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Sep 21, 2006

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1.

Betsy> Like a Cubist painting, each virtual element fits together in a way that is not quite geographically precise, but offers the viewer an abridged collection of recognizable Laguna landmarks.

Really nice analogy.

I was actually wondering how the RL residents of Laguna Beach feel about both the show and the virtual LB. Any information about how closely the RL municipal government of LB is involved with the depictions real and virtual? This is probably great for tourism, I would imagine, but does it change (for the residents) what the LB lighthouse means when the LB lighthouse is the model for the VLB lighthouse. (Wish I knew some clever way to tie Virginia Woolf into this.)

2.

I am interested in the limitation of user created content that exists in some of these online virtual communities. Is the limitation of user driven experience a good thing to help sponsoring companies maintain some control over their brand? With the customization options on the There platform users can create a personal experience and MTV will not have to worry too much about overtly offensive material entering the community.

3.

I tried to register just to know that:

1) It's a place on "There", not another VW;
2) There only works on Internet Explorer for Windows.

I'm out: there's nothing to see here - move along!

4.

Mind Booster Noori, the platform is based on There, but VLB a separate virtual world of its own.

Randy, Chris Carella from Electric Sheep talks a bit about the balance in VLB between it being an "open-ended virtual space ripe for emergent behavior" that's "also full of events programmed to complement the TV show." More here:
http://blogs.electricsheepcompany.com/chris/?p=141

And, speaking of media convergence:
On Tuesday, September 26th at 9:00 PM EDT, MTV will premier next week’s episode of Laguna Beach a day early in the virtual world of Virtual Laguna Beach. The in-world airing of the “Winter Formal” episode will be followed by a virtual Winter Formal event. Premiering an episode of a hit show in a virtual world dedicated to that media property is truly “multi-platform”.

5.

What is both bothersome and interesting to note at the same time is how the application of a virtual world is being combined with a real one with the end result being to entice more consumerism on the part of an already overtargeted and easily enticed age goup. It seems to me that responsible thinkers and doers in the world of computers and virtual world creation should take a step back and look objectively at the marketing ploy that they are creating. They need to think more closly about the kind of ultimate real world citizens they are impacting on for the furture. Do we really want mindless drones running about in the culture adding little to now cultural value to our world but rather caught up in the web of purchasing goods and disposing of them just as quickly as their newness runs out? Is the kind of world that the Author envisions one that is really desirable? Do we not have a responsibility to look at what the psychological end product of our labors are in the creation of virtual worlds and perhaps contemplate its impact on our culture rather then enjoying the financial rewards we can gain thru the marketing we have created? These are important issues we all need to consider before lavishing praise on one more way to entice the young people of our society to get caught up in consumptive neurosis.

6.

Any thoughts on Bernard's question?

Personally, I'm interested in the lighthouse in VLB for reasons that are mostly apolitical. I'm just curious as to what is going on systemically with this form of media. At the same time, I tend to think that, holding content issues as a constant, fan culture (and MMORPG play, for that matter) are superior, from a social policy perspective, to a more passive form of media engagement.

But it seems to me that Bernard is saying that if you start with something that we might consider garbage media (not my term, I'm paraphrasing Bernard--I've never seen LB and don't know much about it) and then throw fan culture around it, you end up with a thing potentially worse than the garbage media you started with.

It would seem to me that HJ and fanfic enthusiasts must have heard this argument many times before -- how have they responded?

7.

@Bernard, who said: "do we realling want mindless drones running about in the culture adding little to now cultural value to our world but rather caught up in the web of purchasing goods and disposing of them just as quickly as their newness runs out?"

Haven't you been paying attention since... oh... 1920? Of course we do. It's how we keep the wheels of progress moving in a world where less than 1% of the workers provide food for the rest of us. We need to throw crap out and get new crap all the time or we'll die. Welcome to the machine. We can talk about the "culture of newness" and consumerism and refab and institutionalized, psychological market-driven ego boosters if you like... but this is such a small part of why kids (and adults) associate their self-worth with money, spending, brand, the economy in general, etc., that that conversation is really a side issue.

I find this VLB thing fascinating. Here's my thought experiment:

When the hard-core fans of LB find that they can't (for whatever reason) do what they REALLY want to do in VLB (whatever that is; probably have sex), will a bunch of them go off into another space (probably SecondLife) and create the Virtual Virtual Laguna Beach? V2LB?

I can't wait...

8.

I think Bernard's question is one of the most urgent in this area, and my own thoughts on the "fit" between virtual worlds as code-based environments and the market (over other forms of human exchange) are out there already. I would only add that Habermas' concept of money (along with power) as a "steering mechanism" for the colonization of the lifeworld by the system comes back to me regularly these days, but with the added notion that money (or, more precisely, its distinctive form of exchange, involving exact, immediate, and quantified transactions of alienable property) found an incredibly powerful ally in code.

9.

Sorry for the double post, but about the practice of marketing as driving this kind of thing (VLB and LB, etc), I'd very highly recommend Kalman Applbaum's book The Marketing Era (full disclosure: he's a colleague of mine here at UWM).

10.

Whoa, I think Bernard’s question is particularly revealing, and the reactions even more so…

Consumptive neurosis, indeed.

On the one hand, we are prepared to concern ourselves with the meaning and substance of our experience in virtual worlds with its implications for our in-world and RL identities. Castronova’s book argues that people are more likely to pursue their lives in virtual worlds because the average experience in the real world has become increasingly devoid of meaning and satisfaction. The relative satisfaction a person receives from a virtual world and the real one will influence how much time they spend in each. The question recently about the limitations of the Hero’s Journey pattern to provide satisfaction over the long term relates directly to this. Predictions were made that new models are needed to better fit the in-game experience to the personal needs and desires of individuals in the long run.

Now you are saying designers run the risk of further cheapening and degrading the modern human experience (overall) by bringing consumerism into a virtual world in a greater degree than has been tried before. From what I have been able to pick up about Virtual Laguna Beech, few virtual worlds have been more open about its content or intent than VLB. Your reaction to it boils down to saying that such stuff should not be offered because kids might like it, and that would directly make them worse people (through no fault of their own). You suggest that developers ought to feel responsible for the “psychological end product of [their] labors,” and in doing so suggest that people are so malleable in their tastes for meaning and satisfaction that providing such a world risks negative consequences, however small, for humanity.

That’s nonsense. I thought at least this community would be able to put aside the notion that people are such moldable puddles of mush that the intent (or unintended action) of game design can form them into different people. Are we going to have to fight out the violence-in-video-games-causes-school-shootings debate again, but now in the form of attitudes toward consumption? Is there not at least as good a chance that an experience of being rich and pampered and powerful in a game can teach young’uns the limits of the ability of riches and power to make people deeply satisfied than the game design could train them to be more focused on the acquisition of material things in the real world (longest sentence I’ve written in a long time).

Hate the virtual, the tv, and the real Laguna beach and everyone associated with it to your heart’s content. Cherish the idea that its very existence is a stain on the purity of mankind if that floats your boat. But the posture that virtual worlds are dangerous because of what they could bring out of people is silly. Ultimately, it attributes way too much power to designers (and to your own judgmental selves) and far too little to people as they actually exist.

