Two weeks ago, when I started paying close attention to Ginko (full coverage here), a Second Life blogger (who I won’t name) emailed me this:
Ultimately, all do-gooders like yourself have to ask yourself what can be done *when Linden Lab itself will do nothing.*
That sounded like a challenge, and one that was worth taking up. And the answer to that question, it turns out, is “quite a bit.” Ginko is no more.
I’m certainly neither so stupid nor so proud as to think that the end of Ginko is my doing, but it is the doing of thousands of virtual world citizens who dragged the issue right out in front of everyone and refused to let it go, and I am proud that I was one of them. It’s dozens of posters in the official forums. It’s a few brave depositors asking hard questions on Ginko’s boards and getting pummeled for it. It’s hundreds of customers at Ginko ATMs who wouldn’t stop insisting on answers. It’s Ginko’s volunteers, who often provided information honestly and without pretense even when management wouldn’t. And it’s the persistent comment posters on every site who wouldn’t let the apologists, the pretenders, and the shills win.
In short, it’s community action at its very finest. And I’m glad I’ve been part of it.
I am lawyer who writes on virtual worlds. I could be practicing law, but instead, I spend several hours, every day, logged in to virtual worlds (Second Life and others). It’s not altruistic; I eventually expect to make a living dealing with legal issues related to virtual worlds. But I’ve realized something important covering this issue: I’m as much a part of this community as the guy who runs the apartment complex, the girl who works at the dance club, and the scripter who sells poseballs on the corner by my office. I’m a lawyer, both in the real world and in the virtual world, and this kind of analysis and reporting is what I can offer. This is community action — I live here, I work here, and some of the people hurt here are my friends.
What finally did it? What finally killed Ginko after twenty-nine months of speculation? It would be the height of hubris to think that posts here and other places actually did it, but it would also be silly to deny that the professional, non-ranting, non-tabloid part of the virtual world blogosphere has helped bring the important issues to light. We’ve certainly attracted a lot of mainstream press attention, and that was the final nail in Ginko’s coffin today.
But what really opened depositors’ eyes? What caused the internal gears at Ginko to start turning a different direction? Talking to people. One to one. Day after day. We weren’t a few writers, we were hundreds of people ranging from newbies to three and four year residents, from bilingual users translating questions into their own language for fellow depositors with little English, to economics professors at major universities talking about issues that were over my head. We covered every segment of the Second Life populace. Some knew what was happening early, some figured it out later on, but all of us asked hard questions at the ATMs, pushed the hard issues to the front of the public’s attention, and didn’t accept lies — even well intentioned ones — as truths.
So wrapping this up, I’ve presented two images. One (above) is the Ginko’s website right now, telling folks that it’s over (they say they’ll be back, but nobody can seriously believe that at this point). The other (left) is a truly fantastic build that I just visited with incredible planetscapes, a great soundtrack, and some really beautiful effects. Nobody Fugzai, who has been tracking down the details of the financial side of this relentlessly, pointed me to it as a nice place to go to not think about “work.” (SLURL here.)
If you’ve been financially or emotionally crushed by the fraud represented by the first image above, please, visit what is represented by the second. Virtual worlds are better than the garbage we’ve been hauling out to the curb the last few days. They are better than fraudulent banks, better than petty commentators grinding axes on blogs, and yes, they’re well better than lawyers like me talking about the nuts and bolts of virtual law.
I’m part of this — a tiny part of this — but I’m proud of my part. Visit the great build above. Have some fun. Let’s move on.
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