Stross and me on the WELL

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 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 disruptive thing.

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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