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Second Life, Disney and Facebook


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While writing a recent post, in which I described Disneyfication as toxic to Second Life, something nagged at me. There seemed to be a contradiction with my earlier arguments against merging Second Life with Facebook.

I have long argued that Second Life and Facebook are incompatible because they are different products with different purposes serving different markets. At the same time, I was arguing that Second Life and Disney were equally incompatible. How, then, could two fantasy worlds (Second Life and Disney) be incompatible? I have moved the original post here:

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I think 'Disneyfication' is self-explanatory and universal. I'm not in any way suggesting that Disney as a brand is bad; quite the opposite: Disney provides a clean, safe, cheerful set of products - targeted primarily at children - within a tightly controlled framework. My cousin worked as an actor in Disneyland. The themepark is spotless, supervised, regulated, policed and maintained with near-military efficiency. The actors must conform to strict codes of conduct and perform with maximum enthusiasm precisely on schedule. Personal behavior and attitude is monitored both on and off site. Nothing is allowed to tarnish Disney's clean, PG image. Under no circumstances are politics or sexuality permitted anywhere near the brand. Controversy is abhorred. Safety of mind and body is paramount. Copyright is defended to levels verging on national security. Under no circumstances will the company allow the brand to be stained by RL unpleasantness.

Fair enough. That's Disney's philosophy, business model and brand. It works. It provides millions of families with an opportunity to have safe, clean fun. I love Kung-Fu Panda and Pirates of the Caribbean. I know with absolute certainty that I can grab any Disney DVD and take it next door to babysit the kids. Granny loves them too, giggling when the charming prince is prevented from kissing a girl on the cheek by a rambunctious squirrel - well, maybe a kiss on the cheek is allowed, this time, but you know they are gonna get married, so it's okay.

Outside the gates of Disneyland, beyond the carpark, off-screen is...cue sinister organ music...RL. That Disney is not RL defines its very existence. Disney is the quintessence of not being RL - of isolating itself and protecting itself from RL. Again, no problem. Hooray for Disney! Why not provide such an escape form the problems and hardships of RL? I think it's wonderful.

The process of Disneyfication is the conversion of 'RL' into Disneyland - of treating adults like children. There's a Disneyland in Paris now. Great. Seriously, it's nice. BUT, some things should not be Disneyfied. Second Life is one of them. Second Life is about as incompatible with Disney as it's possible to get - unless one wants to compare Disney with, say, genetic research or military strategy or trade-weighted exchange rates. Second Life is an adult world based on fantasy: sexual fantasy, roleplay, experimentation, gender-reversal, gender-denial, mythology, self-expression and commerce: the production and sale of metaphorical goods - many of them linked to fantasy.

At a more comprehensive level, Disneyfication is about removing risk, uncertainty and individual responsibility and providing instead safety, certainty and 'paternal' responsibility. It is about replacing the messiness of life with order. It is about control and efficiency. It is about wrapping creativity in a blanket of conformity. It's about recreating the innocence of childhood - excellent! - but it's toxic to Second Life.

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Here are the main points:

  • Disney is a fantasy world divorced from RL
  • Second Life is a fantasy world divorced from RL
  • Facebook is a real social network embedded in RL

And here, in my opinion, is the solution to the puzzle:

Second Life and Disney represent utterly different fantasy worlds, both of which seek, by definition, not to be RL. Second Life is a self-projecting metaphorical interface with a user-generated economy based on a sophisticated private property rights structure. It is an open, organic, international world targeted primarily at adults. Disney is a physical and conceptual themepark. It is a closed, controlled, US-centric world targeted primarily at children. Off in the distance, unrelated to both Second Life and Disney, is Facebook. A core policy of Facebook is to prohibit avatars. Facebbok is clear about its mission: it is a RL social network containing RL information about RL identities. Facebook is not a virtual world. It is not a fantasy world. It does not compete with Second Life or Disney.

With this in mind, Linden Lab would be wise to avoid strategies and policies that seek to merge Second Life with either Disney or Facebook. Second Life, Disney and Facebook are three incompatible products serving three different markets and, in my opinion, the sooner Linden Lab comes to grips with this fact, the sooner SL will prosper.

