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Showing posts from January, 2007

There is virtual and virtual

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Time for subtle ontological distinctions to cut deep, and deep in your pocket. Ebay has just banned online auctions of virtual booty (gold, armor, weapons and all the rest) gained in World of Warcraft and other online computer games ("Ebay would not disclose the volume of sales of virtual game items recorded on its website, which reported 53.5 billion dollars worth of online auction trades in 2006"). At the same time, Ebay has not banned similar auctions concerning Second Life , the (no not a game!) ... virtual world and society where people (do not call them players), also represented by animated figures known as "avatars", buy and sell properties, like homes or land. Both an armor (in World of Warcraft) and a home (in Second Life) are made of digits, "just" computer codes, so why the different treatment? Because, according to Ebay, there is a difference between the contexts: games, in one case, virtual societies in the other. The distinction is unt

Sweden: from Linnaeus to Second Life

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A long time since I last had the leisure to contribute to this blog... On Saturday 27 January, Sweden began yearlong celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Carl Linnaeus (May 23, 1707 – January 10, 1778), it s most famous scientist. Linnaeus is known as the father of modern taxonomy and of ecology. Before him, scientists had tried a variety of criteria to map and organize the world in some decent, rational way. His fundamental idea was to use sex, or rather systems of procreation and reproduction. Since then, whales no longer count as fish, while rats and humans share a closer destiny. He understood the underlying fabric of life better than anyone else who had come before him. And he saw economics and ecology as strictly related. Linnaeus certainly knew som ething about the life of information. His mapping was based on a new naming convention, known as the "binary nomenclature", which has come to dominate natural history and other scientific fiel