…if you’re unhappy with what I wrote. But accusing me of slander and using scary Swedish mind tricks to make my life miserable is a bad idea. Let me explain…
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post where I said that Mindark may well be a fine company, but its press releases about Project Entropia (or Entropia Universe as it’s now called) were over the top and worthy of much more investigation than the mainstream press usually afforded them. In the posting I made some observations about Mindark: (1) it has a history of making wild claims about Entropia, (2) at least one of the much-vaunted sales of assets in the world was to someone who has a direct connection to the company, and (3) that its recent announcement about its groundbreaking “Entropia banking card” was not very groundbreaking, coz it was basically a debit card. So far, so bland. I mean, big deal. Public relations is mostly hype anyway, and my beef wasn’t particularly with Mindark as the mainstream media’s inability to exercise any judgment about what is really newsworthy about virtual worlds. When the New York Times gets all breathy about a debit card, it’s time to tell them to get a better bullshit detector.
Mindark didn’t appreciate this posting very much, perhaps because it interfered with the potential press coverage of the AMAZING story that Jon “Neverdie” Jacobs is the world’s FIRST VIRTUAL MILLIONAIRE!!1!1!!
Anyway, shortly after the posting Jan Welter Timkrans, Mindark's CEO sent the following message to one of my bosses:
I am the CEO of a company named MindArk PE AB based in Sweden. I would like to know how it is possible that an Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics, employed by the Wharton University of Pensylvania. Is initiating and spreading slander concerning our product "Project Entropia".
It is utterly appalling to see his writings concerning a product he clearly knows nothing about. How can promoting slander by an employee be tolerated by a university involved in the education of Business Ethics and on top of that Legal Studies?
Dan Hunter has never even been in contact with our company.
Dan Hunters slander can be viewed at: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2006/05/project_entropi.html#more
Jan Welter Timkrans / CEO Mindark PE AB
[...contact details snipped...]
I spoke to my school about it, and we all shrugged it off. People suggested I should blog about it, but I figured that it didn’t add much to any discussion. So, it turns out that Mindark was pissed off with me. Take a number and stand in line guys.
But they just can’t leave well enough alone. This morning their CEO sent the following message to my school, looking for an apology:
I am disappointed to note that none of you have answered the mail that I have submitted below, this can only lead me to believe that the slander Dan Hunter is creating and spreading is sanctioned by the institution which employs him. Please answer. At this stage I will be content with an official apology.
And he sent one to the principals behind TerraNova:
I would like to inform you that you are promoting slander by making Dan Hunters slander available on your collaborative weblog experiment.
For your information you can see what I have communicated to Dan Hunters colleagues here below.
Jan Welter Timkrans
And they’ve even reserved me my own little spot in the Seventh Hell of Entropia, where they explain that I am, in fact, the "flimsiest story". (I’m not quite sure what that means, but, like, whatever. Welcome to the internets, where everyone gets to call you odd names).
Now this sort of thing pisses me off. To the point where it’s worth my time to blog about it. It’s not because I care at all about the implicit threat here: that if somebody doesn’t do something about me (in general) or this posting (in particular) then defamation suits will flow like the gentle rain from heaven. One of the great beauties of all those years learning law, practising law, and (now) teaching law is that I actually know what the law is; and perhaps more important, I don’t have any fear of groundless and stupid implied threats that I might get sued.
No, the thing that pisses me off is the use of these sorts of threats on all the people around me, in an effort to try to get me to shut up. (What’s strangest about Mindark’s behavior was that I was planning on ignoring them, since I have a million better things to be doing than writing about them. But they keep on picking, picking, picking at the wound, and, hey, before you know it, it’s bleeding again). I’m sure that there are all manner of organizations which, when faced by dumb threats like this, will actually try to make nice with bullies like Mindark, and tell their employees to shut up, or revoke publishing privileges, or whatever. But that’s not going to happen here. So that Jan Welter Timkrans and his minions at Mindark actually understand that it’s a waste of time to ask my school for an apology (and apology for what? for employing me?) I want them to know that I have tenure there. This means that they cannot fire me except in the most unusual of cases, one of which is definitely not because of pressure from a bunch of Swedish bullies with a penchant for wildly over-stated press releases. And as for thinking that TerraNova might decide to try to shut me up and get rid of me…well, they may want to have a look back to November 2003 and remind themselves who founded this site in the first place.
But if they want to knock themselves out contacting people who have influence over me, in an effort to shut me up, can I suggest the Starbucks barista named Juan who makes my coffee in the morning? I mean if he decides to cut me off from my supply then I’ll definitely consider writing a post entitled: “Mindark, I’m truly sorry…and can I now please have a large caffe latte with an extra shot? And if you also get me a bagel I'll buy your next space station, no questions asked!”
Oh, and to the inevitable Mindark sockpuppets who will post comments below, let me wish you the best. Knock yourselves out guys. Freedom of expression is da bomb, isn’t it?