The Hall of Mirrors and The Real World

by Alphaville Herald on 26/09/10 at 7:17 pm

A note from the Alphaville Herald Editors

Since the Alphaville Herald’s inception in 2003, we have covered the news of online worlds and societies like no one else. You’ve enjoyed tales of griefers, scammers, virtual mafias, virtual paramilitary organizations, epic trolls, perverts, furries, babyfurs, baby unicorns, goreans, elves, online Nazis, anti-Nazis, virtual communists, dirty dealing virtual politicians, tales of favoritism, corruption, betrayal,  lots of Post Six Grrrls, and a few Post Six Guys. Through it all, one principle has remained constant: in the hall of mirrors that is the Interwebs we may never know the truth. That, and don’t drink that Moet crap.

We have watched several virtual worlds grow and then die over the last seven years, including The Sims Online, Lively, and Metaplace. We are now watching Second Life’s death spasms. We have come to realize the story was never about branded virtual real estate, but rather about the people who move like nomadic tribes, migrating across virtual worlds, the broader Net, and even the so-called real world.

Accordingly, we have not stayed confined to a branded space and have followed our subjects and audience – even into the real world – and reported accordingly. Crucially, in reporting those real world events like WikiLeaks and hacktivist actions, we have discovered we never left the hall of mirrors we navigated over the last seven years with the Herald.

Sometime we ask why traditional reporting suxxors soooo bad. Perhaps the answer is they simply can’t operate in a world of smoke and mirrors, where everyone is acting “in avatar” and true agendas are unknown. We may have not mastered the hall of mirrors, but we have lived here and find our calling is to extend the Herald’s charge beyond branded worlds to also encompass the world writ large. We like navigating in the shadowy world of hackers and spooks and Anonymous. This is where we are at home reporting. Who knows, perhaps we can even save civilization in the process.

46 Responses to “The Hall of Mirrors and The Real World”

  1. Tizzers Foxchase

    Sep 26th, 2010

    It’s harder to make alts IRL.

  2. Trinity Dejavu

    Sep 26th, 2010

    You really shouldn’t publish everything you write, might I suggest some sort of editorial process to weed out crap like this?

  3. Senban Babii

    Sep 26th, 2010

    @Tizzers Foxchase
    “It’s harder to make alts IRL.”

    Though not impossible *evil scientist cackles* Igor? Fresh brains!

    Actually for one I don’t mind the Herald covering material from outside the Second Life beat. Just think about how before SL we had The Sims Online and keep going right back through The Well and so on. Hell, some of us might even remember services like Prestel/Micronet800.

    We’re simply seeing the next step as this whole mess continues to evolve and branch. I don’t think the Herald should forget its past but it shouldn’t be limited by it either.

  4. Little Lost Linden

    Sep 26th, 2010

    Mirrors are fine, just don’t show me Arabella’s reflection in one of those mirrors. It would be more powerful than Medusa’s.

  5. MarkByrn

    Sep 26th, 2010

    …We are now watching Second Life’s death spasms…

    Perhaps and it appears that we’re witnessing the Alphaville Herald in a state of rigor mortis. Sorry to say, buy you’re going down with the ship and this desperate attempt to find some reason to continue to exist is sad.

    What was the Second Life Herald existed because of Second Life and you will cease to exist when Second Life dies. We got Huffington, Drudge, TMZ, and countless thousands of political and entertainment blogs to cover the real world. Forget the Hall of Mirrors and accept the harsh reality that your lifeline is tied to Second Life; so goes Linden, so goes you.

  6. Sprinkles, Male Model

    Sep 26th, 2010

    Does this mean exploring and challenging the ideas held by these subjects? Or does it mean the Prokofy route?

    The Prokofy route is the time-honored Soviet practice of personal vilification of those with opposing views.

  7. Persephone Bolero

    Sep 26th, 2010

    “Sometime we ask why traditional reporting suxxors soooo bad. Perhaps the answer is they simply can’t operate in a world of smoke and mirrors, where everyone is acting “in avatar” and true agendas are unknown. ”

    My inner communications-scholar will be thinking about this for the next month.

