21 Jul 2007

Money may put bread on your table but why not just bake your own?

In this militant time of border fences, oil wars and terrorist threats...
drug wars, failing economies, record Corporate profits
political lies justified by pacification
and the continued reliance on fossil/nuclear energy
destroying our home, Mother Earth

In the economic context of several plants (a renewable resource) being worth well more than their weight in gold (due to police suppression)

and 90% of the world living so close with the Earth that the only contact they have with the "First World" is handouts and military suppression...

look at the worlds that are being made now... even further from the land and air and water and fire that made us all.

As i write this i listen to a radio. A light is on next to me. My digital mouse is being powered through my plasma widescreen laptop. A t.v. is muted in the background. A window A.C. unit is keeping the room cool during the hottest part of this day. A cellphone rests charging at my side.

this is how i relax (or pretend to)... enveloping myself in electricity... http://www.magelo.com/eq_view_profile.html?num=742086
this has been my digital persona for more than 5 years.



As Castronova stared at the auction listings, he recognised with a shock what he was looking at. It was a form of currency trading. Each item had a value in virtual "platinum pieces"; when it was sold on eBay, someone was paying cold hard American cash for it. That meant the platinum piece was worth something in real currency. EverQuest's economy actually had real-world value.

He began calculating frantically. He gathered data on 616 auctions, observing how much each item sold for in US dollars. When he averaged the results, he was stunned to discover that the EverQuest platinum piece was worth about US1¢ - higher than the Japanese yen or the Italian lira. With that information, he could figure out how fast the EverQuest economy was growing. Since players were killing monsters or skinning bunnies every day, they were, in effect, creating wealth. Crunching more numbers, Castronova found that the average player was generating 319 platinum pieces each hour he or she was in the game - the equivalent of US$3.42/hour. "That's higher than the minimum wage in most countries," he marvelled.

Then he performed one final analysis: The Gross National Product of EverQuest, measured by how much wealth all the players together created in a single year inside the game. It turned out to be US$2,266 per capita. By World Bank rankings, that made EverQuest richer than India, Bulgaria, or China, and nearly as wealthy as Russia. It was the 77th richest country in the world. And it didn't even exist.

Castronova sat back in his chair in his cramped home office, and the weird enormity of his findings dawned on him. Many economists define their careers by studying a country. He had discovered one.

...To figure out precisely who was playing EverQuest, Castronova persuaded 3,500 users to fill out a survey. As one might expect, the average age turned out to be 24, and the players were overwhelmingly male. The amount of time spent "in game" was staggering: over 20 hours a week, with the most devoted players logging 6 hours daily. 20% of players agreed with the cheeky (if alarming) statement "I live in Norrath but I travel outside of it regularly"; on average, each of these "residents" possessed virtual goods worth about US$3,000. "When you consider that the average real-life income in America is only, like, $37,000," Castronova tells me, "you realise these people have a non-trivial amount of wealth locked up inside the games."

When he finished his research, Castronova assembled it in a paper called "Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier." He submitted it to an academic website, the Social Science Research Network, that distributes working papers free for anyone to read. The site has 43,982 papers, by more than 37,000 authors. He didn't expect too much. "I thought maybe 75 people would read it," he recalls, "and that'd be great." He was wrong. The paper sent a shock wave through the on-line world. EverQuest players pounced on it and wrote up excited descriptions on game-discussion boards. That led to a flurry of posts on popular blog sites. Soon, academics and pundits in Washington were rushing to read it. Barely a few months later, Castronova's paper became the most downloaded paper in the entire database - beating out works by dozens of Nobel laureates. Today, it's still in the top three.

Why the rush of interest? What can a game filled with elves and warrior dwarves tell us about the real world?

Quite a lot, if you believe the economist Edward Chamberlin. In 1948, Chamberlin admitted that all economists face a critical problem: they have no clean "laboratory" in which to study behaviour. "The social scientist ... cannot observe the actual operation of a real model under controlled circumstances," he wrote. "Economics is limited by the fact that resort cannot be had to the laboratory techniques of the natural sciences." Instead, classical economics tries to predict economic behaviour by theorizing about a completely fair marketplace in which people are rational actors and all things are equal.

The problem with this - as plenty of left-wing critics have pointed out - is that all things aren't equal. Some people are born into rich families, and blessed with great opportunities. Others are born into dirt-poor neighbourhoods where even the most brilliant mind coupled with hard work may not forge success. As a result, economists have warred for centuries over two diverging visions. Adam Smith argued that people inherently prefer a free market and the ability to rise above others; Karl Marx countered that capital was inherently unfair and those with power would abuse it. But no pristine world exists in which to test these theories - there is no country with a truly level playing field.

Except, possibly, for EverQuest, the world's first truly egalitarian polity. Everyone begins the same way: with nothing. You enter with pathetic skills, no money, and only the clothes on your back. Wealth comes from working hard, honing your skills, and clever trading. It is a genuine meritocracy, which is precisely why players love the game, Castronova argues. "It undoes all the inequities in society. They're wiped away. Thomas More would have dreamt about that possibility, that kind of utopia," he says.

Virtual worlds have produced some surreal rags-to-riches stories. When the on-line world Second Life launched, the players were impressed to see a female avatar industriously building a sprawling monster home. An in-game neighbour stopped by to say hello only to discover she was a homeless person in British Columbia, logging on using her single remaining possession, a laptop. Penniless in the real world, she belonged to a social elite in the fake one.

Beautiful Babylon Babies Unite !!!

This Blog existed after Bush II "the lesser" stole 2 elections, before Google ate Blogger,

This Blog existed after Bush II "the lesser" stole 2 elections, before Google ate Blogger,
Love Trumps hate.

Hits of the Month

Poetic HyperLinks Defeating the Impossibilities of Peace

Also sprach Zarathustra to the brothasistahs lost out in the woods…
Rolling stones and hurricanes prime us for the rapid eye movement of whose dream?
A stairway to the dark side of the moon reveals an orchestrated King
singing the blues while sexual pistols whip Jesus’ son.
Who’s influence weens us?
Me and my friends gratefully raged against the machine for three days
in the shadow of the valley of the dead
so big brother and company held us down while the wind cried
nothing to be gained here (except copied rights),
Then a questing tribe of beastly boys found a digable plant
where a buffalo soldier picked up a Gideon’s bible from the Godfather
in joe’s garage (or was it in one of 200 motels?)
Anyway, on a Holiday, the pinball wizard boy (Billie)
followed his heart and stopped pretending he was the king of the little plastic castles
while education, missed in the house of the naked apes, evolved and mutated
into and with ~ Nature Art Love Truth ~ and we do too…
And somewhere over the rainbow dancing fools send clowns and purple rain
into imagine nations where everything is now sacred
and there are no more public enemies or rusted Roots or minor threats
or bad brains or busted rhymes or widespread panic
and everyone can read the hieroglyphics on the wall
and we are all refugees of courtney’s love attaining nirvana….
But then again, you’re so vain, you probly think this poem’s about you-
we are everywhere and we cannot be beaten
it’s all over now baby blue, all we need is Love
Legalize It