This letter (click for larger image) greeted me this morning, announcing that Linden Labs® has acquired both the Xtreet SL® (Web) and OnRez® (Web) shopping portals (read more on the official blog). My first feeling after OMGoodness was betrayal. Then I felt outrage ... "What a buncha Communists!" More about that in a moment.
Upon reflection, I'm not 100% sure why I felt betrayal, but initial reactions are usually spot on. The situation reminds me of the plight suffered by my Irish immigrant ancestors who worked the mills and mines, paid in Scrip redeemable only in the Company Store, essentially no better than indentured servants. At one time the Lab provided the infrastructure in a "Your World, Your Imagination" (Web) partnership with the residents. Gradually they have been taking the world back. For example, the Lab killed the banks leaving an alt account or Xstreet/OnRez the only places to stash money in case of balance issues. And now they consolidate the shopping industry, killing an important part of free enterprise. Of course, I'm not required to list my creations with Xstreet, but the service is so popular that not doing so would be foolish. The listing/sales commission that is paid to Xstreet will now go to the Lab, one more step to completely owning the means of production and a Communist utopia.
Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but consider that creators have to pay for texture uploads, have to constantly tweak scripts to compensate for changes in code, are not allowed to create prims larger or smaller than certain sizes, have no truly fair means by which to pursue copyright infringements or defend claims of same, and are hamstrung in many other ways, it is easy to make the analogy. Perhaps not Communism, but certainly not a business-friendly environment.
Like many I'll need to see how things work out. What is clear, however, is that the Lab is shifting us from being Residents to being Revenue Streams.