A Work of Dark and Gothic Fictionalism
A Tale of Trolls
A Tale of Trolls
It was a dark and stormy night as I sat alone in one of the decaying mansions of the Garden District, pen in hand, while the wind pummeled the rotting timbers and moaned down the chimney, scattering ominous shadows higgeldy-piggeldy, hither and yon.
I had used my contacts in the FIC, the FOC and the FOC2 to put the text out on the digital streets of the Metaverse, and on this eerie night suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. I leapt up, ignoring the trembling of my hands and opened the door...
No one was there. Puzzled, I began to close the door when a plaintive and ill-tempered squeak caused me to look down. My hopes were realized; there, dripping on my porch, was the dimunitive figure of the notorious and controversial Hamster Oh, around whom much furor has recently fulminated.
Stumping into my study, the grumbling Mr. Oh threw himself into my own comfortable chair before the fire, picked up my half-finished snifter of Remy Martin Louis XIII which had served as the bait and thus began this interview.
HO: I hear you want to talk to me.
MS: I thought you might like to tell your side of the story.
HO: What story?
MS: The story everyone's talking about.
HO: There isn't any story! The story is, I do journalism! I report about things which are cool, because I report about them! When I report them, they are cool, and people who disagree with that are all part of a vast conspiracy...
MS: A conspiracy? [disingenuous eyeblinkery]
HO: Yes!!! For years I thought Professor Nova was off her rocker, with the FIC and the Communist-Hippie-Techno rants and all that shouting, but now I know it's all true! There is a core; nay, a large core, more like a huge core with just a little skin wrapped around it actually; almost a whole apple if you will, of intransigent and filthy Second Lifers who are determined to destroy a free press; who refuse to recognize wisdom, to move on; I mean, get with the program and realize SL is dead, dead, dead; hung by the neck. And this isn't An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge; no one's going to wake up in what feels like 5 years and realize it was only the single minute before their neck snapped!
MS: But "SL is dead" seems to be in direct contradiction to your pronouncements at ETech in 2008 [snaps on You Tube video "Why Second Life Won't Go Away"] -
"... a lot of the hype and backlash misses the picture... mirrored flourishing... bebop reality... 3D virtual jazz... impression society... not a capitalist society... the gold standard; talent and creativity... sustained interactivity... that's how people know whether you are serious or not about being part of the world."
HO: Yes, I said that then! I mean, why deny it, it's on You Tube. I was pushing my book! Everybody does it. Plus I was the embedded reporter for Second Life, like being with the Army over in Iraqistan; it was great.
MS: And that was also before you left SL to hang around in Blue M'arse, where you were also the inbedded reporter?
HO: Yes. I was deep in BM, which was the future, and from that future I could look into my past and say hey, I was in Second Life; I wrote a book about it. I even wore an ice-cream suit like Tom Wolfe. Go look at my Harper Collins Speaker's Bureau page. I write for everybody! I'm a logical empiricist, scientific triumphalist mofo.
MS: So if Blue M'arse was the future, what happened?
HO: [glares] What happened was that ungrateful wretches of Second Life refused to believe me when I said SL was dead and that BM was the future. I kept on and on about how great BM was, especially for retailers, I mean it would be eventually, when there was people there, and stuff to buy. But they didn't come.
All the reasons that they gave were just lies; I mean, just excuses. I am sure this was orchestrated by the FOC, the Fetid Outer Core. Those little [unprintable] convinced everyone that BM was a turd and it wouldn't float long. It was a complete smear job! Despite my superior arguments, the FOC brainwashed people into believing that they were actually having fun in Second Life, swarming amidst the decaying ruins, eating rats and playing zombie-tag. It was sick.
MS: But Blue M'arse didn't live long.
HO: That's directly because of the FOCing Residents! They are horrid people. Prof. Nova was right; they exist at all levels of Second Life. Oh, perhaps they don't meet in hidden, smoke-filled rooms, but they are a conspiracy nonetheless! The classic definition of a conspiracy is a bunch of people who all agree. These... people... you can read their blogs. They all have the same opinion.