VLB may succeed very well, or may fail quickly. If it succeeds, it will be because its novel combination or real life, pure fiction, and that mix of the two we experience in virtual worlds satisfies people better than the alternatives. If it succeeds, and that says something you don’t like about humanity – the fault is not in the game.

11.

I'm mostly agreeing with what Aeco says. But I'd've said it a bit less crakily, I think.

People went to see live gladiators torn apart by wild animals and each other at the Circus Maximus back in my grampa's day. There were public floggings and hangings and the auto de fey in them earlier times, too. And while, yes, I agree that young, impressionable minds are certainly ripe for abuse by all kinds of sophisticated systems -- marketing/economic being one of many -- the thing about VWs that is way WAY **WAAAAY** better (or at least different) than TV, movies, radio, print, etc., is the ability for the kids to get up into it and be part of the system itself. Which means that as much as the designers, creators, lords, programmers (whatever) want to be in charge of what goes into the participants' minds... at the end of the day, what goes in are the participants themselves. You can't totally control the content when the players are the content.

So let's calm down, OK? Who here DIDN'T think, as soon as WoW hit 1 million players, "Yoiks. Wonder when the first MTVMMORPG is gonna hit?" I'm just surprised it took this dang long.

12.

(first TN post, hehe)

With a fifteen year old daughter in the house coupled with a keen interest in VW and having spent a few high school Friday nights in the real Laguna, I decided to check out VLB yesterday.

So I’m sitting here today writing this while two people have virtual sex in VLB (chat room style, though they have found a way to sit on each other, with all the glorious details rising up over their heads). The UI is terribly clunky, mobility is limited (compare to SL’s ability to fly), and, well, it’s beta (or alpha?) and most importantly; in a VW where there are several clubs…there’s no way to dance! The VLB streaming music leaves me wanting a breeze to pick up and give me epic hair while all my memories of the real LB are squashed, mangled and taken advantage of.

Aside from all that, the one thing that really intrigues and discomforts me is that there’s no clear “disclaimer” when signing up that it is role-play, half-play, or more towards true-self. Should it have something like a disclaimer? My background (for games anyway) is in role-playing and in VWs I tend to make a character and then let the first few encounters with others dictate how the character’s personality develops. So there I am, thinking in role-playing mode, and talking to this girl and she asks “how old are you?” Well, isn’t that rude? So, I figure she isn’t a role-player and tell her “over 21 and younger than 80.” Her response, “I have to go now, bye.”

So, assuming that this was a (assumed) general audience member of LB, it’s good to know that the youth of today is smart enough not to talk to “old” people in VWs and polite enough to say goodbye.

But it leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling, that the veil that I’ve been wearing has suddenly been pulled aside with the realization, from immediate immersion, that there is a large majority of people out there that might not be as conscious as the people at this site about the levels, the layers, of VW and how they can be used and played with.

So from what kind of frame are the VLB players approaching their experience? Betsy says, “Of course, they will bring their own points of view and experiences to the mix, and giving them the opportunity to do so will be a crucial part of the VLB experience.” Which I agree with, and would add that a key to how this will play out is dependant upon how well the assumed roles taken by the players mesh with each other, and how quickly abuse of the system by players can be addressed.

13.

What if they could get the cast members from the television show to play as themselves in the game? We could have a "reality-based virtual world." The mind reels.

14.

Hehe, found out how to dance...never mind about that.

15.

What if they could get the cast members from the television show to play as themselves in the game? We could have a "reality-based virtual world." The mind reels.

I think it's instructive and important to emphasize that 'Laguna Beach' is itself a virtual 'reality show'. Locations, plots, and dialogue, for example, are HEAVILY influenced by the show's creators (though MTV folk restrict themselves to the use the word 'suggested' in interviews).

As someone who grew up in a beach community behind the Orange Curtain, I personally find the show compelling, embarassing and a completely unidimensional representation of youth culture in that corner of America.

However, there is really no denying that the show is masterful in its execution.

The problem with VLB is going to be that its design focuses user attention on an element that is really only implicit in the tv show, namely the specific mechanics of acquisition and disposal of 'stuff'. It completely misses in almost every way what is compelling about the show and settles for mating the rather shallow item-based socio-economics inherent in many virtual world designs with the most superficial elements of the MTV show--affluence and consumption.


In this wa

16.

Here again, Betsy, you offer a thought-provoking (and lyrical) take on a cyberphenomenon. Glad to see the spirit of Virtual Worlds Review is alive and well!

17.

As a There member for nearly three years now, I can't wait to delve into this new application of the mackena technology. I am curious to know if the economy will be as jacked for young people here as it is "there." Meaning, will the "game" as it were throw more and more at them to buy with no in world means of acquiring the in world currency?

So many times in There I watched girls stating they were 13 - 15 years old run up and join a conversation I was in, to declare they would cyber with anyone for in world currency. As a parent I would not even let my teens play There simply because I find it reprehensive that young kids are so eager to purchase goods that they find a way to get them... basically through virtual prostitution.

If anyone doubts the prevelance of this issue, simply spend a couple of days in Karuna Plaza (in There) and count the times you get propositioned. Sure, it is the parents responsibility to monitor the childrens behavior, no doubt about it! But I just find it grossly irresponsible to constantly throw things in front of them to buy with no means to do so above and beyond busting out a credit card.

Kids may have a disposable income, but what is the source? Mom and Dad? I wonder if anyone who has played There would give their children access to their credit card to play this, knowing how quickly those purchases can add up.

18.

My point exactly Daemona. In fact I think it is time that game developers take some responsibility for the game creations they make. To dangle pretties in front of children and then require vast expenditures of money is just using kids as sugar coated cereal has been doing for a long time with its adverts on children’s shows. As adults we should begin to take some responsibility for the services we develop and offer and when in the context of involving children in the form of play we had better begin to think about what we are doing in the name of the all mighty dollar. I have no problem with on line games and virtual worlds providing entertainment for children and adults alike but when these worlds have as their core philosophy and motive the manipulation of the player to spend, spend, spend at what point do we stand back and examine the impact of this approach.

We have seen the cigarette companies try to sneak marketing approaches under the guise of cleaver cartoon characters into their media blitzes so as to entice children into the world of smoking, and eventually the US federal trade commission put their foot down.

Do we want the same kinds of embargos happening in our virtualities? I think not. The game developers need to stand back and take a look at what they create, the kinds of economies they formulate and the way they entice their members and consider the effect these kinds of interaction experiences have on young people. Anything short of this is just greed and avarice on the part of the game promoter to line their pockets with money at the expense of children and young people.

19.

Yo Yo Yo Dudes.. y u takin abot thiz stuffz?!

20.

Man Itz all cool.. Just chat to peeps on VLB and no worry about that kind of stuffz, God.

21.

Speaking as a teenager, that's ^^ a scary representation of our future. And we wonder why people treat us like we don't know anything. No matter how much you may like it to, z can't replace s in words.

Having said that, I think you guys are putting too much thought into this. It is what it is: simply a way to occupy super-LB fans.

22.

