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mall of the future (worldbuilding ideas wanted)

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Here''s the future for this particular world: every citizen gets a house complete with all appliances. They are additionally allowed to have 3,000 personal items (limit is to prevent hoarding and encourage recycling). This is a completely socialistic society that has mastered matter replication - you don''t pay for objects, you just go to the Mall (which is a lot like an art museam) and if you want one of an object on display you just press a button and get one. (Provided you haven''t already reached your 3,000 object limit, in which case you must trade in an old object to get a new one.) Going to the Mall is also a social event, and people wear eye-catching costumes when they shop. Most of the new objects at the mall are hand-made, and the artists set up a laptop next to them where shoppers can enter comments. Shoppers can ask to be notified by email whenever their favorite craftsperson produces a new object. So... what would be in the Mall? both in terms or objects and in terms of decorations like fountains. how would the mall be organized? (The Mall is computer-searchable: you can ask something like: what objects involve betterflies? and get an answer.) How would music be packaged? How big would this Mall be? What non-shpping things would the Mall need to have? (e.g water fountains, snack machines, bathrooms)

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Hey, a perfect Wavinator topic...

Except for a small minority that still gripe about the 3k limit, hoarding is dead. With most of the stress of survival diminished, humanity is free to pursue art, leisure, exploration, and learning. And that's what the mall centers on.

Size
The mall sizes depend on the surrounding infrastructure (for travellers) and culture of the community. Less developed and more insular areas have a smaller, more homey feel. They use less space, and produce more unique objects. This is in contrast to the vast pavillions that are sported by the magtrain connected supercities on the coasts; they rival the great theme parks of the past.

Products
What do they make? Well, rare items are frowned upon (encourages envy, theft, and anti-social hoarding) but still tolerated. Most of the effort actually centers on multifunctional devices. Even though almost everyone agrees that the 3k limit is sane, that doesn't mean that clever artisan technicians can't craft Swiss Army Knife style integrated objects.

Personal AI Djinn Probably the most popular for getting work done, searching the vast planetary info networks, teaching, and (in some cases) companionship. With millions of terrabytes of information to synthesize, Djinn have become essential.

Neural Jewelry Finely crafted neural interfaces that wear like decorative jewelry. (Invasive implants are considered ugly, and with improvements in nanotechnology completely unnecessary.) Common jewels are mindcasters that let users stay in contact with friends and family over the Net via constant thoughtlink. Dreamgrids, which allow shared, controllable, lucid hallucinations are also very popular, as is the storage jewels for Djinn

Biorobotics Toys, decorations, tools and chotchkes of all kind are created by gifted bioroboticists (or robogeneticists, as some insist on being called). Their skill at blending robotics, nanotechnology and genetics, once considered frightening, is now well respected. The open source anti-patent movement has given them a wide variety of codes, tools, and sequences (all well regulated) to work with. Teach-n-say fireflies are currently the most popular children's gift because unlike most genorobots, they not only learn and grow, but can shift into thousands of entertaining shapes.

Mall Decoration
Fountains are pretty, but feelmakers and holoprojectors are more fun. Feelmakers (technically known as distributed neural projection devices ), placed descretely in a natural setting like a small garden or reflecting pool, have been shown to reduce stress and raise happiness-- that is, for those who don't eschew neural jewelry. Others prefer holoprojectors that show panoramic scenes of nature (a rare and treasured view, given the amount of environmental damage caused in previous centuries).

More experimental are the bioparks. Combining biotechnology and nanotechnology with ergonomics and psychology, these experimental areas aim to relax patrons with a combination of biomonitoring, scene shifting, and pheromone / scent release. Though exceedingly difficult to produce, they're considered much more natural (and less subversive) than neural projection equipment. There's even talk of emulating an entire mall around a biopark, giving patrons the feel of shopping amidst vast ancient redwoods or lakes and lagoons. But that's probably decades away...

Okay, sorry, I went nuts. I'm currently coffee'd up, and this gave me a great break from a vexing design problem.

Is this too far in the future? I can scale it back if you like


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...



Edited by - Wavinator on February 18, 2001 5:50:16 PM

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>Except for a small minority that still gripe about the 3k
>limit, hoarding is dead.
Can't help thinking that the rich/powerful people in society would find a nice way around that.

