The Liberals And The Linden Prize

Back in my oft-cited “Disneyfication” post, one of the things I expressed concern about was a potential bias towards advancement of “liberal” social causes in the criteria for the Linden Prize.  Well, now that Linden Lab has actually released the Linden Prize finalist list, it behooves me to go back and dig deeper into the actual nominees, and see just how much liberal bias there actually is.  After all, theorization should be no match for diving in and finding out, right?  So let’s have a look…

Alliance Virtual Library – The Info Island project is run by the Alliance Library System, which is mainly based in Illinois.  The facts that, first, it comes from a well-known liberal hotbed (the home state of President Obama, among other things), and, second, that it deals closely with local governmental agencies that are often liberal, are about the only things I can find here.  Certainly they support a wide range of environments, only some of which could be said to be “liberal.”  Assessment: Some liberal bias, but it’s not great.

American Cancer Society – This is the well-known Relay For Life that has been happening in SL for a few years now.  My gut instinct is to say, “Cancer affects everybody, so how can this be a liberal cause?”  It’s also a cause I have supported and continue to support in SL.  BUT!  This op-ed in the Wall Street Journal reports:

Last week the American Cancer Society announced it will no longer run ads about the dangers of smoking and other cancer-causing behaviors and the benefits of regular screenings. Instead, the Society will devote this year’s entire advertising budget to a campaign for universal health coverage. John Seffrin, the Society’s chief executive, said, “[I]f we don’t fix the health-care system . . . lack of access will be a bigger cancer killer than tobacco.”

Sadly, these ads will waste money that should be used to continue the Society’s educational campaign about prevention and detection. The evidence shows that universal health coverage does not improve survival rates for cancer patients.

“Universal health care,” a.k.a. “socialized medicine.”  Ask my ex-wife, currently struggling with the Finnish health care system, exactly how much that helps.  I hope ACS gets off that high horse and gets back to their core message soon.  Assessment: No real liberal bias, but watch that whole “socialized medicine” thing carefully.

Invisible Threads – The folks at “Double Happiness Jeans” describe it as a “virtual sweatshop.” Uh-oh, is that a liberal codeword I hear?  False alarm, though, as they describe their process, which allows SL-based employees to “manufacture” jeans from the comfort of their own homes, is kind of the antithesis of a “sweatshop” environment, and described by them as “the future of capitalist production.”  True, they did have an attack from a group calling itself “Virtual Anarchy,” attempting to “unionize” the virtual workforce, but I’m hard-pressed to say, from the record, whether that was an actual griefer attack or just a publicity stunt.  Assessment: No real liberal bias.

Let There Be Night – This project is also linked with something called “Dark Skies Awareness.”  The concerns raised here seem to be partly based on environmental factors, and partly on the needs of scientists, specifically astronomers.  I know something about the latter; my father, prior to his retirement, was a city manager in San Diego County, California, and as such was approached by astronomers at the Palomar Mountain Observatory with regard to changing street lighting to keep from spoiling their observations.  The city did start employing low-pressure sodium lighting, which is more easily filtered than other types of street lighting.  (As a side bonus, I got some nifty memorabilia out of it, like a copy of the earliest photo of Halley’s Comet as it approached the Sun in 1986.)  The site does make some troubling references, however, to things such as the widely-publicized envirowacko “Earth Hour” event.  Assessment: Some liberal bias, but doesn’t detract from the astronomical message…at least until we are able to move all astronomy to Earth orbit, or to the Moon.

Nonprofit Commons – This project is a host for many non-profit agencies’ SL presences, and, of course, some of those nonprofits are going to be lefty in nature.  A few examples: WMNF, a radio station that “advocates for peace, social and environmental justice” (liberal codewords!); the Drug Policy Alliance Network, which is pro-legalization; and the Sierra Club, which is well-known as being highly liberal.  However, there are some pretty good counter-examples listed among their membership as well, such as the Center for Civic Education, which promotes American political knowledge (and, let me tell you, some libbies are in desperate need of same!), and the Faith Foundation, a faith-based charity for children.  Assessment: A mixed bag, which is pretty much what you’d expect.

Skoolaborate – This particular project is sponsored by existing schools, and liberal bias in primary and secondary education has been well-established at this point.  See, for instance, this article from the Christian Science Monitor.  The site is heavily larded with liberal codewords such as “diversity,” “international citizenship,” “issues of global significance,” “underprivileged groups,” and “inter-cultural understanding.”  Furthermore, the actual “units of work” which are taught by Skoolaborate members are not open for inspection by the general public, including the parents of the children undergoing such instruction; to me, this strongly suggests a “hidden agenda.”  Assessment: Clear liberal bias.