But Blue M'arse isn't dead! That's one of the lies those liars are lying about. It's part of their propaganda. BM is now an iPhone© app-thingie. I mean, that's the wave of the future; experiencing a complex and graphically-intense 3D world on a bitty 3-inch screen with stopped-down graphics is definitely cutting-edge. Plus, it will definitely push the bandwidth meter, and you know that means big money in the future. Imagine monetizing IMs and Group Notices! It's no wonder top-notch developers are begging to work in that environment.
MS: Ummm... yeah, ok. So you came back to Second Life.
HO: No! Let's get one thing straight! I didn't come back to Second Life! Second Life is dead, honey! I am out exploring the unexplored frontiers of virtual business and profiteering! I am on the cutting edge, man; I'm bleeding! The things I am seeing... I've seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... anyway, there's tons of spacebux to be made in these emerging virtual worlds. If they don't all collapse that is.
I didn't come back to SL. I started writing about it again, because I needed stuff to write about on my blog.
MS: But if Second Life was dead, why did you start to write about it again?
HO: I didn't notice it was dead until I got back. But no one would talk to me. They said it was because I hadn't been inworld much, being in Blue M'arse. So I was stuck with writing fashion tips instead of exposes on the Emerald breast-jiggling scandal.
It was then I realized Second Life was dead, because I hadn't been writing about it. I looked around and I thought, my virtual heavens, this place is dead! I got no Invitations. I got no Notices. No one IMed me. No one was paying me rentals. It was then I began to suspect the existence of the FOC.
MS: Tell me about the FOC.
HO: They started to reveal themselves openly when I began cheerleading Viewer 2, which had a bunch of neat features to play with, like Display Names and the Sidebar just like Windows Vista©. Plus it was getting almost Spacebook-like, and everyone knows Spacebook makes buttwads of cash, and the smart money will always bet on buttwads of cash; it's a given.
So these intransigent users, these stubborn donkeys, of which there are far more than I had previously realized... they started to mock the viewer; they kept on whining and complaining about things they said were crucial, like reliable sim crossings and stable asset servers and stupid things like that. Stability and so on. I mean, this stuff was so 2007, man, it was so old. You can't stand still on the slippery slope of the cutting edge by thinking of old stuff. You have to move on. These people just aren't with it. They're hanging on, like barnacles or old people in an iron lung. You have to pull the plug sometime.
MS: So there was the Viewer Spe... [HO narrows eyes] I mean, Viewer 2 controversy [sweat drop]. What about the transparency thing? You had said in your We Make Money Not Art interview in 2006,
"The unique advantage to reporting from virtual worlds, however, is a high degree of anonymity, with a citizenry made up of people from around the world, and a roleplaying aspect that enables us to see essential or archetypal conflicts involving themes of, for example, identity, economic resources and sociopolitical conflict, which play out in a purer form."
... but as recently as last November you were saying:
“There’s no example of a virtual world for adults who are totally anonymous avatars substantially growing on a mass market level.”
... and have been championing the linking up of databases and connecting all online presence with real-life accountability...
HO: It's the future, and I write about the future, not the past! We have to think about the future here. People don't pay you to write about the past. Well, they pay history teachers and stuff to do that, but not much. In the future, some people stand to make a huge amount of money, billions of dollars on these things, these virtual worlds or whatever. This is serious; these are high stakes! I don't have time to write about breedable monkeys anymore.
Second Life is here now, and by definition now is not the future. What's happening now is tomorrow's past, and the past is dead. You can't make money in the past. Try selling horses to Alexander the Great; you won't get anywhere. It's time these virtual idiots woke up and smelled the digital Starbucks - whatever they're doing now doesn't matter, because it's the past. Or it soon will be, if I have anything to say about it.
The future is all about marketing. It's about datacrunching; about projected income streams, about the cloud. It's about Web 3P0 and micropayments and accountability. It's about who shot first, Han or Greedo? It's about taxes. Obviously the Lab is on the way out; they didn't get the huge influx of Spacebookers that they wanted in their economic window with the introduction of Viewer 2, even with all the snappy features. They didn't hustle.
