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Thursday, August 27, 2009


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Domchi Underwood

I don't see the problem. Until I start encountering furries on regular basis in RL, it's still counterculture. In their blurbs, LL are talking about SL from the point of the new user, who has only RL to compare it with.

Maybe you're just a bit too immersed, Hamlet, eh? ;)

Tenshi Vielle

"Yes! There ARE people that live differently, and it is an effort to ruin our current culture - we call it COUNTER Culture, the OPPOSITE of culture! Go join the outcasts of outcasts, now!"

Um... that's what I read. This is the dumbest titling I've ever heard.

By the way: "Counterculture (also written counter-culture) is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day,[1] the cultural equivalent of political opposition. "

Not that I'm one for citing Wikipedia as the go-to-all-out definition source, but : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterculture


Yes you just cant get rid of us furries or steampunk fans :) but the real Counterculture are the woodbury griefers and patriotic nigras.

But I bet thats not on there? and they seem to be far more relivent when there allowed to turn up outside Linden Labs and scribble abuse all over there entrance drunk, while shaking the hand of Lindens.

What message do you think that sends to the wider second life community?

Prok might not be liked by many but prok has a point, about allowing the uninterrupted, no real world punishment of these kind of people and then celebrating the harassment and abuse of Linden Labs service and the real user base culture who actually pay for things!


What is Second Life? a growing example of anarchy, a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the lindens?

Why should we suffer for the real counter culture?


I agree that the real SL Counterculture are the woodbury griefers and patriotic nigras. Like them or not - usually not, and that's where COUNTER comes from.

to the person who commented
"This is the dumbest titling I've ever heard"
...well I guess you don't read many titles then. LOL

Ordinal Malaprop

At most, what they mean is "subculture".

Ann Otoole

Meaningless till they install a resident managed counter culture showcase that is not influenced by Linden Lab people. Instead they erased the showcase and made a new "friends and buddies of LL showcase".

I hope their friends and buddies are rich enough to pay all their salaries when everyone else is driven out of business by LL.

Arcadia Codesmith

As I have connotations of "counterculture" as a strongly positive, invigorating influence on mainstream culture, I wouldn't apply the term to griefers. Although a legitimate counterculture may have criminal elements, often in response to unjust or arbitrary laws, the goal of a counterculture is to challenge and reform the unquestioned and unfair assumptions of the culture, not to destroy or annoy for the sheer love of chaos.


Please support the change on the Linden Labs website from counter culture to alternative culture.


Arcadia Codesmith

Oh, and where do the ninjas hang out? You never know when you're going to need to take down some arrogant samauri.

Crap Mariner

No highlight of the "killer ap" of live music in the major pages and links, but a reference to deejayed dances.

Typical LL BS.


Dale Innis

I agree it's counterculture in comparison to RL culture, and that's probably what the intent was there. ("Culture" is, like, people sitting silently in the dark listening to a string quartet, grin.)

But yeah taken in the context of other recent prettifyings, this does smack somewhat of "Look! As well as the Barbie-Goes-Shopping stuff that is our main interest, we also have some weirdos to amuse you!". Which is sort of offputting to us weirdos...

Coyle Brenmann

Just another example of how LL is tossing it out there to the interested parties seeking MMORPG environments in addition to seeing what "sticks" in the business world. One of the best ways to figure out how your technology works, is to let its users figure it out for you.

Morris Vig

To the unitiated, for whom the webpage clearly is directed, I think the Lindens hit the nail on the head. The cultures described are not RL mainstream culture...hence counterculture is a reasonable term among many.

Foot-in-mouth disease is a typical Linden malady. I daresay it was wrongly diagnosed in this case.

