Picture the scene, Daniel Voyager, Draxtor Despres, Inara Pey, Loki Eliot, Jo Yardley, Nalates Uriah, Canary Beck, Strawberry Singh, Hamlet Au and myself are all in a darkened room somewhere in Second Life, quite possibly Linden World, which is a top secret bunker. A door opens, the creak echoes in the room and we hear footsteps. Fire lights the room, a wooden torch held up to reveal that Gray of the Lab from San Francisco (AKA Pete Linden, AKA Peter Gray), Ebbe Altberg and Xiola Linden have entered the room.
They look at us, suspiciously, there’s a hush and then we are all asked to swear an oath of secrecy before being handed a dossier entitled “Top Secret”. This dossier contains secret plans from the evil empire with regards to taking over the virtual world under the banner of “Project
Sanasr Sansar”. *See comments for explanation of the strike through.
“At least one of you will betray us .. three times to be precise,” Xiola Linden tells us.
“Three of you may betray us once each”, ponders Gray of the Lab from San Francisco.
“All of you belong to us,” cackles Ebbe Altberg and with that they leave the room. The bloggers stand there, cold and in silence.
I look at the dossier in front of me, this is gold. I’ll have countless blogs on this subject. At that point, Strawberry Singh elbows me in the ribs and glares at me “You swore an oath!”
So I’m here to tell you that I can’t tell you about the top secret dossier. What I can exclusively tell you is that Secret Second Life Bloggers Club doesn’t exist. The last person you would entrust with secret plans for virtual world domination is a blogger, seriously.
Now not all bloggers are equal, some get hold of more information. This is often because they attend public meetings which Linden Lab host. Inara and Nalates blog a hell of a lot about developments from Linden Lab but they don’t get this information via secret channels or handshakes, they get it from meetings where many of the attendees are not bloggers. They also provide an invaluable service by relaying these developments because many people can’t attend these meetings due to other commitments.
A claim I see aimed at some Second Life bloggers is that they are writing on behalf of Linden Lab. I find this hard to believe. I would expect any such bloggers or broadcasters to disclose any such ties, indeed I’d be most disappointed if they didn’t. When Linden Lab decided to sponsor Draxtor Despres’ Drax Files World Makers series, they blogged about it :
The Drax Files has been a labor of love for Draxtor from the start, but there are real production costs associated with creating something of this quality. We want to ensure that the series continues, so today we’re very happy to announce that Linden Lab is now sponsoring The Drax Files: World Makers!
This sponsorship has no impact on Draxtor’s editorial independence; we’re not taking control or trying to dictate what stories are told or how they’re presented in the series, nor does our agreement have any impact on his other work (his podcast, for example). What our sponsorship does mean is that Draxtor will be able to continue to produce new episodes of The Drax Files: World Makers series each month, which we can all enjoy and which Linden Lab can use in support of our Second Life marketing efforts.
So there was full disclosure there, there’s no hiding anything. The link between Draxtor and Linden Lab is out in the open. Other bloggers may have better relations with Linden Lab than some. They email them, they await responses, Linden Lab tell them what they want to tell them.
Linden Lab’s policy here has been pretty consistent, we can go back to 2006 to find a blog post; Attention: Second Life Press Organisations :
Please note, you will not be receiving any exclusive information that hasn’t already been made public by Linden Lab. Our intention here is simply to make it easier for news organizations to stay updated and informed.
Then in April 2010 Linden Lab blogged; New Groups for Resident Sources for Press and Inworld Journalists :
Also today, we’re introducing a new group for inworld press: Second Life Press Corps. We’ll use this group to share Linden Lab announcements and send invitations to inworld press events. This group replaces the “Second Life Media Consortium” group, which will be closed soon, as it was woefully outdated.
Well over five years on and I’m still awaiting a reply regarding my application to join the Second Life Press Corps. Patience young Padawan, Patience!
There have long been accusations that Linden Lab play favourites, some of this does seem to be a case of where there’s smoke there’s fire but it’s often an issue of a lack of transparency rather than dubious dealings. For example large land barons are rumoured to get discounts. I do know that the Atlas Program did indeed exist and possibly still does. The Atlas program was often considered murky because it was spoken in hushed tones, but the concept of a business giving discounts to their biggest customers is not remotely unusual.
One area where there is secrecy is when it comes to non-disclosure agreements. Linden Lab apply these from time to time, there’s currently one for Project Sansar. The usual rule with NDA club is that you don’t talk about NDA club. NDA’s are not unusual, I’ve signed one in the past with a far larger company than Linden Lab and I still won’t talk about the details, other than to say, it didn’t come to fruition.
So I’ll end by saying, there is no Secret Second Life Bloggers Club as far as I’m concerned. There are differences of opinion and healthy debate should be welcomed by all. That’s part of the point of blogs, forums and inworld groups. Agree to disagree, but there’s no secret cabal, unless of course you have solid evidence.
Of course I would say this wouldn’t I, Strawberry Singh is currently glaring at me again and looks like she wants to elbow in me in the ribs again and as we all know, the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.