Business is like a shark - it has to keep moving or die. And it has to savagely tear apart and eat anything slower or with less teeth than itself. That's just the nature of business.
MS: So why are people upset?
HO: It's because of those goddam FOCers! First, they started contradicting me when I tried to write nice things about the Boys again, because I missed getting invites to all the cool parties where I could hang out with my Lab posse, so after Blue M'arse crumbled beneath my feet, which I admit I didn't see coming despite all those FOCers pointing out inconvenient things in their blogs about it, I thought I'd write some nice posts and try to get in good with the Boys again and get some freebies.
But the FOCers spoiled that. They were mocking Viewer 2 en masse, which made me feel bad for the Boys. I tried to set the story straight; I pointed out that these people, these intransigent stick-in-the-muds, were ungratefully overlooking all the nice shiny things the Lab had turned out for them; all that work, those man-hours, wasted, man! It was shocking. Then these trolls, these losers, they had the unmitigated gall to contradict me!
That's when I started to notice this bunch of FOCers and how much influence they had over the blogosphere. They had no flag; they had no overt means of identifying themselves. They were like terrorists, wormed through the entire structure of the metaverse.
MS: So, these FOCers... they are responsible for the huge outpouring of Anti-Hamsterism that has swept the blogging community in recent weeks?
HO: Sure they are! When I stated that SL was dead, and that this bunch of creeping, slithering FOCers, who have the nerve to call themselves 'Residents' were directly responsible for the firing and hanging of many Lindens, I was only giving my opinion, backed by countless hours of promoting myself, that what I said was the truth.
MS: What about your own analysis of June, 2010 about the huge layoff of Lindens? How could the FOCers be responsible for that if that was before the introduction of Viewer P.. 2?
HO: That is the frightening thing. These FOCers can evidently move back and forth in time and completely damage my credibility by recalling my own pronouncements! Like when I fearlessly challenged Mark Kingdon on the Openspaces controversy, even though I was inbedded with the Lab at the time; still, I showed them! Press credentials, stickin' it to The Man, yahoo! It was like like being Deep Throat and Woodward and Bernstein all at once. It was heady. I'd like to see Dennis Hopper play me in that part of the movie.
When I said "How To Save Second Life In 7 Easy Steps" last year, pointing out:
"Linden’s profitability has been eroded by company efforts to turn SL into a real world business platform and improve the complicated user interface"
... that was before I realized that a bunch of people were expressing this opinion and had been blogging about it while I was playing with mesh in Blue M'arse, so it was old. No one would talk to me anymore. They said it was because I was in BM too much and not SL, but that was only a cover story. I know now that even then those FOCers were gaining strength. They kept on pointing out things like my take on content theft and things like that; really embarrassing things. They kept bringing up the past. It was a concerted campaign.
MS: So you reprimanded them.
HO: Yes, I reprimanded them! They stopped believing in me! I began to realize that SL was dead, populated by zombies who were too hypnotically cozened to realize that asking for basic improvements and stability in the platform was a pipe dream, some namby-pamby techno-hippie commie dreamland. That is when I found the writings of Professor Nova, which changed my life.
The Professor has bravely soldiered on for years, exposing the evil and Machiavellian lengths to which this conspiracy of naysayers, these nattering nabobs of negativism, those hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history, these vicars of vacillation, these pusillanimous pussyfooters will go to in order to discredit the voices of Reason, despite dire and foul attacks on her writings and even, should she be believed, to sap and impurify all of her precious bodily fluids. Of course, people say that the Professor is crazy, so I had to invent a new term, the Fetid Outer Core, for these intransigents...
I began trying to be reasonable with this group; I tried calmly explaining how their world, which they perceived to be up-and-running, was dead; as dead as Linux is because of Ubuntu. I tried to explain to them the importance of being tracked everywhere they go in cyberspace in order to sell their marketing data, because everyone knows this is the future, so you'd better get used to it and hop on the bandwagon.
