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Economics

Regarding Ordinal Enterprises' Current Stock For SL To RL Export

My Potential Customer seems eager to purchase exported Ordinal Enterprises products, and it occurs to me that it might be a Service to Other Potential Customers to provide the following information, as should anyone else make similar enquiries I would likely send the same information. Thus I quote it herein. (Please see attached PDF for the appropriate prices.)

Hello - sorry for the delay.

Please find a PDF of the current Ordinal Enterprises stock list available for export attached to this email.

It is very important that the following notes are read with relation to this stock list, as Ordinal Enterprises will not be able to legally complete the order without the supply of proper licences.

Notes on individual items

  1. Purchase of the Beehive Launcher requires either proof of a Class IV Apiary Licence (Foreign And Hazardous Species) or equivalent experience. A bulk order will significantly reduce the export cost, which mostly results from the necessity for specific bee-breeding, construction of hives and antivenom - for items after the first, reduce export cost per item to £2000.

  2. The Transitory Umbrella is legally only available for sale to those with an GBMP525 pilot's licence (before the 1982 change to the law, this was known as the "Van Dyke"). This must be less than five (5) years old.

  3. Storage of the Multicoloured Snuffbox can only be legally carried out by licenced pharmacists aged eighteen (18) or over.

  4. A Health & Safety Executive explosives permit is required to receive Festive Humbugs. Bulk orders are available at half export cost past the first. Export cost may be affected by current sugar and aluminium prices on the international market.

  5. A valid UK Airship Private or Commercial Pilots Licence is required before receiving any Gun Balloon. This should be a CPL Airship Licence covering Gas Filled Balloons. Delivery costs include hire of delivery pilot, fuel and insurance against border crossings. Please note that the rotary cannon in all civilian Gun Balloons has been PERMANENTLY DISABLED, though the motor is still operational. Attempted use of blank shells may cause significant damage to the Balloon's mechanism and likely injury or death to the pilot. Please consult the operational manual for more details.

  6. These items require a UK handgun licence with additional permission to handle virtual firearms (this can be quickly added to an existing licence at your local police station).

  7. As well as a handgun licence, purchase of one (1) or more Flare Pistols requires proof of membership of a professional nautical body, or an advanced sailing certificate. Some customers have asked whether a gold swimming certificate is sufficient - unfortunately by law it is not.

Export procedure

A deposit of 50% of the total export cost is required to cover expenses for SL to RL export. Success is not guaranteed; the deposit will only be returned in case of failure. Export usually takes from between two weeks and six years. Exported products are no-copy/trans/mod items and other permissions are not available. Performance of RL products may differ from that of SL products due to underlying script incompatibilities and differing physics engines - while Ordinal Enterprises takes every care to make sure that performance is as similar as possible, no refunds will be provided should behaviour differ, or existing functionality be broken due to any forthcoming RL upgrade.

General notes

  • VAT can be removed on submission of appropriate VAT registration details.

  • None of the above items will be able to be marked as "gifts" for customs purposes, including the Festive Humbugs.

  • Payment should be in UK Pounds Sterling and not Scottish Drachmas.


On 2 May 2011, at 09:38, Mark Joe wrote:

Hello, thanks for the mail i will like you to get back to me with the current price list so that i can place my order.

Regards,

Mark

(You may see any further developments by looking at the "SL to RL Export" tag in this Journal.)

The Perversity of Return

Staring at the water Since my general removal of all products from the Grid, some readers might have noticed that I have not been entirely absent myself (not that I said that I would be, but it has caused some occasional surprise; less so now). I do pop in and out to attend functions and vaguely chit-chat. In fact, those who follow my Twitterthing might have even noticed that recently I have been doing some actual scripting, and playing with what passes for a Marketplace these days. Lawks. Not merely for the Twitterbox, either (progress on which I shall mention in a future post). I replaced the Festive Humbugs for sale - as very kindly mentioned by Ms Breezy Carver before I had even mentioned the fact - and have been working on at least releasing some of the items that I had previously mostly finished but not gotten around to doing anything about. I have even been attempting to finish the "avlink" module for Drupal to provide a framework for folk to easily manage Second Life (and Opensim) information on a Web Sort Of Basis.

