Difference between revisions of "Talk:Code Real Virtual Distinctions"

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Code as law, and internet law in the abstract, give rise to worlds like Second Life, which offer fascinating opportunities to compare and contrast the 'real' and 'virtual' in new ways. I'm interested in co-redacting and authoring a series of interesting conversations we have participated in, in small or large groups, vis-a-vis some real/virtual distinctions and code as law, into a blog/wiki paper/media project (part of which we can develop in SL), examining some broad implications related to these themes in the process. If you're interested in this, let's talk more about it in Second Life. I'll create an organizational model, along the lines of an outline, or a web, by which we can then organize our conversations, highlighting salient points and questions.
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Code as law, and internet law in the abstract, give rise to worlds like Second Life, which offer fascinating opportunities to compare and contrast the 'real' and 'virtual' in new ways. I'm interested in co-redacting and authoring a series of interesting conversations we've participated in, in small or large groups, vis-a-vis some real/virtual distinctions and code as law, into a blog/wiki paper/media project (part of which we can develop in SL), examining some broad implications related to these themes in the process. If you're interested in this, let's talk more about it in Second Life. I'll create an developing, organizational model, along the lines of an outline, or a web, by which we can then organize our conversations, highlighting salient points and questions.
  
  

Revision as of 19:47, 18 October 2006

Code as law, and internet law in the abstract, give rise to worlds like Second Life, which offer fascinating opportunities to compare and contrast the 'real' and 'virtual' in new ways. I'm interested in co-redacting and authoring a series of interesting conversations we've participated in, in small or large groups, vis-a-vis some real/virtual distinctions and code as law, into a blog/wiki paper/media project (part of which we can develop in SL), examining some broad implications related to these themes in the process. If you're interested in this, let's talk more about it in Second Life. I'll create an developing, organizational model, along the lines of an outline, or a web, by which we can then organize our conversations, highlighting salient points and questions.


The following conversation in Second Life (SL) is a first example, where GeneKoo and Aphilo explore some virtual-real distinctions with broad implications.

- Aphilo



How are the 'real' and 'virtual' changing, as a consequence of code shaped by the Internet, software and hardware?


  • Lawrence Lessig's conception of code as law in real - rules and norms - and virtual - shaped by software and hardware - senses
  • open-ended possibilities of innovation with the 'virtual,' and it's relative 'morphability,' in contrast with RL (real life) code as law, which gives rise to rules and norms
  • The 'nature' of virtuality
  • Code as language and ideas?
  • Developments in code arising from hardware and software, shaping code as law
  • The way that law's relation to the 'material' changes dramatically, as a consequence of the development of the Network Society
  • Do we own our conversations in SL, or our avatars 'identities'?
  • Intellectual law used to relate to material objects, like books and LPs; the Internet changes all that
  • The relative predictability of the 'material' (physics, nature, etc.), and socially constructed 'nature' of society, technology, law.
  • Lawyers who see the Internet as a utopian opportunity to create better laws
  • Dispute resolution system developed by Square Trade (ST) for eBay - extensible? - 'real,' nascent Internet law?
  • Can the 'code' of virtual spaces inform real life (RL) practices? If we can fly virtually, can we learn to 'fly' in RL, 'experientially/kinesthetically/idea-wise?'
  • Cyberspace as stateless, liminal - a form of virtualness?
  • Flexibility of norms - Barlow, Nesson - thus virtual?



