[-empyre-] Re: empyre Digest, Vol 33, Issue 11

On 11/08/2007, at 12:00 PM, empyre-request@lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au wrote:

I use the term "attenuated reality" to circumscribe what people want to
get at with the term "virtual reality" in the sense that the particular
social system, in this case SL, allows human interaction, but under
specifically attenuated conditions. The attenuation comes in the form of
limiting the 'bandwidth' or pathways of possible human exchange. Using as
a base standard the conditions of f2f interaction, it is relatively easy
to define the particular socially-applied attenuations presented by
different communication systems. These include the direct attenuations
applied by the technological infrastructure (think limited frequency
spectrum of sound, for example), as well as the more abstracted
attenuations applied by donning the avatar... etc

regarding blakkbyrd, Ana, Helen's & some other comments, I too am somewhat
bored by the almost complete amnesia and lack of historical reference in
the SL discussion. Granted that SL seems to be the initial arena of
synchronous online presence for some folks here, but the attenuation
parameters for SL aren't significantly different IMHO to necessitate the
hype. I do understand, from years of leading people into attenuated
reality situations via the internet (and elsewise) that the first time is
a bit of a kick, but I think the current hype surrounding SL is just too
overblown. LambdaMOO was not hyped by any comparison, but that was
probably because you couldn't exchange money (the root of all social
abstraction!) nor could you see the virtual sex ;-\

I agree with John's comments regarding historical reference. The debate over whether SL is significantly different needs further deliberation. We have to acknowledge the media landscape has changed somewhat over the last decade, and gamers are now editors of newspapers and publishers of blogs, hence unprecedented levels of interest in MUVEs from news agencies. The excitement over SL is due to its nature as a social tool capable of generating complex creative and capitalist outcomes. While Linden Lab plays a deft PR hand, we can’t ignore the important steps being made here. SL is an extension of the early MUDs and MOOs, and it is far more capable as a new media construct. Yes we have lost the poetic nature of a text-based world, but we have gained the beauty of Nash’s “seventeen unsung songs” and “eudemonia stellata”. It's also far more than money and sex, even if this is the hook for journalists and inexperienced readers – it’s about the mass controlling their own content. As with all new media we’re seeing a consumption of past content (text, audio, video, form, design etc) by the new medium (McLuhen). What happens next is the exciting step – one where virtual worlds redefine the boundaries of social, educational and corporate interfacing. This isn’t a replacement of web or email for information distribution and interaction, but a real-time socio-economic layer being built over the network. The MOO-mavericks will be remembered as the instigators, the SLers as the proliferators.

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Christopher Dodds
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