Im not sure it is a case of too much thought Emily. You see the kinds of cultural dumbing down that shows like laguna beach and even MTV as a whole and the total control of all media by companies such as viacom and time warner begin to delimit the experiences because of the control they have in all the ways we receive media. As a result they can even fine tune the way they market and exploit young people in their purchasing behavior. This is done in subtle and not so apparent ways using enticements such as fun chat services to in part control the flow of information to you and me and everyone else. People can say they are not effected by this but thats denial plain and simple. If they were not, we would not have advertising dollars spent to the tune of billions a year. Just as advertising drives consumers towards certain products so too will the control of the media and the commercialization of on line game begin to be use to exploitively drive the consumer to certain products, politics and economic habits. People may think they are not influenced but purchasing behavior is very important and market exposure is as well. These on line services that pretend to be a chat or game experience are really (and this is not stupid conspiracy theory here) ways that commercial enterprises exploit play experiences for the sole purpose of obtaining niche market control over their now captive audience. Watch and wait the future will prove who is right here.

23.

Bernard: The future is here right now, but it's less of a future than it was even 10 years ago.

Market and media fragmentation have busted up the control-sphere you're talking about into so many verticals that the idea of "control from above" at a particular company/corp level is no longer rational. Go back in time to the 50's or 60's? Sure. I'd've agreed with you in spades. But now there are too many voices.

What we do need to fear, however -- now as then -- is the overall pattern. And the pattern is harder to see when there are more colors and textures. And that is a pattern that drives feelings of self-worth and community and ego through purely economic behavior.

I do not worry that any one "channel" is guiding the behavior of our children. Not at all. I worry that all the channels agree that their behavior should be economic, egocentric, sexual, violent, nationalistic and immature.

24.

actually Andy there are just a few real Media conglomerates in the whole world:

News Corporation
General Electric
Disney
Time Warner
Viacom
CBS CORPORATION
Sony
Bertelesman
Vivendi

These companies plus a few lesser ones such as ATT control the ownership as well as the distribution of all mass media. Your films, books, web services, games, television, newspapers, magazines, records, radio, etc. are in the hands of just a few giants. Ten years ago there were several more players. What has happened is the consolidation of these monopolies into fewer and fewer hands. So I have to disagree for the facts speak for themselves here about what is currently happening in the control of media.

25.

Bernard: I think we're agreeing, just not on terminology. I understand that at a corporate level, fewer companies may, at one given moment, own a particular channel of content creation, ownership or distribution. I worked in cellular for 10 years in the early 90's through 2001. I saw the consolidation of that telco sphere up close and personal; not pretty.

My point was that the various "voices" that are presented by whomever owns the various media -- the choices available to consumers -- seem to be more varied, but have been framed by economic, social, psychological and political factors that have made certain "realities" a given, rather than a question of education or taste or discussion for both kids and adults.

Your point about ten or so major media megacorps owning most of the ways into and out of the media sphere is a good one; that is a major contributor to the situation, and has been for the last 50 years. But even before we had vertical alignment through various media, the US had basically given up (i.e., come to a conclusion) on some very basic questions of what it means to be a citizen, student, parent, spouse, friend, worker, etc. in terms of our participation in our society.

Those conclusions, while beneficial in many cases to entities such as the big media conglomerates, are not unique to them. We have to also look at politics, education, social responsibility, etc.

And the face of things can change.

Let's look, for example, at the case of a new media giant who, while nowhere near as huge, pervasive and profitable as the Big Ten we (and Crispin Miller at "The Nation") are talking about, has not bought into the general philosophy of "economic citizenry first." Google.

I don't agree with everything Google does. But its model is, essentially, egalitarian. Whether you build natural SEO by having good, clean, regularly updated content and lots of inbound links, or pay for AdWords, your time and dollar is as "worthy" as Sony's. Now, of course, Sony has a lot more dollars... but that's always going to be the case in a capitalist society. Sorry. I am a capitalist, so I'm not going to argue for pure socialism, though I think we need a bit more of it in the US here (schools) and less of it there (guns). ; )

Let's also look at the Wikipedia. Or Flickr. Or MySpace. Or YouTube. Or del.ici.ous. All major new media products that came out of nowhere. Some now owned by bigger players, yes. But none owned by the Big Ten.

So while I think we agree (?) that there is a problem, I won't pin it all on media conglomeration. It's much more chaotic than it was 10 years ago. Even saying "The Big Ten" makes me kind of chuckle, because you can't get 10 lawyers to agree on any one point on a simple contract. The idea of 10 giant, multinational corporations working, purposefully, intelligently, rationally, consciously together towards predetermined ends... yoiks.

But it doesn't have to be a conspiracy to be real, and it doesn't have to be orchestrated to be a problem. Yes. The issues are important, and the idea of "citizen customer" is troubling. That's what is being, I think, held up, in a miniature way, at Virtual Laguna Beach, if we follow the chain all the way back through the parent companies, political support, religious affiliations, news stories, social engineering, lack of education, etc. etc.

26.

HI HOOMIES WATZZZ UP!?!?!?

LMAO

27.

Like this site is so like boring.. gawd. Can we plz change da subject.. seriouslt1!!

28.

See you fools? This is our world when kids take over.. The There System will be filled with these kinds of kids. We should end this and start saving toilet paper for me to eat.

Please do as I say.
Its for your own good.

29.

actually Andy there are just a few real Media conglomerates in the whole world:

News Corporation
General Electric
Disney
Time Warner
Viacom
CBS CORPORATION
Sony
Bertelesman
Vivendi

These companies plus a few lesser ones such as ATT control the ownership as well as the distribution of all mass media. Your films, books, web services, games, television, newspapers, magazines, records, radio, etc. are in the hands of just a few giants. Ten years ago there were several more players. What has happened is the consolidation of these monopolies into fewer and fewer hands. So I have to disagree for the facts speak for themselves here about what is currently happening in the control of media.

Posted by: Bernard | Oct 28, 2006 4:23:06 PM

Bernard: I think we're agreeing, just not on terminology. I understand that at a corporate level, fewer companies may, at one given moment, own a particular channel of content creation, ownership or distribution. I worked in cellular for 10 years in the early 90's through 2001. I saw the consolidation of that telco sphere up close and personal; not pretty.

My point was that the various "voices" that are presented by whomever owns the various media -- the choices available to consumers -- seem to be more varied, but have been framed by economic, social, psychological and political factors that have made certain "realities" a given, rather than a question of education or taste or discussion for both kids and adults.

Your point about ten or so major media megacorps owning most of the ways into and out of the media sphere is a good one; that is a major contributor to the situation, and has been for the last 50 years. But even before we had vertical alignment through various media, the US had basically given up (i.e., come to a conclusion) on some very basic questions of what it means to be a citizen, student, parent, spouse, friend, worker, etc. in terms of our participation in our society.

Those conclusions, while beneficial in many cases to entities such as the big media conglomerates, are not unique to them. We have to also look at politics, education, social responsibility, etc.

And the face of things can change.

Let's look, for example, at the case of a new media giant who, while nowhere near as huge, pervasive and profitable as the Big Ten we (and Crispin Miller at "The Nation") are talking about, has not bought into the general philosophy of "economic citizenry first." Google.

I don't agree with everything Google does. But its model is, essentially, egalitarian. Whether you build natural SEO by having good, clean, regularly updated content and lots of inbound links, or pay for AdWords, your time and dollar is as "worthy" as Sony's. Now, of course, Sony has a lot more dollars... but that's always going to be the case in a capitalist society. Sorry. I am a capitalist, so I'm not going to argue for pure socialism, though I think we need a bit more of it in the US here (schools) and less of it there (guns). ; )

Let's also look at the Wikipedia. Or Flickr. Or MySpace. Or YouTube. Or del.ici.ous. All major new media products that came out of nowhere. Some now owned by bigger players, yes. But none owned by the Big Ten.

