Caledon and Avatars United

There is a great deal of discussion going on about Linden Lab’s acquisition of the social networking site Avatars United.  I’d love to be able to talk about it more in depth here, but I doubt I’ll have the time.  However, Desmond Shang, who is the Guvnah/chief administrator/land baron of Caledon on Second Life (and Caledonia on Blue Mars), has an important message about AU and I’m distilling his remarks to help pass the word along.  Please note, this isn’t the entire conversation.  If you are part of ISC, you should have received a notecard via group notice, with a fuller transcript of the remarks and reactions by those participating in ISC group chat.  If you did not and would like a copy, please IM me in-world or retrieve it from the Group Notices tab for ISC.

From Desmond in his Desmond Magic alt (yes, this is common knowledge, I’m not disclosing secret information) on Feb. 1st:

[1:42]  Desmond Magic: wearily waves hello to everyone ~ hey, I wanted to pass on something, word of mouth to people, if I may
[1:43]  Desmond Magic: some of you may have heard of something called Avatars United
[1:44]  Desmond Magic: I’ve done my best to recover things, and even unlocked my actual account and created a caledon group
[1:44]  Desmond Magic: please,
[1:44]  Desmond Magic: 1. do not friend me, or anyone claiming to be me
[1:44]  Desmond Magic: 2. do not join any caledon groups, if you did ~ leave.
[1:44]  Desmond Magic: 3. I’ve set up the ‘real’ me
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: and a real group
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: Desmond Shang
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: I got it, Ordinal made one just out of demonstration’s sake
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: I’m not upset at ordinal whatsoever, that was a test
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: it’s NOT PROTECTED.
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: there can be a dozen Desmond Shangs.
[1:45]  Desmond Magic: there is now apparently an official Caledon group.
[1:46]  Desmond Magic: folks, here’s what happens, according to US law.
[1:46]  Desmond Magic: if I don’t defend it, ANYONE can legally use “Caledon” or “Caledonia” or “Independent State of Caledon”
[1:47]  Desmond Magic: there are.  One is me, one is Ordinal (testing), beyond that, it’s all nobody I know
[1:47]  Desmond Magic: there are apparently THREE Caledon groups now, I added the fourth and real one, I think.
[1:47]  Desmond Magic: minutes ago.
[1:47]  Desmond Magic: now, here’s the nasty part
[1:47]  Desmond Magic: 1. I don’t want to be Caledon (TM) but I’m being given no choice
[1:48]  Desmond Magic: and here’s the 2nd Really Ugly Nasty Part
[1:48]  Desmond Magic: the one that will burn maybe 40 to 80 hours of work
[1:48]  Desmond Magic: someone well~intentioned will make a group
[1:48]  Desmond Magic: I will say ‘don’t do that’
[1:48]  Desmond Magic: they will be hurt, heartbroken, massive drama will ensue.
[1:49]  Desmond Magic: drama = major income loss for Des. Every. single. Time.
[1:49]  Desmond Magic: so I am not mad at any well intentioned people who tried to ‘help’
[1:50]  Desmond Magic: there’s no drama, just, do. not. duplicate. caledon. or. we. *all*. lose. the. ability. for. me. to. defend. us.
[1:50]  Desmond Magic: without being defended by me, it falls to public domain, by US law.
[1:50]  Desmond Magic: I have no choice, I have to aggressively pursue it.
[1:50]  <resident>: Are we allowed to make “<blank> of caledon” groups?
[1:50]  Desmond Magic: oh that’s fine <resident>
[1:51]  Desmond Magic: but someone made the OFFICIAL group…
[1:51]  Desmond Magic: doubtless people are going to join it in droves.  Please. do. not.
[1:51]  <resident>: Does this mean you will have to crack down on any use of “Caledon” in commerce outside of your activities, Des?
[1:52]  Desmond Magic: <resident> I am super easy going about ‘licencing’
[1:52]  Desmond Magic: ____________ of Caledon, or _______, Knight of Caledon or all that is just fine
[1:52]  Desmond Magic: it’s like this:
[1:52]  Desmond Magic: pretend I’m Star Trek
[1:53]  Desmond Magic: go fly Enterprises, whatever, but don’t start your group as THE Star Trek
[1:53]  Desmond Magic: because now, once that happens, guess what any hostile noob can do, if it falls to public domain
[1:53]  Desmond Magic: “hai we are another Caledon rent from me PLZ!”
[1:54]  Desmond Magic: all that we are, all that you guys are, will be legally take~able.
[1:54]  Desmond Magic: I won’t have any ability to defend it.
[1:55]  <resident>: Do you own the trademark Caledon or its permutations?
[1:55]  Desmond Magic: I do, sir.
[1:55]  Desmond Magic: yes, it was done <resident>, on Avatar United… as well as multiple groups called Caledon that aren’t me.
[1:56]  Desmond Magic: LL bought a facebook~like company
[1:56]  Desmond Magic: <resident> you might want to check it out, it may be done before you even realise it.
[1:57]  Desmond Magic: no, in fact all of you could make fake desmonds, that’s the problem
[1:57]  Desmond Magic: I want to be LL’s biggest fanboy, I normally am
[1:57]  Desmond Magic: but this is where I see this going:
[1:57]  Desmond Magic: some well intentioned person, probably one of us, made the Caledon group
[1:58]  Desmond Magic: this is a bad, bad, bad thing
[1:58]  Desmond Magic: everyone, please spread the word… I’ve been dealing with this all night
[1:58]  Desmond Magic: now, I have literally years of ‘prior art’ and can get testimony from literally several hundred people that Caledon is mine