Adric Antfarm

fight the power

Roslin Petion

While 20-30% of the population is somewhat significant, that 20-30% is made of of many subcultures and as such none of them on their own are significant. Also, 30% is still a minority, so yes, it is a counter culture. In addition, because it is trying to appeal to someone outside of SL, it doesn't matter how those groups are defined within SL, the viewer is going to receive that information as an outsider and their ideas of counter culture will be based on RL standards until they've fully integrated into SL. For those getting their panties in a twist about the term 'counter culture' being used to refer to the subcultures of SL - chill out. The connotations of that term is solely based on the eye of the beholder. Traditionally, those in the mainstream will often look upon a subculture in a negative light. This is the nature of the beast, not a personal affront to those of you who classify yourself as one of the subcultures in SL. Also, while historically, it may have more negative weight, nowadays cool hunters appropriate subcultures at an almost alarming rate so as that they are virtually meaningless. Let's be honest, most people part of a subculture are pretty much poseurs anyway. Shopping at hot topic does NOT make you a "real" goth. Subcultures are authentic for a split second in RL and SL subcultures are a copy of a copy so that takes off a whole other layer of authenticity. I know I've used subculture and counter culture interchangeably but that's because they pretty much are the same word, contrary to what some may believe. Oh and it seems some people are reading the counter culture thing as applying to all of SL. It clearly does NOT apply to all of SL. It specifically states the subculture groups that they are classifying as part of the counterculture. Sorry that my comment is a bit long and scattered but I'm pressed for time. Hopefully it's food for thought for some of you.

Arcadia Codesmith

"Let's be honest, most people part of a subculture are pretty much poseurs anyway."

And how many members of the "mainstream" have anything more than the most shallow and superficial understanding of their own culture?

I've heard the term "poseur" brandied about so loosely that I've come to the conclusion that the literal meaning is "person who bathes regularly".

Maggie Darwin (@MaggieL)

This kerfluffle could have been avoided if the writer of the web page had simply said "exotic cultures" instead of "counterculture".

I suspect it was written by some recent-grad English major who just saw "Taking Woodstock".

Tristin Mikazuki

My first impression was "Is this for real"
My second impression was to bust out laughing so loud my cat tore outa the room LOL

I think someone needs to get outa the 1970s.. and into the 2000's lol

epic laughable fail


PRO copywriters...... they have them/pay them in NY and Chicago...

obviously not in SF.

QueenKellee Kuu

I think this entire discussion is making mountains out of molehills.

If you are doing things against the grain, not the mainstream, and can't take someone calling you counter-culture, you may need a little self-skin thickning. In other words, the problem is yours, not in LL's words.

Personally I'm proud to be counter-culture, tho in SL I'm not as much of a freak as in RL. Funny, that. I'm more counter-culture in RL than in SL...hmmm...*wanders off to ponder*

Jacek Antonelli

What, are we supposed to find this shocking and outrageous? It's not rebranding anything, let alone the entire SL culture. It's describing a set of activities and lifestyles with a general term that the target audience can identify with.

"Counterculture" isn't a derogatory or belittling term. On the contrary, many people use it to proudly identify themselves as being "non-mainstream". And since the web page is clearly targetted at people who are not yet part of SL, it makes perfect sense to use a term that they would recognize and identify with from RL, no?

I just think it's too bad they didn't have more slides about the various RL countercultures who have found SL to be fertile grounds for the imagination. But, I'm sure LL was extremely wary of giving ammunition to the people who claim that SL is for "freaks and weirdos" only, so perhaps we should be surprised that this one slide made it into the final product at all.

Tateru Nino

Actually "Counterculture" *is* used as a term of disparagement in some quarters. Some considering it a "fighting word"

Hamlet Au

For the record, in case my post didn't make it clear, I don't think calling steampunks etc. "counterculture" is necessarily a bad thing; I'm just pointing out how this represents a shift in emphasis away from SL culture of the early adopter period, and towards a mass market audience. Mitch and Philip and other top Lindens have been hinting about this for the last couple years. Really, it's not too different from the way the Internet at large evolved; in the first couple decades, it was the province of us freaks and geeks, then as there's growing interest from the mainstream, portals like AOL and Yahoo shift the focus to an Internet the rest of the population is comfortable with. Then after the mainstream gets comfortable with the Internet, the mainstream and the counterculture (so to speak) start to meet in the middle. My personal hope is that's what happens with Second Life.

