Re: [-empyre-] Virtual sweatshops, SL:s dark side?

Hi Everybody,

If anybody is interested to see how the major media corporations are
reacting to SL,
its with the usual grotesque abandon. Sony are preparing to launch their "Home"
service, which is clearly responding by Second Life. It is only for
Playstation 3, their
new plaything for the rich and fabulous (a thousand dollars of
closed-off corporate silliness, although some progress has been made
with hacking.)

Home is a neutured, stable, clean version of Second Life, where all
'user-driven' means is different labels of the Sony BMG music
catalogue for you to be advertised by. It looks like this:

... and it will probably not dent the world of Second Life too much.
It may in fact have the unintended effect of moving the corporate
superstructures onto these more closed off spaces, where many more
people will be concentrated than Second Life in its heyday, are more
easily marketable, and will define the time there around entertainment
and feedback mechanics. That video shows users customising their
avatar, staring up a movie on a wall (Sony Pictures, of course!) and
of course having fun with simple banter. We can imagine the sorts of
homogeneity involved here; only male or female human avatars, no
sexuality, no swearing, no race hate, political activity aside from
the safe kind.

In short, Second Life will look like the revolution by comparison. And
considering how many of you feel about it... I suspect we'll be
drinking into the future.

I wanted to quote this article:

"Finally, the current mania is largely push-driven. Many of the
articles concern "The first person/group/organization in Second Life
to do X", where X is something like have a meeting or open a store —
it's the kind of stuff you could read off a press release. Unlike
Warcraft, where the story is user adoption, here most of the stories
are about provider adoption, as with the Reuters office or the IBM
meeting or the resident creative agencies. These are things that can
be created unilaterally and top-down, catnip to the press, who are
generally in the business of covering the world's deciders."


I agree with this wholeheartedly. People are flocking to Second Life
(or were) because of a massive - unbelivably massive - push by media
in which it represented futurity itself. Over the first half of this
year, The Age in Melbourne could not have had a single week without at
least one Second Life story; I would take that bet gladly. It makes it
an incredibly good tabula rasa for art activity and griefing (the
danger and vitriol is there, its just pornographic rather than
political) - and from my limited perspective I think Second Life's
best art moments have been about hype and consensus formation, even
more so than the identity politics works which have surfed between
furry cultures and abstract changelings. The works of public nuisance
and interruption are as diabolically placed as the spit in the face of
the priest with the camera nearby. The institutions of art, the media
machines, the academic machine - all of which which requires fresh
meat and grist concerning futurity - are all behind the camera trying
to work out if what they are looking at is brillant art or total
bullshit. Look at us arguing over it, for one. Yet the spit has hit
the face already.

My first thought with Second Life is that it sounds like Beuys's honey
machine. Beautiful, important... just don't ask him what it means.....

love to everybody, second or first,

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