There are, of course, many wonderful things that are happening with this current iteration of virtual reality OpenSim software. Nothing I would ever say, anywhere, should be taken to mean I do not see this, and I think it is a wonderful thing, because, after all, I do play in them.
And most of the people who use it are wonderful also…I know quite a few of them, virtually of course.
However, for purposes of this blog I feel the need to put down some of my thoughts, along with a few facts, with the hope that even if nobody agrees, that at the very least it will keep the conversation alive and moving forward in some regard. Even if I were to just go away this problem would continue...it should be dealt with and no amount of sweeping under the carpet this issue when it happens, again and again, will change this.
This is in no way whatsoever meant to be a treatise on the full breadth of OS as it currently is. Most of this is only for background information.
I can only speak to things I know of personally and those I have read about, also, of course. Obviously there would be much more about the matter not well known and many people who have experienced this are likely doing something else.
Which is the reason for my concern, and why I do not wish to see it continue.
I like a lot of what is happening with this software. I also like how so many people are using it for training, for showcasing talents in many regards, for Art & for Educational purposes. I think there is much promise in these regards. I also think it will change dramatically within the next few years.
Where it goes is anybody’s guess…all we can do is theorize as computer hardware and software change all the time, sometimes dramatically when some breakthrough happens which changes the entire paradigm. There are many examples of this. [ie. going from 8 character filenames to 255 in 1994]
However, there are forces at work that can destroy it all...and I think in some regards they are already succeeding.
It has always been the case that the internet attracts people from all walks of life and with all sorts of personal issues, mostly positive, but there is also the minority of people with mental issues who find it useful to spread negativity and unrest.
Those with enough technical smarts can find ways to make it seem there is much more negativity than actually exists. It is a constant battle to keep them at bay, and we will never see a day when they are gone…or, the net will no longer be free. I want it to remain free and so I understand this minority negativity has to be accepted.
There are, in my opinion, two primary opposing forces at work with this software.
Since the SecondLife platform started this all, a percentage of people only understand the commercial side of things with it, and gravitate towards others grids/platforms that do the same thing. Some of those people do not even know there are other free uses of the software, and are quite pleased if what they do gives them enough virtual money to pay for their virtual spaces and items they wish to spend it on.
Nothing wrong with that at all.
Others do not mind sending grid owners money to trade for virtual spaces or virtual money. This is personal choice.
Some may know of the free uses of it but have been told so many negatives about it, they will not look for themselves, or, they do not have the tech skills. This is part of reducing choice.
A growing number of people are seeing the free application of the OpenSim software...which is where my primary interests are. In this regard opensource [as it is with the commercial side of this also] software is used and there are programmer types who are improving upon it regularly.
Where it will go will be interesting to watch.
All this software gives individuals varying degrees of authorities depending upon what facets of it they use and to what degree. Software intrinsically allows for the few to hold the utmost authorities, such as in the case of backdoor access in software. And programmers can do this in many other regards, nothing wrong with this and it is the nature of software.
Hackers can take software and do other things with it...such as generating key codes to access its restrictions or developing executables that enable them and the others who find it...other abilities in its use. Nothing wrong with this unless done for illegal reasons of course. There are viewers that have some of this enabled.
When one has rented a piece of virtual land from others, whether it is some multiple of 4x4 meters [the minimum size] or regions [typically 65536 sqm] they then get certain limited authorities depending on where they are. In the closed commercial grid concepts they are only renting from the person or people who actually run the grid[s] they are in, sometimes through a middleman. In that concept they are only able to do what limited authorities are given to them…things such as banning or kicking individuals from their piece of land, and such other standard type authority. They cannot remove individuals from an entire grid and must rely on the grid owner[s] to intervene when some matters get difficult.
Thus the owners of such grids [simply put a grid is any number of pieces of virtual land[s] run on a single instance of the OS software with more instances run for additional people and often a server is used to enable more smoother running operations overall...within software limitations of course] are the only ones with the true authorities...and in all things inside their domains, including the people who have avatars in them.
So the ultimate authorities in all of this current iteration reside with very few people, and those designated and given certain limited authorities…with the average player having no authorities in any real regard.
When one uses the software and runs it on their own computer, or via a hosting company, they then have access to what is called “the console”. Consoles are merely the dos window running the instance of the software…thus showing the guts, so to speak, and allowing for what is commonly called “god-powers” but which is essentially admin control. They can see anything running inside that instance of the software as it slides by in the window...assets moving along such as simple things like someone moving inventory around to people entering or leaving regions.
Anyone who ever ran a Bulletin Board Service [BBS] knows of such things in some regards.
The free viewers used to access this software also interact in limited regards with the simulator instance[s]. This is something that is actually becoming part of this problem I am getting to, because, of course, it is merely software also, and some of these grids have made, or are making, versions specific to their grid. This will further limit what individuals can do within them, and as well give the grid owners additional powers and abilities by adding various connections from the viewer software that can give reports to them and most any other abilities and authorities they can think of.
I do not see this as any problem when it is transparently told to people, but, however, this is never the case. Most often people who say they are being transparent, or act as if they are, are also hiding much. Any person, who has any glimmer of what software can be made to do, even if they are not a programmer, should see this clearly.
The overall problem with this iteration of current OS is that there are very few people who run them who have actually run their own businesses with multiple customers.
You have three general groups running the commercial grids now.
- Technical people
- People who have always wanted to have their own business
I know of one grid run by people who have actually owned other businesses. Others have only worked for other people in various roles.
So they inherently have built in problems.