See also, A Strategic Assessment of Second Life

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Deltango Vale wrote:

Second Life is an adult world based on fantasy: sexual fantasy, roleplay, experimentation, gender-reversal, gender-denial, mythology, self-expression and commerce: the production and sale of metaphorical goods - many of them linked to fantasy.


SL is (or was) a platform for the residents to create a world, for the people by the people. It may have evolved somewhat into a sin-bin, but I doubt that was Philips dream. It was supposed to be creative & fun and for the most part it still is IMO.

 

Within reason, I don`t think LL should be trying to mould SL into anything, it should remain driven by the residents & should also remain as an escape from RL & not forced into being some RL social network.

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  1. Facebook = Reality
  2. Disney = Fantasy for Kids
  3. Second Life = Fantasy for Adults
'nuff said.
@Deltango - Since you did the long winded version, and quite well I must add, I figured I'd do the short version for those with short attention spans. *wink*

 

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Deltango Vale wrote:

 Second Life, Disney and Facebook are three incompatible products serving three different markets

I'm quoting just this line, because I think the argument that led to this statement was spot on. There is no reason whatever why a single person can't be part of all three markets: I certainly participate in the first two with pleasure. I'm not on the Book but that's a personal choice, not a condemnation. But I don't want them merged in any way. They are different, they have different purposes. And as you said: they really are incompatible.

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@ Peewee

March 2006:

One new thing I discovered in this roundtable is that everyone already knows Second Life is where it’s at for sexual play in an online environment…. Second Life was continually credited with holding the cutting edge on adult content. One of the recurring themes in producing adult content in games is appropriate diversity, storytelling, and finding what turns people on. I believe that Second Life already has the diversity, and I invite residents to think of clever new ways to develop roles for people to play in the context in Second Life to provide a story and something hot.

March 2009:

Based on our research, we estimate that around 2-4% of content on the mainland would be considered Adult according to our current thinking on defining that. For all of Second Life, our content research shows it is around 5%.

Second Life was never a "sin-bin". It was an adult (grown-up) fantasy world in which 95% of content and behavior was related to building, scripting, shopping, music, dancing, mythological roleplay and conversation with new friends. That 5% of content and behavior was of a sexual nature is surprising only by its low percentage of the total. Moreover, it was the sexual component - the 5% - that represented a cutting-edge feature of Second Life much envied by the games industry. I will go so far as to suggest that 95% of residents came to SL in pursuit of that 5% in one form or another.

Of far greater importance is the fact that Second Life was "Your World, Your Imagination." = "Your Responsibility." It was not "Our World. Our Imagination. Our Responsibility." Disneyfication and attempts to convert SL into 3D Facebook were, in my opinion, largely responsible for that change of philosophy, which has led to SL's current stagnation. Without clear thinking, Second Life will become a spork, useful to no one.

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There is a very thin line, FB is a 2D world, SL is a 3D world, people can be or play whoever they want to be in both applications ..... I am not pro the merge of both worlds, but if Lindenlabs wants to improve the topline I do understand the strategy. My only fear is that LL would push SL into a 2D application moving forward, people seems more and more interested in 2D. The disneyfication by a few hundred teens in SL I don't see as a risk *meows*

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Deltango Vale wrote:

I will go so far as to suggest that 95% of residents came to SL in pursuit of that 5% in one form or another.


I would think 95% is a bit high when talking about direct pursuit of it. However, I would say that 95% is about right if one's talking about dancing around it, brushing up against it, intermingling with it, and occasionally adding to it like most adults here seem to do. This is one of only a very few areas where SL is wholely unique when adding in all the other stuff that SL offers. It's a highly valued option to residents here even if it's not always used, and there's no mistaking how much it can influence peoples decisions when it comes to sticking around or reaching for their credit cards.

I agree with your logic about the incompatabilities. What made SL stand out was the fact that it wasn't like everything else, and to know being like everything else is what many want to see SL become is a bit disheartening to me. If that happens there'll be no reasonable, workable place left for one to take the blue pill and remain in fantasy land, and not just in the adult sector either.

 

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Sandra Frascati wrote:

You are missing the point Furzle. It's not a few hundred teens that will Disneyfy us, it is LL's reaction to them. While one teen remains, LL feels it has to make it suitable for all teens. Stupid, but that is what is happening.