I was wondering what my motivation might be for this - though it is nothing like a Return To Business As Usual, which will never happen. Attempting to do so, even if I were so inclined, would be doomed to failure; one can never return to what has gone before in that way (I have seen it tried several times). One must move forward or sideways or in some direction, not try to return to a previous state, which likely was not terrific or you would not have left in the first place.

Motivations, though.

~*~

Firstly there is simple boredom and lack of a suitable replacement outlet for creativity. Somewhat tragically, I'm afraid that I have spent so long turning my every passing thought into an idea for Second Life that I have found it very difficult to adjust to other media. I do write somewhat, but I am really not used to it and these days just do not think in terms of non-interactive fiction, or even interactive ones involving just the author and reader. I am used to my inventions becoming part of a huge self-creating mutual web of narrative: people taking and building on products, suggestions, character, insults etc for their own purposes and expanding the web similarly themselves. Much of the result likely completely unknown to me.

Admittedly, doing almost anything affecting another person makes one part of the world's emergent narrative (often termed "life") but working on the Grid always seemed to allow a far more direct effect, or at least used to. Part of the reason that I removed the shop was that I felt that I was losing that, and that the divisions in the world were becoming far more extreme between "consumer" and "creator", both practically and in terms of perception - residents being increasingly seen as consumers of the goods of professional creators, coincidentally paying to contribute their own social content (the main aspect that keeps folk about and spending - thus increasingly like the unholy, blasphemous Book That Must Not Be Named). But I have said all that and don't feel the need to say it again. The Rabbitcon has already been crossed after all and Satire is Dead for the nth time.

~*~

Which brings me to the Second Reason, which is that it is only fair that, after throwing my scripted rattle out of my physics-enabled pram previously, it is only fair to return and see if my opinion has changed in practice, and the only way to see whether that is the case is to actually attempt to do something. Thus far I have to say that I am not that impressed, but I shall follow it through for a while.

~*~

The Third Reason, however, is somewhat more perverse, and I have only admitted it to myself quite recently. I have always complained about events that I did not appreciate, which I feel is a rational and reasonable thing to do so long as those complaints might contribute in any way or even make one feel better. I do like to think, though, that mostly I was able to appreciate potential and positives, and when I was not I apologise. The balance between the number of perceived negatives and positives has changed over time, though (otherwise I would still be happily gluing plywood together).

I have said before that I thought that SL was moving in a direction that not only did I not like but which would end in disaster, but nowadays I have the distinct impression that it has gone very, very far down that particular spiral, and may not recover. And something in me likes the idea of being around and involved to see that, and appreciate the last days. I could of course be wrong, and very much hope that I am, but increasingly events suggest that the entire Laboratory is being turned towards the direction that is currently so popular with "Social Networks" - the delusional split between consumer/creator, as previously stated, where consumer-users sit about paying for things made by businesses, hopefully without appreciating that in fact, they themselves are the only valuable thing in the network.

I was always of the opinion that SL was far ahead of its time in that respect, as it appreciated that resident were the valuable thing that would attract other residents, and giving them tools and opportunities to improve the quality of the content they casually created (socially, artistically, commercially) would build a strong and resilient community. I had great doubts as to how well these tools were being supported, but not regarding the overall strategy. Now, it is not the same. I don't consider that any Network has a long-term future using the pay-to-consume strategy, and I particularly do not think that SL does, as by its nature it must put an awful lot more effort into maintaining the basic infrastructure for consumption than somebody just running a website, so is more vulnerable to changes in user preference and migration.

~*~

Thus I now have a Ballardian sense of being in a collapsing world, and, you know, I like it. I want to be sipping cocktails at a commandeered infohub as the sims around me are finally closed forever, sending long-abandoned plywood newbie builds into the void. As the sun sets for the last time on the grid, I promise you I will be there watching it, and you are welcome to join me for Damage-Enabled Gin and some nibbles.

Chin chin!

A few words on Linden Homes

I thought that I might offer a few thoughts regarding Mr Jack Linden's announcement of the latest fabulous Laboratory Movement - that of "Linden Homes".

Once upon a time we offered affordable parcels of land to Premium members — a program we called 'First Land'. The First Land program made land available to first-time land owners at a reduced price. First Land buyers learned about land ownership and often moved onto larger parcels.