So while I think we agree (?) that there is a problem, I won't pin it all on media conglomeration. It's much more chaotic than it was 10 years ago. Even saying "The Big Ten" makes me kind of chuckle, because you can't get 10 lawyers to agree on any one point on a simple contract. The idea of 10 giant, multinational corporations working, purposefully, intelligently, rationally, consciously together towards predetermined ends... yoiks.

But it doesn't have to be a conspiracy to be real, and it doesn't have to be orchestrated to be a problem. Yes. The issues are important, and the idea of "citizen customer" is troubling. That's what is being, I think, held up, in a miniature way, at Virtual Laguna Beach, if we follow the chain all the way back through the parent companies, political support, religious affiliations, news stories, social engineering, lack of education, etc. etc.

I'm mostly agreeing with what Aeco says. But I'd've said it a bit less crakily, I think.

People went to see live gladiators torn apart by wild animals and each other at the Circus Maximus back in my grampa's day. There were public floggings and hangings and the auto de fey in them earlier times, too. And while, yes, I agree that young, impressionable minds are certainly ripe for abuse by all kinds of sophisticated systems -- marketing/economic being one of many -- the thing about VWs that is way WAY **WAAAAY** better (or at least different) than TV, movies, radio, print, etc., is the ability for the kids to get up into it and be part of the system itself. Which means that as much as the designers, creators, lords, programmers (whatever) want to be in charge of what goes into the participants' minds... at the end of the day, what goes in are the participants themselves. You can't totally control the content when the players are the content.

So let's calm down, OK? Who here DIDN'T think, as soon as WoW hit 1 million players, "Yoiks. Wonder when the first MTVMMORPG is gonna hit?" I'm just surprised it took this dang long.
I find this VLB thing fascinating. Here's my thought experiment:

When the hard-core fans of LB find that they can't (for whatever reason) do what they REALLY want to do in VLB (whatever that is; probably have sex), will a bunch of them go off into another space (probably SecondLife) and create the Virtual Virtual Laguna Beach? V2LB?

I can't wait...


(GOD I CANT WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO FINISH READING)

30.

I'm flattered. Now get yer own name and type yer own words.

31.

"See you fools? This is our world when kids take over.. "

This is exactly what I'm talking about. You see 2 ignorant kids on here and you assume that this is the entire picture of our future. By your standards, I am one of the "kids" you're referring to. And I find it extremely offensive and hypocritical that you are insulting us like this. We are not all the mindless drones that you seem to think we are. As much as it may shock you, most of us make decisions all by ourselves (amazing isn't it?). And when you were our age, people were probably saying the same things about you. You guys grew up and the world didn't fall apart, and it won't fall apart when we grow up either.

We are an intelligent group, despite what you may think. And how is VLB really going to destroy us anyways? It's going to make us consumers? Oh wait, we already are. And before you make comments about how we always need to have the newest and best things, look at your generation, most of them are the same way.

I repeat what I said before, you guys are making this into a much bigger deal than it really is. VLB is just another computer game. It's not life-threatening, and it's not going to mess with the world as we know it. It's a place for Laguna Beach fans to waste some time, nothing more.

32.

Emily this is not a joke, If we dont stop being boring all the time then this site will go down and nobody will know it will exist.

If you dont like us being so boring I suggest you give Bernard some toilet paper to eat or I will report you to the manager of this site.

33.

@Thing 2: Please get yer own name.

34.

>See you fools? This is our world when kids take over.. The There System will be filled with these kinds of kids. We should end this and start saving toilet paper for me to eat.

Please do as I say.
Its for your own good.

this was not posted by me but someone that thinks its cute to use other persons IDS so please dont mistake the fool that posted this for me.

35.

well i think the idea is nice but once i began to play it it did not live up to my standards. They start you off with 5000 dollars and u kno girls love to shop. A shirt cost about 150-200 dollars. Thats a lot and the only way you can get more money is by paying. The only way u can get a house is by paying. I think that they should make jobs and stuff so that ppl can afford to play, shop, etc. This and other additions would attract more ppl...i really hope you take thi sinto consideration.

36.

Hey Stephanie,

I'd hate to interupt you, but some of the statements you made about Virtual laguna beach are false. you can get 500 MTV$ by going on quests and finishing them, and also why in anybody's right mind would pay 150 dollars to buy a T shirt? We do money diffrently in the VLB world, 5 USD = 900 MTV for the game. And Houses are not avaliable yet so its impossible that you would know that. Of coarse the price of cars is very rediculous, ($75 USD for a buggy) but I have a feeling that that price will go down soon.

Oakurama-

37.

Hey Stephanie,

I'd hate to interupt you, but some of the statements you made about Virtual laguna beach are false. you can get 500 MTV$ by going on quests and finishing them, and also why in anybody's right mind would pay 150 dollars to buy a T shirt? We do money diffrently in the VLB world, 5 USD = 900 MTV for the game. And Houses are not avaliable yet so its impossible that you would know that. Of coarse the price of cars is very rediculous, ($75 USD for a buggy) but I have a feeling that that price will go down soon.

38.

Sep 21, 2006
Thoughts on Virtual Laguna Beach
As many of you may have heard by now, Makena Technologies has been working with MTV Networks along with several other partners and advisors on a “brand” new 3D social virtual world based on the television show Laguna Beach. Virtual Laguna Beach launched in beta yesterday.

While I have only been sporadically involved the production of Virtual Laguna Beach, my experience with the project here at Makena has gotten me thinking about the larger cultural implications of the VLB launch within the history of social virtual worlds. For one, it’s a fascinating example of the increasing convergence of television, fans, online communities and virtual worlds. And as Henry Jenkins notes, “It’s just layer upon layer of reality and fiction.”

I’m guessing most TN readers are not hardcore Laguna Beach fans. But if you’ve seen the show even for a few minutes, or maybe you’ve watched it with your kids, at some point in the process you must have noticed just how *virtual* Laguna Beach itself is. The highly polished filming style of Laguna Beach and its attractive California teen cast immediately creates fuzziness between “real” and “virtual” for its viewers. In fact, when I first came across the show during an evening channel surf session, my first thought was, “Is MTV showing a movie tonight?” When I realized it was a reality show, I took this as a sign that the reality TV genre had come full circle. Laguna Beach was literally the virtual “Real World”. So now in 2006, the show that already playfully blurs boundaries between real and virtual in its formal presentation has a complementary virtual world in which viewers are encouraged, “Don’t just watch Laguna Beach – Live it!”

