Thursday, April 22, 2010

Did Fake Superheroes Get Woodbury University Campus Deleted?

Comrade Enoch
Location: Chronicle of Higher Education Web Site
image: Comrade Enoch waits to meet with with Technocommunist Cadre at Woodbury U, in happier times.

I came across the story of how this all occurred, and I'll share my reply to the Chronicle's tale here. Woodbury University's virtual campus, long known for tolerance toward its students' wilder bursts of creativity, has been pulled from the Linden grid.

A group of in-world superheroes, known as the "Justice League Unlimited" appears to have escalated its long-running war with many Woodbury students and friends of the university. JLU members have long been accused of working at the behest of Linden Lab as a force of unpaid rangers. See Professor Henry Jenkins' excellent account of this "war" fought in cyberspace.

But on to the current removal of the campus. One respondent at the Chronicle asked,

"Did Woodbury transgress known and well-publicized rules? Or did Linden Lab swoop down on Woodbury in an arbitrary way that the university could not have predicted? In other words, is this about a TOS violation or freedom of speech?"

Linden Lab is busy reinventing itself as a corporate-friendly provider of business meeting space and "Sims" style suburban roleplay--their recent ads show happy white heterosexual couples building dream-homes.

The company has consistently marginalized academia by, most recently, effectively laying off their leading advocate to higher ed, Pathfinder Linden, by removing his position in the company.

The Lab has also marginalized creatives by implementing a new viewer technology that makes user-generated content more difficult.

Woodbury had a right to do what they pleased on their land as long as they did not violate the company's Terms of Service.

That Linden Lab relies for enforcement on a band of self-proclaimed superhero-avatars is pitiful, and it reflects the end of a promising and creative virtual world as we all knew and enjoyed it. If Woodbury students used racist names and engaged in griefing, then they--not the university--should be punished according to Linden Lab's established abuse-reporting procedure.

I hope the Woodbury admins will look to Open Sim and host their own servers, with the right to back up IP and allow students creative freedom.
The JLU: image stolen from courtesy of Henry Jenkins' blog.

Unless that's the Silver Surfer in the upper right, there's not one Marvel superhero in the bunch...go figure. Marvel heroes fought the Man, instead of doing his bidding.


Untidy work by me attributed some referenced content to Peter Ludlow...they come from Henry Jenkins.

Prok (see comments) may well be correct about the provenance of the poster. When I contacted him for clarification, Comrade Enoch, after putting on his Red Army brain-control device that transforms him from a Virginian peasant...I mean a happy worker, reports that he had equipped his Cuban Robusto with a "load" provided by a Jamaican comrade. Thus he had no idea what planet he was on, let alone which sim, as he "marched in lockstep with the revolutionist cadres to free the oppressed poultry slaving under the iron heel of the bourgeois oppressor who has reduced mere eggs--the origin of life--to just another commodity produced by alienated labor."

4/22/10: Scott Jennings, at Broken Toys, writes a very different take on this drama-fest that is far more critical of Woodbury U. He skewers SLers' self-absorbed view of our virtual world with canny brilliance, such as noting how the ACLU must be falling over itself to "defend the civil rights of spoiled children and middle aged men pretending to be pixies to harrass other spoiled children and middle aged men pretending to be pixies."


Unknown said...

Part 2

That people like you would keep second-guessing this bullshit, and keep imagining there is an innocent but wacky students' story behind this cunning and duplicitious organized 4chan operation lets us know where your politics stand.

As I've written on the Chronicle, Pathfinder's dismissal is not a lack of commitment to education. it's a lack of commitment to education as purveyed by non-educators who are merely IT guys who try to run education from a geek ideology -- something that worked for years in early SL but can't keep working. Pathfinder was made redundant but was not put back on to running community affairs, which he did before he ran education. That's because he was simply too controversial and too disliked a figure. This "educator" is someone who plotted in the IRC channel with residents to get me banned for my *proper* criticism of injustices and favouritism in SL. That's all on the record at the Herald and my blog, google our names. There were quite a few other instances where Pathfinder operated with malicious force against people whose more liberal ideas he didn't like -- when his extremist geek ideology was crossed. That's all. The Lindens are leaving the era of Stallmanite opensource extremism. Good. That is a benefit for liberal civilization online.

There are many troubling aspects to Second Life governance in general -- the lack of First Amendment protections; the lack of due process; the lack of separation of powers, all features of the corporate-made online life. You don't get to pick and chose selectively from Constitutional civil rights. The stalking, harassment, violence and coercion that something like the Woodbury griefing phenomenon represents as violation of others' civil rights has to be seen in a context.

