So, I just finished the first draft of my article on peer surveillance in virtual worlds. The draft is available here. This will be a chapter in the current book I am working on, Mangle of Play: The Art of Disruption in Virtual Worlds. Feedback welcome. Abstract:
When the Inmates Run the Asylum:
Grief Play in the Virtual Panopticon of Second Life
In this article I sketch out how governance is negotiated through grief play in virtual worlds particularly when peer surveillance is involved. Characterizing virtual worlds as having legal pluralism determined by different stakeholders whose interests may or may not align, I argue that surveillance exists in a decentralized form which leads to the establishment of data powerhouses at the hands of unauthorized persons or groups. Using Second Life as an example, I demonstrate how these practices result in power asymmetries and abuses that allow player groups to gather intelligence for the purpose of gaining power in-world, thereby exacerbating conflict among player groups. It is in this political climate that griefing in Second Life developed from a set of practices including irreverent language and dicey pranks into a tactic used to negotiate power.
My latest article, Bull In a China Shop:Alternate Reality Games and Transgressive Fan Play in Social Media Franchises, is published in Transformative Works and Cultures this month.
Here’s the abstract:
In this article I examine the role of fan-ARGs in Lonelygirl15 (LG15), a video blog that became one of the first social media franchises of YouTube. Eager to explore the narrative possibilities of Internet technologies, its creators set out to provide community-based storytelling that embodied the general spirit of co-authorship. To ensure viral distribution, the videos were shot to evoke the maximum amount of curiosity, teasing their viewers with a seemingly simple plotline laden with clues that promised a deeper mystery. While fan creativity was encouraged, the concerns of creating a commercially viable story led to careful management of fan activities and strict definition of the boundaries of the LG15 canon. Intrigued by the mysterious beginnings of the show, some fans created ARG spinoffs to deliver a more engaging experience than the show initially offered. I argue that early fan ARGs became tactics through which fans engaged in transgressive play and negotiated a more meaningful role within the franchise.
This is genius! A retelling of Matrix, the movie, as a video that represents it as an 8-Bit game. Remediation and transmedia just took on a whole new level.
Last month, I was in Istanbul attending Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul. As Internet Rights and Principles Coalition, we organized the following four panels, all were very well attended.
Human Rights for the Internet: From Principles to Action
Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting
Online Freedoms and Access to Information Online
Dynamic Coalition on Internet Rights and Principles: The IRPC Charter of Human rights and Principles for the Internet: 5 years on
You can read the liveblog here.
Below is the panel moderated by IRP co-directors, Marianne Franklin and Robert Bodle: Anonymity by Design: Protecting While Connecting
Below is the panel that I moderated with Nate Schenkkan from Freedom House: Online Freedoms and Access to Information Online
In an unexpected turn of events, Turkish activists, whose panels had mostly been rejected from the IGF, organized Ungovernance Forum, a parallel forum designed to introduce a more balanced approach to the conference. We were first informed that Edward Snowden would make a Skype appearance, but due to the technical difficulties, Julian Assange did.
Just wrapped up yet another Goonswarm meetup in Madison. And the nerd-o-meter was off the charts. Seriously. Much fun was had by all. Time was spent playing the Battlestar Galactica board game into the night, drinking, playing Guitar Hero, eating, drinking, playing Cards Against Humanity, drinking, clubbing, eating, and not in that particular order.
If you’ve stopped by Something Awful, you’d think that a group of gamers coming out of that message board would be impossible to motivate towards a single goal. Yet, Goonswarm’s incredible support of incoming pilots, nerd-y sense of humor, and the very culture of Something Awful bring these cats together and organize them in times of action. In EVE, their very name strikes fear into the hearts of the weak. Over the years, they have successfully executed major spying operations and disbanded powerful corporations (yes, it is a thing in EVE) and participated and won countless battles.
Looking at them, one does not see why and how they have managed to become so powerful. And yet they have… The secret behind their success is that the group is being run like a true business enterprise that would put real-world companies to shame. They are not just in the business of Internet spaceships… They have a financial advisor, logistic coordinator, intel operations officer, recruitment bureau, excellent support new pilots, and to top it all, a great media presence that builds the Goon brand.
As cliche as this might sound (an in many ways contradictory to Goon ways), they have successfully demonstrated that Internet is serious business no two ways about it.