Category Archives: community

Chutzpah: Why Craig can’t save classifieds

In an open letter to craigslist, Steve Outing asks its founders and operators to help save the newspaper industry from itself. My response:


It takes real chutzpah to ask Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster of craigslist to help newspapers salvage their classifieds businesses and thus save democracy, or at least the part of it that newspapers presumably foster.

Your clever open letter to them, at the same time congratulating and blaming, misplaces responsibility. It assumes they have the authority to solve a problem that the news industry inflicted upon itself: how to replace a subsidy predicated on controlling and authoritarian business practices.

Steve, I can’t decide if your modest proposal is naive, self-serving or tragically poetic.

Craig Newmark never set out to disrupt the newspaper industry. Motivated only by helping people out, he created a simple list for his friends, initially distributed through email, and later on the Internet when one friend showed him how to create a Web page. Their trust in him, as well as a passion for serving others through technology, gave craigslist its authority.

You miss the magic of craigslist. It is Craig’s “friends” — a community that has grown to 40 million people a month in 500 U.S. cities and 50 countries (larger than all news sites combined by several factors) — who disrupted newspaper classifieds. Call them users, customers, an audience, a market, or marketplace, they discovered that through craigslist they could do for themselves what others charged excessively in order to handsomely subsidize their businesses.

Trust in Craig, still craigslist’s chief customer service representative, remains at the heart of it. So are democratic, open markets: the right of the people to conduct commerce and journalism among and between themselves.

Meantime, newspapers charged premium prices for access to an arcane classification system that published a few, annotated lines of shorthand in very small type at the back of a dense product with limited, daily distribution. The hard-to-find, hard-to-read, one-way advertisements were distributed to parts of a relatively small geographic region for sellers and buyers to discover, at least those who happened to buy the newspaper and read the classifieds section on the very day they were prepared to make a transaction.

For a lousy experience, newspapers in growth markets such as Dallas, Denver and San Jose made hundreds of millions of dollars that drove margins of 30 per cent or more with these high-yield liners.

The experience was not significantly improved by importing this business to the online version of the newspaper. What didn’t work in print didn’t work online.

Newspapers used their profits not to expand their social mission, but rather to drive the stock price of the companies that owned them, to finance acquisitions, to reward management, and to acquire additional wealth through cost-management: death by acquisition accelerated by cutting their way to profitability.

Financing news operations has never been much a part of it; ask any editor who has asked for budget increases or additional staff to cover a society growing increasingly complex and competitive. The moral imperative is a myth perpetuated by editors and journalists, not by the publishers you (Steve) are asking Craig and Jim to help.

Now, other forms and systems – a collaborative, more democratic Fifth Estate, if you will — are emerging to replace an institution that is broken. Almost anyone can deploy the simple technology that craiglist uses. Anyone can participate in its journalism and commerce.

Publishers would be better served by implementing enlightened business strategies with a passionate consumer connection at its core. Until then, they will continue to be cast in a survival drama of their own making.

Newspapers are like a broken satellite falling of orbit. The technology is failing; the mission may soon be scuttled. To stay in orbit, the engineers must repair and update the technology systems. More importantly, the flight controllers must restore trust in the mission and its results by relinquishing control. Otherwise, Satellite Newspaper – classifieds and all — will burn up in the atmosphere.

Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster may be talented astronauts, but they shouldn’t go down with the pilots of their competitors’ obsolete ships.

Take Action: Help launch a blog about poverty in Washington, DC

Here’s a chance for members of the We Media Community to get involved in something new, practical and ambitious. Bread for the City, a food bank, health clinic and social services provider for the poor in Washington, DC, wants to use the tools of media creation and distribution to help its clients and community members tell their stories. You can help.

Adrienne Ammerman, the organization’s media and communications organizer, attended We Media Miami 08 – and she came home inspired to take action. She’d like to launch a Bread for the City blog “to create dialogue and action around the issues we address every day: hunger & poverty, food & nutrition, access to legal services, medical care, and affordable housing… to name a few.”
Continue reading

Civil Discourse

Sponsored by Washington Post – newsweek Interactive

Location: Storer Auditorium at 4:15 pm

Session Chair: Hal Straus, Interactivity and Communities Editor,

Robin Miller, Editor, Slashdot/SourceForge

Slashdot has a multilayered moderation system for ranking comments. “If you ever get into a content rating system, do *not* call it ‘karma’.” Slashdot moderators are selected at random, and these moderators can rank comments up or down. If you’ve posted a comment, you can’t moderate. To control for group-think, Slash-Dot has “meta-moderators” a small, selected, voluntary group of “super moderators.”

