Activist, Science fiction writer, and blogger Cory Doctorow spoke at in Seattle to a full house at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard. He performed a reading from his latest book, “For The Win”. Cory has an interesting sense of abstraction. He’ll spot a trend – or collection of trends – and extrapolates them into the future dutifully revealing all the complexities of the human condition.
For The Win
His reading centered on the “exploitation” of young adults who are hired to play online games where they work to achieve levels, rewards, virtual currency, and game status which is then sold to rich Western players. Some players become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of game world monsters, strategies, power points, and the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who’ll get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable consequences. The kids literally “mine gold”. As always, gold corrupts the most innocent hearts resulting in situations and behaviors at least as strange as the game itself.
Cory has long been an activist for digital publication rights and rules. Not surprisingly, the Q&A was dominated by privacy, security, and exploitation of information issues. Cory recently closed his Facebook Account which caused quite a stir in the blogsphere. Ironically, every big name in world-class privacy violation had recently been in the news for Mr. Doctorow to eloquently spit roast on an open flame. It was quite entertaining.
There is a reason that it’s called Monetization
While Mr. Doctorow did not specifically mention this, what struck me most was hearing him talk around this emerging battle for control of people’s information. While this idea is not new, the reasons behind it may be new. As Money is losing it’s capacity to store and control value, human knowledge is increasing it’s capacity to store and control value – this is hugely accelerated by social media. The desperate attempt to control people’s information is really a proxy for the desperate attempt to control knowledge, therefore to re-control the value that money once represented.
Unfortunately, controlling information also destroys value.
People actively participate and share on social media to achieve levels, rewards, and status which is then sold to corporations in the form of predictive marketing by third party aggregators like Facebook. Some people become highly valued for their knowledge inventory of real-world game perils, influencers, and social mavens and become celebrities of the craft. Many develop the uncanny ability to assess the knowledge inventory of their opponents who get suckered into a virtual dual with predictable results.
Suddenly the News started sounding like one of Cory’s Science Fiction Novels…
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