Studio Wikitecture: Open Architecture Challenge – Sponsored by the Open Architecture Network, and “dedicated to improving living conditions through innovative and sustainable design.”  While the liberal codewords in that statement and the references to the UN Millennium Development Goals are troublesome, they also have a fair number of business sponsors…and, as I was telling Selenalore last night, I see no reason to condemn so-called “green building initiatives” out of hand, as long as there’s no harm in it.  Assessment: Some possible liberal bias, not a lot, but caution is indicated.

The Space Between These Trees – Benefits the Kintera project.  I’ll admit, my gut reaction was to dismiss them as “envirowackos” out of hand.  However, I took their “Awareness Quiz,” gave what I thought were “common sense” answers to the questions, and got 6 out of 6 correct.  (For instance: Hunger is not always caused by a lack of food in the world.  It’s generally caused by the food being in the wrong place…and sometimes the reason why the food can’t be moved to the right place has more to do with politics than anything else.)  They focus not only on giving out livestock, but on teaching the recipients to care for it properly, and encouraging them to pass the offspring of that livestock on to others in need.  This is in line with the whole “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime” proverb, and makes plenty of sense.  Assessment: Perhaps still some liberal bias, but certainly nowhere near as much as I first thought.

The Tech Virtual – This project relates to museum presences in SL, and the main museums involved seem to be focused on science, technology, and innovation.  None of this is prticularly “liberal” in outlook, though their upcoming projects on “energy” and “health” would bear watching, to ensure there’s not too great a focus on “liberal” aspects of those issues, like global “climate change” or socialized medicine.  Assessment: No real liberal bias, but watch those two projects I indicated.

Virtual Ability – I’m trying not to be biased by the fact that the people behind this project are fellow Coloradans. 🙂  They’re all about helping people with RL disabilities get ahead and thrive in SL…and some of what they say resonates a great deal with experiences friends of mine have had, and perhaps a couple of my own experiences as well.  I can’t find any liberal bias in this one.  Assessment: No liberal bias.

Clinical Scenarios for Increasing Patient Safety – This is tied to the British National Health Service, and, if you want a liberal can o’worms, it’s hard to find a bigger one.  See, for example, this post on the MedRants blog.  However, this is about improving patient safety…and anything that does that in the execrable NHS can’t be all bad, I say.  Assessment: Liberal bias only insofar as it’s tied to British socialized medicine.

LanguageLab.com – It’s a language school.  Really, how biased can it be? Primarily, too, it’s focused on teaching English to non-English speakers…which is a laudatory goal, as English is pretty much the de facto lingua franca (how’s that for some “borrowed” language terms?) of the planet; still, I can think of a few libbies who would be shitting bricks and sputtering “cultural hegemony!” at the thought.  Assessment: No liberal bias.

The NMC Campus Project – This is all about the use of virtual worlds in higher education.  The involvement of academia in this kind of project is pretty much a red flag for liberal bias; see for instance, Daniel Pipes’ essay on “conservative professors as an endangered species,” as well as, for a local angle, the case of Ward Churchill and the University of Colorado.  In fact, when I clicked over to their site, the first thing on their calendar was a series of lectures entitled “Global Agenda 2009: Tinderbox – Understanding the Middle East.” (Uh-oh!)  The lecture in question was fifth in a seven-lecture series, this one featuring a columnist for Israel’s leading newspaper…but this after the lecturers in lectures #1 through #4 have already drummed the liberal party line into anyone attending the whole series.  Another event on their calendar relates to responses to climate change among native peoples in Alaska. (Liberal codewords!) However, you could probably get much the same content on 80% of college campuses in the land…including the one I graduated from, more’s the pity.  Assessment: Liberal bias, but this is due to endemic bias among the underlying organizations, and not SL-specific.

So, tallying everything up, we have three clear instances of liberal bias and five “partial” instances, out of 13 projects total, so the situation may not be anywhere near as dire as I first thought.  And, in all cases, none of the bias was specific to being in SL, but was all a function of the underlying organizations.  Now, on the other hand, there was no instance of any finalist project having a conservative bias of any nature…whether this was due to bias on the part of the Linden Prize selection committee, or simply due to the fact that there just weren’t any “conservative” projects for them to choose from, I don’t have enough information to say.  Overall, though, I’m willing to concede that my initial assessment of the Linden Prize was off-base to at least some extent, possibly completely so.

“When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong.” – Jake Houseman (to Johnny), Dirty Dancing

UPDATE: Well, according to Massively.com, the winners are Virtual Ability and Studio Wikitecture.  That’s one “no bias” entry, and one “some bias” entry…and LL doesn’t live down to either my expectations or Prok’s (he thought Skoolaborate would take it).  Consider me corrected…at least for now.  However, keep your eye on the prize (as it were), as there’ll be plenty of opportunity for LL to show liberal bias in the future.

