In the Anon. Meeting Of Mined

Oh fuck not semiotics.Semitotics is a “geddit???” after somebody else’s joke. If you have to explain the joke you kill it. What you kill you gain the power of.Semiotics is the cold dead hand of the bad ventriloquist. It is ideological formalism. It is the fractality of discourse written only in ink.Semiotics is semantic management. You get to define the terms and to evaluate your own performance through others against them. And to claim the surplus as your own creation.There is nothing wrong with significatory exegesis. It can be illuminating. There is nothing wrong with sociohistorically situating significatory exegesis. Freud collapses when the text of his discourse is deconstructed against the text (sic) of his life. I enjoy a good hard deconstruction, particularly with an improving book.Creating art specifically for semiopsy is fetishistic, indeed it is pornographic. This is unfair on pornography, which is system of signs the density, interiority and indexicality of which postmodern art can only dream of, but it is accurate. Semiowankery is not good art, semiowankerywankery is not good criticism.They do not often survive deconstruction.

If you can see this, Rob’s DNS is working!


A Day In The Studio 1 (Circles)


How To Make Money In Second Life Without Being An IP Maximalist

The Problem

Let’s imagine just for a moment that the problem with Second Life (SL) isn’t that people can copy textures. Let’s imagine that the problem is that the business models are wrong, and that IP maximalism is seductive but has been proven to be counter-productive wherever it has been tried.

What Second Life Is

SL’s appearance as an imaginary physical world has confused people into believing that it isn’t a service and that what goes on inside it isn’t services. Its frontier feel has confused people into seeing it as a socially and economically open world rather than a walled garden. But make no mistake, if you want to make money in Second Life you have to recognise that you are providing a service within a walled garden.

The Solution

People can copy textures, models and scripts but they can’t copy reputations, the details of experiences, or out-of-Second-Life value. And we’ve learnt a lot about competing with free, getting people to pay for “free”, and rearranging revenue graphs to turn negatives into positives. So let’s apply this, rather than dreams of an in-game DMCA, to the problem of how to invigorate monetization of SL.

Servicising Content

Rather than entering into an arms race with piracy, enter into it an arms race with changing tastes. Charge for convenient access to timely and compelling streams of content. Learn from ringtone companies and licenced music stores, who make millions from music, games, and images that could otherwise be copied from the Internet or pre-owned CDs.

Servicising Regions And Sims

Rather than applying locks to textures, apply gates to areas. Theme parks, game zones and other experiences are worth money in-game as well as in real life. If locking out regions of sims offends people, just have pay-access sims. People pay for access to SL, so this is hardly unprecedented.

Servicising Experiences

Charge for “alternate reality games” in-world, charge for night clubs and party events, consider that the escort industry has done well in-world, consider whether the Elvish or Furry communities would pay to access or take part in a spectacular event. Give the dance mat away and charge to play in the league.

Out-Of-World Value

Amazon and iTunes don’t charge you for access to their sites, reading their reviews or reading or listening to some of their catalogues. They make money by using their virtual storefronts to charge for the delivery of real-world value. The same is true for ticket and travel services and for all the other service and product sellers that we used to call ecommerce. Build eCommerce in SL. We had a practice run of this with VRML.

Franchising And Commissions

Rather than worrying about how to get people to pay you for your work, pass that challenge on to other people. Start franchise operations for copies of your environments or objects and charge for setup or services, or let people sell on copies of your work for a commission.

Change The Revenue Graph

Treat copying of your work as a reduction in distribution costs for your client’s promotional materials. Keep your salt sellar handy and read the “Free” article in Wired. Use indirect monetization.


Look at how Facebook apps work. They access the in-world data and add out-of-world data to create value. SL objects and environments can do that as well.


Compare Second Life to MySpace. Both are “user-generated-content”, with some corporate content included. Compare Second Life to FaceBook. Both are social networks with third-party applications included. Compare Second Life to Livejournal. Both are hosting companies for records of people’s activities. And all monetize this through advertising. I’m not suggesting advertising blimps over Luskwood, or Goreans getting tattoos from sponsors, but there’s much that can be done to improve both the concept of what advertising is and how to make money from it in SL.