Must haves:

1. Users must be able to rate things up and down.

2. Should, below a certain threshold, should comments be visible?

3. Many users doing few moderations–spread the love.

Steve Arend, Vice President Digital media Services, CMP Technology

I saw opportunities to take “noise” away from what other people want. We are producing a virtual trade show, 2nd life, where you can go in and interact with those who create the products you’re interested in. We have had cases in 2nd life, where we’ve had semi-unanimous interruptions, where we allow interactions to happen, but with the knowledge I can literally throw them off the (2nd Life) island.

There’s noise from the sales side, the engineering side, and from consumers. In the virtual world, that’s the closest I’d seen to real life. Because you can interrupt the audio portion, just like in real life. (View video clip 1.)


Mark Jones, Global Community Editor for Reuters

Question: What’s the worst that can happen?

We try and pull in the best of the rest of the web, what other sites are saying on various topics. Global Voices-Voices without Votes. We cover what major nations around the world are doing around elections, bringing in bloggers from around the world. For instance, you can see what global bloggers are saying about US elections. However, this skews content if the blogosphere is skewed all on its own.

How do you make it clear to users that there is a difference between blogger comments and stories, and Reuters itself? Our single biggest compliant from the public is on neutrality. We get these from users, and also our network of journalists. They feel a little hurt that we’re putting resources towards other’s work. But the last thing we want is for our journalists to feel “dissed.”

Handling comments….For an organization like Reuters, which is keen on neutrality, we have all sorts of problems with comments on blogs. We haven’t cracked the burden of moderation back to the audience. I naively thought, when I started editor’s started blogs, that when we were attacked, that our supporters would ride in and save us–and they did the first few times. But then, there turned to be some mob-rule and our cheerleaders sort of got scared away.

Finally, I really want to get the two sides–journalists and commenters–to enrich the discussion. But until we have a civil discourse, the journalists just aren’t going to engage.

Chris Tolles, CEO, Topix

The real promise of the internet is interactivity. A system that gets more people engaged (even if there are inappropriate comments), is better than a system than doesn’t get people engaged. We’re trying to get the highest number of people engaged. We have over 400,000 topics, all across the globe.

When the cartoons about the Prophet Mohamed appeared on the net, we got over 2,000 comments, when we geo-located where these comments were coming from, we found most of the comments were coming from Scandinavia and the Middle East. Over time, middle ground developed. “We look at it as, are we getting an increasing amount of people, and it’s a Darwinian product, and the one that has the most people wins”.

General Conversation

About journalists interacting with and within the comments:

“They’re highly skeptical about this. Getting bothered with questions from users, but they’re kinda intrigued by it. They see their job as to talk to policy makers and heads of companies.” -Mark Jones

“The San Francisco Chronicle, uses the public as a club to make a point and support what they’re saying–to use it against the people who are against them. …I think a year or two from now, I will bet you a lot of money, that journalists will take comments and publish them in their stories. ” -Chris Tolles

“At the Post, we have the need to be objective, and we’ve had a lot of our opinion writers who have gotten into the ring with our commenters. For one thing, they worry about this because they’re ‘working without a net.’ -Where they’re not editorialized.” -Hal Straus

Interaction from the audience (not all who participated, but the closest person to me that I could get info from):

Jean-Baptiste, with Le, where there is a web-comment page within the hardcopy newspaper. These comments are edited and selected before being printed.

Other sites mentioned as having interesting interactivity features:

PS Video of this event will be posted to this blog today, it was not available immediately.