Wouldn't it be more likely that you have a 3k object limit unless you work in one of the following professions:
- government
- law/courts
- any monopolized industry
or have relatives in said professions.

No matter how far we go into the future, there will always be one rule for us, and one rule for *them*.

So if you progress in society (or whatever), your object limit would [essentially] be revoked.

Edited by - Eight on February 19, 2001 5:21:19 AM

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Eight: notice that this is a non-capitalistic society; no money = no rich people, although I haven''t figured out yet if or how there would be any powerful people. The way the object limit is enforced is: all houses are given to people by the government. If you have too many objects in your house the government-programmed house computer converts some back into energy.


Wavinator, you seem to have a good grasp of what I''m thinking of. A few things: matter replication on the molecular level means there simply are no rare objects unless the creator were to keep the original and refuse to permit its replication - now _that_ would be an antisocial thing to do. Also in a society whose technological development is not driven by capitalism, the rate of technological change (per quantity of popluation) would be much slower. (Ask if you want me to explain why. It''s a long explanation.) So unless I had a truly huge population (which I haven''t decided yet) technological gizmos would tend to become standardized. Similarly, I was picturing every citizen with a standard device (headset or implant) for accessing their household computer, which would provide the physical storage and computing power for djinn and things; ergo, no neural jewelry except this one standard type.

I really love the idea of the "teach-n-say firefly"! If you don''t mind, I think I''ll use it; I''ll call my version Origami Butterfly. Feelmakers have a lot of potential for making my settings more interesting. And thank you for reminding me I wanted to talk about the opensource movement. I think that''ll fit nicely into the ''hobbies'' chapter... Mmm, lots of good ideas!

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Government = powerful people.

>The way the object limit is enforced is: all houses are given
>to people by the government. If you have too many objects in
>your house the government-programmed house computer converts
>some back into energy.
Well there you go then... no government minister is going to put those restrictions on himself. They''d have a backdoor.

I know you said that the society is non-capitalistic, but since the dawn of time possessions have been important to humans both in terms of self-satisfaction and status. Even in a "non-capitalistic" society, these sorts of feeling will still exist, and there will still be people who use their influence/knowledge to get that little bit more than everyone else.

And also since the dawn of time... the one race of people that be can be trusted to be even more selfish, even more greedy, and even more capitalistic than everyone else - is government ministers.

I''m not having a bash at your idea, I just think that in your game world you should have ways and means to get around that 3k limit if you absolutely must.

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Alright, sunandshadow, lets just play with the ramifications of this idea here. Are the objects restricted in size or function? Must they be personal adornments or furnishings of our government provided house? And what is the motivation of our ''utopian'' builders? What if we wish to be an artisan or producer of these items? If so, are we allowed raw materials and a design and fabrication plant to mold our ideas into reality?

I am a shopper at your Mall. And, oh my, but what a list I have! Preferring to shirk off the domestic lifestyle, I want a vintage style tandem seat airplane that will enable me to buzz my fellow neighbors at low altitude. Or is this type of thing just not allowed?

What interests me, you see, are not the objects in the Mall, but the objects that are not in the Mall. The ones that don''t quite pass the review board. Anybody, literally, can have the objects in the Mall. I wish to set myself apart from the crowd. When I invite company over for the evening, I want something exciting and unique to show off to my friends. And, if it''s in the Mall, it just won''t impress, will it?

As for the Mall itself, you ask what is inside it besides the shopping items themselves. You have suggested snack machines and bathrooms. Good Lord! It sounds like an airport! Surely we can do better than that! Do we have concourses and moving sidewalks too? I would think the Mall would have themed areas: The Serengeti Wing, The Machinist''s Annex, The Hall of Musicians, and so on. Of course, there would also be numerous venues for entertainment as well: theater, dining, virtual reality, etc. Utility wise, I imagine there would be a nurse''s station, a security office, administration, and maybe an engineering department for building maintenance and repair. Of course, maybe the entire structure is autonomous and self monitoring...



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Remember though, people, he said that these people are like pure bread socialists. You''re still thinking like capitalistic consumers. Can you immagine no possesions? As soon as you bring something into this mall, if someone wants one too, all they have to do is access the computer, have it analize your doodad and replicate one. (Assuming I get this at all.) An individual
s power can be diminished by dividing up responsibilities, like if you''re working on a top secret project. A person might only see a small portion of a single system of hundreds and have no idea how the other parts work. Also, if you just don''t quite trust the government, then perhaps make it a purely democratic society. Everyone has access to these computers anyways, why can''t they vote on them?