Generative Content

If a single work is easy to copy, ten thousand are not only difficult to copy but more difficult to find exactly the right one in. Create large volumes of content generatively and charge for providing the right one (see also Bespoke Services and Servicising Content).

Bespoke Services

Bespoke production and customization are as valuable in in software and music as it is in SL. People aren’t going to stop paying for the right modified objects, skins, and environments just because they can get the wrong ones for free.

Brands and Exclusivity

Work to establish your products and services as an exclusive brand, learning from the fashion world that counterfeit copies are reputational network effects for your originals.

Business As Usual

Bespoke builders are making money in SL. What is preventing them making more money is the lack of clear objectives, metrics, and in-world value narratives for their clients. Another generic corporate information centre isn’t worth anything to avatar or executive. But building (which includes modelling, texturing, scripting and populating) for individuals, groups (in-or-out-of-world), institutions and corporations is SL’s goldmine if people can just get it right. It isn’t texture copying that is stopping this.

Gatekeepers and Intermediaries

Provide the SL equivalent of reports or collections, whatever that might be. Embody and sell trends (see Servicising Content).

But I Just Want To Get Rich Writing Code And Texturing Prims!

I have explained precisely how to do that. All of the above need code, models and textures. You just need to do the work of selling them as something people actually want to buy.

Second Life And OpenSim

Once you start treating people like thieves they treat punishment for theft as a cost to be borne not a disincentive to be avoided. Second Life is, like the blogging and social networking sites, a user generated social environment that commercial and corporate activity can learn to monetize part of at various levels of indirection. *If* they don’t destroy the neighborhood. The user-generated aspect of Second Life, however inept it may lead to vast swathes of the world appearing, is its purpose and its value, not an inconvenience and an impediment to monetization.

Far from those who support in-world freedom fleeing to OpenSim, I think that corporate users will start using OpenSim to make their own walled gardens that they can add value to and charge for, much as Linden Lab charge for access to the UGC value of Second Life. This will raise its own problems for freedom, but that is another story.

New Reviews At Furtherfield

I have two new Free Culture-related reviews up at Furtherfield.

Abstract Hacktivism

A book collecting two essays by Otto von Busch and Karl Palmas transforms the concept of “hacktivism” with well-argued historical analysis and a number of informative case studies.

Big Buck Bunny

“Big Buck Bunny”, the second short film from the Blender Foundation, features well animated cartoon animals trying to kill each other in order to advance free software and free culture.

Both of the works under review are excellent and well worth downloading and/or paying for.

First Impressions

“A bit protest-artological”


A readymade is an ordinary object that has been nominated as an artwork by an artist. Nominating the object as an artwork transforms it into an artwork. This is not a million miles away from The Institutional Theory Of Art, which says that the answer to the question “what is art?” is whatever the artworld says it is.

Nominating a readymade is an act of transubstantiation. Readymades are aethetically null, it is a category error to say “look at how curvy and shiny the porcelain of that urinal is”. You are not looking at the readymade when you say that, you are looking at the non-art object.

Found art is different from readymades, however confused Wikipedia’s entry on the subject may be. Found art is not transformed, its latent aesthetic potential is recognised and capitalised on by the artist. It is a mistake to invoke Duchamp when trying to create a lineage for found art.

Semiotics, the ventriloquial grinding of the symbolism of a cultural artefact to dust, is problematic with regards to artworks. Do you analyse the symbolism of the object qua object, or of the object qua artwork? With regard to readymades it is again a category error; the meaning of the readymade is artistic, not functional.

So in summary:

    • Readymades are ontologically transubstantiated objects.

      It is a category error to attempt semiotics on readymades as aesthetic objects.

  • Anyone claiming to be both working in the tradition of Duchamp and doing semiotics is confused.


    I am now on a new weblog platform (Movable Type) on a new server. Many thanks to Matt for helping with this. And by “helping with” I mean “doing”.

    The Wiki is gone, and Like That isn’t back in the art section, but apart from that everything should have been moved over now.

    If anything’s missing do let me know.

    A Day In The Studio 1 (Bars)


    A Day In The Studio 1