Saturday, March 15, 2008

Human beings will always betray you

Ciaral Laval posts an interesting question/news: apparently the stuff created by "Cory Linden" is now seen as created by "Cory Ondrejka", and there is a discussion of "Is using your real life name for your avatar name good or what ?"

I can understand the possible reasoning on LL side for musing with this idea - the attempt to avoid the burden of regulating the world by attaching this burden to possibly "spoiling" one's RL identity by "wrong" inworld actions in SL, and as well to assist in RL legislation over the activities of SL.

To me, quite frankly, this would mean the end of the "our world, our imagination" thing, and it's one of the worst moves that LL could make - unless they want just to become a kind of "virtual 3D communications platform for real world".

I've been always saying that one thing SL did not do what it could - to become a field for trying out the possible completely and crazily new economic and society ideas, at a relatively small expense - compared to trying them out in the real world. Ok, well, maybe replacing the centrally-issued currency with some other form of interaction is too much - so the crazily new economic ideas are out. But still there is/was the interesting social experiment - how will the world organize if left unregulated.

The absence of the bind of RL name to avatar name inworld, means that the people are able to act genuinely, with much less constraints put on them - hence allowing for a better exposure of the true human nature, as opposed to the "human nature altered by the society, economics, and current morale".

But as soon as you bind the RL name to SL name - you push the actions under the microscope of their interaction with the real world.

There's quite an interesting video documentary series. I do nt agree with at least some parts of it, yet it makes one think and wonder - which is, although painful, is always a good thing.

It makes me draw some parallels, and argue that if there is a RL name exposed by inworld, this means the end of SL.

SL is unique in comparison to many other environments is that there is no explicit purpose in playing it. So, it is an extreme experiment in "negative liberty" as defined by Isaiah Berlin - see the third movie of the documentary series for an indepth discussion on this.

I'd argue that the low concurrency numbers of SL and declining growth are the consequence of the absence of purpose. The exponential growth was the hype that has arised there - you can make millions while not standing up from your chair!. While not necessarily the most sophisticated (there might be some things in the world that are better than money), it is certainly a purpose. And this has attracted new millions to SL.

And together with that there was a discovery of wildly deviant behaviours for someone with "augmentist" view on SL and strong conservative view on RL - so there were vocal few who said "Pheww... Beurk!", and the chanting crowd that always follows the leaders went into the same spin - and the same folks who a few months before were blindly singing hallelujah, were now throwing the stones. Couple this with some attempts to regulate the scammers or the biz that was not legal according to the US legislation - and you get what we have now.

Cory pushed out or simply left, Philip steps down, and everyone seems to understand and welcome the move. I can understand both. It gets boring - it gets exactly the same like any other business. Noone would argue that the toilet paper is extremely important, yet it's not something worldchanging - and it's worldchanging possibility that I like SL for, not just being an "3d business platform".

Nobody Fugazi argues that it would be hard to introduce this in a way that hurts the community. I would argue the opposite - it is hard to introduce this in a way that does *not* hurt the community.

As a pure "3d business platform", SL is years before being mature. Besides, if i am in for a serious business, like buying the car, I'll still prefer to go to the dealer and try out the real thing. It's this magic smell of "you can be anything and anyone and do almost anything without bringing the baggage of your RL reputation and without risking much" that makes SL so special.

Do not take it that SL reputation is not important - I hope "Dalien Talbot" has some reputation and some image, which I value. It's maybe even not so different from the one of the meatball behind the keyboard, but I prefer to keep the two - to be able to clearly separate where I try things and dream about things - here, and where I do the things "as I am supposed to".

If that little invisible and shaky wall of different identities disappears - there will be much less room for experiment - and, remember, as they say, human beings will always betray you, so think twice before you fully trust your avatar life fully to them...

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