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July 14, 2006



You need an apostrophe in the last word of your blog description:

"All statements and opinions I post are my statemets and opinions, not my employer's."

Ben Linden

Actually, I meant to say that the statements were not, in fact, the ones paying me...

Ok, my grammer sucks, I will fix it.

Oz Spade

I agree with you greatly on this. Most attempts by LL to do urban planning have failed. However there are some neat exceptions.

Telehubs, while they didn't do as great of a job as expected did attract a lot of malls (not all of them, but more than none).

Also while LL ditched it kinda, Lusk has been doing rather nice.

And of course theres the more recent project of the residential suburb sims.

And also if you look at the "Korea" sims, theres that city there, which will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Theres also of course Nova Albion, which is mostly commercial now in most parts.

So I do think it'd be good if LL still occasionaly planted idea seeds, where you'd (LL) say "Hey, here would be a nice spot for this kinda content." but not strictly enforce it.

However in large part I agree that most of the urban planning will be done by users, intentionaly and uninintentionaly. Unintentionaly comes from areas that attract high patterns of traffic, such as a well done attraction, then others would move in and setup shop and such. Of course there are always those who would rather live next to the attraction rather than have a shop next to it.

SL is kinda like a giant group project quilt, where each person can design their own square and it gets weaved together with disregard as to what two patterns are next to eachother. So while some parts may be messy, sometimes you also get really interesting spots of mixtures of things.

And dear god yes the tools need to be easier and more accessible.


Luna was a Linden godsend at a time when people were producing lagtastic malls with no clue of how to accomodate vendors and customers with a reasonably pleasant shopping experience.

LL demonstrated a proper av friendly, low texture, spread out, only thing in the sim example just when we needed it.

Ben, your rhetoric indicates that we've no need for terraforming limits on the mainland.

Prokofy Neva

So, in fact you seeded Lusk, and it didn't really spring forth spontaneously? Is that why you are always lauding this community and holding it up as an example of communities in SL? I know that LL also seeded Neualtenberg by starting them off with a free sim in a contest with one contestant, even if they had to pay tier later.

Government shouldn't be in the business of seeding or favouring communities, people should make their civil societies themselves.
That's the whole point.

Since we can't be allowed to have a government to manage our own affairs (that won't last forever), then we're forced to look to LL for even some light zoning, however.

The attitude you espouse toward the Mainland isn't *really* what LL collectively thinks. I've heard Lindens frankly tell me that the poor content of the residents makes it hard for them to sell the product. Therefore they start picking and chosing favourites that they think sell it better. They're constantly intervening into their creation and tweaking it to help it along to make it look better -- building contests, bids for some to build welcome areas, putting stuff from some residents into the library.

The private islands have been given the tools, staffing and steerage needed to make them real experiments in urban planning that they can then show off to sell more islands.

The telehubs that everybody screamed about in fact STILL REMAIN in the world PERFORMING THEIR FUNCTION AS YOU ORIGINALLY INTENDED THEM. Guess where? On PRIVATE ISLANDS. That's right. Fly to Caledon, after having pressed on your favourite store name from SEARCH. You'll find yourself landing at a telehub area where people are congregating and socializing. You then follow the red vector to your store, stopping to admire scenary and other stores along the way as you fly.

So the private islands, already privileged, got to keep the one thing that helps socializing and business -- the telehub. Meanwhile, with fundamentalist fervour, it was ripped out of the mainland and to this day, avatars are still landing at 128/128 awkwardly in the water, in sides of walls, in people's homes due to this ill-thought decision to remove hubs merely because p2p was coming in. You simply don't realize that real people search for sim names in the map, they don't look at maps and p2p. Just have your system count how many people use the map, and how many search the names in the list.

So while you've done every conceivable thing to help foster, steer, coddle, reward the islands, (your actions on the islands speak louder than your words about valuing mainland "creativity) -- meanwhile, irresponsibly, you've left the mainland to fester with its own problems like sign griefing, no Linden attention to garbage piling up, abandoned land, blight, and lag.

The Lindens rhetoric these days about the Mainland reminds me of various international causes funded by rich patrons who remain behind in safe countries while they send others off to dangerous countries sometimes to sacrifice their lives. They don't really have to go and live their utopian ideology; they can make others do it and still look good.

As a rentals agent, I constantly ponder these problems that daily you have put in our way and try to solve them. I'm puzzled why you can't do a simple thing: when a sim is put on the auction, tag it with one of four very broad categories: 1) residential 2) business 3) entertainment 4) experimental. (5) education might also be added).

Residential could be waterfront; business could be roadside; entertainment could be interior flat; experimental could be mountains.

If you think that makes for a boring and conformist world, then *cough* look what you already have by NOT zoning -- predictable placement of clubs and Tringos everywhere -- in fact there is a pattern and it's a very dull one, that's the irony.

If you think this idea of tag zoning without policing is too "restrictive," you ought to sit on your just-devalued waterfront lot from which a tenant has just moved, and face dealing with an oldbie's priminent domain: a giant Bingo parlour en pleine aire sitting on beautiful waterfront, despoiling the view for 8 parcels, lagging the sim for everybody though it represents only a fraction of the sim's whole.