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Now here is some more food for thought, sunandshadow. In your socialistic non-capitalistic society, you have created a form of consumption which caters to, and even promotes "me too" materialism. But simultaneously, you are implying that "me alone" materialism is to be frowned upon, and even banned.

One of your society''s craftsmans produces a beautiful hand-crafted chair. The wood is finely sanded and finished, and shows wonderful texture in its grain. Apparently, everyone can have this chair. And you''re asking, "What''s wrong with this?" It''s not that we want to deny everyone the chair. It''s the fact that everyone''s chair is exactly the same, right down to the subtle texture in the grain. And despite all these chairs which are a perfect incarnation of the craftsman''s original chair, there is one chair which is worth considerably more: the craftsman''s original chair. For this is the only chair made from the wood lovingly selected by the craftsman. It is the only chair which has received the loving caress of his hands and tools as it was crafted. The tiny imperfections in this chair are the real imperfections, not the replicated imperfections found in all the duplicates.

Let''s go a step further. I enjoy art. Sometimes I will cruise down to Laguna Beach, California, and wander from gallery to gallery for half the day. A few times I have found myself in Scottsdale, Arizona or Santa Fe, New Mexico perusing the galleries in search of a painting that truly enchants me. Now, I am no collector, but I understand the allure. An artist has created a painting, and let''s assume it has not had limited lithographic reproductions or unlimited prints made from it. Now, let''s say I buy the painting and take it home and hang it on my wall.

Let''s say everyday I look at it and enjoy it. I admire the masterly quality of the brushstrokes which come together to create this window into another place. Over time, I even become familiar with individual globs of paint and brushstrokes on the canvas. There is a connection here between me and the artist. For maybe several days, even weeks, the artist''s vision and delicate touch were applied to the very paint and canvas which hangs on my wall. He didn''t know it at the time, but he was sharing his vision for me. When a guest comes to my home, I can promise the guest will see and hopefully enjoy this work, knowing they have not experienced it elsewhere. Selfish? Perhaps. But this is a very real factor created by human emotion, pride, greed and whatever else.

Regardless how your society is supposed to function, there will be a seething undercurrent of material desire. In fact, because of the difficulty in satisfying it, it will be sought after all the more.

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kseh: yep, you seeme to have grasped the concept well. (although I do happen to be a she, not a he) I suppose this society could be a democracy. I want to work on the plot more, and pick the type of government that works better with that.

bishop_pass: lots of good ideas there - thank you especially for reminding me that some people are going to want ridiculous things like airplanes. The chair, though... what if you looked at it this way: the artist, using a computer program, designs a chair and uses his handy-dandy matter replicator to print out a version of it made with mahogany. Now he prints out an oak one. Now someone goes to the mall, sees the chair, and prints herself out a cherry one. Where''s the original? Are the two the artist printed out himself worth more than the other? That would be silly.

What if he hand-carves a chair or part of a chair, scans it in, fixes-up and completes the design electronically, and prints out a finished product? Are you going to give the hand-carved pieces more value than the finished chair, when the chair was what the artist wanted to make and the pieces were only a step in the design process?

What if the artist tries to barter his original chair for you, and you walk into his living room and find six duplicates that are completely, exactly, the same. Are you going to believe that the one he''s offering you is the original?

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Oh, I feel debating undercurrents.
First, it doesn''t matter how people are raised. You get people who are the son of some minister or other who turns out to be a criminal. Your going to have someone who wants more, to be special. Uniqueness is what love and passion are all about. What''s the point in having THAT much identicalness. Haven''t you read THE GIVER?
Basically, everyone is born in a utopia, but in order to run, certain things are required; everyone wears identical clothing, you go to school until someone tells you what you will do with your life, and in order to make your life good, your mates get chosen for you, as are your 2 children. What is the point? I don''t want *A* woman, I want someone who is special, who makes me feel special because I know their individualism. What if I made a chair or painting for a friend? It becomes an item which has special meaning for US. Also, without individuality, who would even WANT to design a chair, a chair that CAN''T be their own because anyone can have it?
I want a utopia, but that doesn''t mean we still can''t have individuality. Question though: If your writing a book, will the world have problems like those I''m describing? Or is it some kind of sociological paper? Does it have anything to do with games?(I''m not ridiculing on that last question, just curious)

I am Nobody, who are you? Are you Nobody too?

