November 7th, 2007 by Benjamin Duranske
Gene Yoon, Linden Lab’s former General Counsel and current Vice President of Business Affairs, spoke in Second Life yesterday as part of the Metanomics / Metaversed series of events, hosted by Cornell’s Robert Bloomfield. SLCN has made a video of the event available. Yoon focuses on economic policy in virtual worlds, not legal issues, but obviously, there’s a lot of crossover.
The discussion quickly turns from macro to microeconomics, because Yoon refers to the Linden Dollar “a product” and encourages users not to think of the world as possessing an economy. Throughout the discussion, he consistently discourages the use of terms like “monetary policy” and “macroeconomics” in reference to Second Life. Bloomfield pushes the macroeconomic angle, while Yoon wants to draw a line between the user experience, where he says metaphors regarding “economics” and “ownership” do apply, and the business and legal world, where he says the metaphors are largely invalid. His comments will almost certainly be controversial.
Yoon’s position, while perhaps not formally reflecting Linden Lab’s corporate policy, is exactly the position that the company has to take from a legal perspective. As long as the land and money metaphors don’t apply beyond “the user experience,” then the small-print EULA and TOS provisions (which, in part, run counter to the big print) can operate to preserve Linden Lab’s ultimate control of key aspects of the offering — Lindens, land, and objects — that users typically feel they “own.” This question is at the heart of both academic inquiries and litigation over the nature of “virtual property.”
Yoon and Bloomfield also discuss micropayments, intellectual property rights, alternative dispute resolution, Linden Lab’s relatively laissez-faire policies, competition for Second Life, and more.
This is off topic a bit, but I want to compliment Robert Bloomfield’s Metanomics series, and Nick Wilson’s Metaversed site generally, because they are becoming my favorite source for serious business and economic discussions about metaverse issues. The speaker series is outstanding, and Metaversed is rapidly turning into a business counterpart to Terra Nova.
I have to say that I generally find podcasts, interviews, presentations, and the like that focus on serious issues to be waste of time; it’s just faster to read research papers. So I was a little reluctant to dive to these. But the Metanomics series, which started out strong, has only been getting better.
Recently, they’ve started taking on the feel of a high-quality PBS interview show, from the brief mention of underwriters at the beginning through the fairly academic and respectful pace that Bloomfield sets. Picture Charlie Rose talking to Alan Greenspan. Bloomfield isn’t attacking his guests (to the occasional disappointment of the Second Life audience) but he shouldn’t be; a good interviewer knows that evasive answers tell smart viewers a lot, and Bloomfield does a good job pointing them out without antagonizing his guests. It’s a fine line, but it works, and the format lets Bloomfield get guests like Yoon and ‘Anshe Chung,’ who don’t often make public appearances.
Wilson has recently made significant cosmetic improvements to the main venue that these are held in as well, and more importantly, has involved a number of partner sims, allowing more residents to participate in the live discussions. He has also been proactive in keeping the audience free of griefers and eliminating problems before they get out of hand. The series is well attended and the backchat is great, but if your schedule doesn’t let you make these live, watching them on SLCN later (or even just listening to them while making dinner, as I often do) is a good substitute.
Related Posts on Virtually Blind
- Metanomics Launches, Announces 2007 Speakers: "Cornell Professor Robert Bloomfield, in association with Metaversed,..." (2 comments)
- Robert Bloomfield in the Guest Chair on Metanomics, Monday, September 22 at Noon Pacific: "The fall season of the popular in-world metaverse business and policy..." (0 comments)
- Metanomics Panel on Second Life Banking Rules Change Today, 11 AM Pacific [Updated]: "Metanomics, the popular in-world speaker series, will feature a panel..." (10 comments)
7 Responses to “Linden Lab’s Gene Yoon on Metaversed’s Metanomics: Micro v. Macro and the Second Life Economy”
Leave a Reply
Notes on Comments: Your first comment must be manually approved, but after it is you'll be able to post freely with the same name and email. You can use some HTML (<a> <b> <i> <blockquote> etc.) but know that VB's spam blocker holds posts with five or more <a> links. VB supports gravatars. Got a gravatar? Use the associated email and it'll show with your comment. Need one? Set it up for free here.