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16 Comments

Filed under Community, Current Events, Philosophy

16 responses to “The Liberals And The Linden Prize

  1. adricantfarm

    Our projects are secret. If we won a prize the board would have to be…..well, you know.

    -the other side

  2. (snicker)

    I’m tempted to say that there aren’t as many conservative projects like this in SL for the same reason as you don’t see as many conservative protests, or ones as large…because conservatives tend to have, you know, actual jobs in the real world, and hence not as much time for this other stuff as chronically-unemployed liberals. But (a) that’s just snarky, and (b) more seriously, conservatives need to be involved in virtual worlds and other “new media” spheres, or we’re just giving up ground to the liberals without a fight.

  3. adricantfarm

    We are there.

    I think we’re all in the veterans group however.

    Also we scatter when others approach however and start talking about how we wished prop 8 would of failed.

  4. adricantfarm

    The truth is SL is the biggest indictment of the lib agenda ever.

    There is no welfare, no bailout, etc. It’s trying to make that money.

  5. Thanks for performing this much, much needed social task — so that I don’t have to! It was work — and I appreciate this public service! I feel as if I might even get some free time this weekend now, although I have to catch up on my bashing of Lawrence Lessig and Clay Shirky.

    I would only go further, though, in flagging some of these groups as not only “liberal” but really leftist and “progressive”. Just about everything on the Tech Soup/Nonprofit Commons island is lib or left, and aggressively so.

    I’m not surprised that the Lindens, who are the original techlibs if not technocommies, are going to support those who are “likeminded”. That all stands to reason.

    But I question whether the antidote then is to field them “conservative projects”. That is, I’m all for doing that, but I think they’d likely reject them out of hand — and I’m not even sure what a “conservative project” would look like. “Focus on the Family” in Second Life?

    No, I think the answer is to look for more truly liberal, mainstream projects that in fact a wider swath of people can benefit from that show up the lib projects as the insular silos that they are. After-school programs for teenagers — but without all the PC stuff you find in Global Kids. Continuing Education for adults — but not about some PC subject like global warming but job training. Basic stuff. That’s why the projects like “help the disabled” or “learn a language” seem to be free of political bias.

    I’m proud to have chased Info Island in the early days and challenged what they were up to, and also the Tech Soup gang and of course I’m a regular annual critic of American Cancer Society. Invisible Threads is definitely a leftist project — Comrade, have you no awareness of the labour theory of value?! We must send you back to re-education camp…

    What irks me about the lefty stuff is precisely that it is not really helping larger groups of people and often goes to no more than the overpaid and feted NGO staff that often feeds on government or foundation grants pretending to “help the people”. I guess I just know too much about this field to be anything but skeptical.

    As for “Understanding the Middle East,” uh-oh indeed. I’d like to see a lecture on “Understanding the West” that would feature earnest women in burquas studying traditions like…Football cheerleading squads or…Western men in shorts frying steaks on the grill…or something…You never see that sort of thing! Let alone an actual intellectual exchange between the West and the Middle East.

    Now, the game is on to see which one of these libby causes — and really, they’re all quite lib when you get down to it, from your perspective especially (I realize you’re trying to be generous in spirit here).

    I’m going to take a wild guess and say that I think Skoolaborate will win the grand prize. For all the reasons you say, and because Philip likes educational stuff, but they probably think they can’t be too obvious and award it to NMC, which isn’t some poor struggling NGO project, it’s a huge thriving consortium of 100 plus islands with its business costs paid by by sub-leasing.

    Wikitecture is something I’ve long jousted with. I think they’ve been on the leftist side of the aisle on many occasions. You would think architecture would be free of politics. You’d be wrong. Comrade, again, anything with the word “wiki” in or around it has 10 red flags on it. Know the signs!

    In general, I prefer to use the term “leftist” because I put myself in the category of “liberal” towards the center, and to me, the word “liberal” isn’t a bad word, because it is about classical liberalism. I do notice that in some parts of the U.S., people use the term “liberal” when they mean “leftist”, and part of the reason they do that is because those lefties who are in fact leftist or even socialist try constantly to disguise that fact as they know that to be marked as leftist is to brand yourself as sectarian. And…they are.

    In fact when I take any of those online quizzes, I’m center-left. But for me, liberal is precisely awareness of the sort that you’ve outlined here – that the hunger isn’t caused by lack of food, but by kleptocratic governments keeping it out of some people’s hands and by destructive communistic practices (like Zimbabwe); that global warming, even if there is all kinds of scientific evidence, constantly needs to be debated by everybody or it deteriorates into Lysenkoism, etc.