True enough at the time, and owning a Linden Home now will also give experience of land ownership. Nobody, these days, moves onto buying larger mainland parcels, though; they rent from landowners on islands. They are also I propose even less likely to do it from a Linden Home, a matter I will deal with at a later point.

But the program was flawed in several ways. For example, not everyone can build well enough to craft their dream home and when you're new, even placing a pre-made home is tricky at best.

Yes and no (and mostly yes). Many people clearly had no idea what to put on their first land, and would assume that they would have to build something, put up a big plywood box and then leave, never to return. The plot would then sit there with a big plywood box on it indefinitely. However, nobody who wanted to had any trouble placing prefabs; it is not that hard. They might not have been aware of the existence of prefabs, beyond poor-quality free ones, of course.

Those First Land areas quickly became chaotic and the parcels were often bought by land dealers instead of genuine first-time buyers.

The two issues are not I would say related. First land areas quickly became chaotic, certainly, and some were sold to land barons and parcel spammers as people left, but in many cases they were sold to those with neighbouring plots as well (this was how I managed to expand my First Land parcel in Theretra). The mass purchase by land dealers came when the land market reached a level where it was profitable to start a new account, pay the premium fees and then sell one's First Land.

This new addition to the Premium membership will be called a 'Linden Home'. This is not the same as First Land, not least because it is about providing a home rather than just land, but it does share the same goals.

Yes, it is not the same as First Land - dealt with at more length below. It is not, though, to my mind, about providing a home rather than just land - it is about providing a home rather than land. As to whether the goals are the same, well, I cannot speak for other people's goals, but if they are the same this is not a very good way of achieving them.

During beta, a limited number of randomly selected existing Premium subscribers will be offered the chance to apply for a Linden Home...

This is the part that baffles me the most. What is the point of offering Linden Homes to existing Premiums? The number of people who have signed up for Premium but who have no idea where to live is zero to the nearest significant figure. Who would do that? Why on earth would somebody pay money for a premium account now without already knowing, at least vaguely, what they want to do in Second Life?

A far better idea would be to offer it to a randomly selected number of new residents who were not Premium.

Therefore these parcels will be unlike normal land in that they will be restricted in various ways; the house cannot be removed and the parcels cannot be sold, joined, terraformed or divided. Events and classifieds cannot be created for these parcels; only Premium Members can own them, and only one per account.

Here we reach the major difference between this proposal and the old First Land system, and it is at this point that any old folk who might have been saying "ah, First Land gave me the start that I needed, young people today need that sort of thing" should really be quiet.

First Land as was was basically the same as any other land, only cheaper and connected to having a new account. One could run a shop from First Land, and certainly I did; sell it to a neighbour so that they could expand their holdings (and, yes, to a land spammer also, but the problem there was never the sale, but the spam). One certainly had an entirely free choice as to what ended up on the plot.

A Linden Home cannot be moved. A Linden Home cannot be sold. A Linden Home cannot be advertised. Publicised events cannot be held on a Linden Home. Do not taunt Linden Home.

In fact the word "Home" is somewhat deceptive to my mind - it implies a certain level of permanence and flexibility, but there is no hope of modifying one's Linden Home (beyond filling the prefab with consumer goods), or expanding it, or changing its purpose. A Linden Home is a hotel room: a comfortable and inexpensive place to stay for a bit when visiting a foreign land, but if one plans to remain there and do anything worth doing, one moves on.

And to where would one move on? If one's experience of living upon the Grid was in a heavily managed area such as that in which Linden Homes appear, one will no doubt wish to move on to another heavily managed area, which means renting on an island, in practice. Certainly it does not mean purchasing mainland. Only strange old people purchase mainland these days.

Linden Homes are not First Land, and they are I would say almost the opposite. First Land provided an empty space upon which one could build and do anything that any other landowner could, with many people being confused by this and not building anything at all apart from a ten-metre plywood box, which then sat there until Doomsday. A Linden Home provides an area upon which one cannot build or do anything apart from rez furniture. (Technically I think one could sell items from a Linden Home, but without classifieds that is not likely to be very handy.)