Then, to be honest, I got fed up and called them all a bunch of losers. I mean, it's true; they were still in Second Life and I wasn't, not really. I popped in now and then when I needed stuff to write on my blog, because I couldn't write about BM anymore, obviously. So I spoke out about the zombie menace I perceived as emerging from this dead world.
MS: And that is when this backlash happened?
HO: Yes! It was an organized campaign. First one blogger contradicted me, then a huge landslide, a wave, it just smashed into me. I was just perplexed. These people in a dead world, they should respect the dead and be quiet. But no, they have no manners nor morals, as Professor Nova sadly found out. They will stop at nothing.
They claim to offer facts, babbling about stability and morons with shiny candy and profess to speak about lofty matters like how to run a business, when everyone knows they are a bunch of furry vampire clotheshorses that just mainly have cybersex all the time and are basically children, evil children, like those kids in Lord of the Flies.
Mostly it is only a Fetid Inner Corps, a corps from a corpse you might say; hey, I just copyrighted that so don't use it as your own... these FOCers are only a small, a tiny minority; the ones with blogs; the ones who pretend to care deeply about their world but at the same time openly knock it down.
One of them, one of their leaders, "The Gardener," had the temerity to attack me openly! First she disagreed in public on my own blog, which was just plain rude and very unprofessional, because in a business situation you are supposed to keep disagreements like that in private and not air your dirty laundry all over the boardroom, and then to top it off, when I gently tried to enlighten her and straighten her out as to why her own opinion was just that, an opinion, and hardly counted against my many years of professional journalism and savvy-insider a priori knowledge... this little weed-puller started a campaign on Twitter called #crushtheinfidelhamster! I mean, that's terrorism right there! That is a terrible thing to do to someone; cut off their Twitter followers. It's nasty. It's like something Al Qaeda would do.
MS: So the real problem, from your point of view, is that no one listens to you anymore?
HO: Yes! No! That isn't it at all! The real problem is these FOCers! They are polluting innocent minds! Minds that should be playing Cowville! Minds that should be reporting their whereabouts and not skulking about in a virtual world! Minds that should have their most sensitive personal data available to companies who wouldn't care less if their security was breached, in order to sell them things and turn the Big Wheel which is Commerce and will Save Virtual Worlds!
I tried; I really tried. I mean, I wrote a book about it. I was as blind as anyone. At first I loved Second Life. It's like Charlie the Unicorn; first you think it's all cute and good to eat, like Candy Mountain, but then you realize it was all a fantasy and that you're no Anshe Chung and they took your frickin' kidney.
Still, everything would have been fine, fine, if people would have just listened to me and gone to Blue M'arse or Opensim. Maybe the Boys, recognizing my superior intelligence and business savvy as well as my cult of personal magnetism, would have wooed me back, and I could have changed my mind and brought all those consumers back to SL like the Pied Piper leading the little children of Hamelin back home. That would have been triumphant, eh?
Instead, they took offense at a cool and purely professional analysis of their red-handed guilt in the June 2010 shooting of 30% of the Lindens and their warmongering and hating on Viewer 2. They began an active campaign complaining about things that had been complained about long before. They started to stalk my blog. They stalked me in Twitter; they stalked me all over the Internet. They started to make up facts and refuted me with their insouciant clever words... I understand they have a Pixie as a speechwriter now, and a Wizard... those FOCers... goddamn FOCERS!!!
[sounds of smashing glass]
I quietly and unobtrusively gathered my few meager things and softly but hastily hastened towards the sagging door of the mansion, while the sounds of smashing and a furious chittering, interspersed with a sharp clicking of teeth, faded at my back. I carefully wrapped the hairs which I had gathered from the Hamster in a clean silk square thrice-blessed by the Goddess Netrice to give to my superiors in the Vatican Assassin Warlocks. The FOCers would be pleased too.
"Foc2, Hamster!" I whispered into the moon-drenched night.
The preceeding was a work of fiction, pretending to be a fictional interviewer fictionally interviewing a ficticious character. All alleged references to any living persons are purely fictitious, allegedly. For entertainment value only. Offer void where prohibited, inhibited or contraindicated by law. We Await Silent Tristero's Empire.