    The Lindens don’t seem overly burdened by a need to keep an open society open, however; they’re more about trying to find likeminded tribal members to pursue certain technocommunistic goals.

    We should not assist them in this dubious enterprise.

  6. adricantfarm

    Wow Prokofy. I am waayy to smashed to read all that now, but I saw middle east in there and it reminds of this piece I did.

    Have you seen the Palestinian Holocaust Memorial?

    (link is near top story – http://www.adric.us/?p=122)

    If I started an area of dead kid pics they would shut me down (btw- I don’t have any – I was making a point).

  7. Prok: My original concept of a “conservative” project was something along the lines of Oleg Volk’s A Human Right site, intended to educate that “self-defense is a human right” and that the most effective form of self-defense is, in fact, a gun. Perhaps Volk himself could be convinced to take part in such a project.

  8. adricantfarm

    Ummm.. Sigs??

    HAHA

    When you are ready to be with the men, get their tools.

  9. adricantfarm

    boys;

    comfort me in this dark Specter moment.

  10. What? Specter was a flaming RINO; to him I say, “Bye-bye and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Maybe now the people of Pennsylvania will be able to elect a REAL conservative to replace YOUR sorry ass.”

    Plus, now the Dems have no cover whatsoever. Whatever happens from here until they get tossed out of office is on their heads and they can’t hide from it.

  11. adricantfarm

    Very good analysis.

    Yes, from when he Borked Bork it has been clear he can not be depended on, but you always want to welcome those who stray back when in the case we should of tossed him a while back.

    He is also pro-choice (or pro-death as we say here in Oklahoma).

    The last thing I wanted in the army is a platoon mate who I couldn’t trust with my back.

  12. Oh, I condemned the “Palestinian Holocaust Museum” utterly, and repeatedly, for which the tech libs Rita King and Joshua Fouts keep barring me from commenting on their web site breathlessly celebrating Islam, uncritically.

  13. adricantfarm

    Good man Proky;

    I knew I wasn’t the only person who had an issue with the dead kids prop. If you message needs that big an assist, it’s a little weak.

    Speaking of props – mad props to Firefox for having a 2nd Amendment theme

  14. Your ignorance and bias is quite amazing really, I guess this article shows how journalists can twist stories to anything that suits their purpose. Perhaps you could remove your blinkers and ask why would people do things? For example your suggestion that our units are hiding something because they are not open for all. The reason they are closed is a child protection issue. The units can be developed by teachers or students and have blogging capability. We are ensuring that students personal information is safe and that students can contribute ideas and thoughts in a safe environment. All adults in Skoolaborate have a working with children check which provides the expected level of safety when interacting with adults. If you understood education you would also understand this is something that parents want and that systems demand – a requirement. Parents can sit with students and see the unit if they desire.

    • Are *you* an official spokesperson for Skoolaborate, Westley? The address you used to post this comment suggests nothing of the sort.

      In any event, it seems to me that, if “students personal information” is so intimately bound in with the contents of your lesson plans, you’re doing it wrong. Shouldn’t it be possible to release this information with authorship anonymized in the case of students? It’s possible for concerned citizens to review what their local school districts are teaching, should that not be the case here?

      And I’m honest about MY biases. Is YOUR organization?

      Now, to give you your due, something like your service would be EXTREMELY useful for homeschooling parents who needed solid lesson plans for their children, and, in fact, I knew a couple in Texas (both fairly well-known bloggers) who were trying to set up exactly this sort of thing. The difference is that, this being homeschooling, the PARENTS would get to see the material BEFORE exposing it to their children, rather than AFTER it was too late to do anything about it other than pull their kid out of the class in the middle.

      • You are still missing the point. Our units are not static as you may be imagining. They are live, they allow live interaction between students their peers and their teachers. If they were live then others would be able to interact with them and attempt to solicit information from them that may or may not be appropriate.

        We are a collaboration of schools. Each school has it’s own way of dealing with issues such as Parent interaction. I would not assume that one size fitted all here and so leave it to each school to find the way forward. Many are struggling just to step into these new ways of learning. To expose their students to the world may seem wonderfully Utopian but is entirely unrealistic. I would rather bring them along and have them contribute to the journey rather than alienate them and force a viewpoint on them. We all decide what to do and how to move forward and have made significant progress that is positive. We share our learning with the world via our blog as best we can. We don’t have everything up due to lack of time (to busy doing) that lack of willingness to share.

        I understand you have you barrow to push, I don’t think you need to make your point via unsubstantiated accusations towards others. If you feel otherwise then so be it. I wish you all the best, you have raised some good points.

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