Tuesday, August 09, 2005


In "The Politics of Creation?", Icon Serpentine ponders the social dynamics of building in Second Life. The thing of it is, whenever you instantiate an object, the server you're on has to take it into account, and that takes bandwidth. The more you objects you create, the more bandwidth you absorb. Create enough on a single server, and you threaten to lag the neighborhood. (Older regions, like the one in Shipley where I have my virtual office, are much more likely to lag, due to the mounting accretion of creation from over two-plus years.)

So that externality sometimes creates an inadvertant "Not in my Backyard" social pressure against building too much. On a larger level, Second Life has a cultural ethos that celebrates and rewards creativity. On the other hand, that doesn't mean your next door neighbors will be overjoyed by the three meter wig made of hundreds of prims that you're building on your back porch.

Icon analogizes this tension in terms of a city where inhabitants are literally encased in their own personal space-- in close physical proximity to each other, but not really together:

[T]his street is made up of our collective bubbles and parts of it change as we move through it. We may pause from time to time, our bubbles may increase or decrease momentarily, but we never stop moving in any permanent way. So the street becomes a constantly transitioning single space-- but never at one moment is it a single place occupied by several people. In effect, if I do something that changes the size of my bubble, everyone else's bubbles are affected -- mainly if I increase my bubble, other bubbles have to get smaller.

Provocative points to make-- much more of them here.

Posted at 02:30 PM | Permalink


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