Online Games Are Dictatorships, possibly…

April 17, 2007

Probably one of the most famous cewebrities out there and person I agree with almost more than anyone else on earth, Cory Doctorow, has written a fascinating article in Information Week today – ‘Why Online Games Are Dictatorships’. Thankyou, Cory, for writing this at just the time I needed to research such things!

Can you be a citizen of a virtual world? That’s the question that I keep asking myself, whenever anyone tells me about the wonder of multiplayer online games, especially Second Life, the virtual world that is more creative playground than game.

These worlds invite us to take up residence in them, to invest time (and sometimes money) in them. Second Life encourages you to make stuff using their scripting engine and sell it in the game. You Own Your Own Mods — it’s the rallying cry of the new generation of virtual worlds, an updated version of the old BBS adage from the WELL: You Own Your Own Words.

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Firewalls

February 28, 2007

photo of West Bank wall by FREEPAL

In a wonderful example of crossover between meatspace and cyberspace linguistics, the always excellent Global Guerillas blog by John Robb has a post entitled Nation-state firewalls. Robb lists some of the larger fences, walls and barriers around the world designed to limit and control the transitions of people between the two sides of the barriers in question.

Of course, the ‘firewall’ is a term originally for something in physical space, but in most people’s minds these days I think we consider it a ‘cyberspace’ term. The two have similar functions, of course – namely to limit the transition of stuff like data or people – but it’s interesting to see them being used interchangably here.

Question: just what is the difference people and data, anyway? I think I know people I’ve ‘met’ online but I’ve really only seen the data they produce. There’s certainly more to a person than just their intellectual output (just look at David Beckham) but how much more must vary an awful lot.