by prokofy on 13/06/07 at 12:35 am


By Prokofy Neva, Kremlindenologist

More missing Lindens : (

Mournfully, I moped around Sutherland, steeling myself for that lonely, chilly vigil out on the Sea of Omidyar once again. Looking to the darkening synthetic skies and the overlarge angry sun, I felt my heart sink. I needed some other strategy. Uri had whispered, “Don’t think they all swim with the fishies…” I wracked my brains, wondering what other Linden Places I could seek. None of them pulled up anymore on the search…but then, nothing else pulled up either. I flew around Waterhead listlessly, then headed out to Pooley. It was hard to imagine there’d be any clue buried in the brilliant white porcelain and steel men’s room build…I dodged some hurtling newbs and stared at the gleaming arches of the build…the scaffolding of the Metaverse…then at the map again…

Suddenly, spying the Temple, I got an idea.


What if some of the Lindens disappeared not because they sank to the bottom of the sea, their pockets filled with rocks out of the library landscaping folder and heavy copies of the F1 Knowledge Base, but instead, had…leveled up? Gone beyond our world? What if those higher levels of Strategic SL I had only barely touched in fact contained stages that were higher than Office Lindens, but not yet Palindens?

Suddenly, my IM window was blinking. It was a man named Peter. I was about to bat him away, as I remember the last time he IM’d me he sent me a press release on a notecard but it said YOU DO NOT HAVE PERMISSIONS TO READ THIS because he couldn’t figure out how to perm it up first. I braced myself for a Hypervent pre-cooked insta-article that later some lazy journo would simply drop into his news corp’s web site template the next day. Sigh. “Sorry I haven’t been in touch,” he was saying. He sounded curiously muffled. “But there was so much going on with the transition…”

“Transition?” I echoed, peering at his profile closer. His surname was “Millionsofus”. And there are millions of the minions, they have all kinds of peeps working for them. Suddenly the tumblers dropped and I ventured a query. “Have you dried out yet?!” I IM’d back. “I’m reading your piece now…it’s humorous so far…,” he noted. “You’re not…are you…you couldn’t be…Lawrence Linden???” I roared. “Yes,” blinked the IM. “I’m technical director of MOU now,” he explained, blandly. “Then you’re…you’re not drowned…you’re…a Palinden!” I gasped. I’ll save the rest of the story for another day. “But what have they done with Altruima?” I asked. Silence…Omerta….

Back on SC, the idiots were concocting theories that Altruima was a kind of code for “Alt R U I Am A” or “Am I U R T LA” — some other Linden’s alt. Torley, they said. Hermia, I was guessing (Hermia’s missing, too. Anybody?). We had heard they would start taking their own names from real life, and then we’d never find them.

Once they were no longer visible online, once they no longer had their happy, friendly, huggie-bear names, they were like names in a telephone book…you had to know they were there to look. Or like a book in the Lenin Library. You had to know to *ask* in order to *get*.

I scoured the steps of the Temple, almost as many as Chichin Itza, looking behind each pillar. Nothing. Out in back, pushed out of sight, but still technically “there” so as to check off a box somewhere, was the famous “policies” sheet that we had long ago asked for on that bright early September morning at a meeting with Philip and Robin in the job recruitment center. Within some 60 days, finally they came up with an answer to our question about whether they had any ethics guidelines. The long delay suggested that they had to get busy *writing* them (or, as some suggested, carefully excising them out of the cult manual known as the Tao of Linden such as not to reveal any cult secrets). Or…I didn’t want to think about what else it might mean…


Juggling many balls…the whirling of a resident artwork caught my eye. “Power Trippy.” Never fails to inspire my best thinking about how the Lab and its Experiments work…

Pathfinder’s office in Ambleside was deserted. The balloon ride area nearby had somehow filled up with casinos, plywood, and money-pay scams. I IM’d a Linden who batted away my landmark to the problem Linden site with junk on it, with a DECLINED YOUR INVENTORY, but then I watched, mysteriously, as the content on the non-autoreturn land began to melt away. Where was Pathfinder? Perhaps he had already left for the League of Worlds summit — a non-descript but highly powerful conclave of game gods secretly putting into place a world cabal of virtual reality makers.

