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“Getting the story out first” often means what you’re getting is improperly researched half-truths. Take the swine-flu for example: Every day the news stories I watched and read would contradict their own announcements the day before, the media built up its own hype until it got to the point that the only real news left was the fact that the media had over-hyped it all. Like no one saw that coming. In a culture where everyone seems to have a blog, “getting the news first” has become a near impossible goal for any internet outfit. And, dare I say, a less admired one: I’d rather hear the story an hour or so later than everyone else if it goes towards making sure that what I read is accurate (and well-written would be nice too!).

It seems to me that the long-term successful online blogs and publications are going to be the ones which have integrity and researchers – ones which employ people to do more than “type fast”. As Twitter and Plurk grow in popularity (though from what I’ve read recently the retainment rate is hardly stellar), news has become anyone’s game. People seem to spend more time reporting life than living it lately, so it’s not a pleasant trend to watch, and not one I’m keen on joining in: Blogging is as far as I go on the “wow I just blew my nose” minute by minute reporting of existence.

It all reminds me of this extract from an item I referenced a while back, called Why Facebook is Just Plain Wrong: “Devaluing friendship aside, Facebook also encourages an unhealthy culture of voyeurism and laziness. Sitting in a restaurant recently I overheard a table of Gen Y’s talking about what a great night they were having. Several chirped up to say “we should like totally Facebook this!”. Thankfully sanity prevailed as one sensible soul said “how about we experience it for real?”.”

Social critique aside, it is happening, and is effecting people who report news for a living. I can hear you complaining that surely it’s not effecting the professional news outfits, I must be extrapolating too much from comparing the quality and depth of research of your everyday blogger to professional news outfits… Hmm, how about you go read this first. It’s about how one guy used Wikipedia to fool some major news agencies, and he didn’t have to try particularly hard either. My husband has been telling his students off for using Wikipedia to do their university research for a good few years now, I’ve told him to use that story as a warning about the importance of proper sourcing. Maybe the journalists need to go back to journalism school for a refresher course too.

So this is where we end up: Magazines and newspapers have been struggling to compete with a world of news-now online media. But they shouldn’t be trying to; they should be finding their own niche in reporting with fully researched facts, with integrity, and with talented writers. In a way that sets them apart from us everyday bloggers. Similarly though, online news outfits who do it for a living are going to have to think beyond the “we got there first” mentality. Sure you need to be speedy with your news, but if it takes a little longer to get it out because you had to talk directly to the effected parties first hand, or had to confirm your sources, and (gasp) check your spelling, then isn’t it worth the delay? It’s also very important to know whether what you’re saying is fact, or opinion. Because claiming opinion to be fact not only makes you look unreliable, it also exposes you to defamation suits. And those aren’t fun, for anyone involved.

Like I said in a previous post, in a world where it is becoming easier to contact famous people who do famous stuff – especially in our own field of Second Life where we’re all just an IM or notecard away – there are fewer reasons for bad reporting, and resorting to the “he-said, she-said” that still seems so popular. If people won’t look into matters themselves though, or at least be willing to admit that they haven’t done their research, it leaves it up to us the readers to point out that we expect more. At the very least, it is up to us not to perpetuate the short-comings of others by piling on our own opinions of things that never actually happened (or happened in such a different way than reported, that it as good as never happened). There will always be a market for that tabloid style of reporting, but it’s not one I’m interested in. And I only hope those who insist on following it, know what they’re encouraging and how foolish and nasty it will make them look when they treat what those outfits say as if it was truth.

Life’s too short to read crap.

Hopefully, incidents like the Wikipedia one I linked to above, will sink into public knowledge. And we all get a little wiser for it.

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Do you feel the compulsive need to write down everything you think – to Twitter or Plurk or blog every damn thought and action? I know a fair few people who seem to think they’ll stop existing if they don’t. Maybe the fact that this is my third blog post today is telling me something 😀 (but I think Twitter and Plurk are ridiculous so I’m not too far gone). If you do have that urge, perhaps you have hypergraphia. Or perhaps you just need more hobbies 🙂

Want to know just how bad it can get? Ever heard of Robert Shields who “left behind a diary of 37.5 million words chronicling every 5 minutes of his life from 1972 until a stroke disabled him in 1997″? You can read more about this extraordinary case here.

Just makes you think what more we could be doing and living, if we weren’t all so damn busy trying to write it down, huh.

