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On federalizing virtual worlds

I try to visit weblogs that cover worlds like Second Life periodically keep up with what the intelligensia are up to. My day job doesn’t involve this sort of pioneering, so I live vicariously reading about the efforts of these cool folks.

One post inspired me to prattle on a bit about what I think is the solution to corporate control of virtual worlds. I think federalizing virtual worlds can decouple corporate interest from liability inherent in governing societies.

Here’s my post to the blog, The Other Here:

“I posted a comment on Second Life Insider, if I recall, a week or two ago in response to a controversial issue. There was some grousing about how Linden does or does not handle adverse issues.

My point, and my aspiration here in response to your question is to see a federalization of the virtual world. At present, Linden must invest megabucks into the infrastructure to support the simulations.

It also puts them at the center of liability and controversy.

Far down the road, no doubt, we’ll see a mesh approach to simulations. Federalizing the thousands of individual simulations isn’t a technical hurdle, it’s definitely a today thing – it’s a political one.

For success, one will have to build frameworks that permit trusted copyright management (if that’s your thing,) as well as reliable currency, and some sort of system for consistent law – both in simulation behavior and in permitted/prohibited actions.

I forsee this being implemented by a treaty system, perhaps one that implies a combination of federalized authentication technologies in development today (like SAML for distributed identities,) signing authorities such as Verisign to handle a fiat economy (perhaps one of many,) and some sort of verifiable programmatic policies which can be used to imply standard simulation behavior.

The goal of federalizing simulations is to decentralize governing authorities and permit the simulation owner to subscribe to popular (or perhaps unpopular) forms of government. Today we have LindenLab, a commercial entity charged with protecting itself as well as its residents. For a true independent virtual realm, we must divorce ourselves from a singular self-interest.

The way I see that is through a decentralized model. Yell at me if I’m telling you something you’ve already known about – this isn’t my day job.”

I have to assume that others have already been thinking about this. Perhaps the folks who’ve been reverse-engineering Second Life are already planning that sort of existence. I don’t know, as I said – this isn’t my day job, although my day job involves technology.

I’m very, very curious to know if others are working on decentralizing virtual worlds, and also what sort of problems there are with my point of view.

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