Both Alice and Cory happen to have noted the "review" of social worlds over at Second Life Games, so Onder is getting quite a lot of play over his view of significant social worlds. Leaving aside the odd choice of worlds that he chooses to discuss, I am weirded out by his criteria of assessment:
"Since these are entirely formed from my little brain, we’ll call them “Onder’s Big Three”. They are:
- Cash transactions must be easy and readily accommodated flowing both into and out from the system.
- Users must be able to create unique content and retain some form of ownership over it.
- The fabric of the world itself must be possible to affect. IE: land ownership, room decoration, or some other content that remains viable even when the player who created it is logged off. (”Pervasive” is the word I’m groping for here…)"
Since I've been in a bad mood for about the last 4 weeks, I hope that Onder will forgive me for suggesting that these three criteria are actually pulled from his arse and not his brain. Well, actually I don't care whether he forgives me or not, coz these are close to the stupidest criteria that I can conceive of to assess social worlds. I mean, why exactly should the ability to engage in cash transactions be a relevant criterion for success in VWs? Coz we think that more worlds should be just like Project Entropia? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. The requirement that the world have user-generated content makes a little more sense I guess, as long as you're a huge fan of poor design, sexual-content, and the tyranny of libertarianism in social spaces. Oh and I love the fact that the users have to have "ownership" of the stuff they create, because, well, private property in non-scarce resources is absolutely vital to its generation since human beings would never produce stuff except if they are given economic incentives to create (pace Wikipedia, ohmynews, open source software, blogs, game mods, etc etc). And I have no idea what Onder actually means by the last criterion. It seems to mean that VWs should be persistent; which, last time I checked, was a definitional requirement of them being worlds in the first place.
Anyway, so we've all just discovered that I'm in a pissy mood and maybe that Onder's criteria aren't exactly tremendously helpful at making any judgment about VWs. So my question is what would be interesting or useful criteria for judging social worlds? (Let's leave aside game/competitive worlds for a bit, coz they have special success conditions. And I promise to try to be less snarky in the comments field, although, I'll be honest, I'm not promising anything. I really am in a deeply shitty mood.)