First Land provided a starting point for land ownership and building something for oneself. A Linden Home provides a starting point for renting another prefab.

~*~

Now, it must be said that an awful lot of people have no interest in doing anything much with land apart from changing their clothes on it and inviting their assorted friends over to partake of a glass of champagne and some stimulating intellectual conversation. And why should they? Assuming a high quality of Linden Home prefabs and environments, I am sure that they will be quite happy with the situation, at least until they chafe at the limits and move on to a paid rental on an island.

And everyone will be happy, apart of course from anyone selling or renting mainland, but then they are not happy generally, and they are not meant to be. Also, those currently renting plots to new residents either on islands or mainland will I assume be up in arms, or at least they should be, because this directly attacks their business; there is very little that they could do to compete with a free plot and a free house.

It is not First Land though. Those days are behind us. Now, residents are Content Creators or Content Consumers, and the assumption is that they are Content Consumers from Day One and will not move from that position.

Mercantile Insanity, a Longer Version

I have found it a little challenging to marshall all of the points I would like to make regarding the recent Xstreet Outrage in time to make a Journal Entry that remains relevant, but that is one of the challenges of Journalism really, that and coping with acute liver complaints and the strain of having to associate with other journalists.

Luckily, since I am a Vanity Published Journalist, I am able to simply present bulleted lists, and not have to worry about an editor rushing into my office, swatting me with a fedora and saying "Ordinal! This is a load of lazy tripe! I'm hiding the whisky bottle until you do me some better damn copy!"

The Linden measures, summarised:

  • Free items to cost L$99/month each to list.

  • Paid items to cost L$10/month each to list, and have a minimum commission of L$3 each. (The commission on items of items costing over L$60 will remain 5%.)

Obviously intended results:

  • A reduction of the number of items through people removing them rather than pay extra fees.

  • A disproportionate reduction in the listing of cheap and free items (particularly free ones - it costs almost ten times as much to list a free item as a paid one) and to encourage the listing of higher-priced items. The flat fee per listing and minimum commission are a proportionately lower percentage of profit the more expensive the item - in other words this is a regressive sales tax.

  • A raising of prices to cover new charges, and the corresponding rise in commission.

Results which may or may not have been consciously intended but which should have been obvious:

  • Less competition means that merchants who remain no longer have to compete with free and low-priced goods in terms of quality; there is no longer a baseline. I would not expect the general quality of items to go down due to this, but it will be less likely to go up.

  • A reduction in the diversity of goods, not only their number. If there is an incentive not to list something which you are not sure will sell, you are less likely to do so. This discourages merchants from taking risks. Even quite simple strategies such as selling five copies of a dress in different colours may be uneconomic if one has a large range of dresses. Ordering an item with options such as colour could of course be implemented in Xstreet, but is very unlikely to be, as that would involve some sort of software development.

  • The distribution of the message that Xstreet is for a certain sort of person to make money. It is not a general method of distribution for educators or philanthropists. I also say "a certain sort of person" because the economic engineering here encourages certain business models over others. There is no economy of scale and no attempt to allow for one; you should be making small numbers of high-priced items that all sell well, not even small numbers of high-priced specialist items (see above).

  • A corollary to that is the message that Linden Lab is not interested in you making things better for other residents by means of its services. In fact, Linden Lab would rather that you didn't, and will charge you more if you intend to. You are not conforming to the vision of seller and customer. The fact that this announcement comes at the same time as eliminating mentors I am sure is coincidental in terms of timing, but not, I believe, in terms of motivation.

Statements which are not convincing:

  • That free items on Xstreet are simply advertising. This is such a stupid assertion that I will simply sneer and move on.

  • That this is to "reduce clutter" and make it easier for customers to find quality items.

    Firstly, as an observation, it is quite telling that low-priced and free items are simply termed "clutter" - I assume that all the high-priced rubbish in Xstreet is somehow not cluttering the place up.

    Secondly, Xstreet really is not all that cluttered if you know what you are looking for; just search for "shoes" and yes, you will get rather a large number of results. My problem when using the site has always been (a) how to properly get to the subset of products that I am interested in - the search and metadata filtering is generally poor, and should be greatly improved - and (b) how to tell which of the - frequently rather expensive - products I find are any good. Price is absolutely no guarantee of quality or authenticity on Xstreet.

