Please note: This post will likely be of interest only to those involved in Second Life, and even then a subset of that group, only those involved in the “society” of Second Life that includes the blogosphere community and the various daily rags that chronicle the activities in this world. The rest of you will think this is all very ridiculous. 🙂
Prokofy Neva and the FIC 2.5
I don’t know when the name “Prokofy Neva” entered into my consciousness. Like Aimee Weber and Anshe Chung and some other famous Second Life residents, the name seemed to be peppered throughout lots of the unofficial documentation and websites and help pages about SL on the web. I’d glanced at the Second Life forums once or twice, but they looked to be full of the ridiculous drivel on every game message board everywhere (ever read the WoW forums?), so other than posting once or twice for help (I think), I didn’t participate. Somehow I escaped Prokofy’s notice until.. not sure, 2006 maybe? He first accused me of being a noob and what did I know, and I had to prove that I wasn’t the noob he took me for just because we hadn’t crossed paths before. Since then, I’d say we have a fine relationship, even if it gets heated from time to time.
For those of you who don’t know “Prok”, as he is affectionately known, he is the Second Life resident that everyone loves to hate. Banned from more forums, meetings, groups, and discussions than probably/possibly anyone else, Prokofy is one of those “squeaky wheels” who Never. Shuts. Up. in a debate, writing exhaustively looooong diatribes, appearing on webpage comments to post a criticism before the ink is even dry, using profanity, sarcasm, and your every weakness to score points. When Prokofy gets you in his sights.. look out. Because, as much as folks want to dismiss Prok as a nutjob, there’s this annoying little niggling detail that just can’t be ignored – usually, there’s valid, real criticism buried in all those words, and he has been reporting on the activities of Linden Lab and the residents of Second Life for so long, that he can dig up examples and history that really is instructive. Darn, you hate it when the blowhards have a point, don’t you?
Now, that paragraph is a caricature, I don’t actually view Prok that way myself, but that’s the “persona” of Prok cultivated out on the intarnets. Just google Prokofy Neva if you want to know more and judge for yourself.
One of the things that Prokofy has contributed to Second Life culture is the term “FIC” which is pronounced like “bike” not like “bic” – and it means Feted Inner Core. The FIC are the cool kids, the popular ones, the movers and shakers, the suck-ups to Linden Lab, the ones who get special breaks because they’re famous or friends with someone who runs the world. Prok has long railed against the unfairness of special deals the FIC had/has with Linden Lab and even the broader SL society, and he actually publishes the names of the people he thinks are receiving this undeserved and special treatment on a semi-annual basis.
Now the vast majority of Second Life residents don’t read blogs and don’t know who Prokofy Neva is and if they see the term “FIC” in someone’s title they have no idea what it means, but those who have been around a while use the term almost endogenously now, “Oh they’re FIC,” someone will say at some Linden’s office hours. And when Prok updates the list, I always find it funny that those who end up on it go to great lengths to post all over the internet about how much the FIC list DOESN’T matter or mean anything and who cares what Prok thinks anyway.
This year, I was quite surprised to see that I am on the list. My first reaction was shock and a sort of dismay, I’ve always thought of the FIC as folks who actually really DO have some ties to the Lindens and who probably DO get some special treatment. I don’t believe everything Prok writes uncritically, but he’s been uncomfortably close to the mark lots and lots of times, so I put some weight to it. But I don’t have any special access to the Lindens to be sure, I think Claudia and Pathfinder know my name, but that’s about it. I have to go through the same processes as everyone else when I need help or have a problem. And unlike previous FIC folks, I don’t run a successful money making enterprise in Second Life, in fact in recent months my tier bill has seemed awfully hard to bear as gas prices and everything prices continues to rise.
So what the heck, I’m thinking! I’m one of the good guys! Et tu, Prok?!
Having slept on it over night, (I started getting messages from friends/acquaintances within a few minutes of it being posted, which tells me that it isn’t completely meaningless or people wouldn’t feel compelled to talk about it), I think I’ll choose to see this as a kind of recognition that I’ve had some positive impact on the crazy world of Second Life, that I’ve been somewhat successful in highlighting the really hard work that educators are doing – NOT JUST IN WORLD – but in their schools and colleges and institutions, trying to change a culture that says that virtual worlds are just games and technology is just gadgets and who needs all these newfangled things anyway.
Further, I recognize many of the names on the 2.5 list as colleagues and people I admire, people who I believe are working damned hard to make Second Life a better place, and to use its technology to make the real world a better place, too. I believe many of those folks are wonderful, creative people, who impress the hell out of me with what they manage to accomplish, and frankly, I don’t feel like I really deserve to be named in their company.
So maybe I never really understood what the term “FIC” meant or maybe the 2.5 list is different than the previous ones, but either way, it feels like SOME kind of an accomplishment. I’m not sure if it means I’m a good guy or a bad guy in Prok’s eyes, but any list that puts me in the company of people I really respect seems like a good thing.
So thanks, Prok, even if it’s a mixed blessing. =)