  • [14:37] Aphilo Aarde: Hi Gene
  • [14:37] GeneKoo Li: Hi
  • [14:38] Aphilo Aarde: Where are you and what are you up to?
  • [14:38] GeneKoo Li: I'm flaoting above Berkman Island making a penguin av
  • [14:38] GeneKoo Li: but I should be doing work!
  • [14:39] Aphilo Aarde: Sounds fun. I've been thinking a little about the real / virtual distinction vis-a-vis code as law, and wonder what thoughts you have about this?
  • [14:39] Aphilo Aarde: Are you coming to the meeting this evening at 8:30?
  • [14:39] GeneKoo Li: Can you say more about that?
  • [14:39] GeneKoo Li: I have office hours at 8
  • [14:41] Aphilo Aarde: There are a lot of interesting distinctions, and digital technologies open up unlimited possibilities because new ones develop.
  • [14:41] GeneKoo Li: I'm sorry, I still don't quite get what you're saying -- can you give a specific example?
  • [14:42] Aphilo Aarde: But L. Lessig seems to characterize code as law in real life (RL) in terms of norms and rules, and in cyberspace, in terms of hardware and software.
  • [14:43] GeneKoo Li: are you identifying that what is virtual is easier to morph because it's "only" bits?
  • [14:43] Aphilo Aarde: Code as law defined thus, and shaping 'life' in RL and SL, shape very different 'worlds.'
  • [14:44] Aphilo Aarde: The distinctions between these raise many interesting questions about Internet 'law' in the abstract.
  • [14:44] GeneKoo Li: Right, I think that's essentially what Lessig is trying to point out...
  • [14:45] Aphilo Aarde: I suppose questions of change in RL and SL are implicated. The rates of change 'morph-potential' are very different, especially because hardware and software are unfolding as we talk.
  • [14:46] GeneKoo Li: Sure...
  • [14:47] Aphilo Aarde: People in this course, like Professor Nesson (and the Berkman Center, as well) I think, are interested in the 'nature' of virtuality, partly perhaps because it is 'shapable.'
  • [14:48] GeneKoo Li: You might move back a level of abstraction and say that this observation about the nature of code also helps us understand better the structure of law
  • [14:49] Aphilo Aarde: Who has examined philosophically, and in an 'internet law in the abstract' sense, questions of virtuality. The CyberOne' course is including a concept of empathic openness in the shaping of this pioneering 'virtual' course [CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion].
  • [14:51] Aphilo Aarde: I agree, and the articulation makes for interesting 'purchases' on both, but the definitions (influenced by L. Lessig) of code as law in RL and SL are so distant from one another, to make me want to clarify and compare more similiar aspects of abstraction.
  • [14:51] GeneKoo Li: OK, go on...
  • [14:52] Aphilo Aarde: How has 'law' in a virtual sense, influenced your thinking about the law in a 'rules and norms' sense?
  • [14:54] Aphilo Aarde: how subject is law in a 'rules and norms' sense to change, given 'stare decisis', for example?
  • [14:54] GeneKoo Li: Let me put it this way, the law of the virtual worlds illustrate what we might distinguish betwen as "natural" and "man-made"
  • [14:54] GeneKoo Li: I'm sorry, I should say "code"
  • [14:54] GeneKoo Li: Probably the easiest parallel to make is in the instance of intellectual property + records
  • [14:55] GeneKoo Li: It was assumed that, by nature, songs (for instance) would be embodied in a physical thing
  • [14:55] Aphilo Aarde: 'Virtualness' in one sense refers to that which is shaped and representational.
  • [14:55] GeneKoo Li: When that changed, it was as if the laws of physics themselves had changed
  • [14:55] GeneKoo Li: as if, in SL, you were suddenly able to fly or not fly
  • [14:55] GeneKoo Li: Is that at all related to what you're asking?
  • [14:56] Aphilo Aarde: 'Natural' referring the legal system, but not the 'laws' of evolutionary biology, for example, and 'man-made' referring to software and hardware, and their codes?-
  • [14:57] GeneKoo Li: I guess I'm just saying that what we as humans can do is bounded by the laws of physics
  • [14:57] Aphilo Aarde: I see, - the physical or material world being natural, and technologies from this, such as a compact disk [or a book or an LP - vinyl record]?
  • [14:57] GeneKoo Li: So law of man assumes a certain set of laws of physics
  • [14:58] GeneKoo Li: If technology "changes" these laws (well, what we can do within those laws) then that exposes where man-made law was built upon a foundation that may or may not be stable
  • [14:58] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, until the 'digital age,' law referred to specific material processes [e.g. a book].
