Monday, September 20, 2010

Second Life Hexagram of the Month: "Work on What Has Been Spoiled"

I decided to do an I Ching reading on the problems we face in Second Life. The Pentagram chosen for the reading is "ku: Work on What Has Been Spoiled."

The Chinese character ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. It has come about because the gentle indifferece of the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. Since this implies guilt, the conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause. Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply “what has been spoiled” but “work on what has been spoiled."  From the Wilhelm-Baynes translation of “The I Ching or Book of Changes“
Although talented people are still doing exciting work within Second Life it is hard to deny that the virtual world as a whole has been stagnating for the last year or two:
  • Stagnating from marginal active population growth that otherwise would have brought in new people and their fresh energy, ideas and revenue; 
  • Stagnating from endemic foundational technical problems such as broken search that if fixed would have enhanced commerce, improved user satisfaction and increased participation in Second Life events and activities; 
  • Stagnating from multiple management errors that have contributed to a very low level of trust and optimism within the community. Despite a temporary respite with the return of Philip Rosedale, recent Linden decisions are once again poisoning the well such as the lastest out of the blue ruling dumped on a key community without discusion or notice;
  • Stagnating from a scarcity of breakthrough artistic, social and commercial activities that would invigorate, inspire and transform; and
  • Stagnating in a generally narrow public discourse that gives lip service to the 'art of the possible' while plodding along with business as usual.
As our reading continues, the good news is that it's not too late to turn things around:
What has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. It is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords with the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work an danger – symbolized by crossing of the great water – but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation ... We must first know the causes of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start. Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start. Decisiveness and energy must take the place of the inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning.
Hard to argue with that! Of course, the devil is in the detail and the real work is the doing. So dear reader, what are you going to do about it?

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