Sunday, 2 November 2008

Two views from SL Left Unity on the Open Space controversy

My position on the Open Space controversy… Plot Tracer, SL Left Unity founding member.

I agree that it is reprehensible that a corporation such as Linden Lab are able to raise prices at a whim.

I feel that the Open Space project was one delivered originally by Linden Lab as a genuine new market – ie. cheaper, less prims etc. for light use.

Certain land owners took advantage of this new market, as capitalism does, and built rentable properties and rented them to people for the same prices, upping their profits. And upping their use – making it difficult to maintain four of them to a server.

The majority of Open Space users are landlords – mostly made up of the landlords who have become well off in real life due to their use of this market. There are some new landlords, some non-profits and a few, genuine Open space users who have accepted the cheaper sims in the way they were originally intended.

All of these, with the exception of the non-profits, are part of a market.


The only true victim of this are the non-profits. Though, it has to be said, there has to be a distinction between these. Some non-profits are genuine charities and causes trying to highlight injustice in this failing capitalist (rl) world. Some are vanity projects by “great men and great women” who enjoy adulation, and declare liberal values, whilst controlling their sims in a very conservative and less than charitable way – but enough about them until their exposure is inevitable.

As a protestor and an agitator and a socialist and someone who is concerned with injustice etc, I feel that the only protests I would be participating in are those that are proposed by genuine non-profits. When Linden Lab have had their proposed direct consultations with these and they have not offered free alternatives, then expect me on the picket lines.

Bread and Roses

Second Life is not a necessity of life. It makes life enjoyable and it makes comradeship accessible to those who may not feel they can have this level of engagement with other people in real life. It is a rose, in the IWW’s, and old socialist cry - “Bread and Roses”.

We need both bread and roses to make life not just bearable, but worth living.

SL is a computer simulator ran by a profitable capitalist corporation. It gleans it’s money from “residents” and from other corporations who use the platform. Without money, this simulator would not exist. It is integrated into capitalism.

In my opinion (and this is an opinion – I welcome comradely debate on this), I feel rather than having demonstrations on price rises, we should be demanding that residents are given FREE land. There is enough land for everyone to utilise. This would not interfere with groups having large buildings/ places to play games etc as if there are enough people who want to use for example, “Greenies” then people will join a group and donate some of their land allowance to allow “Greenies” to exist.

Land allowance, imho in this instance, can only constantly rise.

How would this be funded in a RL capitalist world? How would Linden Lab justify increasing free land allowance to all of it’s residents?

Linden Lab glean a huge amount of money from corporations and research establishments. Lets take the reprehensible “Playboy” as an example. Playboy pay for a sim in SL. This can be visited by anyone who feels the need. Playboy get commercial exposure (which is questionable at the very least) – but the fact remains people can visit or not. These types of commercial sims could fund the expansion of SL – and free land allowance given to residents.

Some people may “abuse” the system.

Absolutely – this may be the case. Some people may create alts in order to have land allowance. In this case, all residents can police SL. Alts/ bots etc can be reported and dealt with. Questionable sims – ie sims made by groups of alts for profit etc, can be closed down. Anyone wishing to make profit can pay for sims/ pay for parcels etc in order to do so. Anyone found using their free alliance as a profitmaking exercise can be made to pay, so increasing the land allowance for the rest of us – or being closed down. These profit makers can fund the rest of us who wish to use SL for enjoyment and comradeship.

IMHO, in this capitalist society, to claim to be fighting for a free SL and then stand shoulder to shoulder with profit takers, is not a good use of agitators time.

Yes we should be supporting the “don’t spend or buy a Linden dollar on the 31st” – but we should be doing so on our terms. Because Capitalism is wrong and creates class and division – not because some people have been charged more for their “cheap” sims.

What about those people who are going to be charged who were genuine users?

The current situation.

I accept there were genuine users – and the Linden’s know who they were. In the current situation, then the Lindens need to accept this. It would not be an impossible task for them to have four genuine users to a sim – just copy the contents over to the relevant CPU and keep the pricing policy for those people. As soon as anyone goes over their usage, then charge them. It is as easy as that. My bank charges me from the minute I am overdrawn. It is not an impossibility to set up a usage charge for these regions. But then, capitalism never distinguishes between people. We are all a homogenised “consumer” and are treated as such.
In real life, we must fight for a fair system. While we are lumbered with capitalist institutions who bleed us for all of the time and money they can, we must fight to make them fairer until a fair society is won.

Reply from Ernest Newman, SL Left Unity

I'm inclined to agree with Plot, re: avoiding expressions of support for Land Barons who have deliberately pimped the OpenSpace sims for profit, which is basically what SOS seems to be organized by and for.

