Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Choices and Viewer 2.0 Assimilation

 cc image courtesy Niklas Bildhauer

It was a day of changes today for the Second Life ecosystem.  T Linden talked fast and furiously at today's Metanomics weekly chat about some of that change.  He spent a lot of time talking about choices, and how Linden Lab believes that choice is important.

Some of those choices were clear today if you wanted to exercise your license of the services afforded to you by the virtual world Second Life.  Some were, well, not so much.

For example, if already a Second Life Resident, when you logged in today you had a choice: Accept the new Terms of Service (ToS), or don't log in.

If you were new to Second Life today (welcome) you got two choices:
1) Accept the Terms of Service (ToS) or don't log in.
2) Download and use Viewer 2.0 and only Viewer 2.0, or don't log in.

One choice no one got to exercise was well, ironically about choice.  Once you agreed the new Terms of Service, you personally also agreed to the terms of the recently released Policy on Third-Party Viewers.
Any access to or use of the Service through a software client other than the Linden Software that logs into the Servers (referred to as a "Third-Party Viewer") is subject to these Terms of Service and the terms of the Policy on Third-Party Viewers. The Policy on Third-Party Viewers provides required and prohibited functionality for Third-Party Viewers as well as other terms for those who use, develop, or distribute Third-Party Viewers; however, Linden Lab offers and supports the Service only as offered by Linden Lab and is not obligated to allow access to or use of the Service by any software or means not provided by Linden Lab. You understand and agree that Linden Lab is not responsible or liable for any aspect of the Service that is accessed or experienced using software or other means not provided by Linden Lab.

Any use of the Service, including Content on the Service, other than as specifically authorized in this Agreement, without the prior written permission of Linden Lab, is strictly prohibited and will terminate all licenses granted herein.
What's the Policy on Third-Party Viewers?  Well if you have to ask, maybe it's best just not to use one!  Essentially this means that for the majority of people, the choice to use a third party viewer (even those on the approved list) is paired with immeasurably high risk, thereby essentially nullifying that "choice". 

Sadly, this point was completely missing from (update to my initial post which wrongly attributed the post to T Linden) M Linden's blog post "Updated Second Life Terms of Service" summarizing most of the significant ToS and Privacy Policy changes.  I'm not sure why this was overlooked.  It would have been a simple paragraph to write, in fact a sentence would have sufficed.
By agreeing to the ToS you are personally accountable for the compliance of your chosen viewer with our Third-Party Viewer policy.
That resonates with the rest of the ToS emphasis of limited liability, personal accountability and choice. It's much better than the alternative:
Welcome to Viewer 2.0, you will be assimilated.

In my other capacity, I'm writing a blog post about the latest Facebook policy changes and its approach to governance.  No wonder it feels like a Monday.

Be careful out there.  See you around a grid.
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