Saturday, March 03, 2012

The Residents

There's a good chance that you've never heard of The Residents. (I really wish they'd continued with the American Composers series; if you have a chance to hear Stars and Hank Forever!, which features the music of John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams, don't pass it up! WARNING: it's an acquired taste.)

Part of The Residents' shtik is anonymity. They started out all performing in the eyeball masks you see in the image; after someone stole one of the eyeball masks, they made a golden skull mask to replace it, so now it's three eyeballs and a skull.

I can't help thinking of The Residents when I think about the absurdity of the Second Life resident name clusterflop (thanks to the folks who made the TV-friendly version of Heartbreak Ridge for that euphemism). As I'm sure you know, along with display names came the end of choosing a first and last name for newcomers to SL. Places that displayed a last name always displayed "Resident" for them.

The results? Having to be unique in just one name led to a lot of the Joe231235 style of name that everyone used to warn against, and concatenating multiple words or names into one contiguous string. "But that's what display names are for!" Perhaps, but they're not unique, and scripts take the "real" name; you can't type "/1 hug Display Name" and have it work, so everyone's nose is perpetually rubbed in this mess. It also created a divide between the folks with two names and those with one, and breaks verisimilitude. (OK, the hacker (in the original sense) community tends to refer to a few famous people by their loginids, but it's a buzzkill in a virtual world. "Hey, it's Joe231235! How ya been, Joe231235?")

Rodvik Linden raised our hopes when he posted that LL was looking into a solution. Hosannas were raised (and I think I did some of that). We were promised word on what LL intends to do... and now the word has come.

They'll make it possible to put a hyphen in the one name, so if you had hoped for "Joe Blow", you can be joe-blow. On to the next round table! (UPDATE: or not. "rodvik.linden Hey folks, as I mentioned to some of you over the weekend I am going to do the next roundtable stuff in private one on one's [sic] rather than as a free for all. That makes it more low key and doesnt [sic] turn it into something which is contentious. Thanks for all the feedback.")

People are not happy. That unhappiness is compounded by the knowledge that if you go in via one of the still-extant (for now, at least) educational portals, you can in fact still choose a first and last name; someone did it in the past few days as I type this. That means that all the code for handling a first and last name is still there; it's just not accessible save through those portals.

First the TPV policy change, now this. I hope things improve soon.

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