[1:59]  Desmond Magic: if anyone has backup, it’s me… even if someone falsely registered Caledon as a trademark, I could take them down easily
[1:59]  Desmond Magic: but I don’t want to deal with all this
[1:59]  Desmond Magic: ah, official word is this: for now, Please Do Not Use the Avatar United site for Caledon stuff
[2:04]  Desmond Magic: I’m not worried about any well intentioned person ‘helping’ to make a caledon group and finding out it wasn’t a good idea
[2:04]  Desmond Magic: I won’t be mad at them
[2:04]  Desmond Magic: what I AM worried about, is Caledon falling to public domain, and none of us able to do anything about it.
[2:05]  Desmond Magic: when, not if, it were to be used by hostile parties.
[2:05]  Desmond Magic: well I am the easiest guy in the world with Caledon ‘stuff’
[2:06]  Desmond Magic: you can sell Caledon flags, or whatnot inworld I am good with it
[2:06]  Desmond Magic: I give permission, always
[2:06]  Desmond Magic: the line has been drawn at real world products
[2:06]  Desmond Magic: and for instance, excalibur has permission to use ‘caledon’ (think of it as a ‘licence’) for forums and stuff
[2:07]  Desmond Magic: I’m really, really, really casual
[2:07]  Desmond Magic: but the problem comes in, when someone makes an official group, and they aren’t.
[2:08]  <resident>: Many items for sale in Caledon shops use that name , to protect a name all uses except by owner need to stop, reaches for a KLEENEX to dab eyes
[2:08]  Desmond Magic: to give an idea, we raised something close to 20,000 USD for cancer charities over the years
[2:08]  Desmond Magic: <resident> I don’t need to go that far, I informally ‘licence’ everyone
[2:09]  Desmond Magic: that’s how ‘fan fiction’ works
[2:10]  Desmond Magic: I can handle it more like fan fiction ~ basically, nobody gets in trouble, *until* they claim to officially represent all of Caledon
[2:10]  Desmond Magic: the paperwork and legal stuff are one thing, the thing I truly dread is this:
[2:10]  Desmond Magic: probably a few well intentioned people who are part of us, here, started these groups
[2:10]  Desmond Magic: I don’t know who
[2:11]  Desmond Magic: I am *not* mad at them, but the one thing I absolutely don’t want,
[2:11]  Desmond Magic: is four or five hours of tearful drama over it
[2:11]  Desmond Magic: that burns me out like few things ever can.
[2:12]  Desmond Magic: in fact, if any of you hear or see of the Avatar United stuff,
[2:12]  Desmond Magic: for now,
[2:13]  Desmond Magic: please ask people NOT to get involved with Caledon stuff there yet, please.
[2:13]  Desmond Magic: it’s not secure, it won’t be for a while.
[2:13]  Desmond Magic: that’s totally fine
[2:13]  Desmond Magic: just~ NO official group, and don’t join one
[2:14]  Desmond Magic: they aren’t, but, that’s not the issue, it’s the issue of say, controlling the whole group
[2:14]  Desmond Magic: it’s been nearly four years ~ can anyone guess the number of times group chat has been moderated here?
[2:15]  Desmond Magic: exactly zero.  we are a free group, and I’ve fought for that
[2:16]  Desmond Magic: yeah we keep the group closed to keep out spammers
[2:17]  Desmond Magic: well,
[2:17]  Desmond Magic: anyway, just imagine anyone else in control of the group
[2:17]  Desmond Magic: we are THE most free state on the grid, I keep it that way
[2:18]  Desmond Magic: if I don’t defend our name or the group, we’ll end up like your typical RP area and it’s moderation and ban lists.
[2:19]  <resident>: Des, maybe I’m oversimplifying things, but it stands to reason if LL owns AU, all they;d need to do is match emails to avatar names, and freeze accounts that don’t match until proven otherwise.
[2:19]  Desmond Magic: anyway, if anyone discovers who started these groups, I am not mad, but would they please discontinue any group that represents the whole of Caledon.
[2:19]  Desmond Magic: well that would be ideal <resident>
[2:19]  Desmond Magic: maybe they will… months from now
[2:20]  Wrath Constantine: LL Anounced the purchase a couple of days ago Yuriko. It’s bad.
[2:21]  Desmond Magic: mmm… well let’s wrap this commentary up with Avatar United
[2:21]  Desmond Magic: I am not mad at Avatar United
[2:22]  Desmond Magic: I am not mad at any well intentioned person that made a caledon group, but Please disband it if it represents all of us.
[2:22]  Desmond Magic: finally,
[2:23]  Desmond Magic: yes, I do have an account and a Caledon group there, created for the sole purpose of defending “Caledon” and “Caledonia” and “Independent State of Caledon”
[2:23]  Desmond Magic: but please don’t join it, or ‘friend’ me
[2:23]  Desmond Magic: I’d rather spend my time inworld with all of you here.
[2:24]  Desmond Magic: alright… that was that.  sorry for the late hour; if this gets out by word of mouth that would be appreciated
[2:24]  <resident>: Out of curiosity how would one tell YOUR DS from another ? That’s why it’s not a place that holds any interest for me
[2:24]  Desmond Magic: group notices come so fast it’s terrible
[2:25]  Desmond Magic: <resident>, mine has some comments like “don’t friend me”… but even that can be copied
[2:25]  Desmond Magic: just stay away from the site until they fix all this, I’d say.
[2:25]  Mari Moonbeam: No kidding
[2:25]  Desmond Magic: avatar united
[2:25]  Desmond Magic: people have been making fake linden accounts too.
[2:26]  Desmond Magic: indeed, I thought going there and making my name would preserve it, I was wrong.
[2:27]  Desmond Magic: I don’t *want* to be upset at LL, just, there’s not much I can do and preserve our identity
[2:27]  <resident>: This convo is being saved for sharing amongst those not currently on.