Two thirds of Americans View Traditional Journalism as ‘Out of Touch’

For the second year in a row we’ve documented a devastating lack of satisfaction with journalism in American – and an opportunity to do something about it. Here’s the formal press release of the new research, which we discussed in the opening session of this year’s We Media Miami Forum and Festival. The good news: Americans believe journalism is important. The bad news: They don’t like or trust the journalism in their communities. One thing is clear: Our forecast from four years ago of “the digital everything” has arrived – the Internet is the primary source of news for more people than any other. There’s no going back. The widespread dissatisfaction with traditional journalism could be viewed ominously, by those who produce and sell it, as a cause for alarm, a reflection of ongoing decline and a likely foreshadowing of further decline. But for the We Media culture a tremendous opportunity emerges – not only to produce better and more trusted journalism but to build better communities around it. In the We Media culture that’s an opportunity for everyone, including but by no means limited to those who think of themselves as media companies or professionals. Civic groups, healthcare companies, nonprofits, local governments and activists are starting to flex their muscles as story-tellers too. The future, like the past, will be full of stories. – Andrew Nachison


Two thirds of Americans – 67% – believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, a new We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities.

Meanwhile, the online survey documented the shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet – most dramatically among so-called digital natives – people under 30 years old.

Nearly half of respondents (48%) said their primary source of news and information is the Internet, an increase from 40% who said the same a year ago. Younger adults were most likely to name the Internet as their top source – 55% of those age 18 to 29 say they get most of their news and information online, compared to 35% of those age 65 and older.

These oldest adults are the only age group to favor a primary news source other than the Internet, with 38% of these seniors who said they get most of their news from television. Overall, 29% said television is their main source of news, while fewer said they turn to radio (11%) and newspapers (10%) for most of their news and information. Just 7% of those age 18 to 29 said they get most of their news from newspapers, while more than twice as many (17%) of those age 65 and older list newspapers as their top source of news and information.

Web sites are regarded as a more important source of news and information than traditional media outlets – 86% of Americans said Web sites were an important source of news, with more than half (56%) who view these sites as very important. Most also view television (77%), radio (74%), and newspapers (70%) as important sources of news, although fewer than say the same about blogs (38%).

The Zogby Interactive survey of 1,979 adults nationwide was conducted Feb. 20-21, 2008, and carries a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points. The survey results were announced at this week’s fourth-annual We Media Forum and Festival in Miami, hosted by the University of Miami School of Communication and organized and produced by iFOCOS, a Reston, Va.-based media think tank ( This is the second year of the survey.

“For the second year in a row we have documented a crisis in American journalism that is far more serious than the industry’s business challenges – or maybe a consequence of them,” said Andrew Nachison, co-founder of iFOCOS. “Americans recognize the value of journalism for their communities, and they are unsatisfied with what they see. While the U.S. news industry sheds expenses and frets about its future, Americans are dismayed by its present.

“Meanwhile, we see clearly the generational shift of digital natives from traditional to online news – so the challenge for traditional news companies is complex. They need to invest in new products and services – and they have. But they’ve also got to invest in quality, influence and impact. They need to invest in journalism that makes a difference in people’s lives. That’s a moral and leadership challenge – and a business opportunity for whoever can meet it.”

The survey finds the Internet not only outweighs television, radio, and newspapers as the most frequently used and important source for news and information, but Web sites were also cited as more trustworthy than more traditional media sources – nearly a third (32%) said Internet sites are their most trusted source for news and information, followed by newspapers (22%), television (21%) and radio (15%).

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Although the vast majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism (64%), overall satisfaction with journalism has increased to 35% in this survey from 27% who said the same in 2007.
  • Both traditional and new media are viewed as important for the future of journalism – 87% believe professional journalism has a vital role to play in journalism’s future, although citizen journalism (77%) and blogging (59%) are also seen as significant by most Americans.
  • Very few Americans (1%) consider blogs their most trusted source of news, or their primary source of news (1%).
  • Three in four (75%) believe the Internet has had a positive impact on the overall quality of journalism.
  • 69% believe media companies are becoming too large and powerful to allow for competition, while 17% believe they are the right size to adequately compete.

Republicans (79%) and political independents (75%) are most likely to feel disenchanted with conventional journalism, but the online survey found 50% of Democrats also expressed similar concerns. Those who identify themselves as “very conservative” were among the most dissatisfied, with 89% who view traditional journalism as out of touch.

