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Old 03-17-2017, 10:48 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Anthropology masters student - Questions re. SL History

Hi all,

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

Just to quickly introduce myself; I'm a masters student in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. I'm a lifelong gamer with a particular interest in MMO's/virtual worlds.

I'm currently preparing a paper on the decolonisation of virtual worlds. Particularly i'm focusing on the history of SL, and what can be learned moving forwards as technologies like VR popularise online life even further.

I have always had a keen interest in SL, however having never dedicated myself to it, I have a few questions I was hoping the community might be able to clear up:

As far as I understand it, SL has age restricted places which came into place as it grew in popularity. From articles I have read and people i've spoken to, this seems to be due to Linden Labs wanting to make the world more 'business friendly'.

Following that, it seems lots of businesses, universities and other organisations established a presence in SL only to abandon it relatively quickly. This seems to have left a lot of the world unused, while I assume the age restriction has stayed in place.

Am I correct in saying this is what happened?

Many thanks for your replies in advance! And please if I have somehow got this all completely wrong, do let me know!

Louie.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Surveys are not allowed on SLU without first being vetted by the forum owner, Cristiano Midnight.

Please contact him before pursuing your project on the boards.
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by louiegy View Post
Following that, it seems lots of businesses, universities and other organisations established a presence in SL only to abandon it relatively quickly. This seems to have left a lot of the world unused, while I assume the age restriction has stayed in place.

Am I correct in saying this is what happened?
No. Pretty much all the business users left SL way before the creation of the adult only land.

Even before that business use of SL was pretty damn minor. IBM did a lot of talking about it, some universities tried SL, and the rest of the business uses was pretty minor, Fiat Brazil had a sim, Gibson guitars had a sim, I think a real world clothing brand had one for a while.

But you are correct in that the creation of the adult lands at a time where usage was dropping did create a lot of empty land in SL that only snowballed as time went on.
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Old 03-17-2017, 11:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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There was a whole ageplay thing going on, which helped hasten the move to ban underage users, and there was a Teen Grid for a few years. When it closed, LL opened up the main grid to teens, but added an age verification policy (which was easy to fool, btw).
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:00 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Before doing a Masters project on a product, don't most people learn the name of the company that produces it first?

Chocolate Lab:


Meth Lab:


Linden Lab:



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Old 03-17-2017, 12:09 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think you should be aware that students doing theses and surveys are not really welcomed with open arms here. The thing is that we have had some extremely dodgy "students" with even more dodgy approaches to their research work.

Also, many of us tend to be a little irritable about the idea of being used as fodder for academic work by people we have never seen before and who have never participated in the forum. I hope you can understand that.

That being said, I wish you luck. SLU is extraordinarily rich in people with many, many years of SL experience (and experience in general, including in various academic fields) but in many cases - me included - I don't much appreciate being "studied".
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm Native American. We're used to being subjects of studies, lol.

No, seriously, the more research and writing about Second Life there is the better, in my opinion. I hope it lends to broken stereotypes about SL being all about sex. I hope it leads to proof that humans learned how to be better human beings in virtual reality. I hope it leads to an entire academic field of study.
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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What survey?

They just asked a couple of questions about SL, nothing out of bounds IMHO.
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Old 03-17-2017, 12:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As far as I understand it, SL has age restricted places which came into place as it grew in popularity. From articles I have read and people i've spoken to, this seems to be due to Linden Labs wanting to make the world more 'business friendly'.
No, it was primarily LL's attempt to shield themselves from legal charges of abetting child pornography.

Quote:
Following that, it seems lots of businesses, universities and other organisations established a presence in SL only to abandon it relatively quickly.
That might have been a by-product of not wanting to be associated with a platform that had the reputation as a cyber-sexual playground. But I think, after the initial virtual-world / business symbiosis media hype died down, they just saw it as not a particularly justifiable ROI.