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When you leave Second Life should you be doing it quietly – without good-byes, without explanation, without reflecting on your experiences? Are you meant to quietly slip away as if those weeks, months, years, were nothing? If you speak out you risk having the post being called a “flounce” apparently.

A recent post by Prad bothered me because even though it revolved around an individual who he wasn’t impressed with, it also had generalised attacks on people who continue to share their opinions about Second Life after they’ve left it. The post’s title says it all – “STFU“. To use his own words: “So it appears that there is something worse than a critic who’s never bothered to try Second Life properly – An informed critic who’s got both venom and a personal agenda.” By that stage your opinion is only relevant or important if it is either (1) positive and up-beat or (2) if it’s not positive it has to be by someone still in-world. Whether someone has “venom and a  personal agenda” is very easy to accuse and assert – almost any conceivable negative opinion of Second Life could be designated as a result of venom and personal agenda.

I very rarely find myself disagreeing with Prad – not just because he was such a close friend but also because he’s simply often right. But his latest post was a contradiction of his one before it. In that previous post he spoke out against the blogs which attacked individuals, in his own words: “Maybe I skipped a step somewhere in the social revolution, but I figured if you’re going to offend people, you needed to do it with a little class and not start publicly victimising named people. I can’t see the point of it, other to make people avoid you like the plague for fear of being your next victim.” Secondly in that previous post he said that negative opinions are fine when accompanied by constructive advice (such as tutorials). The person he’s attacked in STFU did give constructive advice on how Second Life could improve its future.

Surely we should want to know what made people leave? And when those people are good enough to openly suggest a list of ways Second Life could have improved the experience, should we not praise them and reflect on their points rather than condemn them?

When you leave and are trying to decide whether to speak out about it or not, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t: If you leave without a word you’re rude and cruel, if you leave with words you’re called a drama queen and told to shut up. You’re effectively pressured into silence about the real reasons behind your actions, and only meant to share the nice bits. Where the problems should have been voiced and could have been solved, they are intimidated into saying nothing.

I expect I will regret doing this post because it may cause the exact sort of drama that us leavers are meant to not cause, and because I loath to cause Prad any bother or bad press. But this is what blogging is all about right? It’s the place to share your experiences and opinions – even if they are negative ones about why you left Second Life.

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It’s a timeless question: Would you rather be right or be popular? You find examples of the struggle in everyday life and in historical events (for example holding fast to the idea the world is round when everyone else held it was flat). You often get people conflating the two together: Being popular is being right: If a democracy of people vote for a certain political measure then that is the right thing to do. You’d have thought that thinking went out in hind-sight to Nazi Germany’s origins, but nope.

There is an extra question though which you hear bandied about on various talk shows, “would you rather be right or be happy”? This is usually said in the context of families having breakdowns and trying to move forward in the face of a “stubborn” individual. I see nothing wrong with being stubborn when you’re in the right. In fact, for me staying in the right is a vital component to my happiness: Integrity of self is vital for your psychological well-being. This is not to say that I don’t understand or appreciate the point such talk-show hosts are making – it’s along the lines of “let’s just move on and be harmonious in the face of what are trivial disagreements”. Suppose it turns on what you consider to be trivial. I’m a big-picture kind of girl though and I try to always act consistently on a set of principles knowing full well that long-term happiness and well-being results from doing the right thing in each action and decision you make.

The unfortunate potential contradiction with this in my personality, is that I am a “peace-maker” (it’s the term the tests give, not my own choosing): I find confrontation very stressful – my chest constricts, my breathing changes, my anxiety increases etc. I am extremely empathetic too and always have been – I feel other people’s pain in a very real sense and frequently end up in tears at the intensity of it or dedicating my all to help them solve their problems. You can imagine that this doesn’t sit well with having a very strong and established sense of right and wrong and being quite miserable if I’m forced to compromise my principles. I’ve found some ways to cope with this – such as techniques of dealing with conflicts that create the classic “win-win” combo – but this is not always possible or even the right thing to do. You know what they say (and if you don’t you should think about this): There is good and there is evil, and the grey in between is not some middle ground, it is still evil – compromising with evil means evil has won, “a little bit of murder, a little but of slavery” is still evil, just because it’s diluted or lessened doesn’t make it some happy grey middle-ground. That is to say, sometimes to compromise, is to completely concede and to lose what you had a right to demand.

