OK.. waiting for TWO shoes to drop…

Following-on from yesterday’s posting, Jack is out in blogland again, with an announcement which seems to have a lot of people going, “tilt?!”

Certainly, the announcement has lead to a lot of speculation – and even near-hysteria (“favouritism!” “bailout!”).

On the surface, it seems something of a reasonable deal: USS stood to be very badly mauled with the OpenSpace sim debacle, and thus Linden Lab have stepped in to help out and at the same time found a means of bolstering interest in their mainland Nautilus project, while allegedly giving the community as a whole something to enjoy (a new sailing sea – although contrary to the cries of the likes of LL and USS, I’d question just how popular sailing is overall & when compared to other sim-intensive activities like flying…).

But since when has Linden Lab been reasonable? What’s more – what is with the sudden willingness to hand over mainland controls to other groups, as Jack Linden has stated to Prokofy Neva will be the case here? Granted, he hints that the handover may be temporary (thus bringing it loosely in line with the festivals Prok mentions in her post) – but USS tend to have an active events calendar, which could call into question the “temporary” nature of the handover of powers.

Could it be that Linden Lab are themselves loking for ways to hand-off broad management of the mainland to users – thus relieving themselves of the mundane grunt work while charging users for the privilege?

Or could the reason run deeper? Again, while people quickly shout “favouritism” on reading Jack’s post, I tend to side with Prok and some others in the forum thread itself who pick up on Jack’s own reply to this cry, vis:

“First of all, this isn’t something exclusive and it will not be the only such project of its type. In deciding that we wanted to look for ways to involve estates to the benefit of both themselves and the Mainland, someone has to go first…..

“The USS are a particularly good fit because they are large, well established and have a strong theme that is PG in nature and appeals to a wide range of residents. They also happen to be extremely well organised.”

OK… the first part of this comment is reasonable enough inasmuch as someone has to go first in a project such as this….but the second part of this comment certainly hikes my eyebrows, as it implies that LL will only engage with groups that meet some pre-ordained criteria (hidden under the banner names “PG”, strong”, and “well established”).

However you look at it, this does smack of favouritism in-the-making: if your group doesn’t measure-up the the criteria, Linden Lab won’t engage with you, and thus you’ll be left wanting while others get leverage.

And this borders on this being another potential way of LL censoring SL content it would rather not have…since by Jack’s own admission, if you have any group or activity that is Mature rated (and remember, “Mature” doesn’t always mean sexual in nature – or even adult in extent) – then you are immediately precluded from the potential of a partnership.

The flipside to this is, quite simply that perhaps Linden Lab, in striking this deal, really is trying to make amends for earlier upsets. However, if this is the case, then Jack has once again taken the hand gun, cocked the hammer – and royally shot himself in the foot. If LL are indeed looking to leverage partnerships that will both benefit private estate owners and help develop / utilise the mainland – then why not be up-front on things from the start: state the intention, explain the process and aims, and invite submissions? All this announcement has (again) done is stir up a lot of resentment which no amount of spin from Jack is going to undo.

Certainly, given the controversy he has now successfully created, Jack would do well to take heed of Bryon Ruxton’s comment / warning. Although it has to be said, there is a certain genius at work here – at a stroke, Jack and his cohorts and split those protesting over the recent OpenSpace sim tier hikes right down the middle. Leave us not forget, USS were leading the charge on the matter….now they’ve been given a one-sided deal from LL that has left many of their erstwhile supporters deeply upset.

For my part, I’m curious to see what transpires in the future as a result of this apparent paradigm shift on the part of LL. If it benefits SL as a whole – and by that I mean all of us, whether or not we are “strong” or “well established” or “PG” – then it is all to the good.

However, the cynic in me is now waiting for not one, but two shoes to drop as a result of Jack’s announcements….