I can understand that some people are still thinking conservatively, but a 15 yr old teen in 2011 cannot be compared to a 15 yr old teen in 1985, we should call them 'young adults' nowadays. I am pretty sure these 'young adults' are not very interested in Mickey Mouse. Mostlikely Lindenlabs approached it this way too. Why make such a big fuzz for nothing was the reaction from the LL board. I am therefore still waiting to see the first facts of disneyfication that had an immediate impact on the grid *meows*

 

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Before this threads slides to one side of the scale (Disneyfication), I'd like to talk about the other side (Facebook). I read recently that Facebook accounts for 25% of all internet traffic, which is impressive. Yet Facebook is facing challenges converting that traffic into revenue. Meanwhile, Linden Lab is sitting on the biggest money-spinner of all time: selling and leasing virtual land. C'mon, it's bloody brilliant. So, I can imagine the Board of Linden Lab sitting down with the Board of Facebook to find ways of merging their interests. "I'll tradja half my traffic for half yur revenue stream." It sounds good in theory, but I believe it would end up like the Gift of the Magi (a set of combs for a watch-chain - sans hair, sans watch).

Personally, I believe Linden Lab's main problem is being 10 years ahead of Facebook. My RLBF tells the story of working as an IT consultant in 1990. He attended the fanfare release of Windows 3.0. Returning to the office, he met a wall of opposition. "Windows will never replace DOS!" said the collective wisdom of 50 highly paid systems engineers. He loaded up on Microsoft stock at US$25 per share (in 1990). His colleagues called him an idiot.

As a historian, I see this theme repeated in every generation. IBM refused to buy BASIC until Bill Gates first write DOS (drum-roll, cymbal). Western Union booted Alexander Graham Bell out of the office for wasting its time over his 'tard' telephone. People thought Rockefeller was a kook for drilling oil. Napoleon dismissed Fulton's submarine and steamboat as useless for invading England (wide, flat-bottom steamboats would have done the job admirably). No doubt, Philip Rosedale was ridiculed for seeking to build a virtual world.

Okay, so let's look forward 10 years. Think Ferrari instead of Model-T. It is inevitable that virtual worlds will spring up like new countries, perhaps isolated from each other, perhaps forming alliances, perhaps merging into William Gibson's 'Matrix'. The bottom line is that Linden Lab is on the leading edge of this technological, economic and social revolution. Facebook will still be around in 10 years, sure, as a parallel universe serving RL, but the real action will be in virtual worlds.

How can this be possible? Easy. In 1700, the UK economy was 56% agriculture (including fishing and forestry), 22% industry (mining, manufacturing, construction) and 22% services (public and private). By 1820, agriculture had expanded enormously, yet it represented only 37% of the economy because industry and services had expanded even faster. The pie was growing, the size of the slice (area) of agriculture was growing too, but the agriculture slice was getting thinner in relation to the other slices. By 1998, the pie had become massive. The amount of agriculture had increased by scales of magnitude, yet agriculture only accounted for 2% of economic activity. Industry accounted for 26% and services accounted for 72%.

Today, the world produces more food than ever before in history, yet agriculture represents only about 5% of global economic activity. Today, the world manufactures more goods than ever before in history, yet manufacturing represents only about 25% of global economic activity. Now, the action is in services, expanding exponentially in scale, scope and complexity to the point that US$2 million changes hands daily in Second Life - a virtual world that did not exist 10 years ago.

Facebook is not an economy. Facebook is a communication system. Second Life is an economy whose trajectory is pointed straight into the new realm of metaphorical goods and services. In 20 years, the whole pie will have expanded again, but the breakdown of economic activity will look something like this:

 

  • 01% Agriculture
  • 10% Manufacturing
  • 80% Real Services
  • 09% Virtual Services

In other words, virtual economies will become as important as the existing manufacturing base. In 30 years, the numbers will shift to something like this:

 

  • 01% Agriculture
  • 07% Manufacturing
  • 70% Real Services
  • 22% Virtual Services

See where this is going? If ever there was a company whose product stood on the threshold of the future, it is Linden Lab. Does the company really want to risk it all to compete with Disney (a themepark) and Facebook (a communication system)?

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You know what totally amazes me here ... some of the absolute BEST and clearest minds I bump into .. always seem to have no "rank" on this new platform. Nothing against those that do, but why is it that the ones with obvious "grit" in them don't?

Just askin' ...

