Friday, May 1, 2009

No Teen Grid Merger In Second Life & More Details on Adult Content

Location: Montclair State University's Virtual Campus

Photo Courtesy of Olivia Hotshot

Special thanks to AJ Brooks for convening this meeting and moderating what could have been a free-for-all and not a civil discussion.

What will the new adult-content policies mean for educators? The big news at the recent roundtable, led by special guests Claudia, George, and Pathfinder Linden, is that Linden Lab has no plans to merge the teen and adult grids. This has been a popular topic in the SL rumor-mill.

Of continuing concern to LL is how to address the needs of 17-year-old college students who must use SL in a class.

The Lindens spoke to a gathering of more than 75 educators (as well as Prospero and Nya Linden, who joined the party) and answered questions the audience had put to them in advance and on the spot. Here are some highlights from the transcript :
  • George Linden stated that there are around 2,000 islands in Second Life that have the educational discount.
  • All of the Lindens sought to clarify the term "mature" as compared to "adult," a key distinction that many are not making in blogs and forum-discussions.
  • Claudia Linden made it clear that Linden Lab has no plans for a "grid merge" at this time and that the Adult Content changes are a distinct intiative.
  • Claudia Linden acknowledged that Linden Lab is aware of the problems with accommodating mixed ages for high schools and universities (since some college students are younger than 18, and some high school students are over 17, the upper age limit for Teen Second Life). She stated that Linden Lab employees "have been attending a series of meetings with educators from around the world about this issue. She said (as transcribed) that the issues are "very complex problem & they are working hard to come up with solutions."
  • Prospero Linden noted that as of the time of this meeting, 5088 sims are zoned PG and 22401 sims are mature. 8 sims are adult zoned (test regions).
  • Pathfinder Linden reminded educators that pressure from the education market alone did not drive these changes. Linden Lab listened to many residents in crafting the new guidelines but the issue was larger, "part of any platform maturity cycle." He compared this to "Google, it didn't originally include safe search but that was incorporated in response to users."
  • Claudia Linden contended that filtering search results will be "a win for education."
  • She also clarified several points about appropriate use of adult-themed materials in a course that uses SL. In making decisions, "we may take into account whether apparent or reported adult content or conduct on a particular Region serves only an extremely limited or passive function, or an important educational or cultural function."
  • When the example of Michalangelo's David was put to the Lindens, they noted that this sort of artistic nudity would not have to be in an adult-zoned region.
  • Nya Linden explained that a verified Paypal account or a credit card would suffice for age verification, and she added "If you have a payment relationship with XStreet or LL, you are verified."
Want more detail? Links to resources from Linden Lab? Study the entire transcript. No voice recording is available, but see the entire transcript for links to MP3s of earlier voice discussions by the Lindens on this topic.


Tateru Nino said...

The Lab's position throughout has been that they don't have plans to merge TSL and the adult grid. In the face of all their statements about it, I'm still wondering how the contrary view circulated so widely among users.

I presume that a lot of people couldn't see these changes as anything but a precursor to it (but then, a lot of people still think that all non-PG content is to be hidden away)

Iggy O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Iggy O said...

Rumors are hard to dispel. Among educators, at least, I've not picked up a sentiment I hear from other residents that "LL speaks out of both sides of its mouth" on this issue.

If I could tell you why SL rumors circulate, including the silly "deathwatch" posts in some blogs, I'd have enough insight to STILL make money on the stock market.

iliveisl said...

lol, oh the power of hindsight eh?

lol on all our ener-gies (mine too) about a teen grid merger =)