Panlibus Blog

Second Life after DOPA

Listen to the Library 2.0 Gang

Second Life after DOPA – Wishful thinking? – No, but it was the order of topics for this week’s Library 2.0 Gang podcast from Talking with Talis.

As a Brit, watching the results of the inner workings, machinations, and political motivations of the US political system can only be a spectator sport. Some of the idiotsyncratic decisions made by the UK Parliament seem to have been outdone in recent weeks by their American cousins with this DOPA (Deleting Online Predators Act) thingy.

From what I understand about this appropriately named bill, which is much more after the discussion, it is a monumentally mistargeted piece of legislation. Having written that, I can visualize hordes of irate comments heading my way accusing me of being complacent in the face of rampant Internet pedophilia. So let me hasten to clarify that I’m totally in tune with the concerns for the young, the innocent, and the vulnerable that motivates those who have started this bill on its way. What I am disappointed about is how these concerns have been enacted in to a proposed law with very little apparent understanding about the medium that it is trying to control.

So why should a guy from Talis in the UK be concerned by a potential US law? – Well much of the promise the emerging change on the Internet, loosely labeled Web 2.0, and the technological aspects of the Library 2.0 changes appearing in the Library world, are being fueled by social software which to a large extent is coming from US based organisations. [As a Talis employee I must point out that Library 2.0 technology developments are not exclusively the domain of US based organisations!] If DOPA blights the growth of such systems the impact will be felt world wide.

After a fascinating insight of the way the US Library community is reacting to DOPA, the gang moved on to one of the social software phenomena that could be effected by it, Second Life. Second Life, and it’s younger partner Teen Second Life, is a virtual world in which you navigate a virtual person around, visit virtual places, do virtual things, meet with other virtual people, build virtual places, start virtual businesses, and even run a virtual library. I’m not the only one who thinks there is something powerful that is being demonstrated by Second Life and the people that you find in it. I’m not sure what it really is yet but there is a germ of something that a few years down the road may well have changed the way we interact with technology.

All is not peace and light though, a Library 2.0 Gang participant was shot at outside the Second Life Library. So in true Library fashion there has now been erected a virtual sign, near the site of the virtual shooting, proclaiming the banning of virtual weapons from the virtual area.

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