Thursday, October 19, 2006

The buying up of your Second Life

A Virtual World but Real Money

In all the fuss over Google and the takeover of video expression sites like YouTube, the "Second Life" network has been pioneering what may be the real future of internet participation. It's not free, but nor is it expensive, and creative types especially have been adopting this virtual universe of ever-evolving worlds to become part of a vibrant community that truely lives in cyberspace.

The feature link above leads to New York Times with an article on how the forces of rampant capitalism have belately woken up to an offshoot of the web that has until recently escaped the attention of the oversized breed of commercial interests. That looks set to change and it could happen rapidly because such companies have the investment power to exploit the more complex programming skills needed for the network to reach its full potential.

It will be a shame because one of the beauties of wandering around these virtual worls is the ability to experience the contributors' own idea of a utopia or near-perfect world. Few of these landscapes are adorned by the billboards or jukeboxes we associate with stealth attempts to hijack our adventures - rather, they conveys a world of art, crafts and inspirational pursuit. When the high-tech decorators move in with their cosumer gizmos, all this will be lost.

As in the real world, our habitats will slowly become little more than something purchased off the shelf. Originality will be forsaken as we prostitute ourselves to a new virtual "norm".

I'm reminded of a very old "Dr Who" episode I watched as a kid. It involved a kind of "wristwatch" devive that allowed the user to teleport to another location at an instant. The technological equivilent is easily possible in cyberspace. In my "Second Life" I could no doubt purchase one for my arsenal of personal virtual equipment - extending the technology of the search engine to deliver me to a required place instantaneously. Then I realise that the same toy has a tracking device hidden in it and that the corporate empire and their government puppets are monitoring my every move.

There's no longer any hiding place - even in our own fantasies.


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