I’m fortunate to have a husband who has an equally strong (and correct) sense of right and wrong, but who has the guts and fortitude to stand up for what is right even if it makes him immensely unpopular. In that way he is a better person than me. I have more empathy and social skills than he does so he has a lot to learn from me too but those sorts of things just balance us out and somewhere between the two of us is the perfect person :p

This choice between being right or being popular is an important one for most (maybe all?) Bloggers and people who comment on Blogs: Will you stand up for what’s right under a barrage of attacks or will you fold and make peace? My view is you should stand up for what’s right, but to be careful to always retain the open mind to new facts or knowledge that may alter what is actually right. What’s right must always be based on truth and logic – if someone points out one of your truths is factually incorrect or your logic is flawed, you shouldn’t be stubborn and hold your ground anyway. Because that’s beyond stubborn-ness, that’s denial and idiocy, and I’d rather be wrong than a liar or a moron. That is a strength I do possess and am proud of – I am always ready to concede when people find flaws in my reasoning. It’s part of that sense of integrity I spoke about earlier.

Right people often aren’t popular. Popular people often aren’t happy (despite what you may think) – and I believe a lot of that misery comes from sacrificing their sense of right and wrong to keep other people happy. I’ve had times when I chose being right instead of being popular, and times when I’ve chosen being popular instead of being right. And I know that I need to not act or speak contrary to my principles in order to be a truly happy person. I’m lucky enough to have a large group of friends who understand this about me and wouldn’t want me to change who I am, and who often agree to disagree with me on certain issues to keep the friendship intact. Nevertheless every single day I do confront the choice and it’s still one I need to work on – finding that strength to stand up for what’s right, even if it means I stand alone.

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PradI’ve often considered doing a post solely about Prad, but the same problem kept coming up: When do I write it? He keeps doing new awesome things for me and I knew if I wrote one he’d just do something else awesome and I’d have to write another post. My whole blog could have ended up being an ode to Prad, and I really don’t like looking like a fan-girl / stalker. Finally though the time is right.

It’s so hard to know where to start, might as well go from the beginning. He was a DJ at Three Lions when I first got to know him, and I loved going along to his sets, they were a huge crowd favourite, with good reason. I just thought of him as some nice funny popular guy. Which actually sums him up really well to this day. It wasn’t until the pub closed and we all started hanging out on his roof that we started chatting a lot more and I got to know him better. And every new thing I found out about him just made him more real and more interesting.

Once Crown & Pearl started up, I knew it would be my home base, mostly because I knew Prad’s presence and influence would bring to it all the best people and aspects of Lions. It became so much more though. God I’m going to miss that place so very much, more than I ever missed Lions.

My friendly attitude and own popularity got noticed overtime and they made me an official greeter there. Then security, then manager. It was such a huge deal to me to be considered staff at Crown. And the first half year of being manager was the happiest time in my SL existence. The place’s existence, and my promotion to those positions, wouldn’t have happened without Prad.

And then there’s the art. I would be nothing in the art field without Prad. I only even noticed Flickr because of him and his own talents. I started my own Flickr account soon after and started taking my own pictures. He saw my potential and gifted me a year’s pro subscription to Flickr for my RL birthday last March. He offered me the use of his studio at his home, he gave me the pose ball script I ended up using everyday, and he gave me encouragement and support. I don’t hesitate to say that I became one of the well known SL artists in my time; I was included in exhibits, I won and got placings in many contests, I had my picture included in a well-known SL magazine, and I had a steady stream of paying clients. I also don’t hesitate to say that it couldn’t have happened without Prad.

Even this blog wouldn’t exist without Prad – I only noticed SL blogs because of him. So all the hits I’ve had (which recently went over 5000, yay!), all the people I’ve met through blogging, and the joy I’ve got from this experience in itself, again wouldn’t have happened without his influence in my life.

Prad’s been there on so many important occasions for me – one of my favourite SL memories is the day I became a mentor and Prad’s alt was there becoming a mentor too at the same session. I laughed so damn much and everything was hilarious, because he was there sharing it with me in IM the whole time. What could have been a very boring hour turned into one of my favourite hours. And that is the influence Prad has had on my SL life as a whole – when things should have been horrible or unbearable, he made it all OK and helped everything turn out alright. When I thought I stood alone, he always had my back. When I thought I couldn’t keep going, he let me know I had it in me to be great and helped bring that out in me. In every part of my Second Life he has helped me become so much more than I thought I could be and so in leaving SL I feel like I’m letting him down.

