[iDC] SL, MIIM, knowledge and capital

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Mon Jun 29 16:36:43 UTC 2009

Hi Mez

The key points you raise that link to those I was making concern user
identity and economy.

I wasn¹t aware of the Linden ban on gambling ­ but it makes sense. It is
illegal in most countries. I know it is legal in some US states but then not
in others. Personally I think gambling is an activity where people, who
should know better (but don¹t) or those who are vulnerable, are exploited by
others. As such it is in my view improper behaviour by one human to another.
However, banning things is not the best method for controlling them. There
are other methods.

My view is that the entire capitalist system is a form of gambling. Not only
because excess value is produced through speculation and slight of hand but
mainly because it depends on the exploitation of one group by another. In my
ideal world I would ban these things ­ if I thought banning them would work.
As Stalin proved, it doesn¹t. Russia still has religion (I¹d ban that too).

Anyway, the point is that for many people the ethical framework that
underpins SL is completely intolerable, whether they be, for example, a
strict muslim, a feminist-seperatist, a luddite or a socialist. When the
Linden Dollar was created is when SL became fundamentally problematic. SL
employs a top-down design model for determining how people interact and that
is where it¹s problems begin. That is why I am arguing it doesn¹t have a
future. Something similar but with a bottom-up design model is far more
likely to be acceptable and useful to a broader range of people as an
infrastructure for mass virtual interaction.

I didn¹t know about the SL bestiality ban. People are interesting, aren¹t



Simon Biggs
Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

From: mez breeze <netwurker at gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jun 2009 21:01:20 +1000
To: Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk>
Cc: idc <idc at mailman.thing.net>
Subject: Re: [iDC] SL, MIIM, knowledge and capital

Occasionally I break my IDC silence to engage beyond lurkerdom.
Consider this a re-hello from me. I'm the founding editor of
_Augmentology 1[L]0[L]1_,  a: "...working manual discussing the
formation and evolution of synthetic environments". Thought I'd leap
in here with a blast-from-the-[2007]past in relation to Simon's post
regarding MIIMs....

On Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 7:17 PM, Simon Biggs<s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:
> I think SL is an extremely interesting model which portends the development
> of further examples of massively immersive interaction media (let¹s call it
> MIIM - I find the MMORPG concept, with its focus on games and role playing,
> limited ­ I do neither in SL). Somebody asked me the other day whether I
> thought SL is the future. I replied that I didn¹t but that it was a
> prototype of what could become the future. If I think MIIM has a future then
> why don¹t I think SL has one too?

Hi Simon,

You raise extremely focused points in regards to the conceptualisation
of "massively immersive" platforms. I attempted to tackle this topic a
few years back on the empyre list - as the points are still relevant
so I'll slab it here for you [and other IDCer's]:

"# To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
# Subject: [-empyre-] charavatars + fauxtectures: SL limitations
# From: "mez breeze" <netwurker at gmail.com>
# Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 11:22:31 +1000

hey all.

here are some notes from a piece i'm working on for my next
Twitter_Theory project 2 do with engagement within networked
alternative environments such as Second Life [SL] and World of
Warcraft [WoW]. I'm a dedicated WoW player + have been for a few years
now whereas my involvement in SL has been fairly minimal [more about
that later].

b4 i start to launch in2 a few ideas regarding MMOEs [Massive
Multiplayer Online Environments] + in SL in particular, i'd like to
explain 3 terms|concepts i've developed in relation to MMOE

1. the 1st is the idea of an player-entity as  _charavatar_: ie a mix
of a fictionalised character concept that actualises in terms of a
projected persona [ie a mechanical|visual shell that houses ego (via
imagined transmission)], character encoding [in the code page|charset
sense], and the willing suspension of disbelief required 4 seamless
avatar adoption. the notion of a charavatar lends a validity 2
in_world MMOE experiences rather than the mainstream ideal of
avatar-as-basic-ego-projection via a similar psychological skin.

2. the notion that a MMOE's functional architecture [including server
setup + performance, actual manifestation of the world's
descriptors|modifiers|engines used, usability, scalability +
reliability of it's "reality" flow] can be rethought as _fauxtecture_.

3. a fundamental shift in relation 2 personality + identity
constructions across networked channels such as social networks +
MMOE's [i've recently completed an article for furtherfield which
details participants in these cross_profile systems are now

"In digitized social networks there is no place for psychologically
defined notions of personality as a cohesive, definable whole.
Identity manifests through notational distributions found in multiple
profiles across various platforms. Ego-mediated variables are replaced
with actuated identity markers defined by the ability to establish
links to others likewise devoid of any traditional geophysical
baggage. For these articulated identities [now known as versionals]
connection is the vital point of communication; not the content, not
the geophysical inflection, not the biologically-saturated ties linked
to survival, competition, and traditional concrete community building.
This method of clustered distribution provokes a type of reality lag
found in capitalistic and ideologically frameworked nations; those
devoted to maintaining established notions of individuals definable by
consumerism and Darwinian drives, monetary wealth,
institution-adherence, and paranoid-inducing security."]

in SL in particular i've noticed many charavatar's seem unable 2 find
an initial reasonable engagement|interaction lvl, with the result that
participation hovers between a type of frustrated passivity +
non_existence after 1st forays in2 the world [continued participation
rates are low + drop-off rates high].

as others have alluded 2 onlist, i c this problem as resulting from a
combination of variables that stem essentially from the overarching SL
fauxtecture being economically driven + geophysically emulated at base
lvl + the corresponding intrusion of 1st-world corporates attempting
to capitalize on this. Linden Labs have recently made fundamental SL
changes [due 2 rising conservative disquiet] by censoring|altering
fundamental aspects of SL functioning, such as:

a) the ban on gambling:
b) outlawing certain types of sexual behaviours [eg furry_sex_play
deemed bestiality]:

this artificial god_like intervention in2 operating MMOE_mechanics has
provoked corresponding detrimental domino effects + spawned SL
Bubble/Impending Hype Crash talk:

my concern is the precedence this sets in terms of future conceptions
of alternative reality platforms. although these changes _shouldn't_
have obvious detrimental effects concerning artists|griefers
endeavours|experiments, my concern is that as SL's underpinings are
created along a capitalistic|cartesian axis, the effect on grassroot
MMOE charavatar's ability 2 maintain an allegiance|adherence 2 the
world + the communities formed there will influence this range of
experimentation [cross-terra(plat)forming seems the most interesting
angle 2 pursue instead]. SL artists|code.performers risk becoming
ghettoised, with less manipulation of teleprescence/glitches/gaps or
worse, their actions being channelled thru stratified, Linden
Lab-restricted categories as the fauxtecture crumbles in2
geophysically-governed detrius - a sign of frozen output. tiering may
even promote a voyeur experience that echos passive
relays|documentation rather than current|'live' MMOE participation.

this [in part] has influenced my creative decision 2 play|express
within technically sophisticated MMOE environments like WoW + combine
this with soc_net experimentation. WoW is a commercial venture +
unashamedly so...on the other hand, SL gives an illusion of functional
freedom that is becoming increasingly restrictive. i'm reluctant 2 let
my own x.pressions become exclusive via platform_tethering + thus
operate more as clusters|mashups of versional output [ref: description
above]. 4 eg, my recent combo of Twitter+WoW channelling called
_Twittermixing_ which remixed prefound identity marker texts from live
charavatar actions in World of Warcraft with aggregated Twitter


Reality Engineer>
Synthetic Environment Strategist>
Game[r + ] Theorist.
::http://unhub.com/netwurker ::

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201

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