Here’s a photo of my son on stage with me during our panel discussion yesterday. Taken by Scott Beale.
The crowd at Gnomedex.
I’ll blog my thoughts later. For now I’m just having a blast being unemployed.
Because I broke the rules.
I let my son use my Second Life account. I’m not allowed to do that. Only 18-year-olds are allowed to play in Second Life. Yesterday I publicly broke that rule by having Patrick build me a new part of my office while I was on stage running a panel discussion titled “a higher resolution.” The panel discussion wasn’t all that good cause I was incompetently running it, but Patrick was having fun building stuff and showing off how Second Life worked.
At the end of the session Beth Goza, a Linden Labs employee, caught up to Patrick on screen and said “you’re toast.” (We had both been warned about the rules before, so we both knew what that meant — we were about to be kicked and banned).
After the session was over Beth caught up to me and explained that my account was turned off and that my more than $100 I had invested in Second Life would not be refunded (my son and I had bought a variety of things in Second Life, including a virtual Macintosh, a house, and several other items).
We did get a podcast out of it, cause I turned the microphone on and interviewed a variety of people hanging out in the hall, along with Beth. She explained why the rules were the way they are. First, there’s the threat of a lawsuit (MySpace was sued for $30 million by a parent of a child who was alledgedly sexually assaulted by someone she met on MySpace).
Second, they want to keep kids out of the adult world because there are a lot of rooms where adult behavior is taking place. Sex. Gambling. Violence. It’s sort of like owning a bar or a casino. If you want to cater to an adult audience you need to keep kids out. Both for legal reasons as well as to attract an adult audience.
In Second Life there’s also a “Teen Grid” where Patrick will be able to join as soon as he’s 13 (that’ll be in January).
But, there are a few problems with the Teen Grid. First, it simply isn’t as interesting (most of the interesting worlds are in the adult version, and there’s a lot more people in the adult version too) and, in my case, I like working in Second Life with my son. He’s a lot more talented at building things than I am. Unfortunately he can’t move items he’s built from the Teen Grid to the Adult one. Yes, I was using Patrick as child labor in Second Life. Heheh.
Anyway, it’s a good lesson for Patrick to learn. There are consequences for breaking the rules. “It’s your fault,” Patrick just said, in defense. I did tell him to do it on stage. But, even that’s a good lesson for him to learn. If his friends tell him to break a real law, that won’t be an excuse in front of the judge.
Maryam tells him “that’s a lesson for you, Daddy’s not always right.”
No, I’m not. So, now what? We have to apologize to Linden Labs and appeal their decision and promise not to break the rules anymore.
I’m no longer a Microsoft employee. So, on Thursday I sat down with Kathleen Craig of Wired News to do an exit interview. Charles Torre interviewed me and Patrick while I cleaned out my office on Thursday. That interview will be up on Tuesday. My last interview, with Alex Gounares (Bill Gates’ technical assistant, who just got a promotion to corporate VP of corporate strategy at Microsoft) should be up shortly too. It’s a fun interview, can’t wait for you to see that.