Another interesting thing about the television show Laguna Beach is its emphasis on evoking a very tangible sense of “place.” The title of the show refers to a real-world California town and the show’s settings are meant to convey the essence of Laguna. Local landmarks such as a lifeguard tower, sweeping views of the beach, and the PCH visually punctuate the more intimate interior settings of posh rooms, cars, nail salons and restaurants. Much like the show itself, Virtual Laguna Beach is a carefully constructed group of settings that most successfully convey the “Laguna-ness” of Laguna. The lifeguard tower, Main Beach, select Forrest Avenue shops, and other real world locations are all represented true to form in a more or less realistic setting. Like a Cubist painting, each virtual element fits together in a way that is not quite geographically precise, but offers the viewer an abridged collection of recognizable Laguna landmarks. In my opinion, this is an extremely important element of VLB. For television fans, this level of detail and attention to the environment is a crucial marker of authenticity. The thrill of recognition that occurs when encountering key settings from both previous and current shows is a key part of the experience for the hardcore Laguna Beach fan – “Look, this is the surf shop where Stephen worked!” or “Hey, this is the restaurant where my favorite cast members had that fight in Episode 1!”

Another important fan-centric element of the VLB project is the way it will incorporate online episodic content that mirrors the show’s third season. Specifically this means that each week the content and settings shown in the television show will be represented in the virtual world, as a correlative series of events. For example, when the show’s cast members go to Winter Formal, a virtual Winter Formal will be held for fans in Virtual Laguna Beach. This is not just instant fan gratification - it’s a way to encourage a whole new level of empathy, identification, and interaction with third season episodes.

Not surprisingly, for a show that caters to a teenage and young adult audience, many of the key episodic events have to do with adolescent rites of passage such as formal dances, spring break and graduation. These events are symbolically tied to key events in the typical American teen’s life and allow fans to virtually share cultural moments in parallel with the show. Of course, they will bring their own points of view and experiences to the mix, and giving them the opportunity to do so will be a crucial part of the VLB experience.

VLB is the type of project that could probably only work in a social virtual world. While gaming-focused worlds like World of Warcraft, Everquest, or (perhaps a more accurate “entertainment brand” comparison) Star Wars Galaxies are more amenable to a personalized experience of an epic novel or cinematic hero’s journey, the open-endedness of a social world environment is more compatible with the more fragmented, closure-resistant format of episodic television. Indeed, as a themed virtual space for fans of Laguna Beach to both consume MTV-produced content and produce their own content, Virtual Laguna Beach is the direct result of a net-fueled accelerated evolution of television fandom. Fans have historically exhibited unparalleled mastery of the internet as a tool for cultural production. Now there’s a virtual world that succinctly represents the new relationship between media producers and consumers. The once-dreaded Mary Sue is no longer taboo. In fact, here’s an entire virtual world that blatantly encourages the fans to become the stars of their own personal online dramas.

I can’t wait to see what fans make of it.

Posted by Betsy Book on September 21, 2006 | Permalink

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Betsy> Like a Cubist painting, each virtual element fits together in a way that is not quite geographically precise, but offers the viewer an abridged collection of recognizable Laguna landmarks.

Really nice analogy.

I was actually wondering how the RL residents of Laguna Beach feel about both the show and the virtual LB. Any information about how closely the RL municipal government of LB is involved with the depictions real and virtual? This is probably great for tourism, I would imagine, but does it change (for the residents) what the LB lighthouse means when the LB lighthouse is the model for the VLB lighthouse. (Wish I knew some clever way to tie Virginia Woolf into this.)

Posted by: greglas | Sep 21, 2006 11:54:36 AM

I am interested in the limitation of user created content that exists in some of these online virtual communities. Is the limitation of user driven experience a good thing to help sponsoring companies maintain some control over their brand? With the customization options on the There platform users can create a personal experience and MTV will not have to worry too much about overtly offensive material entering the community.

Posted by: Randy | Sep 21, 2006 12:01:56 PM

I tried to register just to know that:

1) It's a place on "There", not another VW;
2) There only works on Internet Explorer for Windows.

I'm out: there's nothing to see here - move along!

Posted by: Mind Booster Noori | Sep 21, 2006 12:18:49 PM

Mind Booster Noori, the platform is based on There, but VLB a separate virtual world of its own.

Randy, Chris Carella from Electric Sheep talks a bit about the balance in VLB between it being an "open-ended virtual space ripe for emergent behavior" that's "also full of events programmed to complement the TV show." More here:
http://blogs.electricsheepcompany.com/chris/?p=141

And, speaking of media convergence:
On Tuesday, September 26th at 9:00 PM EDT, MTV will premier next week’s episode of Laguna Beach a day early in the virtual world of Virtual Laguna Beach. The in-world airing of the “Winter Formal” episode will be followed by a virtual Winter Formal event. Premiering an episode of a hit show in a virtual world dedicated to that media property is truly “multi-platform”.

Posted by: Betsy Book | Sep 21, 2006 12:37:57 PM

What is both bothersome and interesting to note at the same time is how the application of a virtual world is being combined with a real one with the end result being to entice more consumerism on the part of an already overtargeted and easily enticed age goup. It seems to me that responsible thinkers and doers in the world of computers and virtual world creation should take a step back and look objectively at the marketing ploy that they are creating. They need to think more closly about the kind of ultimate real world citizens they are impacting on for the furture. Do we really want mindless drones running about in the culture adding little to now cultural value to our world but rather caught up in the web of purchasing goods and disposing of them just as quickly as their newness runs out? Is the kind of world that the Author envisions one that is really desirable? Do we not have a responsibility to look at what the psychological end product of our labors are in the creation of virtual worlds and perhaps contemplate its impact on our culture rather then enjoying the financial rewards we can gain thru the marketing we have created? These are important issues we all need to consider before lavishing praise on one more way to entice the young people of our society to get caught up in consumptive neurosis.

Posted by: Bernard | Sep 22, 2006 9:50:47 AM

Any thoughts on Bernard's question?

Personally, I'm interested in the lighthouse in VLB for reasons that are mostly apolitical. I'm just curious as to what is going on systemically with this form of media. At the same time, I tend to think that, holding content issues as a constant, fan culture (and MMORPG play, for that matter) are superior, from a social policy perspective, to a more passive form of media engagement.

But it seems to me that Bernard is saying that if you start with something that we might consider garbage media (not my term, I'm paraphrasing Bernard--I've never seen LB and don't know much about it) and then throw fan culture around it, you end up with a thing potentially worse than the garbage media you started with.

It would seem to me that HJ and fanfic enthusiasts must have heard this argument many times before -- how have they responded?

Posted by: greglas | Sep 22, 2006 11:20:22 AM

@Bernard, who said: "do we realling want mindless drones running about in the culture adding little to now cultural value to our world but rather caught up in the web of purchasing goods and disposing of them just as quickly as their newness runs out?"

Haven't you been paying attention since... oh... 1920? Of course we do. It's how we keep the wheels of progress moving in a world where less than 1% of the workers provide food for the rest of us. We need to throw crap out and get new crap all the time or we'll die. Welcome to the machine. We can talk about the "culture of newness" and consumerism and refab and institutionalized, psychological market-driven ego boosters if you like... but this is such a small part of why kids (and adults) associate their self-worth with money, spending, brand, the economy in general, etc., that that conversation is really a side issue.

I find this VLB thing fascinating. Here's my thought experiment:

When the hard-core fans of LB find that they can't (for whatever reason) do what they REALLY want to do in VLB (whatever that is; probably have sex), will a bunch of them go off into another space (probably SecondLife) and create the Virtual Virtual Laguna Beach? V2LB?

I can't wait...

