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Friday, August 07, 2009


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Walter Neary

The registry sounds like a good idea. Wouldn't see the need to go further. A lot will depend on whether you want to interact with someone in their real life role. If yes, you need a name, if not, then the real name is no one's business. A project some of us off-duty Comcast employees are involved in ( http://www.slentre.com/comcast-gets-it-right-surveying-sl-residents-about-offering-value-to-virtual-community/ ) demands we steep ourselves in SL where we live a bit of the time anyway. If an AV comes up to me as a Comcast customer and asks a question or gives me feedback, I don't need to know his or her real name. I take their word for it. But if the person wanted service done on their Comcast products, obviously we'd need to know their real name and address. And then we'd share our real name, of course. One rule or guideline won't really apply in all these potential interactions.

Snickers Snook

The whole idea smacks of another way for LL to eek out more fees from content creators. Consider that LL has little or no way to deal with existing problems with copybots, DMCA takedowns, frauds, scams, false ARs, genuine ARs or just about anything else that requires some level of PERSONAL service. How in the hell are they going to add another layer of monitoring to what they can't begin to do now?

Ari Blackthorne™

The answer is really simple, though I only can speak to those doing business in the United Sates...

Ever since the "copyrighted terms and logos" fiasco (my own words) with regard to "Linden Lab", "Second Life" and even the arbitrary initials of "S" and "L" placed contiguously together, I had made my point of disgruntlement known by attaching the "TM" Trademark symbol to my Second Life (and Open Sim and other grids) name: Ari Blackthorne™ whenever I posted to the official Second Life blogs and forums, etc.

Ironically, it actually gave me the idea, since I also do real business in Second Life, to register "Ari Blackthorne" as a *business* name. So you can send me a check and make it payable to Ari Blackthorne and my bank will happily deposit into my real life account as "dba Ari Blackthorne" (doing business as).

As for my real life name - I don't try to keep it a secret and it's not all that hard to figure it out through my "regular" blog, Flickr and YouTube streams (look at any YouTube video I post there or on my blog that I claim is my own work - I always am named in the end titles - with my real name).

But at the same time, Second Life is like a separate 'universe' - if I were addressed by my real life name in-world - or in any function where my Second Life persona is the "primary contact" - it would send "weird" tingles up my spine and leave me with a "freaky weirdness" feeling.

I think it's because even though I am me in Second Life and not 'pretending' to be anything other than myself, it is *still* a completely separate identity.

I read Dusans blog post you are referring to earlier this morning and I was nodding my head at every sentence.

Anyway, please allow me to prove my point: Hamlet, send me a check made payable to Ari Blackthorne. $500 U.S. will suffice, but if you want to send more, I won't object.

I promise.


Erbo Evans

If and when the Lindens implement this sort of registry, I wouldn't be averse to participating, though I likely wouldn't qualify because I don't do a lot of business as a content creator.

While I don't advertise my RL name in an SL context, I don't doubt anyone could find out what it is if they looked hard enough. In my case, though, I was "Erbo" for over a decade before I was "Erbo Evans" in Second Life (and, later, EVE Online). A number of people address me as "Erbo" to my face; even one of my brothers usually calls me that. So I doubt any court would feel I was trying to "hide" behind that name, should it come to that.

Ciaran Laval

As virtual worlds grow this will become a non issue. For example in Europe if you're distance selling you must place your details on file to be a business, it's all part of the maturity process.

We won't be able to hide behind our avatar names forever, more importantly, Linden Lab won't be able to get away with charging people for having their custom name forever, that's the bigger story.

Doreen Garrigus

Ari, what a fabulous idea. That makes the most sense of anything I have heard so far.

Sasara Klaar

I understand the desire to establish more trust amongst those doing business at a level that achieves significance in real world money. I also understand that promoting business at that level brings LL more income. Fair enough, LL is certainly not a charity.

Nonetheless, as a digital person whose (very casual) business and (very small) income stays in SL, I can't help feeling more and more that I am an utterly ignored and insignificant factor in anyone's thinking, and that SL will continue to become more and more hostile to me and my kind.

For now, it's still entertaining to be a ghost in the machine, but at some point the conflict between unbridled capitalism and unbridled creativity will go the way it always does, and the creativity will move on to green pastures, leaving the same mass-marketed mass-produced assembly line experience that drags in the wake of genius always.

Or perhaps, perhaps, the walls will retain their hollow spaces, and we mice can remain hidden away, enjoying our unreal existence as unremarked, untrusted, unprofitable, non-persons.

We shall see.

Ann Otoole

what the hell are you talking about? Your real life name is already linked to your sl account at Linden Lab. Unless you are in SL in violation of the TOS.

If someone wants to execute an rl contract with you then real names will be on it.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Oh, and btw, you are a complete ass if you think people need to have their rl identity exposed. This is a form of mafioso thugism to drive off superior competition by ignorant losers that are probably all males irl. People will be murdered by the thousands of insane serial stalkers infesting Second Life if this ignorant selfish idea is forced upon the residents.

