Archive for July, 2006

Unconferences, Unpeople and Unplaces

July 11, 2006

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The concluding session of BloggerCon IV dealt with logistics issues: where will the next BloggerCon take place? Could it run simultaneously in different geographical locations, so as to make it more accessible (time & money) to people from all around the world? Could it be video streamed in real-time to campuses and universities so students (i.e. future bloggers) would be able to present their ideas about blogging? … and so forth.

It was interesting to follow this discussion, waiting in vain for someone to propose what I thought to be evident, i.e. the option of running future events inside a virtual world, such as the NMC campus in Second Life.

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These kind of unplaces provide, already today, a perfect setup for unpeople (aka avatars) to participate in unconferences.

Moreover, if we get along with a virtual representation of food and drinks, then all Dave Winer’s preconditions for a pleasant uncoference, as included hereafter, are satisfied.

Scripting News 5/22/2006: Dave Winer’s conditions for a successful unconference:

What won’t change. It’s free of charge. Lunches and dinners are at local restaurants, and there are lots of them in the neighborhood. We will organize Food For Thought dinners on Friday night. There will be lots of room for schmoozing outside the studio at all times, and this will be open to everyone and anyone… Totally non-commercial, leave your business models at home.

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podcastIcon1.gif BloggerCon IV Concluding Session, June 24th, 2006

Original Podlink: BloggerCon: Dave talks about exiting the blogosphere

technorati1.jpg Technorati BloggerCon, Technorati the Podlink

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Economy and the Formation of Virtual Societies

July 10, 2006

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Philip K. Dick explained once how he became a passionate writer of a genre perceived as “not serious”:

“I became interested in writing stf [scientifiction] when I saw it emerge from the ray gun stage into studies of man in various types and complexities of society”, Introducing the Author (1953).

Online multi-players games (MMORPGs) and Virtual Worlds (Metaverses), such as Second Life, bear great resemblance to the remote galactic colonies depicted by many sci-fi dreamers. And just like early stage sci-fi, MMORPGs needed a certain setup time to overcome the ray gun stage and become what they are today – a viable alternative to our existing world.

Philip Rosedale Linden, CEO, Second Life: “I’m not building a game; I’m building a new country.” (ref.2)

One prominent trait of any society/country is the existence of economic processes and regulations. Edward Castronova describes in a fascinating lecture the developing economies inside those virtual worlds and their diffusion into our current world (through eBay for instance).

As these virtual worlds are young, most of the economic structure is created in a trial-and-error fashion. Many interesting details about these trials in emerging economies can be found in the Wikipedia article dedicated to Second Life under the “Economy” section, as well as in the articles mentioned in the References hereafter.

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podcastIcon1.gif Edward Castronova Gold From Thin Air: The Economy of Virtual Worlds 00:27:07, 12.4 mb, Oct 31st, 2005

Original Podlink: The Economy of Virtual Worlds

References:

Virtual World, Real Money, BusinessWeek

Fun in Following the Money, Wired News

Terra Nova, A weblog about virtual worlds

technorati1.jpg Technorati Metaverse, Technorati the Podlink

I, Leftover

July 6, 2006

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Web2.0 gives power to the people, but those who talk about it are mostly interested in how the newly empowered people could be re-tamed and harnessed (what a horrible word) into a huge, faceless mass of buyers.

How do we make money from Open Source? When will Jimmy milk the Wikipedia cow? How do we harness the billion 50 cents? In other words, the mainstream discussion is always evolving around the “show me the money” and “where’s the business model”, with the underlying assumption that the right to exist (and to be empowered) should only be granted to money-generating objects.

Somehow, Prof. Benkler succeeded in discussing Grid, Wikipedia, Skype, Open Source and Citizen Media without falling into the “show me the money” trap. There was a different, human undertone to his lecture and I think it’s the first time I heard a web2.0 talk that really empowered me for what I am, i.e. a leftover.

I, Leftover.

The leftovers are taking over; the residuals and the idles are beating up the stronger and the brighter. It’s the time of the “Ordinaries” (and some are absolutely abhorred by that).

This is the real change, as so far the leftovers were only valuable because of their money. No one expected nor wanted them to contribute. “Contribution” has always been institutionalized, and research was always funded by econo-political interests.

But now the power to decide is at the hands of “I, Leftover”. When “I, Leftover” downloads a SETI@Home screensaver, she’s not only contributing processing power to a noble cause, but also making the SETI@Home project possible. When “I, Leftover” uses Skype, he’s not only saving money, but also helping to bring free voice to everybody, by making Skype possible (because of Skype’s p2p nature).

My point is that great things are now dependent on individual, layman decisions. I, as a leftover, find it encouraging.

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podcastIcon1.gif Yochai Benkler – Participation Revolution, 33:32, 15.3 mb, Oct 21st, 2005

Original Podlink: Participation Revolution

technorati1.jpg Technorati Yochai Benkler, Technorati the Podlink