Posted by: Andy Havens | Sep 22, 2006 11:24:42 AM

I think Bernard's question is one of the most urgent in this area, and my own thoughts on the "fit" between virtual worlds as code-based environments and the market (over other forms of human exchange) are out there already. I would only add that Habermas' concept of money (along with power) as a "steering mechanism" for the colonization of the lifeworld by the system comes back to me regularly these days, but with the added notion that money (or, more precisely, its distinctive form of exchange, involving exact, immediate, and quantified transactions of alienable property) found an incredibly powerful ally in code.

Posted by: Thomas Malaby | Sep 22, 2006 11:48:31 AM

Sorry for the double post, but about the practice of marketing as driving this kind of thing (VLB and LB, etc), I'd very highly recommend Kalman Applbaum's book The Marketing Era (full disclosure: he's a colleague of mine here at UWM).

Posted by: Thomas Malaby | Sep 22, 2006 11:56:25 AM

Whoa, I think Bernard’s question is particularly revealing, and the reactions even more so…

Consumptive neurosis, indeed.

On the one hand, we are prepared to concern ourselves with the meaning and substance of our experience in virtual worlds with its implications for our in-world and RL identities. Castronova’s book argues that people are more likely to pursue their lives in virtual worlds because the average experience in the real world has become increasingly devoid of meaning and satisfaction. The relative satisfaction a person receives from a virtual world and the real one will influence how much time they spend in each. The question recently about the limitations of the Hero’s Journey pattern to provide satisfaction over the long term relates directly to this. Predictions were made that new models are needed to better fit the in-game experience to the personal needs and desires of individuals in the long run.

Now you are saying designers run the risk of further cheapening and degrading the modern human experience (overall) by bringing consumerism into a virtual world in a greater degree than has been tried before. From what I have been able to pick up about Virtual Laguna Beech, few virtual worlds have been more open about its content or intent than VLB. Your reaction to it boils down to saying that such stuff should not be offered because kids might like it, and that would directly make them worse people (through no fault of their own). You suggest that developers ought to feel responsible for the “psychological end product of [their] labors,” and in doing so suggest that people are so malleable in their tastes for meaning and satisfaction that providing such a world risks negative consequences, however small, for humanity.

That’s nonsense. I thought at least this community would be able to put aside the notion that people are such moldable puddles of mush that the intent (or unintended action) of game design can form them into different people. Are we going to have to fight out the violence-in-video-games-causes-school-shootings debate again, but now in the form of attitudes toward consumption? Is there not at least as good a chance that an experience of being rich and pampered and powerful in a game can teach young’uns the limits of the ability of riches and power to make people deeply satisfied than the game design could train them to be more focused on the acquisition of material things in the real world (longest sentence I’ve written in a long time).

Hate the virtual, the tv, and the real Laguna beach and everyone associated with it to your heart’s content. Cherish the idea that its very existence is a stain on the purity of mankind if that floats your boat. But the posture that virtual worlds are dangerous because of what they could bring out of people is silly. Ultimately, it attributes way too much power to designers (and to your own judgmental selves) and far too little to people as they actually exist.

VLB may succeed very well, or may fail quickly. If it succeeds, it will be because its novel combination or real life, pure fiction, and that mix of the two we experience in virtual worlds satisfies people better than the alternatives. If it succeeds, and that says something you don’t like about humanity – the fault is not in the game.


Posted by: Aeco | Sep 22, 2006 1:10:34 PM

I'm mostly agreeing with what Aeco says. But I'd've said it a bit less crakily, I think.

People went to see live gladiators torn apart by wild animals and each other at the Circus Maximus back in my grampa's day. There were public floggings and hangings and the auto de fey in them earlier times, too. And while, yes, I agree that young, impressionable minds are certainly ripe for abuse by all kinds of sophisticated systems -- marketing/economic being one of many -- the thing about VWs that is way WAY **WAAAAY** better (or at least different) than TV, movies, radio, print, etc., is the ability for the kids to get up into it and be part of the system itself. Which means that as much as the designers, creators, lords, programmers (whatever) want to be in charge of what goes into the participants' minds... at the end of the day, what goes in are the participants themselves. You can't totally control the content when the players are the content.

So let's calm down, OK? Who here DIDN'T think, as soon as WoW hit 1 million players, "Yoiks. Wonder when the first MTVMMORPG is gonna hit?" I'm just surprised it took this dang long.

Posted by: Andy Havens | Sep 22, 2006 2:43:38 PM

(first TN post, hehe)

With a fifteen year old daughter in the house coupled with a keen interest in VW and having spent a few high school Friday nights in the real Laguna, I decided to check out VLB yesterday.

So I’m sitting here today writing this while two people have virtual sex in VLB (chat room style, though they have found a way to sit on each other, with all the glorious details rising up over their heads). The UI is terribly clunky, mobility is limited (compare to SL’s ability to fly), and, well, it’s beta (or alpha?) and most importantly; in a VW where there are several clubs…there’s no way to dance! The VLB streaming music leaves me wanting a breeze to pick up and give me epic hair while all my memories of the real LB are squashed, mangled and taken advantage of.

Aside from all that, the one thing that really intrigues and discomforts me is that there’s no clear “disclaimer” when signing up that it is role-play, half-play, or more towards true-self. Should it have something like a disclaimer? My background (for games anyway) is in role-playing and in VWs I tend to make a character and then let the first few encounters with others dictate how the character’s personality develops. So there I am, thinking in role-playing mode, and talking to this girl and she asks “how old are you?” Well, isn’t that rude? So, I figure she isn’t a role-player and tell her “over 21 and younger than 80.” Her response, “I have to go now, bye.”

So, assuming that this was a (assumed) general audience member of LB, it’s good to know that the youth of today is smart enough not to talk to “old” people in VWs and polite enough to say goodbye.

But it leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling, that the veil that I’ve been wearing has suddenly been pulled aside with the realization, from immediate immersion, that there is a large majority of people out there that might not be as conscious as the people at this site about the levels, the layers, of VW and how they can be used and played with.

So from what kind of frame are the VLB players approaching their experience? Betsy says, “Of course, they will bring their own points of view and experiences to the mix, and giving them the opportunity to do so will be a crucial part of the VLB experience.” Which I agree with, and would add that a key to how this will play out is dependant upon how well the assumed roles taken by the players mesh with each other, and how quickly abuse of the system by players can be addressed.


Posted by: Fizzygoo | Sep 22, 2006 3:01:21 PM

What if they could get the cast members from the television show to play as themselves in the game? We could have a "reality-based virtual world." The mind reels.

Posted by: CherryBomb | Sep 23, 2006 10:38:28 AM

Hehe, found out how to dance...never mind about that.

Posted by: Fizzygoo | Sep 24, 2006 7:13:54 PM

What if they could get the cast members from the television show to play as themselves in the game? We could have a "reality-based virtual world." The mind reels.

I think it's instructive and important to emphasize that 'Laguna Beach' is itself a virtual 'reality show'. Locations, plots, and dialogue, for example, are HEAVILY influenced by the show's creators (though MTV folk restrict themselves to the use the word 'suggested' in interviews).

As someone who grew up in a beach community behind the Orange Curtain, I personally find the show compelling, embarassing and a completely unidimensional representation of youth culture in that corner of America.

However, there is really no denying that the show is masterful in its execution.