PF used to actually sit in the world — that’s a luxury he can’t afford anymore, as he is swept away to the edu sims, then RL edu conferences…then on to rule the world. With a new satellite office, Pathfinder is only a few levels shy of Palinden; a few more grinds, a few more job fairs leaving crass wannabees with their icecubes melting in their drinks and whisking away the FICerati potentials up to the VIP room to seize their minds — and walla, he will be at the coveted master level of Palinden, having spent more time questing and grinding than, say, Reuben or Ben or Hamlet, but then, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and Pathfinder could probably beat them up, easy, if they had to decide which Linden got to keep their own island/company with the coveted licensed copy of SL all contained in a little gigabyte lanyard thingie around their necks with the eye-hand logo gleaming….A copy…a copyright…

I fell to thinking about Ginsu Linden. All this legal-beagle stuff — Bragg v. Linden, German Police v. pedophiles…common carriers…safe harbours…Where *was* that guy, lately? He wasn’t talking. Maybe on the advice of his lawyer! I flipped through the forum, looking for Linden answers…looking…before I realize that of course they’d taken that away. Searched the blog…then recalled something out of the corner of my eye, maybe a Twitter, maybe a Jaiku…

….Ah, there it was. Virtual Goods Summit 2007, one of those $500-a-pop conference circuit jobbies (Ok, well, $395), a typical watering hole for the Metarati, thinly disguised as a “conference,” and actually a sinister cartel out to fix prices on the top virtual commodities through smokey back-room deals and hushed conspiracy. Speakers List. Ginsu Linden, whose real name is Gene Yoon. I read the bio note carefully: “Gene handles a variety of business matters for Linden Lab, including international market development, corporate and business development, and external developer programs. He was also previously the company’s general counsel and provided interim leadership for finance.”

Previously the company’s general counsel. So…it wasn’t the case that he was combining two impossible jobs, and that mean somebody *else* had to be in that job, but…B’rer Rabbit, he lay low…And wouldn’t you, if it was Fox News on line one calling again about the kiddie diddlers?

Maybe I could figure out who had gotten this thankless portfolio by browsing the list…but no…there were hundreds of hundreds of Lindens, working through bee all the way to Workingonit Linden — cute as a button! Too many…the forest for the trees…

I flew on. A guy at a mall was sending me a group I needed to join to place prims. All the 25 slots were used up. I went over my groups once again, stopping at the sacred group entrusted to conduct the moth rituals at the Iris Temple, the one group I had formed that a Linden had joined, and stayed in, my one little tiny piece of FIChood, the one thing that made Ingrid Ingersoll absolutely crazy, because in the Jack Linden Appreciation Society, she had to *share*…Perusing the group and remembering the storming of the temple with a hundred whirring wings, I was suddenly startled to see the Linden name, that had hung there for *years* was now missing from my group. Feeling a pang in my heart I looked in the People List. Gone…Xenon Linden, one of the chief content makers of the world, who gave the world its very look and feel, with dams and roads and buildings. He had designed the Moth Temple in Iris based on a RL temple in Bangkok; he had built the great wall across the atoll continent and other things, back when the Lindens cared enough to give us a few broad brushstrokes to stoke our imagination, and felt like beloved caretakers.



Slipped away…Xenon. Gone. Probably, like Ben, because they didn’t need content production anymore, not even residents are supposed to make it, but Big Corporations. Teleporting to Iris, I sat atop a flickering lantern that attracted the moths and struggled to catch a glimpse of any clue in the particle fires billowing up to fill a giant balloon. I never knew what that balloon was for, but once I had had a completely freaky experience that couldn’t possibly have happened. I right-clicked and sat on the balloon. Then I happened to teleport, while still sitting on it, to Columbia — after they finally put in p2p. *And the balloon came with me to the other sim.” No, shaking my head in disbelief, not possible. Not physically possible. Except…maybe…



Somehow, perusing the slide-show Xenon had once put on for us out at the Iris Temple to explain the history of all the builds on the atoll continent (I must get that posted again!), I had an instinct that Xenon was safe. That he wasn’t swimming with the fishes…or for that matter, with the sharks of the metaversal agencies…that he might be out there somewhere, heading up the creative department of some movie or television company or perhaps happily at work on some secret new game of some better new game god…


I flew further, out to the docks of Istar, on to Waved, hoping to find comfort in the light of the moth lanterns, and glancing up and finding it was only 8 pm and the slanted sky was just darkening, perhaps I’d see some of the moths Eric Linden had set loose to buzz by the lamps, attracted to the light.