While there are legitimate complaints from those who have not abused the feature, especially including some renters, and the (legitimate) non profits, and activist groups, the following forum comments seem more representative of the main, loudest and most subjective elements of SOS, and I have absolutely no sympathy for them, lol.

Am also inclined to agree with the notion of Free Land (or genuinely affordable, at least) for average players, and charging a lot for big corporate presence, to subsidize that...

Short of excluding them, which we have no power to do, presently, our next best option would seem to be to try to limit and at least somewhat mitigate the big corp influence with LL, by continuing to press for more democratic approaches to LL decision making, which Smoke has put so much personal time, resources and energy into working for.

This issue of the OpenSpace sims does seem ideal for approaching these concepts.

Obviously, special weight needs to be given to the needs and opinions of "average" smaller users, namely those of us with "free" accounts...and not just to whoever pays a lot of cash for "Premium" access and use.

Interesting to note that the big payers like those below, also tend to be the ones who complain most in forums about "free" accounts, even though such are the vast majority of their customers, and SL residents., lol. The "big player" mindset can tend to be pretty disgusting, heh...

I see no big inherent contradiction between working for complete liberation from Capital, while also attempting to deal in a practical, realistic manner with the material conditions we corporate pig and petite bourgeois Babbit presence in SL...we can even try to win over some elements from those groups, without pandering, selling out or capitulating to them, I think.

But I think our principle target group for organizing around this issue, and in general, should be the average SL resident, and that we should speak to the fact that they are the real losers and victims in this conflict between LL and the Land Barons, and in the general overall conflict between the corporate interests of LL, and those of us who actually create, inhabit and make SL viable, as average residents, without whom LL, the Corporations and petty entrepreneurs, and the entire metaverse, would have no material basis for existence.

Meanwhile, though, the absolutist idealism of demanding all or nothing tends to get us...absolutely nothing, heh.

No doubt about it, it is a tricky thing, and a fine line, between dealing in a principled, but realistic manner, and descending into opportunism...I think such efforts do need to be discussed at some length, in some detail...but preferably without too much rancour and hostility over what are usually fairly superficial disagreements, which could easily be resolved with a little compromise and mutual respect between comrades, and especially by not extrapolating each other's remarks to ridiculous and misrepresentative lengths.

That can often mean being willing to bury the hatchet (not in each other's heads, LOL, but deep in the ground!), and to let perceived slights and conflicts go by without rising up in self-righteous indignation and defensive hostility...this is not easy, for any of remarks here are not aimed at one particular individual, but at our entire political spectrum... if the shoe fits, please take it off, and throw it away!

We will never have true unity, or democracy, until we can hash these things out amongst ourselves, and focus our bitterness on the real enemy.

Death to Capitalism, and it's moribund form, Fascism!

Sample Posts from LL Forum re: OpenSpace Sim Price-Hike:

Yesterday, 02:50 AM
Joshua Sao
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 5


It's hard enough to make ends meet with you crashing the land market Jack. Privet sim owners have not yet recovered from your last "great idea" and you have yet another. Thank for TELLING us how things are going to go because people like myself who have spent well over $50,000 USD on land and almost $200,000 USD on paying LL tier shouldn't have a say right?

I think you are out of touch with the community and have no realistic idea of how what you do impacts your very well paying customers like myself.
Yesterday, 03:47 AM
Master Quatro
Dreamland Archangel

Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 30

We want our money back

This is cause for a lawsuit .. we purchased the open space sims with full knowledge that we could change parcel ownership .. Disallowing that now after we purchased so many and subdivided them .. we are stuck with them .. I don't need 18 open space sims for myself. What do you want me to do with them Jack ???

You have totally mismanaged land in SL since the start Jack. You have screwed those of us that have purchased sims to provide land to newcomers and others who don't like the mainland. Now you want us to take another hit.

Where does it end Jack ? Many of us are responsible for bringing new users to the grid. I regret the day I came here. This absolutely sucks !


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kwai kyong said...

Virtual space is not scarce; it is your imagination that seems to be limited. Why mess around with LL when you can get a free copy of OpenSim and run your own grid and make your own rules? Lot's of people have done it, including myself. I could give a flying chicken what LL does with their capital or your struggles to bend that private capitalist corporation to your vision.

Plot Tracer said...

Hi Kwai

I do agree actually. Choosing to use Second Life over Open Sim, and then demanding "democracy" from the corporation that owns/maintaijns/runs it seems a tad redundant nowadays.

However, I do have doubts about people from the left having "demonstrations" about this Open Space issue. I feel people interested in left issues SHOULD be using SL and/or Open Sim for other reasons (education/discussion/exhiitions etc)