The problem with VLB is going to be that its design focuses user attention on an element that is really only implicit in the tv show, namely the specific mechanics of acquisition and disposal of 'stuff'. It completely misses in almost every way what is compelling about the show and settles for mating the rather shallow item-based socio-economics inherent in many virtual world designs with the most superficial elements of the MTV show--affluence and consumption.


In this wa

Posted by: monkeysan | Sep 25, 2006 1:24:57 AM

Here again, Betsy, you offer a thought-provoking (and lyrical) take on a cyberphenomenon. Glad to see the spirit of Virtual Worlds Review is alive and well!

Posted by: paulhemp | Sep 28, 2006 4:19:20 PM

As a There member for nearly three years now, I can't wait to delve into this new application of the mackena technology. I am curious to know if the economy will be as jacked for young people here as it is "there." Meaning, will the "game" as it were throw more and more at them to buy with no in world means of acquiring the in world currency?

So many times in There I watched girls stating they were 13 - 15 years old run up and join a conversation I was in, to declare they would cyber with anyone for in world currency. As a parent I would not even let my teens play There simply because I find it reprehensive that young kids are so eager to purchase goods that they find a way to get them... basically through virtual prostitution.

If anyone doubts the prevelance of this issue, simply spend a couple of days in Karuna Plaza (in There) and count the times you get propositioned. Sure, it is the parents responsibility to monitor the childrens behavior, no doubt about it! But I just find it grossly irresponsible to constantly throw things in front of them to buy with no means to do so above and beyond busting out a credit card.

Kids may have a disposable income, but what is the source? Mom and Dad? I wonder if anyone who has played There would give their children access to their credit card to play this, knowing how quickly those purchases can add up.

Posted by: Daemona | Oct 12, 2006 2:40:49 AM

My point exactly Daemona. In fact I think it is time that game developers take some responsibility for the game creations they make. To dangle pretties in front of children and then require vast expenditures of money is just using kids as sugar coated cereal has been doing for a long time with its adverts on children’s shows. As adults we should begin to take some responsibility for the services we develop and offer and when in the context of involving children in the form of play we had better begin to think about what we are doing in the name of the all mighty dollar. I have no problem with on line games and virtual worlds providing entertainment for children and adults alike but when these worlds have as their core philosophy and motive the manipulation of the player to spend, spend, spend at what point do we stand back and examine the impact of this approach.

We have seen the cigarette companies try to sneak marketing approaches under the guise of cleaver cartoon characters into their media blitzes so as to entice children into the world of smoking, and eventually the US federal trade commission put their foot down.

Do we want the same kinds of embargos happening in our virtualities? I think not. The game developers need to stand back and take a look at what they create, the kinds of economies they formulate and the way they entice their members and consider the effect these kinds of interaction experiences have on young people. Anything short of this is just greed and avarice on the part of the game promoter to line their pockets with money at the expense of children and young people.


Posted by: Bernard | Oct 15, 2006 7:12:42 AM

Yo Yo Yo Dudes.. y u takin abot thiz stuffz?!

Posted by: DJ Larry | Oct 15, 2006 8:41:53 AM

Man Itz all cool.. Just chat to peeps on VLB and no worry about that kind of stuffz, God.

Posted by: Dj Larry | Oct 15, 2006 8:43:28 AM

Speaking as a teenager, that's ^^ a scary representation of our future. And we wonder why people treat us like we don't know anything. No matter how much you may like it to, z can't replace s in words.

Having said that, I think you guys are putting too much thought into this. It is what it is: simply a way to occupy super-LB fans.

Posted by: Emily | Oct 24, 2006 7:40:24 PM

Im not sure it is a case of too much thought Emily. You see the kinds of cultural dumbing down that shows like laguna beach and even MTV as a whole and the total control of all media by companies such as viacom and time warner begin to delimit the experiences because of the control they have in all the ways we receive media. As a result they can even fine tune the way they market and exploit young people in their purchasing behavior. This is done in subtle and not so apparent ways using enticements such as fun chat services to in part control the flow of information to you and me and everyone else. People can say they are not effected by this but thats denial plain and simple. If they were not, we would not have advertising dollars spent to the tune of billions a year. Just as advertising drives consumers towards certain products so too will the control of the media and the commercialization of on line game begin to be use to exploitively drive the consumer to certain products, politics and economic habits. People may think they are not influenced but purchasing behavior is very important and market exposure is as well. These on line services that pretend to be a chat or game experience are really (and this is not stupid conspiracy theory here) ways that commercial enterprises exploit play experiences for the sole purpose of obtaining niche market control over their now captive audience. Watch and wait the future will prove who is right here.

Posted by: Bernard | Oct 28, 2006 2:51:02 AM

Bernard: The future is here right now, but it's less of a future than it was even 10 years ago.

Market and media fragmentation have busted up the control-sphere you're talking about into so many verticals that the idea of "control from above" at a particular company/corp level is no longer rational. Go back in time to the 50's or 60's? Sure. I'd've agreed with you in spades. But now there are too many voices.

What we do need to fear, however -- now as then -- is the overall pattern. And the pattern is harder to see when there are more colors and textures. And that is a pattern that drives feelings of self-worth and community and ego through purely economic behavior.

I do not worry that any one "channel" is guiding the behavior of our children. Not at all. I worry that all the channels agree that their behavior should be economic, egocentric, sexual, violent, nationalistic and immature.

Posted by: Andy Havens | Oct 28, 2006 8:16:36 AM

actually Andy there are just a few real Media conglomerates in the whole world:

News Corporation
General Electric
Disney
Time Warner
Viacom
CBS CORPORATION
Sony
Bertelesman
Vivendi

These companies plus a few lesser ones such as ATT control the ownership as well as the distribution of all mass media. Your films, books, web services, games, television, newspapers, magazines, records, radio, etc. are in the hands of just a few giants. Ten years ago there were several more players. What has happened is the consolidation of these monopolies into fewer and fewer hands. So I have to disagree for the facts speak for themselves here about what is currently happening in the control of media.

Posted by: Bernard | Oct 28, 2006 4:23:06 PM

Bernard: I think we're agreeing, just not on terminology. I understand that at a corporate level, fewer companies may, at one given moment, own a particular channel of content creation, ownership or distribution. I worked in cellular for 10 years in the early 90's through 2001. I saw the consolidation of that telco sphere up close and personal; not pretty.

My point was that the various "voices" that are presented by whomever owns the various media -- the choices available to consumers -- seem to be more varied, but have been framed by economic, social, psychological and political factors that have made certain "realities" a given, rather than a question of education or taste or discussion for both kids and adults.

Your point about ten or so major media megacorps owning most of the ways into and out of the media sphere is a good one; that is a major contributor to the situation, and has been for the last 50 years. But even before we had vertical alignment through various media, the US had basically given up (i.e., come to a conclusion) on some very basic questions of what it means to be a citizen, student, parent, spouse, friend, worker, etc. in terms of our participation in our society.

Those conclusions, while beneficial in many cases to entities such as the big media conglomerates, are not unique to them. We have to also look at politics, education, social responsibility, etc.

And the face of things can change.

Let's look, for example, at the case of a new media giant who, while nowhere near as huge, pervasive and profitable as the Big Ten we (and Crispin Miller at "The Nation") are talking about, has not bought into the general philosophy of "economic citizenry first." Google.