The chief problem I see here, and which enables leftist enablers like you to endlessly keep spinning this, is that the Lindens do not publish their server records and do not publish the materials they recieved to indict and expel these miscreants.

If all TOS offenses leading to permabans were fully publicized, with the prosecuting Linden, the abuse reporting plaintiff and the respondent griefer all fully named with all allegations aired, like a real-life court case, then it would be hard for people like you to keep babbling about art. And if the JLU had in fact abusively misreported something, then it would be automatically outed, too.

Woodbury was not banned because of the JLU scandal -- a scandal that I was the first to break, involving practices that I was first to condemn before the Herald, which tendentiously portrayed the issue to suit their agenda.

JLU surveillance violating civil rights is wrong. It should not be allowed and Lindens who collude with vigilantes should be fired. On the other hand, Woodbury word-saladers are also wrong and also violate civil rights and are a far worse problem, because they lie about what they are doing and are never caught until permabanned on secret grounds.

JLU is easily infiltrated and exposed. Where is the trustworthy 4channer who breaks with the tribe and tells all who isn't in fact involved in a new form of more sophisticated griefing? There aren't any.

Unknown said...

Iggy, you're so typical of gullible unquestioning leftwing media studies academics.

Does the Socratic method still apply? Can you question the "facts" and the "constructed reality," or do you always just accept, in your shattered Derida "critical" Marxist studies, that constructed realities should just stand, even more than reality?!

The photo you show here is on my land. The poster is *my* poster, a poster I use called "Chicken Tracker" with a script that tracks visitors to your land. I use this device with the sort of tongue-in-cheek Soviet poster meme of a watching collective farm worker, in a more subtle and humorous way in fact than those purporting to "subvert" communist insignia in SL -- the Woodburies -- ever do, because their just too talentless and ignorant.

The visitor tracker shows the obvious: that hundreds of people came to this parcel intent on griefing me and my tenants next door. I would use it to try to ban some of the new alts before they bashed my tenans with giant cocks or racist and antisemitic texts and pictures. Sometimes, when I went to ban one of these numerous visitors to the "student campus," I would discover they'd *already* had been banned by the Lindens and removed from the People list. That's because they *already* succeeded in griefing some other community somewhere else, and those people had already successfully abuse reported them for their offenses.

The hundreds of people on the Chicken list contain numerous people who are permabanned or who have temporary bans *for cause*. The Lindens have the ability to track what people do on servers. While you can wax philosophical about that all-seeing state-like eye -- and I sure do! -- you can also note that there is no longer a constructed reality, an Eddie Haskelling and lying and prevaricating. If the server says an agent rezzed a self-replicating prim device scripted to keep replicating until the sim crashed, that agent rezzing that scripted device is tried and convicted by the server. There's no "Mumia" defense in Second Life with server records. Yes, one can try the "had a poor childhood" or "didn't realize what he was rezzing, he was new" gambit. But if that alt has named himself with virtually the same name as his permabanned main allowed to rape and pillage for years with impunity, guess what, he will not get his alibi accepted.

Iggy O said...

Prok, I knew that your paranoid anti-collectivist self would find my little corner of the blogosphere eventually.

I don't censor non-spam, so I'll let your remarks speak for themselves.

If you think me a doctrinaire academic leftist, you don't know me well at all.

Thanks again for replying.

Iggy O said...

Prok, I'll go two for two with you.

For all the ribbing you've taken from the WU crowd, various griefers, and academic geeks with pointy sticks who like to poke at the pretentious, I think by now--you are a smart person--that you'd see they are not real commies.

It's a ploy to make overly serious folks like you get ticked off. We geeks know your buttons well.

FYI, real academic Marxists are far too boring and self-absorbed--ironically--in lucrative careers to pull off stunts like Woobury's. Reading Frederic Jameson's prose is like wading through a swimming pool filled with lumpy porridge. Leftist cultural critics like Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, who can write a coherent sentence, make so many factual mistakes that they become toothless pit-bulls.

Unknown said...

It wasn't the JLU herofags, the fcking emerald guys nuked us :/

Unknown said...

If the eggheads Ludlow and Jenkins would like to poke at the pretentious, they should have poked both of their own eyes out by now.

I don't know where you got the idea that I think the Woodbury gang is "really communist". Have you been playing games too long? Um, let me try to explain it again: I used communist texts and memes on them *first*, dear. That's where they got the idea -- duh.

