Wednesday, June 29, 2016

News and Commentary: Questions Concerning Sansar and Real-Life Names Continue

By Bixyl Shuftan

I may not have erred so much after all.

It was about a week ago in which I wrote an article about Ebbe Altberg / Ebbe Linden's appearance at "Meet the Lindens" at the Second Life Birthday. Not having a recorder, I took handwritten notes the best I could, and from what I had heard, it seemed Ebbe Linden was leaning towards, though not necessarily strongly supporting, Sansar requiring it's users to go by their real life names. As it turned out, I had missed a few lines of dialouge afterwards in which he stated he favored users retain the ability to go about anonymously. And so I retracted that part of the article.

Hamlet Au, whom had put his spotlight on my article over the issue, wasn't yet ready to call the matter settled just yet. He did get in touch with Peter Gray (Peter Linden), who stated no, Sansar would not require users of Sansar to use their Real-Life identities. But his enquiries to Ebbe Linden went unanswered. Going by the line I had missed, "do I want that people in Sansar should be able to walk around anonymously? Absolutely!" That line certainly sounds like a desire to continue to use online pseudonyms.

But what about the line "But I think what would be best for Sansar would be real names, and then the ability to have personas underneath that." And then there was his earlier comparison of Second Life, which he called on "the far spectrum of the anonymity side," and Facebook, which he called "probably the most successful real system on planet Earth," which relied on real names. this was followed by his saying "we're trying to think of ways of potentially mixing these models."

So what he could have been saying is that Linden Lab is thinking of a system for Sansar in which users can go about inside the virtual world using inworld pseudonyms, but requiring the use of real-life identities for signing up for accounts to go on there.

Hamlet Au had five questions he wanted Ebbe Linden to answer:

1. Will Project Sansar only require users' real names to be registered with the company and by default, only be known by the company (in normal circumstances)?

2. Under what circumstances will Linden Lab reveal Project Sansar users' real names to authorities?

3. Under what circumstances will Linden Lab reveal Project Sansar users' real names to other users?

4. In Project Sansar, will displaying real names in a user's publicly viewable account be opt-in, or opt-out?

5. In Project Sansar, will Facebook Connect or other linking with a user's Facebook account be mandatory?

Hamlet Au went on to comment, " At this point, I think the only thing we can be sure of is Sansar will require users to register their real names internally on the system, but still allow some level of anonymous and/or pseudonymous identity and activity -- but how much, and with whom, and in what contexts, are not yet clearly laid out. At the same time, it's also clear Linden Lab's CEO has a personal preference for making real names primary -- but how that will actually be implemented is still unclear."

* * * * *

Of my less than completely accurate statement, I have yet to see where anyone truly slammed me for it. At most, what was stated was, "this isn't exactly what he was saying." And Hamlet Au upon hearing the news found what I thought was being considered hard to believe, but chalked it up to a misunderstanding such as possibly a "telephone error."

Talking about the matter with friends, everyone who had an opinion felt I was overreacting upon realizing the error I had made. Several expressed skepticism with Sansar even after my correction, but for other reasons such as being unable to move anything over there, concerns that Linden Lab might take the opportunity to correct what it saw as "mistakes" it had made with Second Life by not allowing or restricting certain abilities and freedoms. One commented the only thing I did wrong was that it was an accident, thinking it would do the paper good if I did an "National Enquirer" style story once in a while.

No thanks. Aside from obvious fictional stories like the "Tales from Podex" and the April Fool articles, we'll be sticking with the truth. We always have. And considering certain characters over the years such as zFire Xue, Flashdust Lamington, and Monkey Wonder, concerning Linden blunders that helped sink the SS Galaxy and the Steelhead Estates, and more recently the antics of political groups, Second Life journalists don't need to make things up. Eventually controversy appears on it's own somewhere.

In any event, it's a relief to hear that my journalistic instincts really were pointing in the right direction.

Sources: Hamlet Au, Inara Pey

Bixyl Shuftan

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