Many dear friends have chosen not to blog this week, striking in protest against Linden Lab's foolish and overreaching brand-protection policies. I've given quite a bit of thought to the issue over the past few days: it would be easy enough to join them by default: I don't have the time to blog this week anyway. Friendship and laziness could reinforce each other; easy enough to stay away.
But I can't do that. I'm taking the time to post, to cross the virtual picket line, for a principle that I think is of overwhelming importance.
Silence is *always* complicity in oppression. The one obligation of the dissident, the sole moral response in the face of oppression, is to SPEAK OUT. To never relent, to never be silent, to never allow the oppressor a single moment's peace, to make the case for freedom and justice to anyone who can listen, at any time, anywhere Passivity enables oppression.
Seeing a wrong and refusing to speak out is not a tactic, it's a moral failing - and one I've been guilty of, in focusing on building something positive in Extropia to the complete exclusion of criticizing Linden Lab's increasing demonstrations of contempt for its Residents.A generation of AIDS activists pioneered the slogan, SILENCE = DEATH.
Imagine if their response to official discrimination, to neglect by researchers and pharmaceutical companies, had been to *remain silent* until the world changed around them!
The rationale behind the blog strike seems to be that blogging about Second Life (no, I'm not conforming to Linden Lab's demands that I forgo nominative fair use. Let them come after me if they want) legitimizes or promotes Linden Lab's actions in some way.
Let's have a little realism about the nature of power, please? The commercial blogs - New World Notes, Massively and their ilk - aren't striking. The rest of them - fashionistas, SLebrities, microbusiness promotional blogs and personal journals - don't contribute any measurable amount to Linden Lab's revenues or to its ever more tattered reputation.
Linden Lab has been overreaching, deaf to its customers at best and actively hostile to them (Robin Linden and identity "trust," anyone?). They deserve to be called out, to be pressed to change. Second Life Residents and users should be informed of Linden Lab's actions and encouraged to take action. Our grievances are legitimate, and we should do something about them.
- Education and outreach. The bloggers who've chosen to remain silent this week have done a wonderful job until now. I've learned a tremendous amount from Gwyneth Llewellyn and Kit Meredith about my rights, and how Linden Lab's actions have threatened them. Those of us without the knowledge base and skills to analyze the situation in the first instance can spread the word - speak out, link, post a supportive comment.
- Collective action, not collective incation. Organize and join in mass attendance at Linden's office hours. Organize educational events, speakers, and mass protests inworld, where they can be seen, and where our numbers can be counted.
- Escalation. The frontline Lindens are deaf, inept, destructive? Write and petition the Board of Directors individually. Write to Linden Lab's investors, explaining how Linden Lab's actions are damaging the value of their investment. Call out Mitch Kapor inworld and at atomic world events. Hold him accountable for corporate actions.
- Cashing out. If you're upset enough - and I confess I'm not - cash out. Dump your Premium account, the three or four of you who still have one. Dump your landholdings. Stay out of the world. Make an impact that shows up on the concurrency and economic statistics. Linden Lab is using economic and legal tools against you? Use them back.
Okay, big talk for someone who hasn't stood up against Linden Lab's actions in months. It's easy to complain from the cheap seats, something I've seriously not appreciated when it's been directed at me. Do I have money to put where my mouth is (and if that isn't one of the more disgusting images in English figures of speech, I don't know what is)?
Here's what I've got.
- Once a week, here, or where this blog may end up moving to, I'm going to post a "for dummies" analysis of Linden Lab's problematic policies - and give them credit for whatever they may get right. I'll link to all the first-line smart commentary and analysis I'll be drawing from - and hopefully our intellectual leaders will come off strike and supply me with some material to work from!
- I'm going to offer Extropia's facilities: an expanded set of conference rooms, lecture halls, media displays and our mighty marketing engine, for an Anti Silence Day.
- You striking bloggers: I'll give you a stage and an audience.
- You Lindens: I'll issue you an invitation to show up and explain yourselves - or *you* can stand silent and ineffectual while *we* take control of the message.
- You concerned Residents: I'll give you a chance to show up, be counted, get informed, and get inspired.
- You veteran activists: I'll call on you to teach us, lead us, politicize and empower us. Show us how to be effective agents for change. Give us the tools that have been proven to work in worlds like ours.
I'm not an intellectual analyst, not a veteran activist, not an influential heavyweight. I'm a pretty good marketer and events organizer with a blog. Those of you who *are* leaders - there's my contribution.
Will you take me up on it, put it to use, and ACT UP?