Thursday, October 1, 2009

Linking Content to Value.. How LL Might Do It

First, I am going to link you all to my fashion blog, Harper's Passion for Virtual Fashion. I have been submitting a blog daily to that endeavor for ... 70 posts now.. Ay caramba!

However, I would like to feature a little blog here about being a content designer in SL. Raven, my wonderful boss at RFyre, receives countless notices, IMs, demands, etc., daily. She is incredibly patient with them and beyond generous with her time and resources. Most of them are polite and well meaning. Some are rude. And some are just plain old stupid.

Read below:

Greetings, I own a multi-purpose adult entertainment venue & would very much like to have you sponsor one or more of our events. We would like to have you either send models or provide some of our employees with your fashions, that you are interested in showcasing. It would be fabulous if you could provide us with a prize of some sort, as we are HOUSE of RFYRE fans & are interested in promoting you in a very specific way. We already own & wear your clothing etc. & send others to you.
Thank you for your time & consideration.


Someone's Name

Owner~A Place~

We had a good laugh about this. So we wrote back (but didn't send):

Dear Someone:

We own a top of the line fashion line in SL. We would like to have you sponsor our continued existence and help Raven pay her tier and RL mortgage because to give you the kind of content you want, she does it full time. Please send models or send your friends over to shop at our store. We would love to showcase you.
It would be fabulous too if you could provide us with a prize--something like buying more of our outfits. In fact, we think everyone in your club should purchase something. Then you could sponsor US by having a Best of RFyre contest.

We love your music and love to dance on your poseballs.


House of RFyre

Then later I wrote this letter to Raven, just to push her over the edge:

Titled: *interesting* and *amazing* opportunity

(Insert Name Here)
Raven Pennyfeather

I am writing because you are a very close personal friend of mine and I think you owe it to me and yourself to hear what I have to tell you and sell you because it's the best thing in Second Life. Not only will it *improve* your business but it will also create opportunities for you. Once you discover the synergies that are created, you will be amazed and wonder why you've never spoken to me before.

I will IM you at my earliest convenience because I am a busy man, selling this to so many successful people in SL like yourself. When I do, you will be *surprised* and *amazed* and will kick yourself for having never spoken to me before. It's very economical. For 10000L, leave it all to us. You will be astounded!

Here is a lm. Use it. I have no idea where it goes but it looks official.

(no parcel), Missing Sim (128, 128, 0)

Domogato MrRoboto
CEO of Synapse Enterprises, LLC
I passed the last letter to several friends. They all said, "Hmm.. who sent this and what is their service?" They DIDN'T laugh. I asked one why he didn't laugh, and he said, "I am so used to getting this stuff I thought it was another letter you received in your business...." He paused. "You mean it's not REAL?"

I am no longer surprised. There is a deep undercurrent in SL culture that denies the hard work of content creators. This weird sort of engagement comes from a number of different sources:

1. "SL is just a game." People still consider SL a game and therefore, try to play the game by exploiting everyone else to get their means achieved.

Some are doing this very well. A media conglomerate owner who can barely rez a prim has managed to purchase 4 sims, run a magazine, have a modeling agency, create a website, and, he recently said on his new SL TV show, make a RL living out of SL. He spends a lot of time making other people do things for him to create content. And he pays them nothing or next to nothing. Which leads to my next point....

2. "Content creation does not have value. However, my brilliant idea of how to assemble it does." Content creation--creating graphic art, building with prims, scripting, writing--none of them have value. However, deciding to make a club, assemble a bunch of people to create a magazine, renting land--those somehow all have value. Both have a sort of value. Graphic art would just sit around on prims if there weren't people pitching it. However, the business of making that art is still work. And at this point, it's more skilled and more difficult work.

3. "I can't afford to pay for this stuff." There is some weird mentality that says, "The computer I use that is good enough to handle Second Life, the broadband internet connection, the ISP, the electricity--none of that is free. However, I can't afford to pay for the entertainment that I find on the Internet nor for the content I expect you to provide to promote my fun and the fun of my patrons. Therefore, the time and skills you put into content creation SHOULD be free. And you should consider it a privilege I shone down on you."

Explain that one to me.

4. "I have no idea how it's really made. Therefore, it should be free." Marx once pointed out that we were separated from the means of production--we didn't understand how things were made--and this allowed us to buy into capitalism. (OMG, YES, I just said MARX.)

He had a point that still echoes today. Many in SL are disconnected from the means by which all this rich content comes to them. They don't understand that Adobe Photoshop CS4 costs $699, that Maya costs something I can't even find online because you have to go through a dealer, that Studio 3D Max, needed to be in Blue Mars, costs even MORE. This stuff takes skill, folks, and time. And for that, I have to pay someone a measly 2 bucks so I can feel gorgeous and beautiful and have fun with my friends? It's a BARGAIN!

It doesn't help that LL puts a "Freebie" area on each Orientation Island. Yeah, it teaches people how to dress themselves and teaches them how to "buy," but it doesn't really teach them about paying.

This is my proposal, and I hope Tom Hale (T Linden) sees this, because it was at Metanomics that he said retention in SL was based on first, making a friend, and second, investing money in your avatar. When newbies enter SL, give them 500L that shows in their account that they can use to BUY things but only in Orientation. Get rid of the "Freebie" area and call it the "Store." Allow them to shop at the Orientation Store. They can meet other new friends and mentors there and shop together. Once they leave Orientation Store, they lose whatever amount of Linden they had. And make sure the content they purchase is GOOD.

Explain to them in Orientation that SL can certainly be used for free; you can negotiate the whole world without spending a penny. However, if you want to dress up your avatar, have your own land, have a house, etc.--barring making it all yourself--you need to pay for it. And this is how you do it... and send them over immediately to sign up their credit card or PayPal.

This will somehow connect content to value, to cost, to real life money. Content creators built this world for you, residents--every darn beautiful pose ball you dance with, every stinkin' prim hair you put on your mesh head (over that skin someone drew). They should be able to make money from that. They SHOULD be able to "make bank."