Well reasoned and very clear cut Deltango. Thank you for laying it out in this pristine transparent fashion. +10 Chocolate Bars (cuz I can't give Kudos).

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Linden Lab are loving Facebook because they are have a dream where all users "out" themself in rl and begin to click "like" many times. Like the profiles, like store listing, like classified, like everything!

You will "like" the bukkake group in sl client and it will reflect in rl Facebook profile and you will share your sl with your friend, family, and collegues :)

They are believing the Zucker mantra that "privacy is dead" and desire to merge sl into rl.

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This thread was so spot on I had to save it notecard before it possibly got closed down.  Deltango, you hit the nail on the head with everything you said.  Me personally, as I said on another thread a bit ago, it feels to me that more and more LL just wants to turn SL into FB with avatars (a 3D Facebook), no longer a world of imagination but a world of reality. 

It's new mantra would be more like: "Second Life, your world, your reality...leave your imagination at the sign in page.  Thank you and have a wonderful existence in your new virtual police state"  All squeaky clean and safe for children but devoid of fun, anonymity and imagination.  >shivers<

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A great post! Spot on and while no one can be sure about the numbers (predictions are difficult to do, especially concerning the future ^_^) the potential to get there is present. Of course, in order to get 22% share of world economic activity, some form of merger with RL will be neccesery. After all many firms and official businesses will be active in virtual worlds by then instead of the mainly micro-transaction hobbyist merchants that are responsible for the most part of the economic activity in virtual worlds that we see now.

There are also technical problems and things liek copyright and many many many other things as well to consider, but that is not hte point.

What we should ask is more, if LL recognize those potentials and if they are actively trying to work towards such a long term goal, or if they are after short term gains that are promised to them by Facebook. Even when it risks the future and the massively increased profits gained from being the forerunner into a big curretnly emerging market.

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I am late to the party, as usual, but I was directed specifically to check out some of your posts here in the Community Feedback forum, Del. This one is spot on.

Living in the Central Florida area, Disney is everywhere here. They are by far the largest employer in this area, and I know quite a few Cast Members, both "on stage" employees and those who work behind the scenes. Professionally, I've done a lot of work with Disney over the years. I can tell you from personal experience that they devote a lot of resources to maintaining their squeaky clean image, down to their strict appearance guidelines for employees.

Because of some of my insider knowledge of Disney, I can unequivocally state that Second Life is no Disney. Disney is fantastic escapism for what it is. I'm a huge fan. We often have annual passes. But its core mission and audience are completely different from Second Life. Disney is aimed at kids and kids at heart. To be sure, some elements of this can be found in Second Life. I consider myself a "kid at heart" who enjoys having fun and looks on in wonder at all the brilliant creativity that takes place in SL. But SL achieves this in a way that is completely incompatible with Disney's magical, innocent, pixie dust illusions.

I don't take part in the "adult" aspects of SL, but I couldn't agree more that trying to force SL into the Disney mold is a huge mistake. Even if I'm not personally engaged in their areas of interest within SL, I treasure the diverse friendships I've made and appreciate the glimpses those friends offer into their worlds. These are friends I'd never have made if SL wasn't exactly what it is.

As for Facebook, I love it. For me, it's fantastic for keeping up with RL family, friends, and even business contacts whom I've gotten to know socially. But it's completely counter to the anonymous nature of Second Life. I'm not opposed to people having the option to link their SL avatars to their RL Facebook accounts, so long as that is what it remains... optional. But don't force FB integration on the majority who have no desire to link their SL experience with their RL identity.

I do understand the appeal of a FB marketing strategy when so much of the world is linked into FB. It's telling that so many product ads I see on TV and in print these days promote companies' FB pages rather than their own websites. But the conflicting objectives when SL users want to protect their RL identities and FB disallows anything but RL information means such an alliance can never work as a social tool on a broad scale.

I wish I had some insightful wisdom to contribute to the discussion, but instead all I've offered is a rehash of what's already been stated, as well as what I think is the longest post I've made in this new forum. And since the length of my posts are often directly proportional to the amount of nonsense they contain, I apologize for rambling. :smileywink:

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Tateru Nino wrote:

Oh, allow me to rephrase:

On the Disney side of things, I wrote an article on just that a little while ago, but apparently I can't give you a link to that, so you're on your own there.