Have it your way?

Because I am flippant and irreverent, I must start off this post by admitting my serious, though platonic, girl-crush on Miss Emilly Orr. As it happens, I interact more with her blog than the av herself, but the same qualities shine through: thoughtful, fierce, articulate, funny, bold, curious.  Miss Orr, you are cooler than a thousand My Evil Ponies.

I started with a paean to Miss Orr because this blog post is in response to a post on her blog, to which I was about to clog up with the comment below.  However, I came to my senses and posted it here. But it was a near, near thing.

The first part of the post addresses a comment from a Second Life blog made by Ari Blackthorne.  Miss Orr quoted at length, but I prefer giving a briefer excerpt:

Since my first coming into SL I have owned… (counts fingers and contemplates) … 5 private regions (sims) – not all at once of course. But I have owned them. I have done what you are doing now – the land sales/rentals. I have created a role play sim (still going strong fortunately) and so on and so on.


However, I clearly understand my “place” in it. That being that I am paying Linden Lab to give me specific and complete control of part of their system. That’s it. Nothing more. I do not now nor ever expect a “return” on my “investment” because not only is it not promised, Linden Lab doesn’t even so much as imply such a thing is possible. In other words, what I do and how I do it using the tools and services available I do on my own at my own behest and risk, knowing full well anything can change for the better or worse at the drop of a hat.


So, again with respect, I take the words of anyone who proclaims they have spent money and are thus “losing” money with a serious grain of salt and tongue-in-cheek. Second Life is not billed as any kind of money-making enterprise or investment venue. If you spend money on a movie ticket at the cinema, do you realistically expect to get any kind of return on that money, save for the screening itself?

This leaves me torn.  I respond to rightness and wrongness in this sentiment.