  8. Kinoko

    Sep 26th, 2010

    Second Life is doing bad because SL is acting as control of the entire game. What LL needs to do is simply allow anything in SL, except a few simpel rules such as.

    1. No hacking the software, or IM spamming people.
    2. No Sim Crashing.
    3. No Data Collection in any way without privacy policy.
    4. Announce that they can’t control anything with Copybot anymore.

    Everything else is allowed, if people want to be racist on their own regions, Grief on their own region, use Nazi stuff its all legal, they simply lay down basic rules.

    Other than this it is up to the people to provide their own security, and what the F they wish to do on their own estates. Also lower the tier costs of sims to $195 or $100, and sell for $500 a region earning money by Massive number of regions.

    It is the only way I think SL can survive at this point.

  9. Little Lost Linden

    Sep 26th, 2010

    “Everything else is allowed, if people want to be racist on their own regions, Grief on their own region, use Nazi stuff its all legal, they simply lay down basic rules.”

    You know who else used Nazi stuff?


  10. James Freud

    Sep 26th, 2010

    I pictured this article written during a massive session, where a big fat blunt was passed around, and then a bunch of words that made a lot of sense to the writers at the time were written down and then published.

  11. Gundel Gaukelei

    Sep 27th, 2010


    Fascism is the sum of everyones 4 little rules.

  12. Yep

    Sep 27th, 2010

    “You know who else used Nazi stuff?



    ” Also lower the tier costs of sims to $195 or $100, and sell for $500 a region earning money by Massive number of regions.”

    The cheaper land sales in Inworldz is a good reason why they have added 105 new regions over the last three weeks. This grid is growing fast. 75 USD to buy a sim and 75USD a month tier. Only a loon would spend more when they do not have to.

  13. Obvious Schism

    Sep 27th, 2010

    What we need are reliable statistics, then everything will be fine.

  14. Pappy Enoch

    Sep 27th, 2010

    What I needs am another drink!

  15. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Evidently you are too noobish to understand that the Herald existed long before SL was anything but a company sandbox.

    That’s what false identities and passports from several countries are good for. Sure its harder to make than just logging an alt in SL, but so is anything in RL.


  16. Nelson Jenkins

    Sep 27th, 2010

    @ Yep

    And the quality of the builds there are much worse, not to mention if you’re not an “essentials” developer (mainly clothes and cars), you have no reason to do business there because the economy is also up the shitter.

  17. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia

    Sep 27th, 2010

    I think that Baudrillard would argue that you can’t escape the smoke and mirrors by reporting about a different topic, but this probably isn’t the time or place for that debate.

    Good to see Uri is back. This might be a good idea. It’s a new direction on the cusp of the Herald’s 7th birthday. The world could use more serious hacker publications.

    An example of the vacuum that exists: The most recent issue of 2600 has an article titled, “How to Spread Mass Hysteria on a College Campus Using Facebook”. It says to make a false account and invite everybody at your university into your friends list by email address. Seriously, I’m not making this up. That’s not even script kiddie crap, it’s middle school drama. We need a better class of hacker journalists, and I think Uri and Pix would be good at it.

    Other readers might forget the Herald was not always about SL. It started out with TSO and became the SL Herald when Uri got banned because he’s an evil greifer in TSO, LOL

    The Herald won’t die with SL, it will just mutate again. I hope. I really don’t want to see it go away.

    What do they mean by “branded virtual worlds” though? Do opensim grids count as “branded”? How about things like Open Cobalt?

  18. MarkByrn

    Sep 27th, 2010

    …the Herald existed long before SL was anything but a company sandbox…

    Long before eh? Like 8 months? Checking, it looks like it started as the Alphaville Herald in Oct 2003 with articles on SL and became the SL Herald in Jun 2004:

    Quite amazing to look back at the old editions – the headline article for Jun 2004 was ‘ANARCHIST FLAG RISES OVER JESSIE. THE DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY PROMISES NEW ERA’

  19. hobo kelly

    Sep 27th, 2010

  20. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia

    Sep 27th, 2010

    @ kelly: I didn’t know prok was black

  21. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 27th, 2010

    As I said, you are a noob. The Alphaville Herald started in the Sims Online. Uri got banned from there for reporting on the prostitution going on there. The case made the mainstream media. Anybody who isn’t an idiot knows about it.

