SLsummaryChapter Eight.docx

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10 Apr 2012

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Second Life Chapter Eight
Addresses politics and economic togetherBoellstorff sees them as aspects of
the same cultural domain
Pivotal difference between virtual worlds and actual world is that virtual
worlds can be owned
―Creationst Capitalism‖—mode of capitalism in which labour is understood in
terms of creativityproduction understood as creation
o ―creative class,‖ ―creative industries‖
o techne is modality that creation takesself-fulfillment becomes means
of production
o author argues that status, expertise and market are interrelated
Neoliberalism: an ideology founded in use of market mechanisms and
personal responsibility as principles of governance
o ―crowdsourcing‖
―selfhood understood as customization of the social‖ pg 207
capitalist action is culturally produced- always infused with cultural meaning
and value
western vision of human life ―need of creation‖ founded in ―culture of
improvement‖—have ―freedom to create‖
―creationist capitalism forged by Linden Lab and Second life residents
through understandings of money and labour
creativity form of exchange valuenot just use value
linden lab allowed residents to retain intellectual property rights over anything
they created
o ―Copybot‖ allowed residents to copy information about objects
without permission
o second life defined by Linden Lab as service, not commodity
―Linden lab paid incentives to properties receiving the most traffic—also
affect where a property appeared in menu
o highest paying job was sex worker
Only by owning property could residents build objects with permanence
economic system in second life predicated on property
sl originally object based economy- residents taxed per prim created
shift from object based to property based economy--
Linden Lab‘s primary source of income was resident fees paid to own land
o Property based economyLinden lab operationalized the assumption
that place lies at the core of the virtual, drawing upon a history of
linkages between landscape and capital
o Land was form of place with political and economic consequences
―land barons‖—purchased land and resold (flipping it)
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o requires significant social engineering- usually including zoning,
organizing events, and identifying whole areas with specific
commodities (like land) were forms of property
o i.e. skin- author liked to have tattoo selves- in effect textures applied to
the outside of an avatar
o prims (jewelry, hair, shoes) almost always modifiable to resize
Dynamics of commodity circulation illustrate how economic system
(―creationist capitalism‖
o i.e.- ―resell/give away‖ setting commodities to be transferred to
another owner---altruism in SL
o even shopping can be seen as form of creation
commodity circulation further transformed as actual world corporations began
to take interest in SL
o one of the first was Wells Fargo company- ―Stagecoach Island‖ 2005
idea of teaching young people about banking
o other corporate presence increasing rapidlyTelus, IBM, Coca Cola,
GM, NBC, Nissan, etc…
o all purchased property- interest in marketing actual world products to
SL residents in demographic
o ―avatar based marketing‖ linked classic notions of advertising to idea
of alt and more broadly to avatarization of the self
o debates over corporatization of SL
some feared corporate intrusion- that consuming self and
producing self should be same person (creationist capitalism)
Linden Lab‘s influence on SL‘s economy and culture is debated—
To address governance in virtual world it is crucial to consider what Foucault
identified as shift form ―sovereignty‖ to ―governmentality‖ that accompanied
rise of modern nation-state
Governmentality—―resides in the things it manages…the instruments of
government, instead of being las, now come to a range of multiform tactics‖
o these tactics are forms of techne—their target is ―the population‖
which becomes ―the ultimate end of government‖
―Cybernetics‖ (Norbert Wiener) reference to control and communication
o Developed in context of a post WWII ―control revolution‖
o Sought technocratic means to produce a social stability that would
obviate violent conflict
During his fieldworkbroadly assumed that Linden Lab had total control
over their virtual world
o Residents knew any typing or movement could be recorded- assumed
they are being monitored reflect how contact with Linden Lab was
Linden Lab governance
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