The rightness:

Life is hard, business is rough.  A guaranteed profit is the lure of hucksters fishing for the desperate and gullible.  Sometimes … heck, oftentimes, smarts and capital and the sweat of the brow is just not enough to succeed. That’s the real world, and fortunately or unfortunately, the same is true of the virtual world. Many people can and do succeed.  Many don’t.  And while a high likelihood of success is a fantastic indicator … it’s only an indicator — not a sure thing, not a guarantee.  

Virtual businesses may operate on different scales and have very different rules from real-world ones, but we’re not talking Bizarro Land.  And if you’re operating within someone else’s servers, under their rules AND they have their own goals for what success of their operation entails, which may not mesh with or acknowledge your goals … you are assuming some measure of risk. 

So, yeah … right on, Mr. Blackthorne.  But … the wrongness:

I don’t have it in front of me, but Benjamin Duranske‘s book details the dissonance between LL hawking the potential for significant economic opportunity in their marketing materials versus their ToS provisions.  But there are also the issue of people are already in the system and previously thriving.  When things go sideways, is it more rational to stay & hope they go right again, or cut bait and flee? Only it’s not so rational a decision and people may stay & hope/fight/wait it out due to emotional attachments, sheer irrational hope, or a lack of information. [The typist took an entire semester of law & behaviorialism, bless her twisted brain, so I could go into extreme gory detail, but you know … let’s not.  For your sake & mine & even hers.]

There’s also the issue of whether everything in the ToS is company policy or CYA to please lawyers and fend off users threatening to sue. Literally changing your rules at the drop of a hat tends to strike most customers as arbitrary, capricious and a no-starter for serious “investment”. Coca-Cola, Harvard and Warner Bros. wouldn’t put up with it, and why should individual users?  Most everyone expects a certain level of consistency and logic, and SL would fail even as an entertainment if it did not attempt to operate with both qualities when providing its services.

The truth of the matter probably lies between the hype of marketing materials and the risk-avoidance language of the ToS … the set of reasonable expectations between the service provider and the users/customers. Reasonable expectations are built upon clear communication – not only notice and disclosure, but feedback, conversation, a willingness to understand and synthesize what each side is communicating, and clear, non-contradictory messaging throughout the corporate chain. And this is what I think LL falls down on the majority of the time.

*sigh* I fear I’m going to end up a one-trick pony but really … effective communication would help, while ineffective communication leads to frustration and anger and impotency and blame-storming.


Wow, it’s been a solid month since I’ve posted.  My apologies.

I need to do several posts.  But let me push something at whoever may be paying attention. There’s been a lot of concerns about the proposed content filtering on SL, which I’m still catching up on.

Hypatia Callisto has opened a JIRA proposing another way: Create a content ratings system to prevent offensive content rezzing in sims with the wrong rating.  Her rationale is explained on her blog.  She also has a challenge to LL’s supposed justifications for the new content rating system.

Please read … think … vote if you agree.

Av making toyz

The silly typist went and got a cold, so she’s quarantining herself before going to see Watchmen.  Me … I get to play!  And I’ve been dragged to quite a wonderful place.  Unknowable, Alien Isles — home of Madcow Cosmos‘s latest experiment – building your own alien av.

It’s rather simple, so much fun and just demented.  Such a NPIRL thing to do.

Prim-killer artist Spiral Walcher brought me there and I just STARED at the machine for a while.  Then I figured out which button to push and I went to town, during which time Madcow himself showed up.  After I exclaimed “ZOMG! So Cool! Come See!” in Caledon Chat, a couple of innocent souls came by.

Then … someone broke out the maracas.  The “manbo!” maracas.

It resulted in five very strange creatures dancing to the mambo loop … on and on and on.  Maybe you had to be there.  I will spare your ears and offer photographic proof, as taken by Spiral Walcher.


Little aliens, moved by Latin beats

Little aliens, moved by Latin beats

That’s Martien Pontecorvo, myself, Madcow, Spiral and Gryff Richard, respectively.  Too much fun.  I can’t promise more Manbo!, but it’s your own fault if you don’t like your new little alien body …

Holidays in SL – The Steampunk Creche

Lil Drummer Bot

Lil Drummer Bot

Christmas on the grid appears to be quite an occasion for creativity.  Iason Hassanov is one of those mad builders who make whimsy come to life in Caledon.  His latest creation, for the holiday season, is a creche in the Steampunk fashion, or what he calls SteamNativity.

Funny … reverent … awesome.  A touch laggy, because the particle snow has been maxed out to the wazoo.

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