you for a parliamentary democracy and a mixed economy? You'd rather make silly face metaphors than just answer the question.

and now you want to debate politics??? after you were so "sure" i favored socialism. pathetic.

and why would i even bother attempting to have a real discussion with you? we tried that once. you showed up with your worthless assumptions (similar but worse than those on display here), then attempted to bully your position onto me with a meaningless stream of text. and when i responded with more than blank space, you fumbled because you were too busy typing to bother reading. from my experience with you, Prok, it's a one-way conversation. it's a dictatorship. and i'm not much into being dictated to. especially from someone who's put on such a poor display as you have in this thread.

lastly, since you've utterly failed to respond meaningfully to any of the points and counterpoints i've made, this is now well beyond being a waste of time. hon. the last, meaningless words are yours.

(apologies Tony)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
September 29, 2005 @ 10:31 pm
     
 
Csven, it's truly humorous, your belief that I am "hurt" or "angry" or "not answering" points. I'm not anything of the kind lol. I don't see what there is to answer *shrugs*. You set yourself up to be some kind of "upright citizen" who just cares about accurate media and so forth but then you rant about how "this is the problem with all media" and make other blanket statements like that (i.e. me having an "agenda" and being "unable to read a paragraph" and so on). I realize it's tough when you meet your match on a forum. I don't just roll back and say, OMG, Csven, the RL content creator who is now gracing SL.

Csven, when I read a statement like this on the LL forums: " if SL lacks substance or value, I believe that's mostly because most real lives lack those qualities - especially in the West. If the values in SL are askew, I'd venture it's because they essentially mirror our society's values in RL. If people are making purchases in spite of the hollowness of a"product", perhaps it's because so many people are addicted to consumption in the RW that they don't know how to stop in either world, thus giving even meaningless brands far greater power to entice than they should have" --- then you'll forgive me if I conclude that a) you have some kind of utopian ideology you abide by b) you're very zealous about it to the point where you'll make blanket statements like "the West" and pronounce people's lives as "meaningless" on the strength of some rigid ideology and c) you think there's something evil about consumption etc. even as you are excessively concerned about trademark in this game merely as a correlary to your own personal agenda item no. 3. on your profile, trying to do some RL work for some client or something.

I'm not surprised because usually when there's this much zeal to put me down, there's some kind of ideology at work of exactly the type of "oh the West is evil filled with mindless SUV-driving consumers who have empty meaningless lives"...and by contrast we have...what? the East? East of what? with drug-trafficking, child labour, prostitution, poverty in places like Thailand or Tajikistan? I dunno, I think ideologies like that just need a second look lol.

I remain baffled as to why you rushed to the defense of not only LL but Wells Fargo given that LL is responsible for endless mindless consumption of bling and cybersex and Wells Fargo does stuff like foreclose on old people's homes if they're late with the hugely high mortgage payments, and flip them while they're still looking at the legal fine print.

Anyway I'm sure you represent a rich matrix of the finest of thought East and West so enjoy your Second Life and just put me on mute or something, in good Maoist fashion.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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