Yet even now he stands beside me and supports me. Even when I’m leaving so much behind he hasn’t gotten angry or indifferent towards me, he is still my friend today as much as he was yesterday. And hopefully years from now I will say the same.

Even though I won’t be in SL (except every now and then in the smallest regard – only for pictures), I will always do whatever I can to look out for him back. For his SL self, and his RL self. For everything I managed to achieve in SL, my RL persona is more successful and powerful, and those skills I have will continue to be at his disposal for him whenever he wants or needs them. In the same way that he has always been there for me, I will continue to do whatever I can to support and help him.

Of all my friends, I will miss him the most. I still have him on external message systems, but I’ll miss the way it always made me smile when he came up on the mystitool radar, and how the mood in a room always shifted for the better when he appeared, and his DJing, and his drunken singing, and just his very distinct avatar. There aren’t many people in either worlds like Prad who can make the world a better place in so many ways. He’s not just a builder, a DJ, a photographer, a bar owner, a blogger, he’s my friend. And that transcends pixels, even on ultra high graphics 🙂

Thank you Prad. For everything ❤

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Until recently I was making sure that every night I alternated between posting a picture to Flickr, and writing a new post here – so that I was consistently contributing to both. Flickr’s right pissing me off lately because it’s removed almost every favourite I’ve ever had added to my pictures, which is an annoying glitch that I’ve asked them to fix. Even if it wasn’t pissing me off, I’ve just been too darn busy to keep up with the expectations I set myself.

Busy in a good way though – as I’ve already said in previous posts I’m back managing Crown & Pearl (which actually involves quite a bit of work – especially with the big auction tomorrow / today). I’m also working on a writing piece for a new SL magazine (which is even more work than managing Crown and Pearl right now). Plus when I get the chance I am trying to work on building a home to retreat to on some land I now have. And still everyday making sure I never forget my friends in IM and that I hang out with them at Crown and Pearl as well.

When I go to my home it’s to work quietly on things without external in-world disturbance – when I’m there I’m usually talking to people about work matters in IM, or working on writing things up in notecards. So colour me a tad annoyed when my neighbour (from waaaay down the beach), walks on to my precious plot of land, stands there staring at me, then IMs me to say hi. At which point I’m already confused – why walk all the way up to me, on my land, just so he can IM me..? He could have done that from his own plot of land. He mentioned a few inane things that I can’t recall – because they were inane – then pointed out his home to me. It was clear where it was all going so I politely but firmly said that when I’m at home it’s for some private time and I wouldn’t be coming round his home to see it. He took this quite well considering he’d gone out of his way to find and talk to me, and he wandered off to from whence he came. I’ve lived on five different sims in my life, and hadn’t met anyone before that day who thought going around uninvited to neighbours plots was the polite thing to do. I would have thought private living quarters were where you went to escape, not to socialise (unless you choose to live with other people there).

Anywho, not sure how I got onto that. I’m quite tired so chances are I’m forgetting to edit myself right now ^^

So that’s all really – just explaining why my posts and pictures have got a tad more sporadic of late – I’m appearing lazy because I’m busy 🙂

Oh yeah, and remember to come bid on me at the auction (Feb 8th, 1pm SLT at C2P / Angel Square). Else I’ll beat you up. Unless you like being beaten, in which case I’ll refuse to beat you up.

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Very late last night I set my blog to be empty – set all the posts to private. I did the same for my Flickr (I also took off the link to my blog on my Flickr profile, so that won’t explain what I’m about to tell you…). Very early this morning I went through and reinstated the posts and pictures I had decided to retain. I won’t go through all the whys for taking things down, or the whiches for what went back up. This post is just a big old “huh” at the fact that the few hours my blog was totally empty, it sky-rocketed to the most hits it’s had in one day, ever:

The hit numbers prior to setting things invisible was like any other day, nothing special (around 50 a day lately is the average), but by morning it was 133 views, quite a bit higher than my previous peak of 97 in one day. And only 37 of those views were people clicking through to actual post topics, whereas that usually makes up the clear majority of hits. To put it simply: People were actively viewing “the nothing”. The extra irony is all my previous peak / very high view days were whenever I’d posted three topics in one sitting – which understandably increases reading as people are more likely to find something that interests them or come back to read the other posts later in the day.

I monitor the hits on my blog because I do like it when people read and think about what I write, it does matter to me that people find my opinions interesting and worth their time. That’s a buzz. I am solidly amused though that the most interesting thing I’ve ever done on this blog turns out to be when I did nothing. Go figure!

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