Further Details: Zogby Methodological statement

Will work for … money

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is offering big bucks to support innovation in community journalism. The deadline for this year’s Knight News Challenge is Oct. 15. This is a big deal, especially in the U.S. where the commercial news industry is in decline. But it’s a big deal everywhere – in a connected culture, innovation ignores geographic boundaries. If you’ve got a project in the works, or a brilliant idea percolating, I urge you to send your ideas to Knight.

Go here for details on how to apply:

Technorati Tags: , , ,

What’s in your wallet?

Our favorite media pundit Jay Rosen shared this test for understanding how people define and are defined by communities. What I carry in mine:
– Driver’s License. Geographic community.
– Business cards. Connections to global communities.
– Insurance cards. My health and wellness, anywhere.
– Apple Pro Care. Ticket to my technology.
– Hidden Creek Country Club card. My shadow life as a golfer.
– Dad’s “Hole-in-One” card. DNA; remembering moments with my father.
– Family photos. Real life.
– Key cards. Access to current worlds.
– Code card to storage facility. Holding tank for past worlds.
– Voter’s registration. Citizenship badge.
– Affinity cards. Privilege passes for a global citizen.
– Credit and debit cards. Convenience currency for life on the go.
I’m local so long as my wallet is with me, even if I’m in Beijing. Now my goal is to retire the wallet and put all my communities on an iPhone. Which I’ll also lose.

Connected to the news by a generation of wired witnesses

Unaware of a shooting in a dormitory that left two people dead, Virginia Tech graduate student Jamal al Barghouti headed across campus to meet with his advisor. Nearing Norris Hall he ran into police, guns drawn, rushing inside. As al Barghouti took cover, he pulled out his Nokia camera-phone and started recording. Then came the haunting sound of 26 gunshots. As the volley increased in intensity he unexpectedly recorded his own startled voice: “Wow,” he said.

Across campus, freshman Bryce Carter was hiding in his dorm room. When word reached him that fellow students had been shot, he went online. After assuring friends that he was alive, he wrote these works on Bryce’s Journal, his blog: “My friends could be dead.”

Over at the business school, computer science-business technology major Kevin Cupp was locked down, distanced from the computer servers he manages as webmaster of Planet Blacksburg. So he sent an instant message on his cell phone to Twitter, the new digital network where people describe what they are doing at the moment. His first of many posts that day: “Trapped inside of Pamplin, shooter on campus, they won’t let us leave.

What we experienced about the horrific events on a black day in Blacksburg owes to a savvy, social generation connected emotionally and technologically to its media. Their eyewitness descriptions, photos, video and reporting from a remote, rural Virignia town – one of the world’s first connected communities — made a story visceral to the world.

The ability to instantly capture and disseminate information at a time when it was most needed, as well as to communicate with each other across time and geography, has not only helped unite a community but has become a real-time example of how personal media empowers and defines communication in today’s connected society.

Watching events unfold, the shift in the power of media was perceptible. Traditional broadcasters and publishers competently covered the tragic events in Blacksburg. But the story belongs to Virginia Tech students. They were at once reporters, witnesses and subjects of the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. It was like watching a new kind of reality show where the stars used their devices, their social networks, and their wits to survive and to cope.

News organizations responded by plundering material posted on the web and pumping their own content into the online ether. The Internet encouraged a collective expression of emotion that was faithfully reported by traditional media outlets. As if the world outside newsrooms didn’t already know, CBS News ran this story a day after the shootings: Students turn to web in time of tragedy. The Los Angeles Times went with: Students Trace a Tragedy Online.

So, too, did adults. While social networking sites such as Facebook and My Space became an integral part of the story, millions turned to the sites produced by mainstream news outlets for the latest from Blacksburg. But the Internet had done more than create a distribution center for news and information; it became a place for news to happen. An online community emerged around the story. The immediacy of the medium helped to relay both the scope of news as well as the full emotion of the event. Once again, citizen journalists armed with mobile phones supplied invaluable material, including pictures and video footage of the shootings, to established news organizations.

Newspapers lost more hallowed ground in the media war for immediate attention and influence. An editor for The Washington Post lamented the “dead-tree” limitations of covering a breaking story that made newspaper editions the harbingers of yesterday’s news tomorrow. A day late and many breaking developments short, the mighty Post was relegated to this headline on Tuesday, April 17, a full day after the shootings: “Gunman Kills 32 at Virginia Tech In Deadliest Shooting in U.S. History.”