I don't agree with everything Google does. But its model is, essentially, egalitarian. Whether you build natural SEO by having good, clean, regularly updated content and lots of inbound links, or pay for AdWords, your time and dollar is as "worthy" as Sony's. Now, of course, Sony has a lot more dollars... but that's always going to be the case in a capitalist society. Sorry. I am a capitalist, so I'm not going to argue for pure socialism, though I think we need a bit more of it in the US here (schools) and less of it there (guns). ; )

Let's also look at the Wikipedia. Or Flickr. Or MySpace. Or YouTube. Or del.ici.ous. All major new media products that came out of nowhere. Some now owned by bigger players, yes. But none owned by the Big Ten.

So while I think we agree (?) that there is a problem, I won't pin it all on media conglomeration. It's much more chaotic than it was 10 years ago. Even saying "The Big Ten" makes me kind of chuckle, because you can't get 10 lawyers to agree on any one point on a simple contract. The idea of 10 giant, multinational corporations working, purposefully, intelligently, rationally, consciously together towards predetermined ends... yoiks.

But it doesn't have to be a conspiracy to be real, and it doesn't have to be orchestrated to be a problem. Yes. The issues are important, and the idea of "citizen customer" is troubling. That's what is being, I think, held up, in a miniature way, at Virtual Laguna Beach, if we follow the chain all the way back through the parent companies, political support, religious affiliations, news stories, social engineering, lack of education, etc. etc.

Posted by: Andy Havens | Oct 29, 2006 8:58:16 AM

HI HOOMIES WATZZZ UP!?!?!?

LMAO

Posted by: DJ larry | Oct 30, 2006 8:47:06 AM

Like this site is so like boring.. gawd. Can we plz change da subject.. seriouslt1!!

Posted by: Daisy | Oct 30, 2006 8:48:23 AM

See you fools? This is our world when kids take over.. The There System will be filled with these kinds of kids. We should end this and start saving toilet paper for me to eat.

Please do as I say.
Its for your own good.

Posted by: Bernard | Oct 30, 2006 8:53:43 AM

actually Andy there are just a few real Media conglomerates in the whole world:

News Corporation
General Electric
Disney
Time Warner
Viacom
CBS CORPORATION
Sony
Bertelesman
Vivendi

These companies plus a few lesser ones such as ATT control the ownership as well as the distribution of all mass media. Your films, books, web services, games, television, newspapers, magazines, records, radio, etc. are in the hands of just a few giants. Ten years ago there were several more players. What has happened is the consolidation of these monopolies into fewer and fewer hands. So I have to disagree for the facts speak for themselves here about what is currently happening in the control of media.

Posted by: Bernard | Oct 28, 2006 4:23:06 PM

Bernard: I think we're agreeing, just not on terminology. I understand that at a corporate level, fewer companies may, at one given moment, own a particular channel of content creation, ownership or distribution. I worked in cellular for 10 years in the early 90's through 2001. I saw the consolidation of that telco sphere up close and personal; not pretty.

My point was that the various "voices" that are presented by whomever owns the various media -- the choices available to consumers -- seem to be more varied, but have been framed by economic, social, psychological and political factors that have made certain "realities" a given, rather than a question of education or taste or discussion for both kids and adults.

Your point about ten or so major media megacorps owning most of the ways into and out of the media sphere is a good one; that is a major contributor to the situation, and has been for the last 50 years. But even before we had vertical alignment through various media, the US had basically given up (i.e., come to a conclusion) on some very basic questions of what it means to be a citizen, student, parent, spouse, friend, worker, etc. in terms of our participation in our society.

Those conclusions, while beneficial in many cases to entities such as the big media conglomerates, are not unique to them. We have to also look at politics, education, social responsibility, etc.

And the face of things can change.

Let's look, for example, at the case of a new media giant who, while nowhere near as huge, pervasive and profitable as the Big Ten we (and Crispin Miller at "The Nation") are talking about, has not bought into the general philosophy of "economic citizenry first." Google.

I don't agree with everything Google does. But its model is, essentially, egalitarian. Whether you build natural SEO by having good, clean, regularly updated content and lots of inbound links, or pay for AdWords, your time and dollar is as "worthy" as Sony's. Now, of course, Sony has a lot more dollars... but that's always going to be the case in a capitalist society. Sorry. I am a capitalist, so I'm not going to argue for pure socialism, though I think we need a bit more of it in the US here (schools) and less of it there (guns). ; )

Let's also look at the Wikipedia. Or Flickr. Or MySpace. Or YouTube. Or del.ici.ous. All major new media products that came out of nowhere. Some now owned by bigger players, yes. But none owned by the Big Ten.

So while I think we agree (?) that there is a problem, I won't pin it all on media conglomeration. It's much more chaotic than it was 10 years ago. Even saying "The Big Ten" makes me kind of chuckle, because you can't get 10 lawyers to agree on any one point on a simple contract. The idea of 10 giant, multinational corporations working, purposefully, intelligently, rationally, consciously together towards predetermined ends... yoiks.

But it doesn't have to be a conspiracy to be real, and it doesn't have to be orchestrated to be a problem. Yes. The issues are important, and the idea of "citizen customer" is troubling. That's what is being, I think, held up, in a miniature way, at Virtual Laguna Beach, if we follow the chain all the way back through the parent companies, political support, religious affiliations, news stories, social engineering, lack of education, etc. etc.

I'm mostly agreeing with what Aeco says. But I'd've said it a bit less crakily, I think.

People went to see live gladiators torn apart by wild animals and each other at the Circus Maximus back in my grampa's day. There were public floggings and hangings and the auto de fey in them earlier times, too. And while, yes, I agree that young, impressionable minds are certainly ripe for abuse by all kinds of sophisticated systems -- marketing/economic being one of many -- the thing about VWs that is way WAY **WAAAAY** better (or at least different) than TV, movies, radio, print, etc., is the ability for the kids to get up into it and be part of the system itself. Which means that as much as the designers, creators, lords, programmers (whatever) want to be in charge of what goes into the participants' minds... at the end of the day, what goes in are the participants themselves. You can't totally control the content when the players are the content.

So let's calm down, OK? Who here DIDN'T think, as soon as WoW hit 1 million players, "Yoiks. Wonder when the first MTVMMORPG is gonna hit?" I'm just surprised it took this dang long.
I find this VLB thing fascinating. Here's my thought experiment:

When the hard-core fans of LB find that they can't (for whatever reason) do what they REALLY want to do in VLB (whatever that is; probably have sex), will a bunch of them go off into another space (probably SecondLife) and create the Virtual Virtual Laguna Beach? V2LB?

I can't wait...

39.

the following post:

See you fools? This is our world when kids take over.. The There System will be filled with these kinds of kids. We should end this and start saving toilet paper for me to eat.

Please do as I say.
Its for your own good.


is by someone that has created a yahoo account to use my name and company name in the email they list. I checked on yahoo and they altered some of the letters in my company name so they could establish a profile account. This Bernard is not me, as anyone can see by my contribution to this discussion I do not rag on people or trash talk them in the way that this has been done. If someone has something to say dont hide behind my ID to do it or pretend to be me in order to make my words looks insulting. I do wish the moderator of this service would check this out, I think it is a form of harassment on this service!

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