Прощай Woodbury

On the very day that it emerged that Linden Lab was facing a lawsuit accusing them, among other things, of failing to respect the property rights of Second Life residents, it was also reported that the Lindens had been flexing their absolutist muscles by summarily terminating several sims connected with Woodbury University, as well as banning numerous individuals allegedly associated with the group.

I’m not going to get into the debate about the guilt or otherwise of the WU; it’s easy to find stories of their alleged crimes, as well as more positive accounts of their activities. The bigger point is that a virtual world that purports to respect the values of bourgeois society should have a rather more transparent system for the administration of justice, instead of the secretive Star Chamber that hands out punishment at the moment.

Whatever the truth in the accusations of griefing, I’m sorry to see the Woodbury sims go. I’m not usually a big fan of Soviet-chic, especially when it is entirely devoid of political content (for the WU are not communists, or even particularly left-leaning, whatever Prok says), but I liked their big Hall of People’s Deputies or whatever it was, and the submarine, and the big bear. The grid will be a slightly duller place without them.

4 Responses to Прощай Woodbury

  1. Prokofy Neva says:

    So, you find something “positive” about a mock annexation of a sim called “Estonia” by something called “Soviet Woodbury”? Shame on you. It wouldn’t be as funny if it were “Nazi Woodbury” and “Poland 1939” would it now?

    Um, I have never said that the Wodobiry griefers are “communists” in some real life sense, or even particularly left-leaning, although Edward Clift once read a paper in Russia and has the same amount of incoherent and insipient Marxism in his bloodstream as any instructor at a college has today in America. They are not “and never have been” members of the CP.

    Rather, they used the same tactics as Lenin in their griefing — the Leninist and Bukharinist tactics of anarchy and terrorism known the world over in all kinds of radical movemens. Study history, you’re supposed to be an intellectual.

    Woodbury is not even a particularly coherent form of “radical chic”. They didn’t have any Leninist memes or insignia until I pointed out their Leninism, then these content-free mediocrities began to grab the various cliches thinking they were “enraging me” and making me “see red” by putting up obnoxious stuff.

    What you’re not getting is the strange amalgam of communism and racism and nazism that these griefers routinely media-snacked on and its relationship to nihilism in general but not a particularly witty one. If you want to be Firesign Theater or even Mad Magazine or Saturday Night Live, you make one skit on a theme, or you run a regular serial with a stock character who is always funny but has fresh lines.

    The Woodburies were not like that. They are the perfect example of the banality of evil. They are mediocre suburban losers, with disposable income and time, not cutting edge minority oppressed using communist insignia or something, nothing of the sort. A joke told a million times for four years isn’t funny, it’s a jackboot in the face.

    • johnny says:

      “So, you find something “positive” about a mock annexation of a sim called “Estonia” by something called “Soviet Woodbury”?”

      No, I was just noting that the Herald tended to put a positive spin on reports of WU activity. I thought the “annexe Estonia” story was, like most things connected with the WU, in slightly poor taste but essentially harmless. Obviously some of their other stunts, like the big fridge thing, were more objectionable, and they deserved to be called to account for them. The way the Lab has dealt with this – by summary executive action – is unsatisfactory though, not least because it lets the WU adopt the mantle of victimhood, when they appear to be more sinners than sinned against.

      I think that to talk of Woodbury and their antics in terms of “communism” or “Leninism” is to give them much more weight than they merit. If one were being charitable, one might describe them as Dadaist pranksters, on a mission to épater les bourgeois, and in those terms what they do is mildly diverting (for those of us not on the receiving end; I appreciate it might be less amusing for their victims). I suspect though that if they ever got involved in real radical politics it wouldn’t be long before they were exposed as the middle-class dilettantes they appear to be.

  2. Bubblesort Triskaidekaphobia says:

    Good summary, but your timeline is off. The Evans, et al suit against LL was filed 4 days before Woodbury got the axe.

    I put together a timeline of recent events. My conclusion that Fractured Crystal is behind it all might be easily dismissed as wild conjecture, but the facts are plain. I posted it here:

    http://pastebin.com/8HsvzdgY

    • johnny says:

      Yes, what I meant was that I saw the two stories reported on the same day. I’m inclined to think that the timing is coincidental rather than being part of some bigger picture, but you make some good points in your account, and I don’t really know enough about the TPV developer scene to be sure one way or the other. At this point nothing would surprise me.

      Incidently Ren Reynolds over at Terra Nova makes a good argument for the Evans case being hopeless, on the grounds that the 2003 TOS had an “all data is temporary” clause which was widely remarked upon at the time.

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