Quote:
This seems to have left a lot of the world unused, while I assume the age restriction has stayed in place.
No. Sims utilized for RL business purposes always were a very very very small fraction of the grid. What has left the world unused is LL's inability to keep the individual user engaged and, some would argue, outright hostility towards their user base in policy and practice.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:14 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As a university user, it was a PITA to use SL. Current generation integrated graphics can hack it, but ten years ago an entry level PC would burn up running SL (I burned one out by constantly overheating the graphics). When they killed the teen grid, they also stopped offering half price sims for educational users, and they did it midway through the fiscal year.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I confess I have kept PCs far longer since I didn't use SL. I always had fairly top-end laptops but yeah, it put them under strain and I already did that by trekking all over the world with my machines, meaning unreliable power supplies and rather rough treatment on many an airport security line.

But OK, if it's not a survey and the OP just wants answers, then fine.

I had a couple of experiences with corporate/business/commercial users, and quite frankly the people I dealt with had *no* idea of what SL what was really about, didn't really understand why people they hired to build might (gasp) wanted to be paid, even at "this is my hobby" rates, and then blamed SL, and the creators, because their project failed.

OK, I was mainly involved in a big French RL art/music festival project but I quietly bowed out (in 2008 or 2009) when the Artistic Director of the festival said "but doesn't everybody on SL do this sort of thing for free?"

I took weeks out of my normal building activities (which paid for my sim) to make things, had been promised "payment", and ended up being royally screwed. As in "well, you know, art should not be financial". This from a guy who was horrified that he even had to pay the LL special rates for "public interest" land.

So, many business clients were woefully unaware of a few basics. It taught me a lesson, at least. I would have loved to do all I did for free, but while I was setting up a sim, I wasn't doing anything to pay my own tier.
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Old 03-17-2017, 01:41 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnnie Carling View Post
What survey?

They just asked a couple of questions about SL, nothing out of bounds IMHO.
He's using SLU for research. To quote his post:

Quote:
I'm currently preparing a paper on the decolonisation of virtual worlds.
And no mention of Cris' approval.
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm Native American. We're used to being subjects of studies, lol.

No, seriously, the more research and writing about Second Life there is the better, in my opinion. I hope it lends to broken stereotypes about SL being all about sex. I hope it leads to proof that humans learned how to be better human beings in virtual reality. I hope it leads to an entire academic field of study.

I just wish they would stop shoving those damn microscopes where the sun doesn't shine. 9 times out of 10 they forget the KY.
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Old 03-17-2017, 06:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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"Similarly, some of the first educators and researchers in SL were a bit clumsy in their approach. There were early incidents in which Residents felt—rightly—that they were being spied upon or treated like guinea pigs rather than human beings. Imagine how you would feel if an entire class of students set up right next to your vacation hideaway, left trash lying around, logged your conversations, and posted them on the Internet with criticism and mean-spirited comments. This is exactly what happened to some early Residents. Things have improved greatly in the years since then, but sometimes SL Residents are still subject to that kind of inconsiderate behavior. For example, a constant stream of researchers (often students) posts on the Second Life official forums requesting that Residents please take their surveys. Most of these surveys include the same questions that have been asked over and over. Often they aren't spell-checked, or refer to SL as a game—a sure way to irritate a substantial number of Residents. Some Residents make a hobby of critiquing these surveys, pointing out how the questions and their wording make it clear that the researcher isn't familiar with Second Life. Some post outright that they are sick of badly planned surveys and suggest that the researchers log in and do their own research."

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Old 03-17-2017, 06:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by louiegy View Post
Following that, it seems lots of businesses, universities and other organisations established a presence in SL only to abandon it relatively quickly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veritable Quandry View Post
As a university user, it was a PITA to use SL. Current generation integrated graphics can hack it, but ten years ago an entry level PC would burn up running SL (I burned one out by constantly overheating the graphics). When they killed the teen grid, they also stopped offering half price sims for educational users, and they did it midway through the fiscal year.


