L’économiste Edward Castronova sur Second Life

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L’économiste Edward Castronova, professeur associé de l’Indianna University et auteur du récent Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, répond aux questions de Business Week, à propos de l’économie de Second Life. Voici les portions particulièrement éclairantes de cette entrevue. (via SecondLifeInsider)

What accounts for Second Life’s growth?

The inflection point for Second Life was this meeting in April, 2003, with me and [journalist] Julian Dibbell and Larry Lessig [the Stanford University law professor and author] and a couple of venture capitalists like Jed Smith and Mitch Kapor. They were basically talking about the idea of user-created content. What we told them was that ownership, and the ability to liquidate the value of your virtual holdings, would in theory spark economic development. If you let people capture the value of what they create, they’re going to create a lot more.

So we told them to change their model from one of taxation and share-the-wealth to: “You pay us for the land, you can build whatever you want on the land, you can charge people Linden dollars to do things on your land, and you can take those Linden dollars and turn them into real dollars. And if you build something that’s cool, you make money off it and we will too.”(…)

Second Life seems to be embracing commercialization, though.
That’s part of its core plan. This is where I would set Second Life apart. This is unique technology here. It would be really bad for Second Life to be closed off from the real economy. It’s a big part of its raison d’être, to be an economic space that is well-integrated into the real economy. That’s different from a fantasy world.

I think there should be a line between Second Life and World of Warcraft, and my concern is that judges and legislatures will draw a line that puts both in the same group. (…)

What’s the appeal of Second Life, in your view?
It’s an infinitely scalable content creator’s dream. It’s an extension of the land mass of the Earth. As long as somebody wants land to build on, Second Life will make land. If you’re into creating content — whether it’s a building or a logo, anything — it’s just a dream space. That’s what explains how it’s growing.

I think the question is the ratio of content creators to content consumers, and keeping that healthy. You want to have enough creation, but you also need to have consumption. You need to have creation that people consume for the world to be lively.

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