There can be no denying now that We Media – the ecosystem in which everyone is media – is the dominant force of communication in our culture. The digital network has changed the way we create, access and distribute news and information.

Virginia Tech’s students shined even as it they were portrayed as victims. One articulate student-witness set the record straight while being interviewed by a testy CNN reporter. “Don’t you get it?” he asked the reporter. “Its our story, not yours.”

As the student went off to awaiting cameras for a series of interviews and special reports with the other television networks, a CNN producer channeled the network’s coverage to a report on counseling services on campus.

The TV moment recalled the recent complaint by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams that the had spent a career as a journalist only to compete now with “some guy named Vinny.”

But it was not Vinny with whom Williams had to compete in Blacksburg. It was Jamal, Bryce and Kevin. They are, for the moment, the celebrated journalists of their generation, embedded correspondents reporting from a war zone with all the courage and authenticity that radio reporter Edward R. Murrow famously exhibited covering the bombing of London during World War II.

Undeniably less sophisticated than Morrow’s reporting, their citizen journalism is shown, replayed, recast, remixed and referenced over-and-over again on the Internet as well as on traditional newscasts. The unfettered, unfiltered coverage of the shootings is accepted for what it is, unapologetic for its lack of cohesiveness or for its personal perspective. The audience understands the story is personal and incomplete, a work in progress that continues long after the network camera crews and out-of-town reporters leave Blacksburg. Suddenly, the Internet looks less like a threat to ‘old media’, and more like a resource it can easily exploit.

The We Media Generation now looks to pick up the pieces, to remember their friends, their community, and to share their stories of survival with the rest of the world. It is the informing story of their lives. No wonder they asked NBC and the outside media to leave for violating their fragile community by repeatedly overplaying, then replaying over and over, the grotesque rants of a killer, once a disturbed fellow student.

The story of a generation turned quickly to coping with unimaginable tragedy, a cruel and unforeseen twist for college students living in the sanctuary of a college campus. Amid tragedy there was pathos and authenticity in the way they mourned, grieved and supported one another through public acts of catharsis.

At the Tuesday night vigil for their slain comrades Virginia Tech students lit “The Drill” with candles and the glow of screens on their cell phones. Virtual vigils emerged across the web. Happy Slip, a vlogger in New York City, posted a photo sent via a cell phone from the vigil. These words accompanied the photo: “Know that a community here in New York was on their knees praying for you tonight.” Thousands of bloggers shared similar sentiments. Technorati, a web site that indexes blogs, tracked nearly 30,000 posts about Virginia Tech the following day.

As expressions of sorrow and support, memorials proliferated on the web. West Virginia Blogger collected links to the personal web sites of victims, many on My Space or Facebook, as a way of paying tribute. “It’s one thing to hear a list of names on TV, or read them online,” she wrote, “but if you take a second to view a bit of the person’s personal life it will give you a deeper understanding of that person.”

Forums were established on sites such as and for students to express their condolences and grief. The creators of proposed a day of silence in the blogosphere to pay tribute to the victims. Citizens of the virtual world Second Life established a memorial for visitors to leave virtual notes and flowers.

The big news organizations did their best to compete with the raw elegance of user-generated tributes, but their stories seemed trite amid the outpouring of personal expression.

As the world tries to understand what happened in Blacksburg, the conversation should once and for all dispel the “derivative myth” spun by newspapers and news broadcasters. The myth holds that most news of value is created and owned by the newspapers who publish it or by the broadcasters who air it. While there is no denying that news organizations may add value to news by employing large numbers of specialists to gather, create, edit, produce and distribute it, the notion that they either “own’ the news or that they are the original source for it becomes irrelevant, if not absurd, when everyone is media.

Today’s news tumbles through a connected society, spiraling through media, changing as it goes, an organic story with no beginning, middle or end. What seems chaotic is actually a story arc that assumes clarity, context and meaning as it unfolds through a proliferation of sources, many accessible to anyone. The days of once-a-day publishing cycles and scheduled news broadcasts are mere supplements to a continuous stream of news and information available any time through a variety of sources and ubiquitous devices.