Things that I have done or will do:

  • Remove all of my items from Xstreet until such time as these policies are amended. Even if I had no moral objections to the broader effects of the changes themselves, I really do not see why I should pay more money for a worse service.

    Realistically a change or reversal is very unlikely to occur, and once I have deleted the listings (as opposed to simply taking back my Xstreet boxes) I am very unlikely to fight Xstreet's appalling excuse for a merchant UI in order to put them back, so in effect I will no longer be selling silly guns or providing Slurlbloggers, Twitterboxes, Snowball Systems or any of the other free items via Xstreet.

    (Edited to add: actually it seems I am able to simply make items Inactive, which I had not previously had cause to do, so in theory I could put things back quite easily should the situation change. Which I very much doubt it will.)

  • Make it clear in my inworld establishments why this is.

  • Not buy anything as a purchaser from Xstreet. This will not be a huge trial for me as I only rarely did anyway.

  • As the one useful thing about Xstreet for me was that it gave people the ability to send Copy/No-Transfer products of mine to others, I shall attempt to script a system which allows this, and once I have done so, I shall make it publicly available. Though not of course on Xstreet. I would also like to have some sort of mechanism to allow people to send items to themselves or others via the Web, which is often convenient for Educational Things.

    The production of such a system does of course rest on my continuing interest in selling items at all, which is not guaranteed and most certainly waxes and wanes; thus I make no promises on this score.

A few final points:

  • I am not particularly incensed by price rises and the motive of profit in themselves - by now I am used to such concepts - but I am somewhat miffed to see both crude attempts at socio-economic engineering and also the facile arguments being used to justify them, as if everything was All For Our Own Good. The "Free Items Are Just Advertising" part, particularly, feels like a child giving you an earnest ethical justification for why it has stolen a biscuit. If we are to have autocracy or even a strict commercial provider/customer relationship with the Laboratory, we should at least have them in an adult way.

  • I am also miffed at the suggestion that Residents Asked For This And Lindens Just Replied. The "consultation process" in this instance was simply laughable. Three poorly-advertised office hours sessions, each attended by a handful of people (the most miniscule fraction of the constituency imaginable), during which the proposals originated from Lindens in any case; then a blog post announcing it as fait accompli. Not exactly Athenian. I would actually have had more faith in a hand-picked focus group assembled to ponder a Linden suggestion, since at least that would imply an interest in what some residents had to say, rather than using them as an excuse.

    There is a broader point here regarding the growing trend towards Officeocracy, but I think that is best left to a future entry, given that this one is already of considerable length.

Rampant Traffic Bottery to be Eliminated? Perhaps, a Little.

trafficbots2
The figure in the foreground is a notorious and exploitative Bot, and requires Immediate Removal from Everything. Do not trust it!

Almost everyone agrees that using Bots to manipulate traffic (and therefore Search rankings) is unfair. Not only with respect to Search itself but also due to the load on Mainland Region resources and how that can impact other Residents in the area.

Therefore we are setting policy that attempting to gain an unfair Search advantage, by the use of Bots to inflate the Traffic for a parcel, will be considered a violation. This policy applies to both Mainland and Private Estates as both are represented in Search. (Conclusion to the Blog Post on Bots)

And few would argue with that. (Although the few, pretty much exclusively those selling bots and using bots, do sometimes seem to be attempting to make up for their fewness by repetition.) I would say that this was an extremely Welcome Move; I am having great difficulty in constructing credible arguments opposing my "Trafficbots Are A Bad Thing" position that I might address in the form of Dialogue. Traffic is meant to be an indication of popularity. Populating an area by artificial means makes this statistic, one of the few we have access to, meaningless.

In general I certainly approve of the attitude - previously displayed in the context of Advertisement Farms - that it is the behaviour that matters, not some breach of arbitrary technical rules. Are you attempting to distort traffic statistics by the use of automated facilities? Then you should be prevented from doing so. No, there will not (one would hope) be a series of technical Rules, the Letter of which will be obeyed and which can thus be ingeniously bypassed - Motivation is the key.