There was a thriving community of educators, but LL shafted them, big time. As Veritable pointed out, but in an understated manner, LL not only dropped the heavily discounted tier for educational institutions without warning, they did so after academic budgets had already been set for the remainder of the fiscal year.

So there was a mass exodus off the SL grid and many of those same institutions started over again on OS grids, where they had lower prices, more control over users and could provide a safer environment for younger students.

But the experience has burned a lot of bridges between LL and the education community. I'll be curious to see whether that quite justified resentment has any effect on academic interest in Sansar.
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:25 PM   #16 (permalink)
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It's really a shame, too - of all the many things Linden Lab has done over the years that SL users like to gripe about, I consider that alienation of the education community to be one of the worst and most self-defeating.

Some of the desolate institutional sims I've seen were among the best builds - of any kind - you could find in the early days of SL. I don't know whether they built the places themselves or hired talented builders to do the job for them (maybe a combination of both); but some of them went as far as making meticulous and beautiful virtual copies of their real life campuses. And builds that included scripted interactive training simulations of various things, or demonstrations of things, really captured the amazing potential to be a great teaching tool that SL had, and still does have, sadly little-realized anymore.
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Old 03-17-2017, 07:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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There was a thriving community of educators, but LL shafted them, big time. As Veritable pointed out, but in an understated manner, LL not only dropped the heavily discounted tier for educational institutions without warning, they did so after academic budgets had already been set for the remainder of the fiscal year.

So there was a mass exodus off the SL grid and many of those same institutions started over again on OS grids, where they had lower prices, more control over users and could provide a safer environment for younger students.

But the experience has burned a lot of bridges between LL and the education community. I'll be curious to see whether that quite justified resentment has any effect on academic interest in Sansar.
...and fired Pathfinder Linden, the education liaison person.
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Old 03-17-2017, 08:14 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Old 03-17-2017, 09:15 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I'm currently preparing a paper on the decolonisation of virtual worlds.
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Old 03-17-2017, 10:16 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by louiegy View Post
Hi all,

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

Just to quickly introduce myself; I'm a masters student in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. I'm a lifelong gamer with a particular interest in MMO's/virtual worlds.

I'm currently preparing a paper on the decolonisation of virtual worlds. Particularly i'm focusing on the history of SL, and what can be learned moving forwards as technologies like VR popularise online life even further.

I have always had a keen interest in SL, however having never dedicated myself to it, I have a few questions I was hoping the community might be able to clear up:

As far as I understand it, SL has age restricted places which came into place as it grew in popularity. From articles I have read and people i've spoken to, this seems to be due to Linden Labs wanting to make the world more 'business friendly'.

Following that, it seems lots of businesses, universities and other organisations established a presence in SL only to abandon it relatively quickly. This seems to have left a lot of the world unused, while I assume the age restriction has stayed in place.

Am I correct in saying this is what happened?

Many thanks for your replies in advance! And please if I have somehow got this all completely wrong, do let me know!

Louie.
My understanding of the history, and I was around at the time, is a bit different from yours.

Originally there were two maturity ratings in SL. I can't remember what they were originally called, but one was the equivalent of General now, and the other, "Mature," I think it was, was everything else.

After the huge interest in SL in 2006--07 had peaked and started to fall off, LL tried various ways to expand their market. Certainly they wanted to make themselves more attractive to businesses and reasoned that one thing that was putting businesses off was the fact that, at least if they were on Mature mainland, there was nothing to stop a virtual strip club or brothel opening next door.

To remedy this, LL introduced the "Adult" rating and forcibly relocated all the Adult business on the Mainland to the new Adult continent, Zindra.

As you rightly say, this didn't really do much to attract business. I would say that this is because the main problem with attracting businesses to SL is that it's really not a particularly good business platform.

Certainly at the time, it was possible to produce 3-D content of a sufficient quality to use it as a virtual show-room (Sansar might eventually realise that hope, but SL back in 2010 or whenever they introduced Adult Content certainly couldn't), and the learning curve is too steep to use it for virtual conferences and so on.