Why is *that* ok to handle? Because I have to handle it and you don't? In the name of *your* abstract beliefs about "creativity" and "lack of patterns"?

I'd like to have a lack of patterns here, too, Ben. I'd like to see cheaper PG waterfront not fill up with camp chairs and Tringo for once.

You say you couldn't possibly police such things and don't have the staff. Why police? It's just a basic suggestion -- steer people to sims that you tag to help give them the idea. That's the kind of seeding you SHOULD do because peer pressure would do the rest. People who built a stupid bingo parlour on a beautiful waterfront with giant stupid signs in the way of everyone's view would then be in a setting where the whole community would be empowered, not discouraged to say to them, why are you doing this on a residential sim that is marked residential? Why? Why? Go on the flat interior with that stuff.

Please don't tell me about coming group tools. Because group tools can't solve a problem on land I don't own like this, and never will, and shouldn't.

This constant problem of devaluation of 'investment' in the mainland is a huge curb on development. I might think to spend money developing this or that property, but the harsh taskmaster of Second Life has taught me to plan instead for sudden emergency defensive purchases of water going for sale right in front of my existing waterfront (that sort of brilliant "urban planning" by SL never ceases to amaze me); for defensive purchases of land liquidated to land barons who chop it up leaving water parcels expose to sign griefing; to dumping if land next to hopelessly griefed or lag situations like clubs moving in next door so that I can't even come on to my own sim if that club decides to have 40 avatars over, even if I own more land on that sim than that club does.

So please do not castigate me for my lack of beautiful development and planning and lovely patterns on your mainland, Ben, and tell me to worship at the altar of your "creativity". You've made an absolutely untenable situation where no sane person can possibly succeed with anything creative for long unless they have incredibe tenacity and/or lots of money to keep selling land at a loss and moving around to find better land.

It used to be a goal for many mainland owners to buy up a sim piece by piece as they could afford it, and as their businesses allowed them. It turns into a kind of chess game, however. There's often holdouts who grief the whole sim and put their land to sale at outrageous prices; there's always some no-shot idiot who puts out plywoods on first land and logs off for the next 12 months of their annual subscription; there's always sudden abandonment and swooping and other losses that happen just when you think you are close to achieving some kind of sim peace with your own group or with neigbhours.

The Lindens have only one answer to this now: islands.

When instead, there's another answer: tagging sims before they are born.

It's as if you've gone to some kind of zealous and nearly psychotic extreme with this very licentious liberalism -- anything goes in the name of creative freedom even if it leads actually to the suppression of freedom.

What you fail to recognize, however, is that your permissiveness to enable people's "creativity" like the Impeach Bush Guy then puts the rest of us in a straitjacket all around him, unable to enjoy our land, keep its value, or be creative, too. Why doesn't our creativity count, too, in these situations?

Please don't tell me mantras about how you want freedom and imagination and few restrictions. After all, you Lindens have shown us just how prudish and restrictive you can be about other aspects of the society. Your schoolmarmish rules for the events list -- you can't have more than 5 times, you have to be present blah blah -- and your myriad, biased, and uneven forums rules lets us know your appetite for control. So what, all of a sudden, you never met a script you didn't like? You can't even have a *policy* against security orbs that push home without warning?

The most vexing problems of the mainland aren't ugly builds that people make, or amateurish content. Let them make it! I'm a big believer in protecting the amateur creativity of this world for the millions of people you claim to want here from the creator-fascism of architects who want to impose their own narrow visions of aestheticism which is usually borrowed from old oppressive cultures like the Romans or the Ottomans or the Naxis or the Soviets. Due to that kind of valuation so typical of MMORPGs, we're all drowning in brown stone moss dripping Goth and heavy pilastered dominating columbs and broad, severe empty plazas and avenues meant to intimidate the individual with the power of the state and/or the builder caste.

Rather, the worst problems of the mainland have to do with spinelessness of LL in being able to uphold their own TOS.

The Bush signs should never have been allowed -- what, you Leninists and Calvinists harshly ban us from the world for 3 days for sending a sales notecard to someone unsolicited inworld, *gasp*, yet someone can spam up *land in view of my eyeballs* over and over again on thousands of sims on 16m2 ???

You have ample ways to deal with this: it easily falls under any normal concept of "spam," or "disturbance of the peace," or "interfering with the enjoyment of SL for tohers." If you weren't protecting the unbridled freedom to deploy advertising billboards all over SL (you claim that companies are going to just advertise on their own islands) then what *were* you doing? What kind of creative build did you believe was defensible on a 16m2? Set to sale for $64,000??

To this day, the most sought after land on the mainland is "Linden protected". Linden protected doesn't mean anything special is on that land -- it can often be a not very interesting road or empty void sims. But what it does mean is "predictable view".

There's nothing wrong with having made that contribution to the world. Governor Linden has miles of protected roadside, waterways, waterfront, woods. It's fine and doesn't constitute interference. So that same concept of making more order so that more spontaneity can freely happen and people don't have to live under the slavery of a bad view, griefed land, and devalued land is in order. That means zoning sims by merely naming sims on the auction.

Try it for one month. You will see a dramatic difference in the world.

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