People that promote disclosure should be held in violation of the SL TOS and must be expunged from Second Life.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Ah, what a comfortable illusion, that people magically become honest if you know their identities... :)

If the world were so simple, just the simple mechanism of having ID cards would automatically reduce criminality to zero.

As an example, in my country, everybody above 6 years of age has an ID card with their fingerprints, photo, name, and address. No, Portugal has *not* a lower crime rate than other similar countries because of that :) It's just a convenient illusion that appeases minds.

Having recently lost yet another malicious lawsuit from a petty criminal who is perfectly identified with his real name, and over the last 5 or 6 years has amused himself by filing totally forged allegations, but which my lawyers have no documentation to disprove (so I lose them all), I'm quite sensitive to the argument that "real life identity" doesn't lead at all to a decrease in criminality.

It's a nice idea that is supposed to give you a warm, cozy feeling, but nothing more than that.

Pyewacket Bellman

It seems that this conversation always assumes that the RL payer is the one that needs to be protected against the SL payee.

Gwyneth stated it exactly.

Dusan Writer

Hamlet - thanks for keeping the conversation going. I can hardly add more than I did endlessly in the comments on my own post, but I hadn't made the connection to the registry. The idea of "identity databanks" or whatever you want to call it is, more generally, a good idea. Kind of like how you leave information or money or whatever with a lawyer in escrow - your identification information can be held in escrow, only to be taken out under specific trigger conditions.

I'd prefer, however, that is be TRUE escrow, which means monitored and governed by a lawyer, who has the legal means by which to keep it there, rather than with the Lab which can compelled for reasons other than the legal mechanisms which govern escrow to release it (including their own motivations, policy changes or incompetence).

I'm more than willing to work with people, and do, whose real names I don't know. But there's a tipping point. It's what we DO in business - we assess risk and opportunity and try to make the best decision.

This can be completely dependent on your own circumstances - a $1,000 contract for me might not be the same as $1,000 for someone else, it depends on what context it's placed in.

Regardless, if a project or relationship reaches a tipping point, I'm still able to use very legal means to protect myself by, for example, asking someone to place their identity information in escrow, to be released only if they fail to perform a specific set of tasks, or whatever. The adjudication of that is left to a third party lawyer who is able to look at both sides of the issue and the binding agreement that governs the identity account.

But finally - I wanted to say that you slightly mis-represented Metanomics. Because of my own experiences being ON the show, now that we OWN the show we're trying to be highly sensitive to these issues, and if we have a guest who we know primarily from their avatar name we not only respect that but try in different ways not to put any pressure on connecting to 'real' identity.

(And by the way, they NEVER insisted that I link myself way back when, I just felt a pressure to do so because others had, and so that decision was fairly self-imposed).

So, to clarify, Metanomics does NOT "push for explicit linking".

ThinkBalm DOES - and it's not a push, it's their policy. I respect their ability to decide what they want...ThinkBalm is driven by commercial motivations and they can decide what they want. As I said in my post, I think they lose significant value by enforcing this identity link, but again, that's their decision.


Yes, I offer much value as a troll or teacher. And Portugal has either crappy parents/or leadership, or both, if 6 year olds need ID cards.

Maria Korolov

My company email address has my real name in it. My company website has my real name. My instant messaging handle on AIM has my real name. My Twitter name has my real name. My LinkedIn profile, my Facebook page -- all these are under my real name, part of my business identity. Every OpenSim account that I have on OpenSim grids is under my real name.

My real name has changed twice in my life -- when I got married, and when I got divorced -- and the rebranding was a nightmare both times. I'm not going to go through that again ever.

Second Life is currently forcing what is, in effect, re-branding on all its users by not allowing people to choose their own avatar names.

If you're there to play games, to have a second social life, this might not be such a big deal.

But if you're there to teach, create, or do business then you want to do it either under your own identity, or under an identity that you control. Not one decided by another company.

I don't understand why people aren't simply allowed to pick the names they want (as long as they're not already taken).

For example, when I worked at a tech magazine (about a decade ago) the editorial staff used AOL IM to communicate with one another. We all used our own names, or, when those names were taken, added the magazine's abbreviation at the end.

I'm sure many of us had separate, private, AIM accounts to communicate with friends, or to have a private social life in chat rooms, or whatever.

But as far as I can remember, SL is the first major networking platform that arbitrarily restricts the user names its users can choose.

When I get an email at work from someone with a crazy email address, it's usually the first clue that they're not a legitimate business person.

In SL, everyone has a crazy name -- and it just adds to the perception that SL is not a legitimate business platform but a game. The faster this changes, the easier it will be to use SL for real work.

-- Maria Korolov (editor, Hypergrid Business)

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 29112021
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