CyFishy Traveler

"Alternative culture" might be a less loaded term than "counterculture" but the terms are pretty much meaningless anyway--it's all just subcultures in the end.

Bucky Barkley

I kinda like "Bohemian Culture".

Actually, it's significant to note that the slide before on the LL site is "Get Cultured". So there is some balance there....

Arcadia Codesmith

"Then after the mainstream gets comfortable with the Internet, the mainstream and the counterculture (so to speak) start to meet in the middle."

Or they send us blankets laced with smallpox, shut down the bordello, swindle the miners out of their claims, push a railroad through, and declare another resounding victory for decency and civilization.

M Linden

Yea, its me for real -- I get that question when I reply on blogs :)

The web team thought "counter-culture" was a badge of honor...but clearly for some it was the opposite. That's not good! We'll change it to something that feels better, more right, in an upcoming release (soon).

PS There are other changes Residents are recommending and we're capturing those for review and consideration but this one struck a nerve for me so I had to comment. Why? I love the wonderful array of expression that is Second Life. Verbs matter...but so do nouns :) so we'll get those right.

Hamlet Au

Thanks for replying here, M! I wonder if "Roleplay communities" better captures what the web team was going for. In which case, Burning Life may better fit in another category, since it tends to attract a broad cross-section of attendees, not just roleplayers, but social gamers, innovators, educators, artists, actual Burning Man folks, etc. etc.

Victor Komparu

I don't think so, Wagner. "Roleplay communities" is a weak term full of euphemistic flaccidity. There's no need to whitewash everything; that just leads to mediocrity.

"subculture" is probably a fine word for this.

Mitch Wagner

Hmmmm....if human avies in mundane settings like offices and shopping malls are mainstream in Second Life, then I'm definitely counterculture, by virtue of going around with a robot avatar. I'm fine with the label.

Mal Burns

As someone who uses the expression "counterculture" a fair bit elsewhere, I don't really think it works in this context. And forget the jokes about (shop-counter) culture which I've encountered outworld too.

On the other hand, "Roleplay" may have too much of an association with gaming to be a good idea for a platform which is more a virtual world of myriad possibilities. I would prefer to see the emphasis on "Explore Fictions" or "Be Your Fantasy" - ie. transcending RL but without the semi-political or whimsical thread implied here.

Maybe something short like "Self Expression" would fit the button?

M Linden

With the back-and-forth, its easy to see why copywriters agonize over phraseology!

Interesting that the communities of Second Life defy categorization...

PS @Mitch -- if I am in my 6" tiny av or my Lion Fish av instead of my typical M Linden av then I qualify as something other than mainstream too. Same can be said for T Linden -- a big green frog or Joe Linden -- a robot or Blue -- a big blue dragon :)


I don't think it's a right or wrong debate since it's pretty obvious that the word is intepreted in different ways obviously.

I think if people take offense to it, just change it a bit, it's not like it's going to ruin all of SL.

But as a Furry, I get disgusted when I am told my likes, livestyle, etc. is a counterculture. I'm not 'trying to break down the system, man'. So please just say alternate lifestyle or alternate culture, is it really that rude?

The majority of people find this word to be in a negative light, so the people that aren't offended please don't act like the people who are offended are wrong. It's all opinion and just some of us don't want to sit back and be possibly named by a word that makes us sick.

Ann Otoole

Try the word "Diverse" or "Diversity". It is politically correct an accurate. Stop trying to be "kewl". If the younger crowd wanted anything to do with Second Life they would be here already. Instead the only ones from that age group hanging around are woodbury and PN goons. Nice job attracting such eminent personalities. I guess they are part of the "Rich Diversity of Cultures in Second Life."