 

You can give a link where it is relevant to the discussion at hand. It will only get moderated if it is blatant spam advertising, or a link to something that otherwise breaks the participation guidelines.

People have got in a bit of a tizz about the whole deleting of links to external sites things, but LL have clarified it numoerous times at User Groups and stuff. In short - links to external sites are fine as long as they don't break the participation guidlines (which includes obvious "come visit my forum which is so much better than these forums" spam, which was the main cause of the issue in the first place really!)

At least, that's my understaning and will be how I operate. If an external link is relevant and not otherwise breaking the guidlines I'll post it without fear of moderation!

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Pep wrote:

Suella said: "links to external sites are fine as long as they don't break the participation guidlines (which includes obvious "come visit my forum which is so much better than these forums" spam"


Pep (said: "Please remind me where in the ToS/Guidelines/Standards does it say that you can't post links to other forums which have no commercial content, and while you are at it, you might explain your rationale for believing that the quote you offer is obvious spam")

 

In a typical tangential way, this raises a very interesting question.

There is another very well-known forum that deals almost exclusively with subject matter directly related to Second Life. Any "commercial" content I have witnessed there is placed by ... you guessed it ... Second Life Merchants. It is populated by Second Life Residents. In point of fact, the CEO Rodvik Linden has an account and has posted there as well. In his post, he pointed out that "they" (meaning LL and its employees) even read that forum.

The recent RedZone debacle was played out there, pushed to the forefront there, and now that it has passed the community there is even undergoing a form of self-correction that has questioned and is re-establishing their own levels of what is fair and what is not. (There is some concern that some of the posts may have gone too far in their divulging of personal information on the creator of RedZone.)

So why are there rules that cause the Mods to pull references to it?

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Intereting Topic  I love it.

But I would like to draw attention to some errors (no doubt by acccident) that appeared in the OP's original essay.   First, gay pride days have been held at Disney Land. .  So sexuality is found at Disneyland.  Disneyland wanted to make it pure there but were unable to. (Not sure if they still hold them but I know they did cause I was surprised to hear it happen.  Secondly,  Disneyland was built so that Families could have a safe and clean place to go.  Walt once tried to take his daughters to an amusement  park and was so disgust with the garbage, broken down rides, etc  he decided right there he would build his own and make it a place where parents could safely take their children.  But he knew that parents get bored and then drag the kids away costing him potential sales so he decided to include places and rides for adults.   Finally, Disneyland is pure and sweet but the Disney corporation is not.  Family movies were not paying the bills and the created an adult division (Can't think of the name right now)  and it very first movie and a topless female in it.   Any one remember the movie Splash.   And to top it all off  Disney himself was antisemetic.  But a great piece of work all the same.  One other thing, The Disney Corporation was merciless in scaring the crap out of adoring fans who had put up websites about there favorite Disney character and used a image from one of the movies or cartoon.

I agree you with  making a Disney like world out of SL wouldn't work. 

But what you may find one day happening is SL splits in two.   SL- ADULT and SL - Family    Much like Walt Disney Films  and their adult counter part.  

So you get  IMVU SL version  and  Red Light District  SL version

Once again great conversation and great original post.

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Roche Runo wrote:

 

But I would like to draw attention to some errors (no doubt by acccident) that appeared in the OP's original essay.   First, Disney land has held gay pride days.  So sexuality is found at Disneyland.  (Not sure if they still hold them but I know they did cause I was surprised to hear it happen.

Actually, Disney has nothing to do with Gay Days. They don't organize or endorse the event; they merely allow it to happen. They can't exactly ban gays from the park just for being gay. That would be discrimination. The Gay Days activities are independently organized and mostly take place at Disney as a high profile location to draw attention to the community in what was originally intended to be a positive way.

Here is a history of the event straight from the organizers' website:

http://www.gaydays.com/History/history.html

And this is a pretty balanced article of both the positive and negative sides of the event:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1995839-1,00.html

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

point in fact Disney wasn't a very queer friendly employer when those began either.... (although they were better than some, and bloody amazing for Florida)

PS @ other poster
the divisions of Disney films you're thinking of is Touchstone pictures, other non-obvious divisions exists, such as ABC television, Arts&Entertainment Network (I think they still have a controlling interest), ESPN, Hollywood Records, and Hyperion books.

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  • 3 weeks later...
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