Monday, 14 February 2011

The Resident and the Company.

The recent scandal concerning the use of smear campaigns by the combined forces of government and big business only go to highlight the question of who runs the White House. This is not how voters like to think a democratic country is run, but, on more than one level voters are just consumers and the Government wants paying, with taxes and votes, for providing a service.

Similarly, when we are reminded that the Lab is just a company that wants paying for its services, it feels uncomfortable.

Now, no matter how illusory the RL voting system is, i.e. money buys the Presidency, it is preferable to believe that the electorate has a say.

No matter how illusory the JIRA voting system was, some believed it was a vestige of democracy.

We are called, and now named, Resident. Not Customer. The Company is not one providing breakfast cereal, it has created the space for a Colony, a Colony of Residents.

Residents like to vote. Well, actually we would like more than that, really. We would like to be able to express an opinion to those that have the power to make changes. It doesn’t happen, but, it should.

User Groups, like focus groups, will only ever be asked which colour packaging it prefers. With JIRAs you could vote on whether the highways should be repaired, or the street lights, or on the colour of the Town Halls curtains.... but it was all we had.

...and rants. Rants, recently criticised, are like Speaker’s Corner, a site in London where you can go, set up a soap box and explain how the country should be run.... like newspaper editorials for the poor and powerless. A noble tradition somewhat superseded by this medium.

The Elephant In The Room, however, is Governance. This is a Company, but it is a Colony too. I am a user, I am a resident too (even tho I hate that world....maybe Settler is better).

I want to have my say, and, though it may sound presumptuous, the future of virtual worlds is dependent on us finding a workable solution to this. This is the future, now. .... and it needs improving.

Banning people with strong emotions and a poor grasp of diplomatic language from Linden forums and blogs will not be of benefit to anyone. Office Hours have an important social function, they are not only Working Groups, they are the chance for Settlers to meet The Company.

One thing, and one thing only, I would like to write on the boardroom wall at the Lab ... “Your fiercest critics, whiners, and complainers ALL want exactly the same as you, The Company... for SL to succeed.”

So.... Labor Unions, Trade Unions, small towns and villages around the world adopt a similar model.. they elect Representatives to meet with the Company to express their point of view, ask their questions, make their complaints, suggestions... with an Aim, if both sides are not dumb fools, to Improve the Future.

I would like to promote this as an idea, it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.



  1. "Settler" is a good choice; so's "Colonist"... though, for a dollop of cross-Atlantic irony, I like "Colonial" ;)

  2. I like "Settler" and "Colonist", and perhaps even "Traveler" for those that are not here to build or have a house or business. Hmm, makes one wonder if that's why they chose "Resident" - Mental conditioning to move people into the mindset of the SL newburbs housing sprawl.

    What ever happened to the good old "Avatar". Hello, Avatar. "Avatar" feels imaginative, inquisitive, exploratory, perhaps even a little powerful, if I may be so bold to say it. It would have even made a fine last name and not made all the new people feel like cattle. Well not quite as much. The option to choose from a list of possible last names was far preferable. With names like "Resident", Rodvik (I like Rodvik, don't get me wrong) running around in a toga, and the crumbling of peoples perception of democracy, I am hoping it's not a hint of things to fall... as in Rome...

  3. I doubt it could ever be better expressed than your statement:
    “Your fiercest critics, whiners, and complainers ALL want exactly the same as you, The Company... for SL to succeed.”
    I know that's what I want... and I surely qualify under all three.

  4. And I LOVE your suggestion to elect Representatives! A very constructive way to approach interactions between both sides, and with a common goal.

  5. The trouble with 'representatives' has, in the past, been that LL has tended to appoint representatives for us. So they speak to a select group they have chosen or they appoint a committee like LEA. It's a way of appearing to meet the needs of residents while setting up and favouring small, exclusive, powerful interest groups.
    I can't imagine meaningful elections happening in SL- the cost of running an any way democratic election would be equivalent to running an election in a small country, and would need UN representatives to scrutinise the results as usually happens when a dictatorship decides to hold elections. I prefer a benign dictatorship (they can't afford for all their 'residents' to leave, so have to please us, even if just a little) over a 'representative' or a focus group (meeting at times inconvenient for large numbers of people) or groups like LEA.

    SL is a very diverse community. I am of the opinion that LL probably has my interests more at heart than some of the people who purport to speak for all residents.

  6. well, i've been calling myself a Citizen. i think that best describes it. a Citizen has responsibilities. a Citizen has a responsibility to act in appropriate ways. a Citizen also has certain unalienable rights. a responsible Citizen has the right to be able to have their say, without concern that they will be banned for it or that their account will be deleted. i'm confident that as the Metaverse evolves, this will become more self-evident.

  7. @ Wizzy....yes, citizen is good, i agree.

    @ Juanita... Weel I was thinking of several representatives elected by the citizens of SL rather than by the Company. I was imagining something like they used to have on the login page... but instead of asking if we thought Sl had improved or was still asked which of the following you would like to see as a representative. Nominations could be forwarded along the same lines as the UWA voting system.

  8. i listened to Phaylen's interview with Rodvik today. it's odd that he seems to say all the right things, including that opencommunication with us is absolutely necessary. this conflicts with the news that the Lindens are doing away with JIRA voting and establishing certain rules of expression that sound like censorship.

  9. I like Settler, Colonist and Citizen, although I hark old-school and confirm myself as a Netizen. I am a Gridwalker and a Space Explorer.

    Many of the problems now are those of any new settlers or colonists to an uncharted and unknown land. A history of any such pioneering efforts will show you the same forces and effects as we see in SL/Grids currently.

    At present, and largely due to malfeasance and corruption of the telcos, this new universe depends on Gatekeepers and companies who set up and support these spaces (like LL)and so are always going to be an inherent dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise (like Comcast/TW).

    That is why distributed networks or grids are essential to the growth of this medium from one-way content delivery ala television to something remotely resembling a true universe, with local and global nodes available.

    bonus: capcha "crepit" :(