I'm not comfortable with counter-culture either. When "Counter" is used as an adjective it means "opposed to" or "in the wrong or opposite way" and these are not positive descriptions.

"Sub" (culture) as in "a smaller part" or "beneath the surface" would be better than counter-culture, but if you want to say something that means "a variety or diversity of cultures" then why don't you say exactly that?

"A wide variety of cultures."

Troy McConaghy

What about "Communities for Every Interest"?

SL certainly has furry, ninja, steampunk, vampire, Victorian, tiny, high fantasy, elven, cyberpunk, goth, and wyrm communities.

I would define an "SL community" as a group of SL residents who share common interests and often:

* have some land in Second Life, constituting the SL home of the community,
* share a common language,
* have community leaders or a community government,
* have one or more active SL groups,
* have a community events calendar, and
* have online forums, blogs, or other websites.

Specific examples include Avilion, Caledon, the CDS, Chilbo, Elf Circle, Info Islands, Isle of Wyrms, Luskwood, MICA, Nature Publishing Group, and Raglan Shire.

Right now, it's hard to find an active community with your interests in SL. A search of groups will often turn up many, but it's impossible to tell which are defunct. An events search is a better bet, but many communities don't use the SL Events Calendar; they use their own calendar system (which is often a Google Calendar). Also, some active communities have only a few on-a-calendar events per week, but there's always something going on if you know where to look. (Communities of role-playing gamers are a good example of the latter.)

I think it would be in Linden Lab's best interest to make a list of *active* communities and how to find them (because the SL Group search and the SL Events search won't work).


furries are disgusting.

Ann Otoole

LL can use the words Diverse and Diversity to describe properly the world of various culture in Second Life. As a double plus bonus point the words are already politically correct in the current social order climate.

What I don't see is an attempt to officially support these cultures. On thatotherlife.com I collected 20 different "cultures" (thus far) and created discussion/advertising/event listing areas for them. (Not that they will ever be used. I was just interested in finding out about all the communities/cultures in SL) Perhaps when LL redesigns the resident forums to merge the secondlife.com with xstreetsl.com forums they will do something like that as well and pay some staff to keep up with adding new cultures/communities as they are discovered or manifest.

Harper Ganesvoort

I think both Victor and Ann have good suggestions here for better words to use. Ann's suggestion of "diversity" has merit, and can describe the amazing richness present in Second Life; in the current context, though, I think "subculture" is best as the simplest and most accurate descriptor.

Take it from someone who works with words a good deal, both SL and RL. Words do have meaning, and (more importantly) loading, the "meaning" which someone carries in their head and which may have no real relationship to the formal definition. "Counterculture" was coined originally in 1968 to define such as the hippie/yippie movement: "a culture with values and mores that run counter to those of established society." (Merriam-Webster's Online) While there are some peculiar groups in Second Life -- even the groups themselves will admit that at times -- none of these groups (with the possible exception of the Goreans) run particularly counter to established values and mores. "Subculture," on the other hand, means "a[n]...social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society." This describes the rich diversity of behavioral groups SL has accurately. Furries, Tinies, Steampunkers, Berliners, Fantasists, you name it -- these are all subcultures within the over-embracing culture.

If you're reading this, Mark, I'd urge to to send the suggestion to the Web team.

M Linden

Thanks all! The web team has your comments and will come up with something that is comfortable and inclusive.

Paola Tauber


Regardless of what dictionaries say, we have to bear in mind also that words have not only definitions, but also significance. And also we should consider that for many of us English is just a 2nd language (like myself - so pardon the typos, etc.).

"Roleplay communities" comes across too geeky and as if "it's a game" (and SL is not just that).

"Subcultures", altho doesn't have any negative connotation per se and for the educated could just mean "subest of a mainstream culture", yet it could contain a value judgment (as in lesser than - think substandard, subnormal... the sub- prefix has an evaluating connotation).