I don't know about educational institutions. They used to get a special educational rate for private islands, which Rod Humble (Rodvik Linden) axed when he was CEO. Personally I thought his decision to concentrate on SL as a social/entertainment platform, and stop trying to market it to other users, was completely correct, but others disagree, I know.

SL has, of course, always been restricted, at least in theory, to people aged 18 and above. So "Maturity Ratings" were primarily to do with the sort of content people might want to see or not see, rather than how old they were.

There was originally a separate "Teen Grid" (actually part of the Main Grid, as I understand it, but kept completely separate from the 18+ Grid), but that was abolished ...erm ... quite soon after the new maturity ratings were introduced, and merged with the Main Grid, though teens were, and are, restricted to G-rated regions.

I don't think the Maturity Ratings were to do with this -- rather, I think, the Teen Grid had only a few hundred residents (under a thousand, as I recall) and it was just too expensive keep going as a separate entity. So LL took the decision to wind it up, and allowed the 16-18 year olds into the Main Grid, or a very restricted part of it.

That's my take on it, anyway.

So, in short, I think you are mistaken in saying that a lot of businesses came to SL after Adult Content was segregated from the rest of the grid. Rather, I would say, the the Adult Content rules were introduced in a vain attempt to stem the exodus of businesses from SL.

It was unsuccessful because, quite simply, the cost and staff time involved in maintaining a business presence in SL, with or without virtual strip clubs on every street corner, proved not to be a particularly cost-effective use of most business' resources.

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Old 03-18-2017, 01:11 AM   #21 (permalink)
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He's using SLU for research. To quote his post:



And no mention of Cris' approval.
He's doing research, yes, but he's not polling people for their opinions of some subject. He's asking residents about something objective, the effects of a specific changed policy. I don't consider that to be a survey, it's not like he's asking to do interviews.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:12 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for all your contributions so far. It's already been very informative and helpful for me.

I have to rush out to work, but just wanted to leave a quick message to say thanks. I've got a couple more things I'd like to ask you all about later on today.

Enjoy your Saturday!

Louie.
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Old 03-18-2017, 06:55 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Rather, I would say, the the Adult Content rules were introduced in a vain attempt to stem the exodus of businesses from SL.

It was unsuccessful because, quite simply, the cost and staff time involved in maintaining a business presence in SL, with or without virtual strip clubs on every street corner, proved not to be a particularly cost-effective use of most business' resources.
And they just blamed SL/LL for their failures, without recognizing their flawed assumptions.

On the consumer side, there is a long history of disinterest in RL business products being shilled to us through SL; in fact it often spills over into an active resistance to and resentment of advertising. This was certainly exacerbated by the land-cutting practices of dedicated advertisers that cluttered the mainland for far too many years. SL residents log in to immerse in another reality, so reminders of First Life are intrusive or meaningless.

On the business side, there was no way to achieve a sustainable ROI for promoting RL products or activities. There are no means of mass communication, so reaching more than a few people is difficult and gathering more than 40-50 in a sim is technically not possible. Objects in SL can only be owned by a single person, which limits who can manage RL company SL assets. And the global nature of residents watered down the ability to target likely consumers.

By far the greatest business handicap is steep learning curve of SL mechanisms and a profound lack of understanding of the SL culture. Businesses view SL as a technology, rather than as a foreign location. Creating a "business presence in SL" makes as much sense as building a branch office in Iceland without any market research on why your product would appeal to the citizens of that country. Unfortunately, even some of the ideas that might have worked were undermined by incredibly poor execution.
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Old 03-18-2017, 07:27 AM   #24 (permalink)
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He's using SLU for research.
I guess some here don't get it's not about surveys, it's about test subjects.

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Old 03-18-2017, 11:14 AM   #25 (permalink)
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You all realise that this guy is actually studying the psychology of SL-related-forum users by pretending to be interested in the history of SL while actually recording how SL-related-forum users react to someone claiming to be researching the history of SL?
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