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quote:
Original post by nobodynews

What is the point? I don''t want *A* woman, I want someone who is special, who makes me feel special because I know their individualism. What if I made a chair or painting for a friend? It becomes an item which has special meaning for US. Also, without individuality, who would even WANT to design a chair, a chair that CAN''T be their own because anyone can have it?
I want a utopia, but that doesn''t mean we still can''t have individuality.


A lil'' debate??? Why, sure!!!

I love that this society is so alien it would bend the brain of our Western dominated civilization.

Keep in mind that there are many cultures that pride the group over the individual. The West, and America in particular, can be said to worship "hyperindividualism." As a result of this, scarcity and uniqueness are exalted-- even when they''re detrimental, impractical, and harmful concepts.

A few things can be surmised about s&s''s hypothetical culture: These are a people who have somehow stopped ranking themselves based on material possessions. Keeping up with the Jones'' was bread out because of the utter futility of trying to do so.

They may believe that to simply breathe, experience pleasure, and be alive in plenty is enough. Consumerism then would be dead. Consumerism is driven by stoking insecurities and rampantly inflating desire: that''s the aim of commercialism, to convince you to buy things (you mostly don''t need).

Replication technology would have probably caused the eventual collapse of the free market worldwide. It probably started out simple: Practical items like food, medicine, and clothing were duplicated. But this soon extended to other items. Business interests would have fought ferociously against this (look at AIDS drugs and patents involving 3rd world countries as an example).

The people who value uniqueness would have ultimately given over to practicality. For decades or even centuries niche consumer goods markets might have thrived. It would ultimately be the children of successive generations, however, that would make this work.

They would have grown up amid plenty. The concept of artificial scarceness-- especially that created to assuage someone''s ego-- would have drawn reactions ranging from the perplexed to the downright offended.

The children would eventually be a new people, as different to us now as we would be to pre-Agricultural Revolution nomads. Our values and beliefs would be quite alien, but just as with all humans I bet we could find several common threads.

It''s actually a civilization that I wish I could live in...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass

Regardless how your society is supposed to function, there will be a seething undercurrent of material desire. In fact, because of the difficulty in satisfying it, it will be sought after all the more.



Actually, this all depends on who''s still around. You could look at this as a steady transition, or an abrupt change. Consider who we were before the Industrial Revolution. Almost everything-- was handmade. Societies held craftspersons in high esteem. As machinery steadily advanced, we became more and more expendable.

Economics teaches that things are valuable because they''re rare. But the Replication Revolution would force fantastic changes in economics, creating a shockwave of philosophical thought that would eventually saturate the culture. What was once inconceivable would eventually become normal. (Humans are quite elastic.)

Consider your art example. I''m the sort of person that doesn''t at all value original works. I''m very utilitarian. It''s the essence of the thing that moves me, and I derive zero pleasure from unique ownership. I love space art, for instance, but whether it''s an original or a copy is no matter to me if the quality is the same.

The status stuff that goes with unique ownership to me is actually a bit perverse (environmental degradation and all..). So in me you have a prototypical citizen of this fictional society. Chalk it up to years of being poor and watching too much Star Trek, I guess.


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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S&S,

One thing to think about: In an age of replication, what prevents originals from being copied endlessly, and thus eliminating the need for subsequent craftspersons?

If you create one chair, it''s likely that that chair template could serve successive generations. Much like Europeans who have homes in their family that date back to the 1500s (versus America, where you''d be hard pressed to find average folks living in homes predating the 1900s).

This might actually be the expression for the unique / new that bishop was talking about...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

A few things can be surmised about s&s''s hypothetical culture: These are a people who have somehow stopped ranking themselves based on material possessions. Keeping up with the Jones'' was bread out because of the utter futility of trying to do so.



But are we sure of this? If so, why the 3k limit? Are the inner workings of this society self imposed by unanimous decision? Everyone agrees to this? Then once again, why the 3k limit? I suspect the consumption mechanism of this economy has been imposed by a subset of its population.