Definitely no to "Counterculture". Too antagonistic, too "fight the power", to appeal to everybody and to really signify anything if not "oh kewl" in our contest. It's also kinda weird that it comes from someone working in a corporate environment, with the comfort of a, I suppose, above average salaried wage. The "poseur" critique stems from that I think. Champagne cyber-socialism at its best. :D

I'd prefer the use of "variety of cultures" - more open and of shared significance, ease of understand and with no judgement of value. More honest and true to the marvellous uniqueness of our Second Lives.

Arcadia Codesmith

Soooo... "Get Subcultured"? (Might be offensive to Doms) "Diversify Yourself?" or maybe something as simple as "Branch Out"? "Embrace Your Inner _________"? "Be Different"?

"Ninja" still bugs me. If there are any significant ninja communities in SL, they're very good at ninjutsu. I never see any. And it seems unfair to mention ninjas while leaving out mutants and turtles...

Troy McConaghy

The word "diversity" _is_ politically correct. In fact, it's too politically correct. People who use it sound like administrators or politicians.

A "culture" is ambiguous (unless you're an anthropologist). As Harper pointed out, "counterculture" is associated with hippies. "Subculture" can be literally interpreted as "beneath culture" or "under culture" --- it doesn't have the neutrality of similar words like "subset."

A "community for every interest" is an easy thing for someone to imagine and understand.

Crap Mariner

Looking at that slide, "Try a New You" sounds better, I'd think.


Phoenix Psaltery

Talk about your molehill building project... and yet I can understand this, in a way. It's like a remnant of the mentality that still causes some people to use the term "hippie" as a disparaging remark when they see a guy who prefers to wear his hair in a ponytail, as I did until it got too hot this summer.

Come on, people, it's 2009, for God's sake. Shouldn't we all have grown out of this childish "Us and them" mindset by now? Apparently not.

Call it what you like -- alternative culture, subculture, exotic culture or amusing weirdos, but the fact remains that one of the most interesting things about SL is its diversity.

It's like walking through New York City and stumbling across Chinatown, except with furries, vampires, and little basketball-shaped robots.


Morris Vig

I still come back to the purpose of that page on the site - For whom is it written? It's not for us; we're already Linden Lab customers. It's for the to-be-customer. And to that resident of RL, one of the to-be-billion (new) customers that Philip envisions, the lifestyles described WOULD be counterculture.

So I vote to leave it as is and instead work on things like:
*A more intuitive new viewer,
*Higher levels of concurrency at the sim level,
*Decreasing lag to a minimum,
*Fixing/improving group chat and
*Other issues that will both improve existing customer experiences while reducing the likelihood of new customers bailing out within five minutes.

But hey, that's just me.

Hamlet Au

The reason I prefer "Roleplay communities" is because it describes what the Residents in these groups are doing -- embodying fantastic/historical/genre-based/etc. avatars -- but doesn't attach a value judgement to it. "Subculture", "counterculture", etc. does have a value judgement, because these terms are relative, contextual, and necessarily have a cultural bias. Outside of Second Life, there's a pretty strong community of folks who self-identify as being Goth, for example. But that doesn't necessarily mean everyone whose SL avatar looks like an vampire is a Goth. Maybe they just think vampires are cool. We do definitely know they're *roleplaying* as a vampire, though, at least in their avatar customizations.

M Linden

Wow! This has been a vigorous conversation. Thank you all.

@Morris -- we are changing the page because Second Life is -- by design and intent -- very inclusive. The rich array of communities and experiences makes Second Life the wonder it is.

At the same time, we are hard at work on a more intuitive new viewer. I've been using the latest internal build and I love it. Its very intuitive. We are also working on sim stability, lag and group chat (among other things). Its important that people know we are not just working on the "shiny" stuff but also the more foundational elements of the Second Life experience. How is that possible? We have multiple teams with different skills.

Doubledown Tandino

"Alternative Culture" sits well with me.

Doreen Garrigus

There are definitely ninjas in SL. Search "Naruto". (They're everywhere...)

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