Second life: a utopian project gone bad
Of course, we all know Second life, any many writings already exist. Mostly on how incredible and promising this open-source-collaborative online community-building actually is.
To see in what ways these terms hold any value nowadays, I logged into Second Life after a long, long time. Shocking experience…
Instead of the usual whatever-take on these ‘do you agree’ buttons, I actually started to read it, because obviously, Second Life is not your free-roam-around 3d chat-room anymore. Somebody introduced some rules.
As Christoph Spehr notes, in current societies, especially within capitalism, there are always certain parties that create the rules of the kitchen and, since it is in their power, they will uphold this rules by any means (since it is the reliance on these rules that keeps them in the drivers seat).
In the kitchen of Second Life, I came across the following rules:
In the three guiding steps by Christoph Spehr, the first one already conflicts with the kitchen rules:
There are three aspects that have to be taken into account if you want to build a free cooperation. The first is that all rules in this cooperation can be questioned by everybody, there are no holy rules that people cannot question or reject or bargain and negotiate about .
So, in this digital utopia of society-creating, I cannot have a discourse about the rules? I found this quite a disappointment; while having this great opportunity to learn about human-society processes, the way to cooperative knowledge is shut. Why?
Because even utopias have back doors and secret agendas. In this case the picture shows a no-entry zone.
It’s very important that the concept of free cooperation does not dictate special ways of structuring societies or any other levels of the social
You also have to develop forms of getting independent and forms of articulation, critical articulation, of reclaiming public space.
Where is the reclaiming of public space in Second Life? Why are (capitalist) rules of kitchen not under attack? I guess this is due to the fact that this public space has no value but economic. Its not about social capital, its about nihilistic (ab)use of this digital space, turning it into the same everyday as analogue life (except for the tele-porting, that is).
Although this all seems rather disappointing and the LindenLab policy seems rather patronizing, of course some of these standards were needed to create possibilities for social interaction and (hopefully) some collaborative work, an yes, the chatting is fun (for half an hour) and the interface does allow you to respond to social actions very adequately. I would have liked it better though if the sets of rules and limitations was created through and/ or by the citizens of second life, not by an institutional ‘outside’.
To finish with one more (very nice) quote by Spehr:
Everything that people do together is a kind of cooperation because they share work and they use the work and the experience and the bodily existence of others – also historical and direct and indirect ways. And though there are two extremes, free cooperations and forced cooperations, most of what we know in most societies is forced cooperation.