  • [14:59] GeneKoo Li: Well, that's not entirely true, but very close, yes
  • [14:59] Aphilo Aarde: But now that relationship changes signficantly, esp. vis-a-vis law, because that relationship between material and law, is now qualitatively different.
  • [15:00] GeneKoo Li: Am I responding to your interests here?
  • [15:00] GeneKoo Li: Yes, exactly
  • [15:00] Aphilo Aarde: Very much, - thank you. Interesting 'philosophical' questions, in a way.
  • [15:01] Aphilo Aarde: The Network Society shakes some 'foundations' of the law profoundly.
  • [15:01] GeneKoo Li: Sure no prob. I think one of the best ways to illustrate these rules is to experience it like this
  • [15:02] GeneKoo Li: Technology in general can change the foundations of law
  • [15:02] GeneKoo Li: so can other things that are less tangible, e.g. social mores, culture, etc
  • [15:02] Aphilo Aarde: I might ask in a related way, do we own our conversations in SL, or our avatars 'identities'?
  • [15:02] GeneKoo Li: a lot of stuff we take for granted that is the basis of law can change, so law must change with it
  • [15:02] GeneKoo Li: good question, I think that is worthy of a group discussion :)
  • [15:03] GeneKoo Li: What does the TOS say [], I'm a horrible lawyer in not even reading it
  • [15:03] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, and SL is a kind of subculture and a world, virtual, which will probably develop in a very unique way relative to RL, and to other virtual worlds. So might the metaverse which Rebecca has mentioned.
  • [15:04] GeneKoo Li: That's why there are so many lawyers (well, a handful of lawyers) who see this as a utopian opportunity to create better laws
  • [15:04] GeneKoo Li: It's not unlike how professors get attracted to developing nations -- res tabula and all that
  • [15:04] Aphilo Aarde: Yes.
  • [15:06] GeneKoo Li: where are you btw
  • [15:06] Aphilo Aarde: But the nature of the internet, and some technologies, the products of software and hardware, also have a variety of impacts which might 'drive' law.
  • [15:06] Aphilo Aarde: In conjunction with opening opportunities to 'write' new 'good' law.
  • [15:06] Aphilo Aarde: I'm floating in front of Austin Hall.
  • [15:07] Aphilo Aarde: Now, I'm on the ground.
  • [15:07] GeneKoo Li: Yes, precisely, very seductive
  • [15:07] GeneKoo Li: I mean, consider what we are doing right now
  • [15:07] GeneKoo Li: This IM [instant messenger technology in Second Life] is dictated by code
  • [15:07] Aphilo Aarde: software and hardware
  • [15:08] GeneKoo Li: If we thought there was a "better" way to communicate (for whatever purpose), we could code for that better way
  • [15:08] Aphilo Aarde: which is less public, than the chat.
  • [15:08] GeneKoo Li: An example is the dispute resolution system developed by Square Trade for eBay
  • [15:08] GeneKoo Li: They determined that all conflicts on ebay fall into like 13 categories
  • [15:08] GeneKoo Li: so for each one they created a series of rules (process) to guide the disputants through a conversation
  • [15:08] GeneKoo Li: "code" or "rule"?
  • [15:09] Aphilo Aarde: One of the things that Lessig may not address is what role language in general plays in forming 'law' / code.
  • [15:09] GeneKoo Li: Sure well now you're getting into all sorts of philosophy
  • [15:10] Aphilo Aarde: But Linden Labs (LL) also can introduce 'voice' when they want, and hasn't yet, for various reasons; speech being a significant and unique form of 'code'
  • [15:10] GeneKoo Li: I never fully groked [] it but there is political theory that starts from that presumption
  • [15:11] GeneKoo Li: Well, you might say speech is more a capability. It's how we use speech that embodies certain assumptions which we might consider reflective of "code" or at least norms
  • [15:11] Aphilo Aarde: The ebay example is interesting, nascent law, potentially adoptable by all online businesses, on a broad scale, as a kind of internet law, akin to the rules and norms of RL law.
  • [15:12] GeneKoo Li: Just to be clear, I should note that "law" ought to be a more specific term, something that's ultimately backed by the power of the state
  • [15:12] GeneKoo Li: You might consider the ebay example as "law" within the "kingdom of Ebay"
  • [15:13] Aphilo Aarde: Yes - but the Internet - viz. Barlow - is global and stateless.
  • [15:13] GeneKoo Li: But what does that mean?
  • [15:14] Aphilo Aarde: Can the 'code' of virtual spaces inform RL practices, I wonder?
  • [15:14] GeneKoo Li: I would absolutely say so -- "inform" but not necessarily more in all cases
