“We are not listening to you!”

So, it’s our world, and we should accept some responsibilities as well. One of them is the responsibility towards the community; it’s “our” community, not Linden Lab’s, and the community needs organisation ? for us to provide. All this should be obvious; all this should also explain why Linden Lab has a full-time staff of several people just to create the necessary interfaces between the residents and the company ? and I’m not talking about technical support, but the employees of LL that are supposed to empower residents in their acts of self-organisation. They allegedly encourage them, provide the required tools, meet with them, request feedback, provide guidelines and a super-structure, and get back to the Board of LL for re-arranging priorities. All this is in place for several years; and this internal structure has increased in size over time, as more and more residents manage to organise themselves.

So far, I’ve described an ideal world. One that many residents believe to be the utopian community they have envisioned. However, there are no utopias, and by definition, they cannot exist at all ? something so many tend to forget quickly. Linden Lab is not “perfect”. It’s a company made of human beings, human beings with their agendas, their thoughts, their personal choices, and their own egos. As human beings go, they are (collectively) very open-minded and they will almost always have an ear for their residents; this does not mean, however, that “having an ear” means they will listen ? they will only hear. The difference should become apparent in the next few paragraphs.

Recently, in the past half year or so, people have started to push the boundaries of these guidelines. For instance, being very open about economic transactions, a group of users (later creating their own company) have set up the first exchange of L$ vs. US$, the Gaming Open Market. At one point, where it was clear to all that an open exchange would show the world how unstable and fluctuating the economy in SL has been, LL was “forced” to intervene. The details will be forever secret, but at the end of the day, LL failed to negotiate with GOM, GOM closed, and shortly thereafter, LL set up their own exchange, LindeX. It worked quite well for a while; now it seems that LL is planning to introduce direct sale of L$. In any case, this was the first public case where LL’s policy of “let the residents rule their own world” started to put in question. The word “gommed”, meaning “don’t cross LL’s policies, or they’ll absorb you” has since then be applied to several similar efforts.

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