This past weekend I attended Boskone, the annual science fiction & fantasy convention hosted by NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Assocation.
As per usual, I had a great time. Boskone isn’t nearly as frenetic as Arisia, not as academic as Readercon. It occupies a middle ground, a nether space, a neither here nor thereness that might seem untenable, but in actuality is exceptionally comfortable. As a result, I am tired, but not exhausted, and my mind if filled with all manner of thoughts, and I have enough energy to blog before I go to bed.
If my Boskone experience this year could be said to have a theme, then one of those themes would be Cory Doctorow. Well, yes, he was one of the guests-of-honor at the convention, and as such, he was dutifully being worked to well-respected pulp by the concom, but it seemed to me that most of the thoughts I remember having throughout the convention were Doctrorow inspired thougts. The man must be shedding memetic viri. I’ve long been told that I should be reading this man’s works. I’ve started, of course with “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom”.
The man must have an obscenely huge amount of whuffie, and I’m adding to it. More on Cory soon.
The other near constant in this most recent Boskone was Dr. James Hughes. Dr. J, of the World Tranhumanist Association, Changesurfer radio (one of my weekly online listens (I’ve heard them all)) and more recently, of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. I’ve said before that I find the ideas that make up the memetic constellation called transhumanism extremely compelling.
The funny thing is this. While chatting with him and his son Tristan, I found that our random walk of a conversation had made its way into the realm of virtual communities, and their intersection with the real world, one of my favorite topics from my limited (stillborn?) academic career as a communications theorist. You see, Dr. J. has begun setting up a transhumanist friendly space in Second Life and I was able to offer some of my experiences while a participant in Cybertown (nee Colony City). I hear that some of the same sort of tensions extant in Cybertown are rearing their heads in Second Life, in particular conflict between public and private space, or to put it another way, the conflict between the participants as consumers, and the participants as citizens. You see, whether it is Cybertown, or Second Life, or World of Warcraft, or Ultima Online, or City of Heroes, these virtual spaces are private property, even more so than the downtown mall. Whatever their protestations, the owners of these private space are primarily interested in customers. The last thing on their minds is democracy, except as a threat to their control over their property.
When will we see a truly open source, fully distributed, platform independent, virtual space?
Time for bed. Time enough, though, for one last thought.
I really must find suss out a way to make attending S&SF conventions pay for itself or at least a bit less of a financial drain. I’ve been mulling over ways to merge my vocations and avocations as a means of injecting more joy into my working life. When I witnessed the exuberence with which Cory went about his business this weekend, I came away with an increased longing for some of that. How can I make doing what I love to do, into what I do for a living, without ruining what I love about it?