Staring into the murk of ugly spinning for-sale signs and body parts and sex organs for sale, I was disturbed to see the lanterns not shining. I knew they turned off at a certain time — was it later than I imagined. I waited for the world to rez…maybe the textures aren’t rezzing…waited…

All the moth lanterns were gone. Gone. Not a one left along the atoll boardwalk. Some Linden had removed them — completely. Perhaps Xenon had grabbed them before he left, hoping to light his way to a Better World…perhaps some soulless Accounting Linden, concerned about prims or script overload had decided to delete them as “excess”…their absence was a stark reminder of the old days, the days when the virtual world gods used to make little content surprises, Easter Eggs they called them, to delight us…and we were delighted.



Staring at the darkened, blighted, muddy waters of Waved, I wondered if I could ever get the lanterns back. Somehow, I had to try…


31 Responses to “LEVELING UP LINDENZ”

  1. JTG

    Jun 13th, 2007

    I don’t think lindens like to be called bolsheviks so they avoided you

  2. Arden Voss

    Jun 13th, 2007

    What a wonderfully written and sad account.

  3. Inigo Chamerberlin

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Hmmmm, I wonder…?

    You know, if I were setting up a SL competitor I might just go out and see if I couldn’t hire me a few carefully selected, talented and decent Lindens…
    Seems to me Second Life got going with the assistance of cert Therian and TSO former employees?

  4. Nicholaz Beresford

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Kudos again, Proky … Kudos!

  5. csven

    Jun 13th, 2007

    It’s not just Lindens missing. And it’s not just “official” Hotline (policy) questions like the one’s I asked regarding Trademark and whether a real company could enter SL (reference – http://blog.rebang.com/?p=1038 ). While doing a forum search last week I discovered that a resident post implicating a Linden in something they shouldn’t have done has disappeared. The thread is there, but bits have apparently been erased; and I’d be willing to bet it wasn’t the resident who erased it.

    Probably not news, but I’ve not read anything about these subtle deletions. Torley responded to my earlier mention of the missing Trademark guidance (forget on which blog), saying it was accidental. Perhaps. But this recent vanishing has the mark of covering tracks.

  6. Sn4X15

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Ever consider that some people go on vacation with *GASP* their familes in the summer?

    http://poolsclosed.nexisonline.net/news/index.php/2007/06/12/lindens-leveling-up/ for a full explanation on this rare phenomenon of vacation. I might edit it for a definition on “families”.

  7. urizenus

    Jun 13th, 2007

    great essay Prok!

    @ inigo: yeah there are some stealth virtual world projects in the works that probably should be hiring up some dev talent about now. Expect more Lindens to level up shortly.

  8. Prokofy Neva

    Jun 13th, 2007

    >Ever consider that some people go on vacation with *GASP* their familes in the summer?

    It’s not summer yet.

    And when you go on vacation, you don’t have to get your avatar removed from the People List. It’s when they are gone from the People List for a really long time, i.e. not just on Lindy Stealth Mode, that you realize — they’re gone.

  9. Tenshi Vielle

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Goddamnit, Prok. I was heartily reading your article for once until I got to the point where you *had* to insult Ingrid. You old bitch.

  10. Glittercrotch Realplayah

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Are there TWO PROKS??? MORE THAN TWO???

    I know Prokofy knows how to properly format paragraphs of quotes – and I’m sure a worldly person like Prok would not spell “viola!” as “walla”. WTF?

    No wonder you write more pages of text than Herman Mellville three times a day (at least HE was getting paid by the word)!

