Latest Posts

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

The Dark Side of Social Networks

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

So you are in college and looking for a good gig. What do you do in the age of GooTube? You make a video of course. And you claim you can serve a tennis ball 140 mph and bench press 495 pounds. Wait, no, maybe you shouldn’t do that.

Actually I don’t think Yale student Aleksey Vayner knew he was living in the age of web 2.0 and GooTube - his video was part of a supposedly confidential application to UBS for an investment banking job. If your video is digital, you should assume everyone will see it, at least until we have better permission layers on Internet media.

Social networks can connect you and make you popular, but they can also bring you 15 minutes of shame.

Thus Spake Blake Wake

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Blake Wake Second LifeI’ve
been working on my avatar in Second
. His name is Blake Wake (and he just bought a virtual island from
Anshe Chung for
some reason

are two basic approaches to this. One is to develop a character that more or
less mimics your real life persona. The purpose of this is to represent yourself
in 3pointd space for often pragmatic reasons: the journalist or entrepreneur
that needs to maintain a level of transparency and develop trusted relationships
that transcend a particular virtual world.

The other approach - one which I
find much more compelling - is to develop an alternate persona. The could-have-been
or the wish-I could or simply a doppelganger with better hair and fewer skin

In my case I am fancying the idea of developing an avatar or two that represent
a set of ideas particular to the virtual world. Unfortunately most of the ideas
in virtual worlds are shovelware - ideas shoveled from the real world into
virtual space. Some have argued this is jut what we should do - create virtual
version of real world people, events, and transactions. Certainly there is
a role for this, but I’m more interested in the imaginative possibilities of
these spaces.

There are two areas that are of interest. One is architecture and the other
is religion. On the architecture front Blake Wake is, er, I am working on
a "theory of virtual architecture." Or maybe it is a theory of place
making. Either way, someone needs to do something. Most of the building going
on in Second Life mimics real life structures. Now much of this is due to the
fact that SL has modeled itself on the real world, even down to the problematic
land ownership structure. Yes there is still an up and a down, and avatars
look like humans, but you can fly and teleport yourself anywhere instantly.
your buildings can float. Right now coming up with a "theory" is
basically ridiculous considering the size of SL. But this is an early adopter
playground and at some point in the near future there will be a metaverse and
people will build places. The question is what to take from thousands of years
of place making and what to jettison and develop new ideas appropriate for
the varying rules of virtual spaces. Stay tuned for Blake Wake’s ideas.

Blake Wake AvatarThe other area of interest is religion, and many of the comments above apply
here as well. If you think that SL and the metaverse should mostly be a place
that RE-presents (read presents again) the real world, then having churches
and praying to Jesus makes some kind of sense - even though there
are so many layers of mediation going on it is befuddling. On the other hand
- and its way to early for this - there amy be a kind of religious experience
that can only be mediated through virtual space. If not only, then substantially.
A virtual church is no more abstract and no less symbolic than a real one.
More on this later as well.

Of course the contrast I present here is in many cases much more of a blur.
The typical MySpace or Facebook profile is in some sense an avatar, and a selective,
online version of the person. The question is whether avatars like Blake Wake,
insofar as I decide to distinguish him from my real life person, are substantial,
meaningful entities. Right now they are attached to games and worlds like Second
Life, but this will change.