Thursday, September 9, 2010

Emeraldgate Aftermath and Conspiracy Theory

Even though the Emeraldgate scandal played out, pretty much before our eyes, conspiracy theories about what "really happened" already abound, spread, not surprisingly, by the Emerald team themselves.

To hear Arabella Steadham tell it, none of the stuff they did really mattered, Linden Labs shut down Emerald because it was too popular, and they wanted more users to switch to their own viewer two.

What really happened here is actually fairly obvious, and it's something we're going to have to work out somehow as the metaverse grows.  Where issues of trust are concerned, like "what's in this encoded bit of software you're sending me", we have a problem in a culture where everybody except the hosting company is basically anonymous. 

Linden Labs decided that, as the most popular viewer in SecondLife, the Emerald team had to be above reproach, and because of their track record, certain members had to go.  Emerald responded by saying "screw you, I do what I want!" and from there the collision course was pretty much unavoidable.

In a way, I understand how Phox and Arabella feel.  They made Emerald and have been with it since the beginning and to have it taken away from them must have been very painful.  Their enemies at Woodbury got to do a little happy dance, which sucks, but guys: that's how the game is played.

In her farewell letter, Arabella talks about how Linden Labs doesn't understand what "a team" is, but her attitude and her letter make it pretty clear to me she never actually played team sports in her life.

In team sports, if one member of the team commits a foul, the whole team is penalized, and if that foul is bad enough, that member of the team is ejected from the game and the remainder of the team must finish the match, even if their best players were the ones ejected.

Football is pretty poplar in her culture, and in football (soccer) getting a red card means you're out of the game.  In this game, Phox, Skills, and Discrete all got red cards.  Skills and Discrete chose to honor the rules of the game and leave the field of play, but Phox decided he would not and certain other members of the team decided it was better to have the whole team ejected from the game, which is exactly what happened.

To make matters worse, Phox decided to slip a poison pill into the final release of Emerald (2600) as a last attempt to circumvent the Linden Labs terms of service by allowing users to employ Emerald on the SecondLife grid secretly.  God knows what else he slipped into the code before compiling it.  Considering the build number (2600) it could be anything

Jessica Lyon, on the other hand, must have played team sports somewhere along the way because she did what you're supposed to do in situations like this: she gathered what members of the team she could, took the penalty for the foul and continue playing the rest of the game, by the rules, the best she could with the Phoenix viewer.

Some people, no doubt, will prefer the conspiracy theory spun by Arabella and the rest over the real story.  It's more dramatic and it's full of all those good underdog vs "the man" type memes we all love so.  It's not, however, true in any sense of the word.  Viewer 2.1 is not the most popular viewer on SecondLife, Phoenix is, and so it goes.

Update: Apparently Arabella got a red card too.   Although she blames it on her conspiracy theory post on the emerald blog, I suspect it has more to do with the video showing her apparently complacent with Phox adding channel spoofing into the last build of Emerald.  Phox (Lonely Bluebird) got one as well.  I can't stress how important it is not to attempt to use the channel spoofing feature built in the 2600 build of Emerald, although apparently it doesn't work.

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