    I submit that you are not doing this by yourself but have at least one other person writing for you – or with you, evidenced by the non-uniform writing styles in your various posts during any given day. Either that or you’re just schizophrenic.

    Just how many Proks are you?

  11. marilyn murphy

    Jun 13th, 2007

    i liked this piece, prokofy. ty.

  12. Coincidental Avatar

    Jun 13th, 2007

    About the competitors.

    The serious competitors need expertise what LL doesn’t have.

    I think that the main competitor doesn’t actively recruit from LL, because of the structure of their company and because of their future plans.

    If those Lindens are the smartest rats to leave a sinking ship, then I wonder what they know what I don’t know.

    The May statistics confirmed that there was an unforeseen recession in in-world business, but the month was good as usual for LL.

    And today the two top results in my search for places returned casino ads as if nothing had changed. But searching for kiddie porn didn’t occur in my mind.

    Well, Lindens have been involved inappropriately in in-world affairs. When LL is deliberately unwilling and unable to control its own employees, we can expect nothing but occasional chaos in in-world. Nowadays is rumoured that earlier Lindens were involved even in griefing attacks too to derail some in-world business avatars. What might explain why Lindens have been so lazy with griefers. They can hide amongst other griefers.

  13. Maklin Deckard

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Quite moving, Prokofy. Got me thinking about a few particularly helpful, or just downright amusing, Lindens that I met which have gone beyond the second life.

  14. The 9th Circuit

    Jun 13th, 2007

    >”Just how many Proks are you?”

    Prok is no longer here.

    He is currently midway through his next 100,000,000,000,000,000 word post on another blog/post/forum near you.

  15. Ashe Whitfield

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Very well written, I think.

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    Jun 13th, 2007

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  17. DaveOner

    Jun 13th, 2007

    You guys know that people change jobs quite regularly, right? I know a few Lindens IRL that are no longer Lindens…NOT because of any internal company drama or SL contaversy but because they wanted to do something else…I don’t know…maybe NOT hear all this bullshit from residents??

    There are things other than SL in the world, guys.

  18. Coincidental Avatar

    Jun 13th, 2007

    About rat theory.

    Reuters saw worse numbers than I:

    Consequences? As we already have seen, LL policies have moved more aggressively towards I-want-it-all-and-now (money) tactics.

    The good thing is that LL is a profitable company already now, assuming that they don’t lie and assuming that their income doesn’t depend too much on unsustainable (criminal) sources. Most of the contemporary criminals will eventually withdraw from SL and meanwhile I have fun measuring the incredible slowness of law enforcement.

  19. Aski Kaurismaski

    Jun 13th, 2007

    “If those Lindens are the smartest rats to leave a sinking ship, then I wonder what they know what I don’t know.
    The May statistics confirmed that there was an unforeseen recession in in-world business, but the month was good as usual for LL.”

    Your second paragraph answers your question. With LL US$ Sales slumping down to $490K (!) on May comparing with $840K on March, LL is facing their worst recession ever.

    And the last two months weren’t “good as usual for LL”. Even if the premium memberships have increased slightly, the rate of the exchanged US$ was *negative* on April and May, for the first time in SL history.

    Those Lindens are the smartest rats with the best vision to spot the iceberg before their ship sink to the bottom of the metaverse.

  20. Gorean Furry

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Provoky is teh FIC 1.0. She is also evil incarnate.

  21. Prokofy Neva

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Re: the numbers.

    I don’t see it as rats leaving a ship. What I see it as, is casino bounce.

    The effect of the casino advertising being outlawed and the inability of casino operators to use the classifieds and search to draw campers to their establishments to camp, get paid, and feed casinos, and vendors then to pay rent, meant that some of them cashed out.

    The Lindens had to stop selling Supply Linden printed-out-of-thin-air Lindens. Lots less. That hurt. That cut into their bottom line. But they fell on their swords there so that the Linden could only fall basically a point.

    Do they buy Lindens? I guess we’ll never know.

