Julian Dibbell has written a typically thoughtful piece about 4chan and its creator Christopher Poole for Technology Review.
If 4chan’s anonymity is good for anything, it turns out, it’s good for lulz. Consider, Poole explains, how the fixed identities in other online communities can stifle creativity: where usernames are required (whether real or pseudonymous), a new user who posts a few failed attempts at humor will soon find other users associating that name with failure. “Even if you’re posting gold by day eight,” says Poole, “they’ll be like, ‘Oh, this guy sucks.’” Names, in other words, make failure costly, thus discouraging even the attempt to succeed. By the same token, namelessness makes failure cheap — nearly costless, reputation-wise, in a setting like 4chan, where the Anonymous who posted a lame joke five minutes ago might well be the same Anonymous who’s mocking it hilariously right now. And as the social-media theorist Clay Shirky has suggested in another context (explaining how the plummeting costs of networked collaboration encourage, say, a thousand open-source software projects to launch for every one that gets anywhere), the closer a community gets to “failure for free,” the better its chances of generating success.
After nine years offline, FEED Magazine republishes its archives.
Welcome to the archives of the web magazine FEED. Launched in May of 1995, it was among a handful of “webzines”—as they were once called—in existence then. FEED tried to re-imagine how we would read and write in the digital age even as we dedicated ourselves to the craft of writing, a craft we were perfecting as green writers and editors ourselves.
We also convinced a handful of published authors to contribute. Hence, FEED was billed as the first Web-only magazine to feature “established writers.” But its ultimate legacy may be the collection of writers who published some of their earliest work at FEED, and who then went on to luminous careers: the novelist Sam Lipsyte, Wonkette’s Ana Marie Cox, media theorist Clay Shirky, New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, Talkingpointmemo’s Josh Marshall, and many others.
One of the pieces that FEED published was an early look at weblogs by Julian Dibbell. (You have no idea how much it bruised a certain naive blogger not to have been mentioned in that article. Perhaps there’s been a certain “I’ll show ‘em” element to this person’s blog ever since. Or so I’ve heard.)
Julian Dibbell’s seminal and out-of-print My Tiny Life is once again available through Lulu as a $18 paperbakc and a completely free PDF. Dibbell wanted to release it under a Creative Commons license but didn’t have the worldwide rights fully secured.
Julian Dibbell on Chinese who farm gold (and perform other for-pay duties) in online games like World of Warcraft. “Nick Yee, an M.M.O. scholar based at Stanford, has noted the unsettling parallels (the recurrence of words like ‘vermin,’ ‘rats’ and ‘extermination’) between contemporary anti-gold-farmer rhetoric and 19th-century U.S. literature on immigrant Chinese laundry workers.” Dibbell’s Play Money was a great read and deserves wider readership than it originally received.
Cory posted a nice review of Julian Dibbell’s Play Money. I loved the book as well and Cory’s review captures what’s so compelling about it. It’s a shame that it didn’t gain a wider readership (and a less unfortunate cover as well)…it’s not just some nerdy book about g@m3rz.
A Rape in Cyberspace by Julian Dibbell. The story from the early 1990s of a small online place called LambdaMOO, a violence committed in that place, and how the community that lived there dealt with it.
During the depths of the dot com bust, Julian Dibbell looked online for a job and found one as a commodities trader in the Ultima Online virtual world. During one particularly productive month, he made almost US$4000. Dibbell has a book coming out about the experience, Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot. In addition to being available at bookstores in meatspace, Play Money will also be on sale in the virtual world of Second Life in the currency of that world (Linden dollars). From the press release:
In-game versions of Play Money designed by Second Life coder/publisher Falk Bergman are available for L$750. These copies can be signed by Dibbell at his in-Second Life interview with journalist Wagner James Au on July 27th. For the Second Life resident who needs something a bit more tactile, L$6250 buys a real-life copy of Play Money, shipped with care to the buyer’s real life address, in addition to the standard in-game version.
(At the time of this press release, Linden dollars are trading at approximately L$300.00 to the US$1.00. Adjusted to US dollars, an online copy costs US$2.50, and the price of a real-life copy bought in-game is around US$20.85.)
Dibbell will be signing his virtual books in Second Life on July 27th. Caterina read Play Money and has some thoughts on its relation to her work/play at Ludicorp. And here’s a preview of Chinese Gold Farmers, a documentary on gold farming sweatshops in China.