    Bubblesort: Prok is most certainly not black. Unless you mean black Irish.

  22. Trinity Dejavu

    Sep 27th, 2010

    The Linden sky has been falling for years, on noes end of SL.. its going down this time for sure!

  23. Glenn Beck

    Sep 27th, 2010

    @Little Lost Linden.

    That carries a royalty fee of 10,000 L$. You better pay up. Because you know who else didn’t fulfill their obligations?


  24. Kiddoh

    Sep 27th, 2010

    @Intlibber: “Anybody who isn’t an idiot knows about it.”

    Correction; “Anybody who doesn’t have a life knows about it.”

  25. Miki

    Sep 27th, 2010


  26. Edna

    Sep 27th, 2010

    There is still plenty of SL news to be reported and it is being missed. Avatars United is closing. That’s a pretty big story not reported here. SL is laying off all of its employees because of money issues. Meanwhile they are giving away huge sums of money buying sites like Avatar’s United and XstreetSL only to end up closing them down shortly afterward. Google buys websites for huge sums of money too, the difference is they buy sites that are attracting millions not dogs limping around on three legs.

    Smarten up dammit!

  27. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Sep 27th, 2010

    [ ] SL
    [ ] News

    Choose one.

  28. Pappy Enoch

    Sep 27th, 2010

    [ ] Drinking & Being a Dang Idiot

  29. Urizenus Sklar

    Sep 27th, 2010

    “I pictured this article written during a massive session, where a big fat blunt was passed around, and then a bunch of words that made a lot of sense to the writers at the time were written down and then published.”

    That is how we write *every* article. Except we also have some 40s and a mason jar full of Pappy Enoch moonshine to take care of that parched feeling. Do you have a better way?

  30. woooot

    Sep 27th, 2010

    this poor blog.. now that woodbury and emerald are both gone, they can’t find anything else to write about. i hope they figure out something soon, or i’m not gonna keep coming back!

  31. Gaara Sandalwood

    Sep 27th, 2010

    They could also branch out into Blue Mars, Inworldz, and other games. Just an idea.

  32. A drum, a drum, McDeath doth come

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Gaara, watch this space. Can’t say any more for the moment…..

  33. Emperor Norton hears a who?

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Gaara Sandalwood @ “They could also branch out into Blue Mars, Inworldz, and other games. Just an idea.”

    Like that junior collage that got banned and everyone forgot about, Woobunny or something? That’s been a real success.

  34. Remo

    Sep 27th, 2010

    I’ve been saying for years that LL does not “get it” when it comes to what sells SL to to the users. Now I get to say that the Herald does not “get it” when it comes to what sells to its users. And that above post you made…geez talk about writing while your stoned…good grief.

  35. Gavlarrrrrrrrr

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Why doesn’t LL cut the freekin tier fees for the mainland, it’s a giant mass of fuck all that nobody is using or paying for!
    I’m in a group that owns half a sim and we withdrew the tier payments 2 years ago, yet LL (who let’s face it need the money) are to lazy to chase it up and reclaim the land.

    Cut the price of mainland tier and chase up non payers, sounds like easy money to me.

    As for private sims, well I don’t own one and can’t afford to, so I won’t comment.

    Good luck LL, I really hope you pull through the difficult times, you are so nearly the future of social networking

  36. Cai Pirinha

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Seems that the editors of the Second Life Herald blog are suffering from the illusion of relevance

  37. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 27th, 2010

    Junior college? They have MBA and Masters in Architecture programs. A junior college is one defined by its being limited to Associate Degrees (2 years).

  38. Little Lost Linden

    Sep 28th, 2010

    @Glenn Beck.

    I ended up giving the $10,000L to Arabella to deliver it. She said that you could claim it today. The only caveat is that you will need to connect to SL with the Emerald viewer to collect the lindens from her.

    .that might be a problem…

  39. Observer

    Sep 28th, 2010

    Herald now on the blue mars payroll too?

    The problem with intrigue is you never know who the players are or who they really worked for until your end.

