So we have another round of departures from LL – among them Catherine Linden. Some have praise Catherine’s tenure at LL; I’m not entirely in the same mindset. As the architecture of the LL Trademark documentation, she opened up something of a can of confusing worm – particularly with regards to the use of every day words such as “Life” (which LL “banned” the likes of TPV developers from using, claiming it was a breach of their trademark / copyright). As someone with a degree of responsibility for communications (at least at one time), she also made a pretty poor communicator herself; although that is pretty much par for the course for many at LL.
Her departure is somewhat “balanced” by the announcement from Terrance Linden of the move to bring in younger teens to the main grid after the inevitable decision was made to come clean and close Teen Grid. And for once it shows a degree of common sense. Those who witnessed Philip Rosedale’s SLCC 10 address – particularly the closing minutes when he was challenged by an educator over the Teen Grid decision, could not help but feel his sympathetic ear was somewhat closed to her pleas: the move was a done deal. It is therefore refreshing that those at the Lab have taken the time to listen to a section of their community (educators) and take steps to ensure that needs of that sector of their community continue to be met. In a nutshell the move announced by Terrence means that 13-15 year olds will soon be able to access the main grid BUT – and before people start shouting and screaming, they will not be able to:
- Move outside the educational sims / estates hosting their affiliated educational organisation(s)
- Use search to make purchases via in-world stores or the Marketplace
This is still not an ideal solution – a dedicated Educational or “Teen” Continent would perhaps be preferable – but it does mean that risks of lawsuits etc., are drastically reduced so long as educational organisations themselves are restricted to private (and discounted) sims. It also means that there can be greater and more positive interaction between youngsters and others on the grid in a “controlled” environment: educators will have to ability to vet others on the main grid and invite them into their sims to give talks, presentations, etc. Undoubtedly, this could be a major boon for a range of educational projects that schools, etc., may undertake: one can well imagine in-world science lessons being enlivened by a visit from representatives from NASA, ESA or the International Space Museum.
Nevertheless, as others point out, it still begs the question why LL didn’t simply create the aforementioned “Teen Continent” that might have provided both a contiguous experience for youngsters that come in-world for educational purposes and an environment for those aged 16 and 17 (whose presence on the wider Grid is still very much a potential minefield for LL and adults alike). Indeed, if what I’ve been told is correct,that the Teen Grid was pretty much a Continent in its own right, albeit it one with additional access restrictions, why not simply merge it with the main grid as a “new continent”, complete with safeguards to avoid the pitfalls of the “wrong” kind of adult / teenage interaction (I’m not talking sex here necessarily…the “wrong” kind of interaction covers a broad spectrum of what might possibly happen – up to and including an adult “looking over” their teenager’s shoulder and getting completely the wrong impression of what goes on in SL). Doing so would have removed a “caretaking” headache for LL, removed the heartache for teens, still provided the environment Terrance has announced and – most beneficial of all – allayed the fears (real and perceived) of the adult community already on the main grid.
Sadly, however, we’re not going to get anything like a “teen” or “PG” (or even “G”) continent; that was made clear during the Adult Policy / Zindra fiasco, so campaigning for such – as some have been attempting to do since news of the closure of Teen Grid was announced – is a waste of time. It simply doesn’t fit with the LL “roadmap” – whatever that might be. But – in the case of 13-15 year olds, this move is perhaps the best compromise for all concerned. It doesn’t provide an answer for everything, but it is potentially enough to help reassure both sides of the youngsters-in-SL argument that things are not going to end up an unmitigated disaster; at least where those in the younger age range are concerned.