Thursday, 3 February 2011
The sad truth of owned space, Second Life Egypt shows the limits of free market model of virtual reality
The Egypt SIM had been a seen of major protests against Mubarak, in keeping with the democratic hopes of the vast majority of the people of Egypt and the world. Even this blog posted about the Egyptian people gathering there. Well it turns out the owner of the SIM is a reactionary authoritarian former Egyptians who both lives far from the country and supports Mubarak!
Unlike Tahrir Square, where an overwhelming show of popular support has taken the Space, Second Life (and most of the Internet) is constructed in such a way to facilitate censorship of space. A SIM owner or administrator has magic powers to establish who can or can not occupie a space. It is not possible for the SIM protesters to take the SIM.
This ownership of all spaces and control by administration is one of the major reasons why the Internet is a terrible space for democratic movements. It is simply impossible to oppose the owner of a Internet space.
People will say "well the guy pays for the SIM so her has a right to do what he wants", which is not entirely true (he has no right to commit crimes per say). But the real probably is that Computer Mediated Culture which is not provided by a state of charity (say Wikipedia) is governed only by property rights.
This has had a chilling impact on free speech throughout the entire Internet. Internet supporters are far far too quick to think they are somehow empowering democracy: there is no evidence of this at all. In fact the more likely outcome is that they are handing all communication rigths to companies.
Take for example Flickr's mass deletion of criticism of Obama, or PayPal's holding funds from Wikileaks. Companies now posses a mass control over what we can or can not say. If we want real freedom we have to go to people in person and say what is on our mind.
Rober1236 Jua the Cyber Trekker of Second Life