Deep Thoughts

Lost Leader: Journal of Virtual Worlds Research Dilutes Its Brand

I’ve spent two weeks recovering from the previous four. And I don’t mean some sort of health thing, I mean recovery from some sort of shift in thinking that has left me kind of dazed and confused.

I mean, here’s the thing: after spending the better part of the past few years worrying about whether virtual worlds had a place in the digital landscape, I suddenly discovered that they do, and that the questions have become more profound.

I’ve talked about this before: I find myself surprised when I don’t get grilled on cartoon characters and ‘escaping reality’ anymore. People get it. They want in. And they want to know how to go about doing so.

But my thinking has also shifted because I’ve been trying to figure out the place of virtual worlds IN that larger digital landscape and I’ve realized that my thinking has been pretty much off-kilter. I’ve spent a few weeks doing nothing much more than thinking and trying to get my e-mail cleared out (although I still have 1,200 backed up in my G-mail and apologies to any of you who are lost in there, I’m really trying to get through them all as quickly as I can!)

What I Got Wrong
So a few of my realizations:

- I overestimated the importance of open source and where it actually stood in the pantheon of current thought.
- I underestimated where the next battle for the heart of the digital landscape is taking place. The real battle of the moment is in the ownership of your physical location. This battle, perhaps more than all of the discussions of identity or commerce or whether the Web is free will be the defining fight of our times. Whoever “owns” your geo-location wins.
- Virtual worlds can inform the Web and not simply be informed BY the Web. Virtual worlds (and their sister, game consoles) are one of the few places in the digital landscape with the profound power to change the paradigm for how we connect.
- Social media is broken.
- I underestimated how many people care about intellectual property. The “all information wants to be free” concept is a fallacy.
- Virtual worlds are NOT the source of all wisdom nor the new site for storytelling. They’re part of a fast-moving and evolving domain which is actually a radically different paradigm for connection.

In other words, I’ve decided that my mental models need an overhaul so stay tuned.

I need to get some stuff out of my system and put this all into some kind of coherent package I think, and I’ve been pecking away at a few posts and a bunch of newsy type updates just so there’s SOMETHING here to read.

Virtual World Advocacy
In the meantime, I’ve been feeling frustrated that virtual worlds aren’t sitting at the “big table” although they have increasing mainstream acceptance. Now, maybe I should have gone to the toy fair or whatever in New York, but I’m boycotting it: last time I went I left infuriated at how big brands talked about “monetizing engagements” and “tracking behavioral habits” and were talking about SIX YEAR OLDS.

So in the meantime, I run across Max’s post on Pixels and Policy that he’s joining the editorial team at the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research and my jaw almost dropped.

Here I am misdirecting my frustrations at my own lack of a clear sense of where virtual worlds fit into these broader cultural trends and out there somewhere one of the few sane and credible voices for Virtual World research is bringing in – um, Pixels and Policy?

What a monumental blow to their credibility. Whatever the basis for the move it primarily seems to signal that the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is about to integrate audience trolling, lack of research or use of out-dated research, and constant, irritating reference to themselves in the third person.

So sure, I’m snarky, I’m frustrated, I have lots to say. But at least this incredibly dense move by the Journal to partner or host or receive editorial support or whatever it is from someone who talks about himself in the plural has woken me from my slumber of over-obsessing about ‘meta’ and given me something to get all snarky in back chat about.


speak up

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site.

Subscribe to these comments.

*Required Fields

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.