I can, though, see that this particular Announcement is not really complete. Certainly it should eliminate those dismal boxes of twenty or thirty homonculi, locked up in a cube at four thousand metres in height. However, the continued presence of Traffic as a statistic will lead to other methods of Gaming becoming more popular, if unchallenged.

Camping, for instance: offering camping chairs, which are then occupied by bots belonging to somebody else, is a symbiotic relationship between landowner and bot operator. In fact, if said chairs are occupied by residents, said residents are effectively becoming trafficbot subcontractors - "crowdsourcing traffic distortion" if you will. Whether or not bots are being used is fairly unimportant, and a campsite owner could certainly claim that they were not using bots, in the knowledge that by putting out large numbers of chairs and paying money to those sitting on them, some bot operator would shortly be along.

Still, there are other hopeful signs:

Going forward we are going to look at ways to allow you to voluntarily identify to us that an account is a Bot, so that we can remove it from Traffic completely.

Superb!

We will continue to strive toward providing more statistical data to land owners, including the number of visitors they receive.

Excellent! And extremely overdue! "Yesterday" would be a good time for this to happen, I would say.

However, the way these statistics relate to Search ranking will be changing. In the next few months, we will be making both technical and policy changes to the way relevance and ranking works in Search. The "traffic" score will be only one aspect of the ranking logic, and it will be scrubbed and weighted to account for gaming vectors.

Potentially a Good Show depending on the details! Although I thought that this was supposed to already have happened.

In any case, now I believe I shall return to the company of my new-found friends Ngr, Eops and Sfdjk. There is after all the chance of winning a Linden Dollar every four minutes, you know.

SLXstreet, Product and Faff

It has come to my attention that Linden Lab has recently purchased controlling interests (FAQ, press release) in both "Xstreet" (formerly SLX, and likely to be known as such by Older Residents for quite some time) and "Shop OnRez" (formerly SLBou

Citizens, Rejoice!

Citizens of the Grid! We have heard you clamouring outside the palace gates, unquietened even by the regular rezzing of Cake, and, truly and honestly, read and inwardly digested every message that reached us tied around a rock and launched through a window.

We appreciate that our initial plans to raise the price of all sims to $1000 per minute might have caused some alarm, and we have no intention of stifling the boundless creativity of our subjects. However, it must be said that many of you have been excessively naughty, and used things which are clearly outside of the stated use of Second Life (dancing, selling hair, looking at prim fish). For instance, many of you have been using megaprims - we have been shocked to discover this - and also such scripting techniques as WarpPos.

Our keen ears have detected that you wish to have a greater variety of potential options for your sim hosting.

  1. Those of you who used the sims as originally intended - chatting, copybotting, selling Siggy's waterslide - want that product at the original price point and demand clear and strict discipline regarding usage, or perhaps just clear and strict discipline in general.

  2. Some of you have built businesses on your sims, set your rental rates or built your groups and although you acknowledge - or at least you damned well will, once you have met the Green And Purple Waterboard - you built more than we say was intended but did nothing to prevent, a large and rapid price change is too much for you to absorb.

  3. Some of you built creations that were between a huge empty hole in the ground and a floating elephant farm and want some kind of "proper region lite" product - a lower price point than a normal region but with the ability to build a certain amount of content.

This Reason Is Not Reasonable

I do mostly try to keep argument in my Journal more on a Rational basis rather than involving untoward speculation as to Motives and Such, simply because I am considerably more confident with the former (not, I might add, that I have all that much confidence that my Rational Abilities are particularly keen, but they are certainly better than my abilities regarding evaluating Rumour and Motivation).

Shouting into the Void

Well, if there is one thing that is undeniable about the latest Move by the Laboratory to Solve Everything By Obtaining More Money, it is that, almost without exception, everyone is very cross.

openspace_protests_0

The issue of reduced performance due to OpenSpace Use

The "Copybot" Word

I have been approached a couple of times recently regarding an "issue" mentioned on the publication known as the "Second Life Herald", on the subject of a "new copybot". (I do not read this publication on a regular basis any more, on account of its tedious hagiography of groups of annoying children; an odd pursuit, not my part to judge I suppose but not in my interests to read, either.)

Let us be clear on a few details in this instance.

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