With their cell phones, networks and knowledge of place, Virginia Tech students were better prepared to report the events overtaking them than the swarm of professional reporters who descended upon Blacksburg following the shootings. On camera the students appeared more composed, informed and sure-footed than the confused reporters from the big cities.

Community – a word that is now used to describe the digital connections among people, as well as the social and emotional ones – was the word heard time-and-time again from Blacksburg. Extended by personal media, the Blacksburg community quickly expanded to include students on campuses everywhere, as well as a diverse, caring generation connected to each other through digital media.

“Today we are all Hokies,” student leaders proclaimed when asked by reporters how the tragic events would impact Virginia Tech. In a show of support, fellow students at universities across the U.S. created video tributes and memorials on You Tube, some remixing an audio track of Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On” with slideshows of photos grabbed from Flickr. Many of the videos ended with a slide displaying the logo of their universities next to the words “today we are all Hokies.”

Powerful forces were in play in Blacksburg that week. One was the invisible infrastructure of digital networks, wired and wireless, connecting a geographically isolated community to itself and to the world. Another was the connected culture of young adults, savvy content creators and communicators who instinctively use social media as integral parts of their life. When shots rang out, the story unfolded through their devices and their networks.

A new generation of media experts provided an indelible record of what happened on a terrible day in Blacksburg. They have created a lasting tribute to and by its community. The way we are informed will never be the same.

Video: We’re All in this Together

One phrase, one song from one of the projects featured stays with me as I consider all the videos that were shown at the Grove Stage on Thursday night. “We’re all in this together”. This phrase, this song, I felt best represented and signified the entire video festival. The art of video to convey strong images, strong stories, that stay with you long after the piece is complete is a significant challenge in new media environments. Screens are small, accessibility options complex, and distractions from a piece varied. Steve Rosenbaum met these challenges with his series of images and choice of music presented on the outside screen along with the national drink of Cuba, mojitos. The images were so diverse and methodically paced, it absolutely held my attention. The theme music chosen for the piece truly brings all of the other pieces together.

Continue reading

Why Media? How we get media literate

Last night at a Miami/We Media bloggers dinner (hosted by Alex deCarvalho of Scrapblog)  Andy Carvin and I got into a discussion about how we got blogging…which got us thinking:  how do bloggers get to be bloggers?  Why do we take up self-publishing?  Where did the passion for media–that’s evident in so many of us–come from?

Continue reading

Global Voices: New Directions

Those of you who’ve visited the Global Voices web site are probably familiar with our core mission, and the ways in which we’ve been trying to fulfill it thus far. The central feature of Global Voices has been our international blog aggregator, which is driven today by a team comprising nine regional editors, six language editors and 60-plus volunteer authors. In the two years and three months since it came online, this edited aggregator has made major strides towards helping foster a more democratic global discourse by amplifying voices from parts of the world which normally occupy the fringes of the mainstream media, if they’re even heard at all.

Continue reading

Second Life and engaging communities

Communities exist in many forms, from chatter on a forum or bulletin board through to multi-player 3D virtual worlds. But what engagement models work and how can media companies nurture communities without alienating them as devices of corporate interests?

In our open discussion on Thursday at 12.30pm at the WeMedia conference in Miami we hope to engage the community sitting in the audience in a discussion of the different ways of working with communities – without alienating them!

Continue reading

Technology Facilitates Community-Media Convergence

Broadly speaking, “community” can mean a locality, a school, a vocation, even an entire ethnic group or religion – any group bound by a common interest or condition. It may be small, it may be big. The fact is, we all belong to many communities at the same time. Some even overlap because they share a common vision, idea or platform. Conversely, this overlapping could also be because of disagreement.

A community on the Internet is likewise a group of people with something in common, getting together or collaborating in a particular area of cyberspace.

Continue reading

Get a First Life

Get a First Life!If you’ve been a little bemused or underwhelmed by the goings-on in Second Life (Swedish embassy, Reuters news bureau) this Get a First Life parody will probably hit the spot.

First Life is a 3D analog world where server lag does not exist. Find Out Where You Actually Live! Go Outside!  Membership is Free!

What’s especially notable, other than the dead-on humor, is that Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, responded with a direct anti-”seize-and-desist” letter. It’s nice to see a company that allows, even encourages, parody and derivative creativity — though given Second Life’s ethos, I’d have been surprised by any other response.