Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is Linden Lab hostile to art?

UPDATE: October 17, 2008 - 10:41am - meade Paravane has submitted a proposal for a "Top Scripts on Parcel" estate flag so that parcel owners can see script times on their land (and have that enabled on mainland). Vote for it here: JIRA - SVC835. While not a fix-all for artists and their art, this would certainly prevent situations like the one that elros Tuominen (see below) is experiencing.

Whoa! I've been so self-engrossed this past month that I've partially or completely missed some important incidents. I'm not looking to be excused, but it's been quite the time. In my Real Life, it was my birthday, then workers on my street were tearing up the sidewalks and hit a gas main. The fire department made us evacuate for four hours. The next day, an electrical fire next door caused by the high winds had huge sparks raining down on my roof. And then there was the market slide, as I watched a lifetime worth of investments slide down to squarely half the value they'd had just two months ago. Still! Geez! What in the heck is happening on the grid?

A few weeks ago, kinetic sculptor elros Tuominen had much of his art returned and himself suspended from Second Life® because - according to Linden Lab - his scripts were affecting the performance on the sim. Upon his return, elros learned that he could convert his scripts to Mono (an open-source scripting engine that dramatically speeds up the running of scripts), and he did exactly that, but because he doesn't own the sim his gallery sits on, he is unable to pull up the Region Performance tab and determine how many milliseconds each of his scripts in his Region is taking. elros' art was returned again, and again he was suspended. He has been so disheartened that he hasn't been back since October 7th.

On my wish-list: The ability for all parcel owners to see the speed of their scripts.

I know elros well enough to say - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that this is just raging, undiluted silliness. elros is like the most well-meaning guy I know. All it would take is just one conversation between himself and a Linden with some enlightening information beyond the classic abuse report, for him to repair, change or even delete things that were causing trouble to others.

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of persons using the grid at any given moment, but this is elros, someone who has pleased thousands of people - including a number of Lindens - with both his art and his daily prose, which many people depend on to begin their day.

And then there is physics artist Selavy Oh's story. Selavy frequently exhibits new pieces at Brooklyn is Watching. On October 5th, a piece of Selavy's art fell on a visiting avatar. That avatar filed an abuse report (oh brother!) and Linden Lab suspended Selavy from Second Life for one day. Selavy explained it this way:

"I've been banned for one day. Ironically, the "scripted object" was not at all scripted to attack other avatars, but to self-repair. It was part of the self-repairing chain, an artwork for "Brooklyn Is Watching". A 'bug' in the physics engine of Linden Lab causes the chain to break from time to time, and the falling parts may then accidentally hit avatars at the sim."

Yet another instance of an artist who gives us much pleasure - and Selavy is conscientious, methodical and well-meaning - being abused by an automatic system.

There are good discussions about these cases over on the Brooklyn is Watching blog and another on the forums initiated by Dekka Raymaker.


Handmadeandroid said...

This is silly for the following reason: You cannot assault an avatar; an avatar is a 3D character within SL, or any other virtual world for that matter. It is impossible to cause pain and discomfort to a cartoon, thus assault is impossible. Anyone who believes differently should perhaps step away from the computer and get a grip.

Dale Innis said...

Sheesh! LL isn't hostile to art, but they *are* pretty clueless a distressingly large proportion of the time. Sigh!

I have to disagree with the previous commenter, though. Subtleties of the word "assault" aside, there are definitely things that one can do, even to avatars in virtual worlds, that sufficiently disrupt the experience that they ought to be prohibited. We usually call these things "griefing" (and that was clearly *not* the case in this example of LL thickheadedness).

Handmadeandroid said...

Yeah a pixel collision can really break some bones

Tateru Nino said...

Assault is distinct from battery. There need be no pain or harm inflicted for assault to take place. If it does, then it's usually battery.

I'd have to agree with Dale. It seems to be something of a low-care-factor effort. But it's not really much of a surprise. I don't see them taking more than a half a minute on each incident.

Selavy Oh said...

thanks, bettina, for your post. my case was just a small incident, but it shows that linden lab's current policy of immediate banning without further inquiry in reaction to a single anonymous user report is untenable and could even be abused.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bettina for openly addressing this issue. In my view it stands for a whole range of problems concerning the fair treatment of abuse and dispute in SL. Sparking public discussion and broadening public awareness likely bears the potential to make LL rethink their current policies.

Bettina Tizzy said...

Thanks so much to each of you for your insights, and sure enough, Selavy, you are fair-minded and generous in your take on this issue.

These are just two recent incidents that I am aware of. Let's not forget how, just three months ago, Sabine Stonebender's much-admired Zero Point vanished
because of Linden Lab's blundering. I know that it's impossible for LL to monitor every darn thing, but we need to negotiate some special recourse for recognized artists in cases like these.

Meade said...

RE: your wish for parcel owners to be able to see some info on script performance, head on over to https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-835 and vote!

It's a feature request that asks LL to do almost exactly what you're talking about..

Bettina Tizzy said...

Thank you so much, meade. I voted and have posted an update to this blogpiece in the hopes that others will vote, too.