  • [15:15] Aphilo Aarde: To put it dramatically (and absurdly for the sake of thinking broadly), if we can fly in SL, can we also somehow learn to fly, if only metaphorically, but more so, in RL?
  • [15:15] GeneKoo Li: Right, sure, take that metaphor and see where it might apply
  • [15:15] Aphilo Aarde: Well, for Barlow and Prof. C. Nesson, Cyberspace is a rhetorical space.
  • [15:17] Aphilo Aarde: And stateless might mean both somehow 'liminal' as well as without law, in a general sense, in the rules and norms sense.
  • [15:17] Aphilo Aarde: The metaphor does offer the possibility of seeing RL law, as very 'morphable.'
  • [15:18] GeneKoo Li: Precisely on that last point. And if that's all you learn from this class, I think you've gotten 80% of it!
  • [15:18] GeneKoo Li: As for "stateless," I'm not sure I'm convinced of what that really means or is true
  • [15:20] Aphilo Aarde: For me the metaphor leads to stepping back a level of abstraction, from Lessig's 'code,' from language as code, to ideas are code, in the material and the virtual worlds. Potentially we can experience 'literally/kinesthetically' flying in the material, in a
  • [15:20] Aphilo Aarde: ...vivid idea sense.
  • [15:21] GeneKoo Li: I thought "stateless" was a programming term that refers to an unawareness of, well, history
  • [15:21] Aphilo Aarde: The ways in which RL 'law' is constrained, and how code in virtual spaces might rewrite that, seems germane to this course.
  • [15:22] Aphilo Aarde: stateless, in this sense, refers to no conception of a nation, (and the laws that in part define it).
  • [15:22] GeneKoo Li: True to all that. But a cautionary note is that there is still such a thing as real world physics, economics, and all that...
  • [15:22] GeneKoo Li: Oh, that kind of stateless
  • [15:22] GeneKoo Li: Well that I don't buy at all
  • [15:23] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, there are strong correlations between our ideas of the material - physics, economic, quantum physics - and some conceptions of predictability.
  • [15:25] Aphilo Aarde: except in the case of quantum physics, where on the very small scale, 'matter' is affected by engagement with it, in curious ways, as I understand it.
  • [15:26] Aphilo Aarde: Do you see an emergence of a 'worldwide' internet state, shaped by nascent ebay-like rules?
  • [15:26] Aphilo Aarde: Or what don't you buy?
  • [15:26] GeneKoo Li: I see a battle, and so I see what Barlow says as aspirational, not factual
  • [15:26] Aphilo Aarde: Or some kind of proxy?
  • [15:27] GeneKoo Li: I'm sorry what is a proxy for what?
  • [15:27] Aphilo Aarde: Some sort of norms, or ideas, which will 'regulate' behavior, lawlike, online?
  • [15:27] Aphilo Aarde: a state-proxy?
  • [15:28] Aphilo Aarde: What state-like structures govern the internet presently, factually-speaking?
  • [15:29] GeneKoo Li: Well norms are constantly emerging and are personally more fascinating to me
  • [15:29] GeneKoo Li: As for state-like structures, you have the regular state and then you have entities like ICANN, that I'm not terribly knowledgable about other than knowing that they exist
  • [15:30] Aphilo Aarde: ICANN says they are very limited in their scope, on their web site. They say they just administer domain names.
  • [15:31] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, I think many people obey the laws of the nations they live in, but a world-wide communication offers a lot of interstices.
  • [15:31] GeneKoo Li: sure, but that is a power, and ppl care about their decisions
  • [15:32] GeneKoo Li: Listen, I'm not discouraging you from talking with me now but these are the kinds of discussions that I'd really love to have with the study group.
  • [15:32] GeneKoo Li: So if we use up all the good thoughts now, we'll have nothing left to talk about :)
  • [15:32] GeneKoo Li: (I meant "office hours" not "study group")
  • [15:33] Aphilo Aarde: In terms of norms, I think they change a lot over time - viz. the 1960s and 1970s - and , like Barlow and in SL, I think there are a lot of interesting new subdirections for norms to develop / subcultures in which they will develop uniquely.
  • [15:33] Aphilo Aarde: Yes, i agree.
  • [15:33] GeneKoo Li: Will you be there tonight or at becca's on tues?
  • [15:34] Aphilo Aarde: Yes.
  • [15:34] Aphilo Aarde: Shall we talk then?
  • [15:34] GeneKoo Li: Yes, absolutely!
  • [15:35] Aphilo Aarde: Then see you then! Nice to chat with you.
  • [15:36] GeneKoo Li: Glad it was insightful, I hope
  • [15:39] Aphilo Aarde: It's a conversation to develop. Thanks.