Apr 5, 2014

Orwellian Nature

It’s come down to this.



To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies – all this is indispensably necessary. Even in using the word doublethink it is necessary to exercise doublethink. For by using the word one admits that one is tampering with reality; by a fresh act of doublethink one erases this knowledge; and so on indefinitely, with the lie always one leap ahead of the truth.






Time for some good old-fashioned thought crime...


Over the past twenty or so years, I’ve usually been the one pointing out what is blatantly obvious. Things that an average fifth grader would point out when it comes to virtual worlds as an industry. I’ve always believed that with a little common sense, things could be made right again and no longer succumb to the same mistakes of the past.


It’s no secret that the industry is repeating itself. Anyone with ten minutes and a Google search could find this out if they looked. Ask any industry analyst that’s been there from the 90s and earlier, and they’ll tell you.


Ask Jaron Lanier and he’ll tell you this is like some weird time warp. A sense of deja-vu that unsettles him.


It took me twenty years to figure out what killed virtual reality, and what will kill it again this time around. The end-result is that you killed it and will kill it again, and again.


There’s a difference between supporting something and blind fanaticism. The former assumes a willingness to actually make things better and acknowledge when things are bad. The latter is blind and unreasonable support despite the things that are bad, in which case the industry slowly eats itself and crumbles.


Case in point – I could tell you Oculus VR is headed for a brick wall. You’d grab a pitch fork and demand an apology. But the fact of the matter is – it wasn’t the technology on its own that killed VR in the 90s, it was the simple fact that it was a fad and not something that ever should have been applied as a universal peripheral for mass media consumption. That’s why the first headsets failed, and collected dust.


They’re like a trampoline – fun for a little bit, exciting, but something you’ll use sparingly at best in isolated situations. Just like 3D TV.


It’s that right angle to reality fanaticism that kills it, because you inflate the expectations far beyond anything that is deemed normal, setting a bar so high that it cannot possibly reach it. And when the rest of the world gets burned by that astronomical hype, they’re going to turn their back on VR once again and say it was just a fad all along.


That’s what happened to Second Life.


It got built up so astronomically high by you, that when it couldn’t possibly meet that expectation, it turned into a has-been fad.


This is true to literally every single person on earth except the community who use Second Life or OpenSim/whatever Grid. You’re in a perpetual feedback loop preaching to the choir and refusing to listen to the voice of sanity.


So sure are you that Second Life never took a dive that you’re willing to make an ass out of yourself thinking you’ll give WIRED magazine a piece of your mind when they refer to Second Life as a “cautionary tale”, and when an analyst from Gartner who has seen the rise and fall for the past 30 years, and when Jaron “Guy who absolutely knows more than you ever will about VR” Lanier say it’s repeating history, it’s the cult of SL that are quick to think they’re going to set them straight.


This is an intervention.


You’ve reached a tipping point where reality seems to no longer have any baring on the situation any longer. Where the made-up fantasy world of SL is bleeding over and people honestly think they can make up reality (and ignore it), too.


Here’s a more recent example...


SL Go from OnLive.


It’s an ill-conceived product that benefits from shoddy, biased, market research. Put out by a company that first attempted to price gouge you at $2.50 per hour, and then after widespread backlash, insulted your intelligence further by lowering that to $120.00 per year.


Not only is that absolutely a show of contempt for you, they added insult to injury by insisting that the majority of your feedback was positive. In blatant opposition in broad daylight to the actual feedback on their own listing. The feedback a majority of you wrote.


As if this wasn’t bad enough, in the face of that overwhelming negative feedback, the typical SL mouthpieces came in and had the audacity to rate it with 5 stars and write glowing review.


And when a discussion pops up elsewhere about all of this, and including in the negative feedback to begin with, aside from the pricing issue – the reasoning for the pricing issue was also given: Why are they expected to pay that much for a viewer when they already pay for a Premium account, and already pay for L$, and likely already pay for a tier, and when a working alternative that (while not as pretty) exists on the exact same app store for a measly $2.50 flat fee?


People flatly saying they feel betrayed by Linden Lab for this.


After all of that, the fanatics still will say “It’s amazing! Totally worth it!”


I know, because I’ve had to listen to you.


There isn’t a single straw that broke the camel about all of this. It’s a culmination of things and finally the realization that too many people are in absolute denial because they have a vested interest in virtual reality or Second Life.


I won’t even get into Ebbe Altberg with this because that level of doublethink has even reached him, passing the buck and regurgitating the by-line from OnLive about how they made it better. – “Ask them, we didn’t make it.”


So that’s the bottom line.


Your enthusiasm has reached a blind denial of reality, and as a result Rome will burn to the ground while you play a fiddle. In that unending, speak no evil, say only good things about SL attitude... you forgot that it’s not the good things that kill it but the bad things when they’re ignored.


As for those who have been trying to point all of this out and have their heads out of the clouds, you gave it your best shot and I thank you. It’s just falling on deaf ears. And for the folks that just wanna enjoy the ride – go for it.


I now return you to your simulated reality, already in progress.



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