As I've explained elsewhere, it's not that these people are literally members of the CP or reading little red books in school, they are just the usual Internet-educated mediocrities, who have imbined the insipid Marxism of the lefty ideologies that geeks bake into tools and communities. They've just picked it up, like the clap. They don't really belong to anything or believe in anything, they are nihilists and cynics who feign youthful innocence and sincere enthusiasm at every turn -- Eddie Haskell, not Bukharin.

Their *methods* however are as Leninist as they come, like all anarchist/terrorist/subversive groups the world over, who were good students of Lenin and Bukharin. That's all.

The Woodburies tried to make a sort of spectacle that worked like this: oh, here's this funny old person raised in the Cold War who translates Russia who hates commies who calls us Leninists, let's dress up as Stalinist clowns and bedevil this pompous person with hammers & sicles in the sky on the map and giant Soviet halls and submarines, blah blah. Tiresome.

But in reality, I voted for Obama, and while opposed to communism, I'm not some conservative Cold War cliche. I rightly point out that "cold" is what you should be to mass murderers *shrugs*.

It takes a while, and lengthy texts, to refute all the deliberate lies that a group like this whose main MO is lying hyperbole and disinformation. So the texts are long and they refute and polemicize line by line. Too bad for you if your attention span is low.

You need to justify why it is you find something compelling in these thugs. Why you think coercion and violence against people, even in a virtual world is ok. See if you can stick to your story.

Unknown said...

Mark, you should elaborate on this story, which itself may be a distraction. I was the first to break this hypothesis, that Emerald set up Woodbury for a fall to ingratiate themselves to the Lindens, even though they're in on it. And I saw this being set up as Emerald removed their glowing big emerald grief props from the Woodbury campus 2 days before Linden pulled the plug on WU.

>If you think me a doctrinaire academic leftist, you don't know me well at all.

Sigh. The lament of the armchair Internet lefty is always "Don't you know who I ammmmm!"

You know how I know you are a doctrinaire leftist? Because you call me names, because you point and laugh and speak of me as "your paranoid anti-collectivist self" who would "find my little corner of the blogosphere eventually".

Um, if you're not a doctrinaire Marxist, dear, what would be wrong with being anti-collectivist? Hello?

What's even more laughably hilarious, and also a tip-off to your real Marxist memes you may yourself not be aware of, is a snotty little statement like this:

", I think by now--you are a smart person--that you'd see they are not real commies.

It's a ploy to make overly serious folks like you get ticked off. We geeks know your buttons well.
Gosh, d'ya think? They're not REALALAAALY commies? Who knew!!

Gosh, they are just "pushing my buttons"? Ya think? Wow! Incredible!

The problem with you smarmy little asstards who really *are* armchair Marxists is that you don't realize a very effective to way to fight you. Keep documenting what you do. Carefully. Day in and day out. Reporting. Chronicling. Catching you out. Exposing the contradictions.

So that by the time someone like you says something brutally cynical and mean-spirited as "We geeks know your buttons well," there's a larger audience that can see that for what it is: yet another insecure tekkie, seeking the solace and support of the tribe, so that he can feel power over other people.

Iggy O said...

Despite your own "brutally cynical and mean-spirited" attitude in the comments here, you make compelling points.

First, you note that governance in SL is flawed:

"the lack of First Amendment protections; the lack of due process; the lack of separation of powers, all features of the corporate-made online life. You don't get to pick and chose selectively from Constitutional civil rights. The stalking, harassment, violence and coercion that something like the Woodbury griefing phenomenon represents as violation of others' civil rights has to be seen in a context."

Agreed. But you may have your context wrong.

SL is not the stable WWW yet. It's a frontier, much like the Web was in the mid-90s, in which many of us have decided to explore.

In time, better governance will come to these spaces. Neither you nor I may like the results, but the inherently unruly spaces of virtual worlds will get more rule-bound, based upon whatever occurs with LL's experiment. New areas of IP law will determine your and my rights to ownership of virtual goods and "land" on a server.

As to our frontier's outlaws: If the WU folks are indeed violating LL's TOS at ever turn, they should--and will--continually be banned. I still see no reason to delete the WU campus.

When thugs interrupt your activities in SL, report them. The outlaws are a price of doing business in a world where users can cloak their identities. Hire someone to help you police your server space rented from LL. But unless you are willing to go to court with a claim in that regard, let's not call it virtual property you or I own.

As for your personal gripes with Pathfinder, I won't grace your venom with a reply. At least he had the good manners not to air such dirty laundry in public.

Good luck with all that.

Unknown said...