    When campers can’t camp and get some cash, the more prudent ones that don’t feed slot machines, or the luckier ones that win at the slots, can’t go buy prim hair and prim dicks, and that causes a recession. Nobody wants to admit how much camping remains the starter fluid of the economy — stipends are not starter fluid because cynical oldbies instantly cash them out and don’t “help the economy” or else they let them sit in Ginkos for ages building their retirement nest eggs, for that day in the golden future that they migrate to Raph Koster’s Areae or whatever that new game world of his is called which sounds like one of those United Nations countries made up all of vowels that you can win contests about knowing how to spell.

  22. Thomas SLefferson

    Jun 13th, 2007


    (talking into his shoe)

    Agent 99, we need you in here ASAP!


  23. Mark

    Jun 13th, 2007

    or else they let them sit in Ginkos for ages building their retirement nest eggs, for that day in the golden future that they migrate to Raph Koster’s Areae

    LOL. 2 bucks a week! Watta nest egg!

  24. Tenshi Vielle

    Jun 13th, 2007

    Agent Thomas SLefferson, you are needed immediately at Linden Lab to investigate the disappearance of certain Lindens. Important or no, if you find them partying in Mexico, commence slapping.


  25. RachelO Orochi

    Jun 14th, 2007

    Glittercrotch, it’s spelled “voila.” A viola is a bowed stringed instrument.

    I win the spelling bee.

  26. Coincidental Avatar

    Jun 15th, 2007

    Today a search for casinos returned 131 matches. I thought about removing of the casino ads: “Made in the USA” which has become the meme of bad quality here.

    But a surprising large proportion of the casinos reported 0 (zero) traffic. They desperately need a friend in money laundry business.

    What comes to good observations about the economy, I don’t declare yet “Linden Lab was profitable” without checking the renting of private SIMs. I assume that they do not delete offensive SIMs faster than they rent.

    And according to the rumours, LL has now encountered SIM owning griefers. What did they expect after their policy shift?

    And they know very well the history of business competitor griefing in SL.

  27. Obscure Doodad

    Jun 15th, 2007

    Profitability? There is no way to know with a private company. Also, never ever underestimate the capacity of any company’s management to recharacterize expenditures as “investment”. There are several ways to GAAP consistent camouflage expenditures as a category of R&D that is NOT called a “cost” and is thus not subtracted from the top line and leaves the bottom line looking better than it is.

    Also, always look at Meta Linden’s footnote on her economics stats. Her numbers do not include payments to LL. There is some more gobbledygook there, but the phrasing has always suggested the count of all those successful avatars is before tier. Those PMLF success stories are almost certainly exaggerated — and frankly even exaggerated they don’t look too good.

    21,000 avatars out of 7.2 million are making $10USD per month pre tier. A total of only about 40,000 avatars out of 7 million have a positive monthly cash flow of ANY magnitude — and people, THINK, there are 90,000 premiums who should be guaranteed positive cash flow if they simply didn’t squander money on tier. This is horrible economic performance. Even the 90,000 avatar count with guaranteed income (pre tier and pre monthly premium payment — which are excluded) can’t make money.

    This is a game. It’s not an economy.

  28. Nathan Childs

    Jun 17th, 2007

    The first and only time I ever saw Pathfinder Linden in world was just after the announcement of his promotion and move to Boston. My partner and I danced alongside him and his dance partner at The Blue Note. I managed to get the opportunity to congratulate him on his new position.

  29. Prokofy Neva

    Jun 17th, 2007

    Wow! A rare Pathfinder sighting! Good work, Nathan! And…who was *his* dance partner?!

    Obscure, you’re right about the Positive Linden Flow stuff. It’s pre-tier. And after tier, it would be a lot less.

    If you look at the charts there are only a few hundreds who might in the living wage range of $1000-$3000 or whatever.

  30. Nathan Childs

    Jun 17th, 2007

    I am terribly sorry but I don’t recall the name of Pathfinder’s dance partner but I do wonder if she was not an alt of his. She was very quiet and I don’t recall her speaking at all. I have been over the chat log of that evening that I kept for posterity and certainly there are no clues there so whoever she was, she was not publicly whispering sweet nothings into his ear at all or he to her.

    I do recall that he danced for all the time I was there with the same partner. My partner and I were there for nearly 2hrs in all.

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