Obviously, of course, people can take business courses to help them know how to run a business. If they have the capital they can hire various people and companies to do specialized things, such as accounting…they can learn from their mistakes...if they understand this.
One thing that any person knows very well who has been in business for themselves and it is one which involved multiple customers is how to deal with people. And one thing above all they learn is that if they make mistakes there will be some kind of negative consequence[s]. People who obviously have no business sense will most often play towards risk assessment business practices. They will, in essence, overdo what is necessary due to misunderstood liability concerns…in other words, overkill.
Any person who has run their own business properly has lived and breathed liability risk assessments...it is how much they do, what kind they do, how they insure themselves against loss, and realizing how much is too much...that makes or breaks many businesses.
They need to understand that business is basically about people, and depending on the type of business, many diverse kinds of people. They must above all remain human in their dealings and they must above all apologize if they make errors [and in a timely manner], and in any type of customer service business they must above all, try to work with the dissatisfied customer to make reparations. Otherwise they will become one of the statistics pertaining to failed businesses, eventually. This does, of course, take varying amounts of time depending on how they learn, what they do with this knowledge and what they do to fix business mistakes. Nevertheless, if they are not astute with their customer service no amount of damage control will fix the inevitable.
They must also have the wherewithal to understand that they cannot surround themselves with yes-men. No business owner is infallible and if they have no way to get objective information and are not astute enough to use it properly, they will fail.
Ok, the Preamble is sufficient.
When one understands the authorities they can hold in this software, whether by running it oneself, for their own uses, but connected to others via the mechanism of hypergates, they must also understand that with increasing authority comes obligations and responsibilities. While the old saying goes, “with absolute power comes absolute corruption” it does not realistically hold true for simple software that runs inside the controlled [with outlets for anarchy for those who wish to find it] internet.
There is no real absolute power unless one is absolutely powerful…in reality…and even then there are many limitations. Many dictators have fallen and some in horrible ways due to this simple fact.
However, it does hold true that if one runs this software, especially but not limited to, for-profit ventures, they have obligations and responsibilities, both morally and realistically.
This missive is about the very negative side of the abuses of authorities that some people have done to others in this software. It is very, very easy to remove account access to people involved in it if they are not the ones who have the ultimate authorities. It is a simple matter of changing their passwords and/or banning them via console, or by some automated method they have developed. It is not true when some say this is an IP ban. IP bans cannot go to specific computers, they cover larger areas, though they can work with people who have a static IP. There is another way but I can't speak to that. However, all bans, of any kind can be gotten around if one knows how.
So doing this to other people must be strongly considered, especially in for-profit commercial grids. It is much less an issue in the free opensim due to our ability to save our regions and inventories in files to our computers. This cannot be done in commercial grids. So therein lays the main issue.
If you run a business in a closed environment, limiting the freedom of the players inside it, your obligations and responsibilities increase. You have an obligation to “best practices” and “reasonable” cures to issues. This can be likened to the extra care that humans must take with children, especially babies who have no way to either learn what is needed or to take care of themselves due to the simple fact of their size in body and mind.
As well, there is an obligation on the grid owners, the persons running the consoles and servers to try and be upfront and honest with people on their grids. If not, though they may be able to get away with it in some regards, this shows a severe lack of character. In the case of commercial grids it shows a severe lack of attention to proper customer service also.
There are simply too few people involved in all this and any negatives will affect you. You may brush it off as not relevant but this will be at the cost, sometimes, in having to deal with attenuating problems.
Consider this, those who ban so easily…if you were to use the energy towards showing others positive things about what you are doing, rather than dealing with problems due to your lack of acumen, would that not be a much better thing to do with your time? Would not this show the Metaverse is a nice place to use to outsiders? Would it in fact be something to try your best to do?
Consider that any time spent dealing with the results of your lack of knowing how to run a business can be better spent in improving it, and improving yourself.
And finally, just apologize…is this such a difficult thing to do? Yes, when some people do something wrong they usually then invent a storyline to go along with it, the why’s and wherefores’, often doing what they can to marginalize and criminalize the person they banned. They do a bit of historical revisionism to go along with what they wish others to believe.
But, seriously, this never fools everyone and in reality it only works with those whose own self-interests align with it anyway. You are fooling yourself, doing your company and its employees and customers a vast injustice trying to do all the unnecessary damage control that is required when you make mistakes.
Business people, true ones, realize they make errors in judgment...if they are any good at it they fix the errors, admit the mistakes, and move on to improving their business. If they cannot understand this simple maxim, they fail...personally and financially.
All you are doing is creating, and feeding, a consensus of negativity anyways.
And, truly, it is such a waste of time. I found this: Consensus of Negativity
For Consensus to be real and lasting, the following is important:
- Everyone must be heard. Active listening is required. The corollary is that everyone must speak up and voice any support or objection.
- Healthy conflict is crucial to reaching Consensus. Without conflict, you do not reach Consensus. General Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking.” Consensus is not about conformity. Negative remarks about an idea is healthy and about a person is destructive.
- The group must feel comfortable to disagree. False harmony is not Consensus. That is an underlying problem. Groups who don't disagree have a trust problem. They are afraid to disagree because they don't trust each other.
"I don't agree when people say Consensus takes a long time. I don't agree when people imply that Consensus means that everyone is happy, holding hands, and singing, “Kum Ba Yah.” Consensus means that you can say, “I can support the decision.” That requires a process that supports trust,everyone speaking up, everyone hearing what is said, the ability to engage in constructive conflict, and the belief that the whole is more important than the parts. Properly facilitated, consensus can bring the best answer."