Wednesday, 9 January 2008

The Real Danton

Will the real Danton Sideways please stand up.

On the early TV game show To Tell the Truth, each of three contestants claimed to be a person who had done something unusual. The members of a celebrity panel voted for the one they thought was telling the truth, and the host then pronounced the famous formula shown above. In the sixties this meme inspired an episode of the Twilight Zone series, called Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up, and in the early nineties Allucquère Rosanne Stone wrote a now-classic essay on cyberspace called Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?

I'm going to reveal the real Danton. Other than in the case of a scripted robotic Non-Player Character (NPC), there is a real-life identity behind each Second Life identity. But what I'm going to reveal is the true identity of the virtual Danton, rather than of his real-life counterpart.

Because the virtual Danton himself has a hidden identity. I realized this when I thought about my last two blog posts. Why did I transition so abruptly from a humorous, consensual account of the marriage of ThePrincess and MT, to such a heavy, partisan analysis of the Second Life economy? Did I simply make an error of judgement, forgetting that what people like, and what I apparently do best, are thumbnail stories from day-to-day personal life? It's more complicated than that.

The real Danton is an avatar with a vision. He is among those whom Prokofy Neva calls the "left-libertarians," a label which Prokofy applies to Linden Labs management in general, and to Cory Ondrejka in particular. But I'm far from convinced that this label applies to Linden Labs. It may have applied to Cory Ondrejka, but he has parted ways with Linden Labs. And those who run companies must answer to the investors, which means that they are generally more concerned about maintaining profits, than about pushing any particular political philosophy. But the individual avatar Danton has full liberty to stand up and reveal his partisan engagement on the side of the "left-libertarians."

Behind Danton's immediate identity-crisis is this big question: "What am I doing here in Second Life anyway?" It's all so new to me. I hardly even know yet how to pick objects up, and I'm already trying to define my role in the micro-community of CDS. I think it's clear that the material aspects are a low personal priority. In my house I'm satisfied with one sofa and two chairs; I'm still running around in my dirty leather jacket; and I have yet to graduate beyond making plywood boxes. I do have various in-world fantasies of a practical nature, such as to build a Centre for the Promotion of Convivial Tools, or to found an in-world cooperative business with a few colleagues. But what interests me most is writing.

So I've been thinking about where I can go with that. I had hopes of doing something with this blog, but it is starting to look difficult. I made a bit of a splash with one or two articles because it was new, and because I sent IMs to the entire group announcing my posts. But I'll never have either the notoriety or the content to achieve the success of someone like Gwyneth Llewellyn. I played with the idea of trying to do a blog about CDS. For example, I could interview local residents about what they do, playing the role of a "Hamlet Au of CDS." But even that seems hard to sustain. So I've come up with a plan B.

We should start a CDS newspaper, to which all would-be writers from CDS could contribute. I seriously propose that we should pool our energies, and create a local newspaper, which we could call something like the "CDS Herald." That way I could contribute articles about the community, a la Hamlet Au, which might actually be seen and read by other CDSers. And I could then reserve this blog for left-libertarian rants, which no one other than myself would ever read.

1 comment:

dyerbrookME said...

"Blindfolds in place, panel?"

I don't think I've ever called Corey Linden a left-libertarian, exactly. He's sort of a hippie cyber socialist alternating with anarcho-capitalist tendencies -- the contradictions inherent in all this was finally crystallized for me in this apparently famous essay on "The California Ideology" which you can google.

I think it would be good if a newspaper were to emerge that could have news, satire, cartoons, classifieds that was not tied to the land baron business, or banks, or to a TV station that gets $1000 US for ad space. So I think a critical journal/paper on the left, if it weren't rabid sectarianism like those idiots in SL Left Unity, might play an important role. But it would have to be open to writers across the spectrum, because there is nothing that gets older faster than reading look-alike Guardian or Nation ranters day after day saying the same thing over and over, that Bush is evil, American is a mass murdering capitalist conspiracy, and where's my invitation to my semester teaching in New York? It should have gotten here in the mail by now...etc.

The blogs in the Frieswiththat are just too much inside baseball to stay tuned into for long.

The media scene in SL is fairly dismal now, with the Herald jammed into the one groove of griefer/porn/fake Internet law and with other papers mainly about the ads selling the stories about the ad buyers to sell more ads.