Now that the headline has your attention 😉
Coming from someone that considers the Internet as a source of connectivity and communication, the notion that there is this wider, deeper and limitless version of the Internet (Cyberspace) really caught my attention. Some people would consider this ignorance; honestly I had no idea that the Internet was more than just something you can access through a web browser.
Until my recent class the words second and lives have never been connected. Lawrence Lessig a key advocate of technology and the limits of cyber culture describes Second Life as a section of cyberspace where “people create both things and communities” (2006). For those who you who were blissfully unaware of such a world, yes it does exist. Again, this may be naïve of me but I am still struggling to come to terms with how people consider this apart of their reality.
On the other side of the coin, from a creative perspective, to think that there are these alternate ‘worlds’ whereby users embellish their imaginations by creating their personal views of society and construct their own sets of values and laws is actually pretty inspiring. As you can tell I am very much sitting on the fence with this one.
Further more it was interesting to learn that Second Life isn’t the first time that humans have tried to ‘play God’ per say.
Again in the reading Lessig talks about the text based virtual world of MUD’S & MOO’s. He draws on the example of Martha & Dank and the scenario of the dog and the flower petals, which illustrates the endless boundaries that can be created when humans essentially become God. Religious preference aside, this example highlights the positive and negative effects in regards to power and mortality.
The issue of wrong or right is further questioned by society when confronted by the mysterious and horrific acts committed by Mr Bungle within the realm of LambdaMOO. This alternate space created an alternate world whereby there were essentially, no rules.
If ‘worlds’ like Second Life and LambdaMOO are in-fact spaces where people go to live their alternate life, who is in charge of regulating these spaces? What regulations are in place to prevent “cyber crimes”? Again this question is almost impossible to answer. As technologies have improved Lessig states “the architecture of the space (Cyberspace) has rendered life in this space less regulable” (2006). Ultimately Lessig states that he believes that regulation of the Internet is achievable and stipulates that this may only be achievable when governments learn “how the digital age works” (2006). I agree wholeheartedly. The Internet and in particularly Cyberspace does need regulation. Users must be accountable for their actions regardless of whether it is in a physical or digital space. The virtual faces behind the Mr Bungle character knew full well the heinous speech they were typing, yet due to the medium they chose, were completely free from any form of reprimand under the premise that nobody could verifying who was writing the text.
Again, many would argue that a world without such strict regulation might create a utopian society. Maybe we should all have a Second Life avatar and explore a world without restrictions of mortality and influence.
For me I am happy living my life without creating a second version of myself. Although if given the chance you could easily sign me up as a crime fighting superhero who runs around in a bat mask.
If anyone has played or is currently apart of this Second Life experience please feel free to comment or tweet me at @fluke_aus.
3rd Year Media & Communications & Commerce Student
University of Wollongong
Dibbell, J. (2009). A Rape In Cyberspace. Available: http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/. Last accessed 28 March 2014.
Lessig L, 2006. Four Puzzles From Cyberspace. In: Lessig Code Version 2, accessed 7/08/13, UOW DIGC202 Moodle site.
White, M. (2014). Representations or People. Available: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_whi_full.html. Last accessed 28 March 2014.