Woot! Go Alphaville Herald. Now get to work!

by Alphaville Herald on 05/11/03 at 2:17 pm

In a couple of recent posts on Terra Nova, Ted Castronova at Cal State Fullerton and Dan Hunter at U Penn’s Wharton School have had some nice – indeed, for me, inspirational – comments on the mission of the Alphaville Herald. I ordinarily don’t care much for self-promotion, but this *is* the internet and this *is* a blog, so I suppose it is the way of things. I hereby cave in to common practice. Here are some of their remarks…

From Castronova:

“A number of virtual worlds have company-sponsored ‘news’ feeds, but they’re often digital infomercials (though sometimes not). With the founding of the Alphaville Herald, however, a virtual free press comes into existence. The Herald is an independent news service focusing not on Home Town, USA but on Alphaville, TSO (The Sims Online).

“Is the Herald truly free? Witness:

“”One of my sims (Doctor Legion) foolishly took a job in a robot factory. Now he/she/it is hounded by M.O.M.I. for absenteeism…The joke is that we are slaves to the machines, but given the dynamics of this place (we sort of *are* slaves to machines) and our uneasy relationship with Maxis, this joke IS NOT FUNNY.”

“M.O.M.I. is “Municipal Observation and Management Incorporated,” TSO’s governing nanny, straight out of Brazil (the movie not the country). But, as Alexander Hamilton said in defending poor John Peter Zenger, “the laws of our country have given us a right to liberty of both exposing and opposing arbitrary power (in these parts of the world at least) by speaking and writing truth.”

“Whatever part of the world they occupy (indeed, which world?), free Sims sleep easier tonight, knowing that they now have a tireless defender deploying the full powers of the public press! On, Alphaville Herald! On!”

From Hunter:

“After noting Ted’s post on The Alpahville Herald, I had a look at their mission statement. Very interesting, especially (at least for me) inasmuch as they’re doing something very different from us here: they’re documenting the social history of one world and indeed one shard of that world. In years to come social historians, theorists, statisticians, economists, etc etc etc will all give thanks for resources such as these: deeply embedded accounts of what actually happens in-world. As Ted has noted elsewhere, it’s really really hard to do research in these worlds, because they’re so opaque to non-participant inveestigation.”

end quotes.

All of this is now making me nervous. Suppose our reporting is going to be a key source of information for future social historians, statisticians, economists, etc. Am I living up to that responsibility? Short answer: no. And this seems like a fine time to solicit help. If you live in Alphaville and want to be a reporter please let me know. –Uri

One Response to “Woot! Go Alphaville Herald. Now get to work!”

  1. Kale

    Nov 6th, 2003

    Yeah, these are kind, inspiring comments indeed, and I too should express my gratitude that someone appreciates the mission here, and a show of support for a project in its infancy. If these ideas interest you, please bear with us as we try to get up, off and running full force. Which brings me to the following (for those of you not in the know on how the economic’s editor prods his fellow legal editor):

    Urizenus’s “now get to work” is directed at one Candace M. Bolter, aka Kale, fatigued grad student and purported legal editor who may seem MIA, but indeed is working to set off on a journey that canvasses some legal issues in the rather odd and insular realm of virtual communities. One of my key concerns is that these virtual worlds have potential impact beyond the game, yet mechanisms to deal with some of the real life issues (e.g., claims made in the virtual space that harms (crimes) have been done/are about to be done to third parties in real life) either aren’t in place or worse perhaps, the owners of games like TSO may not have an interest in following through with reporting knowledge of claims they’ve received from gamers that may have serious real life (legal) implications. We all have a legitimate claim to privacy within the virtual world, but we also (I presume) care about what’s happening on the other side (i.e., the real world). It’s a tricky thing to draw the boundries between retaining privacy and not ignoring blatant potential harms/crimes that are taking place outside our safe little virtual nest. What to do? Do (many) people really care? What legal issues pertaining to these virtual games interest you the most? Let me know! I have a couple items that interest *me* in the works, but I’d really like to know what might be on any number of our readers’ minds.

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