Charlie "Hugo Nominee" Stross and I are having a two-week-long discussion on the WELL's public Inkwell.vue conference, in honor of the publication of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. Even if you don't have a WELL account, you can join in by emailing questions to Charlie.
Social incentives are the most powerful forces in our world -- the reason
you can't wear your underwear on your head is because of disapprobation. The
most disruptive thing about the Internet is its ability to locate you in
homogenous communities that embrace the same values as you, so that there's
no dialectic in socail pressure: IOW, you can spend all your time in
alt.underwear.on.my.head and never get the funny looks that would cause you
to reconsider your fashion choices. This isn't necessarily a bad thing
(except when it is, i.e., alt.big.nazi.idiots), but it is a powerfully
Sidebar: in our second collaboration, "Flowers from Alice," we deal with
uploaded "people' who can instantiate many copies of themselves in parallel.
One of the interesting things about this is that it suggests that attention
isn't necessarily a scarce resource -- if you need to do two things at once,
you just make another copy to do it...
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