  40. Sigmund Leominster

    Sep 28th, 2010

    @Observer: “The problem with intrigue is you never know who the players are or who they really worked for until your end.”

    Hence the title of the article, “The Hall of Mirrors…” What makes the Herald interesting – and 40+ responses to an article suggest that at least some people feel irritated enough to get involved – is that it provokes action. Whether a story is true or trivial, about cheating or chickens, folks continue to engage the discussion, whether by supporting, flaming, trolling, ridiculing, complaining, or just plain going off at a tangent, my guess is that is you measured the column inches of responses to Herald articles, they’d be longer that Stroker Serpentine’s entire inventory of virtual penises laid end to end – and he sells an awful lot of penises.

    Provocation and engagement. Just keep saying those words over and over and you’ll find the Herald does this very well.

  41. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 28th, 2010

    LOL, they said the same crap at TSO when the Herald talked about how great SL was compared to there. Then began the stampede.

  42. Observer

    Sep 28th, 2010

    That’s nice intlibber. But there is no better place atm. If there was we wouldn’t be having this convo would we?

  43. IntLibber Brautigan

    Sep 28th, 2010

    That is a fair observation. How about we constructively discuss the sort of features we would like to see in a better virtual world? Not to fit pet ideologies, but features that would truly attract a lot of users, like SL did back in the day before LL got all thuggish.

  44. seeing before believing

    Sep 30th, 2010

    SL dying? I’ll have to see that before I believe it. Sure, there’s less and less happy customers around, all in all its not going too well, but gee wizz… there’s an economic crisis going on IRL. I’m surprised that its effects haven’t shown themselves a lot earlier in SL. If money needs to be saved, of course people will spend less of it on games first. That’s the logical way. But it will be a while before LL turns off the lights, sofar the sims I frequent are still rather busy. As opposed to Open Sim, the only serious competitor to SL, which is deserted.

  45. MarkByrn

    Sep 30th, 2010

    ..SL dying? I’ll have to see that before I believe it..

    It’s funny how the Herald is predicting or wishing for SL’s demise but when the dead on arrival “Metaplace” came on the scene, the Herald was shilling for the literal flash in the pan.

  46. Tarheel McCoy

    Sep 30th, 2010

    @IntLibber, as it’s very well known that you were thrown out of Second Life for either skipping out on a huge, huge debt, or committing various acts of fraud, playing party host for the PN and Woodbury, or all three, it’s very easy to see why you’d be thumping the OpenGrid drum. Powerless, you desperately want to believe that the universe is on your side.

    I think this describes most of the posters on the Herald too, they’re powerless, so they want to believe God will deliver the vengeance that they themselves cannot either muster or afford. Just have a look at how many of the regular posters happen to be permanently banned from Second Life as proof of this.

    Because the Herald caters to people who usually end up being banned for bad behavior, it’s becoming increasingly less relevant and populated more and more by people commenting on a virtual world in which they have no way to legitimately participate. The Krypton Radio site is more relevant at this point, and they only post an article every week or so, and that’s a pretty pathetic thing to have to say about the Herald, seeing how weak KR still is.

    Regarding OpenSim, while there was an initial surge toward other platforms when Linden Lab pulled that bait and switch with the Homestead sims and people were so unhappy with that, that exodus has tapered off. It didn’t all go to OpenSim, though, there are about a dozen or so alternate grids to choose from (each very small) and they each received little bit. None of them has the huge market share that Second Life does, and it will probably stay that way for a long time to come. Most of the people on these alternate grids are still on Second Life, by the way, few trust them well enough yet to make them their sole grid experience.

    Blue Mars is floundering, by the way, and they’re having rather severe financial troubles. It’s a glorified chatroom, with little or no interactivity possible for the players, and a huge technical bar one has to reach in order to create anything. You can’t grief there, except maybe verbally trolling people, so there’s little there for the likes of the Woodbury crew, only a tiny handful of whom can function there beyond just being able to log in.

    MarkByrn is right, here, the Herald has been publishing a lot of the SL is dying diatribe over the years. You can go back to 2005 and find Herald articles or comments that say that.

    Say it with me: “That was half a decade ago.”

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