New Civilization News: Virtual Futurists    
 Virtual Futurists13 comments
picture 7 May 2005 @ 15:39, by Flemming Funch

Last week was the first meeting of the Second Life Future Salon. I used to go to the monthly futurist salons in L.A. spearheaded by John Smart, which was always enjoyable. A group of very bright techie, transhumanist futurists, and always great speakers. Since then affiliated salons have popped up in other places, San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas. And now this is the first one in virtual space, in the Second Life virtual world. Which means I can be there, even if it is at 4AM where I am in France.

I was a bit late, and it took me a while to find it. I haven't used Second Life more than a couple of times. It was in a China Town simulation, which was pretty cool, but how to find it? I basically scanned over the world map, which is huge, until I found a suitably large group of people that I could teleport to. People, well, what is there is avatars, virtual bodies. And, well, it is weird compared with a "meat space" meeting. People can have all sorts of wild costumes, and wings and robotic arms or whatever suits them. And you can fly or walk or ride a motorcycle or teleport, or whatever. But you still go to a meeting hall with chairs and sit down, and there is a speaker up front, and you sit and fiddle or look around at who else is there. They had hooked up some new audio conferencing capability so you could hear the speaker. Otherwise you type to each other in speech bubbles or chat windows.

Well, what's interesting is how serious this is. It isn't just some kids trying to pass their spare time with a game. Rather, we have academics and professionals who dedicate quite some effort to making virtual worlds more viable for various kinds of activities, and who study the dynamics of what happen there. How you best do business there, whether you can telecommute from there, what kinds of infrastructure is needed, etc.

Lots of interesting stuff on the Second Life Future Salon Blog, like the article The Flat Earth's Shaky Virtual Ground on the interesting phenomenon of low-wage Chinese workers being employed to play online games in virtual worlds and gather stuff of value that can be sold, and how they get into a puzzling situation in a place like Second Life, where it isn't really a game, but where you can very well make good money in real estate speculation or by starting businesses, but it requires understanding how a capitalist economy works. And if you do, you wouldn't really have to work for peanuts for somebody else in a sweatshop for virtual workers.


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13 comments

8 May 2005 @ 05:20 by nemue : Interesting...
Very interesting Ming.  


11 May 2005 @ 04:57 by GaiSensei @66.67.16.30 : Great place to be.
Been a part of Second Life for a while now. Not a part of the money-trade stuff though, still living off that one time $10 payment (GOD that is such a sweet deal!) Really happy to see that the extra applications of this space are being story'd about. Don't forget to mention that you can even make your avatar do things with tradeable gestures. That kind of stuff just tickles my fancy. Someday, we'll be able to move those people around ala Snow Crash style. :D  


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