Regarding rarity, by eliminating it, you have essentially made a rare item even more rare. What a tantalizing quest for our ''enlightened'' citizens! You see, it is not only the ownership of a rare item that satisfies, it is the puzzle of finding it.

Sunandshadow, as for the chair and the six duplicates arranged around the craftsman''s dining room table, let us hope this is not the case! Life is rich in texture and subltle nuance. Each chair, although of the same design, should have its own unique character, visible within its grain and texture. By having them all the same, you have effectively removed variety from our sensory inputs.


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To answer both Wavinator and Bishop_Pass: People get bored, people enjoy designing new and different chairs, and people have different opinions of what''s esthetically pleasing. So now you have ten thousand types of chair available at the mall - how often do you think you''re going to see the same one in two people''s houses? I wear almost all mass-produced clothing, but it''s really unusual for me to see someone else wearing the same clothing because most people have different taste than I do.

Also, do you admire an artist''s ability any less if their art is duplicated? Every time someone makes a cool new chair they''ll probably have a party thrown in their honor because everyone''s bored and wanting something new to look at and an excuse to party, in addition to genuinely admiring the artist''s talent. Maybe the whole social structure will depend on how good and prolific a craftsperson you are.

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I''ve read and considered all the previous posts and have come up with a few ideas of my own. First off, It seemas as though the government is in control here. They are deciding how the items are to be rationed and in addition where these malls are located. Is it not conceivable then that the government, realizing the greddy nature of human beings and wanting to suppress feelings of individualism, would allow items to be replicated, then confiscate the originals and destroy them? This would eliminate the quest for rare items and perhaps solve some of the issues stated above, although i do not consider this an ethical action by any means.

Also, somewhere in the back of my mind I am having visions of "A Brave New World" and I am picturing a society fueled by depressant narcotics. The effects of such a drug would dismiss feelings of nervousness and anxiety concerning an indivual''s failure to be unique.This narcotic, being recognized by the government as a tool for maintaining socialism, would be freely distributed at the mall at no cost to any individual''s 3k limit.

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Nobodynews and LunarAxis:

Actually I have read _The Giver_. I thought that it set science fiction back about three decades. :< (Useless trivia: there''s actually another book called _The Giver_ about a high school teacher who falls in love with one of his students.) _The Giver_ aside, I just fail to see how giving people lots of free time to make art with, free art supplies, and a Mall with the largest and most diverse selection you''ve ever seen, could possibly result in a society of people who aren''t individualistic.

The stated goal of the government is to make everybody happy, which includes giving them plenty of room to be unique. To twist a slogan: "To each according to his/her comfort; from each according to his/her whim."

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Keeping up with the Jones'' was bread out because of the utter futility of trying to do so.



quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
But are we sure of this? If so, why the 3k limit? Are the inner workings of this society self imposed by unanimous decision? Everyone agrees to this? Then once again, why the 3k limit?



Matter replication doesn''t imply inexaustible fuel sources, so a 3K limit could pertain to that. Although I think something like this would be more ideological, in that it''s design is to prevent hoarding.

I could see this being self imposed in cases where ravenous Texas-style American consumption has driven the world to the brink of ecological collapse. Or I could see it in response to epidemic mental health issues (people who have gone insane collecting millions of useless chotchkes )

quote:

Regarding rarity, by eliminating it, you have essentially made a rare item even more rare. What a tantalizing quest for our ''enlightened'' citizens! You see, it is not only the ownership of a rare item that satisfies, it is the puzzle of finding it.


I think what you''re overlooking is the power aspect. You and several like minded folks could get together, manufacture the "rare thing," and hide it in the world in order to go on a quest for it. But it wouldn''t change national politics. It would be much more like geocaching, the new pastime that has arisen from people using GPS systems to hide useless items out in nature-- frivolous, fun, harmless.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by LunarAxis

First off, It seemas as though the government is in control here. They are deciding how the items are to be rationed and in addition where these malls are located. Is it not conceivable then that the government, realizing the greddy nature of human beings and wanting to suppress feelings of individualism, would allow items to be replicated, then confiscate the originals and destroy them? This would eliminate the quest for rare items and perhaps solve some of the issues stated above, although i do not consider this an ethical action by any means.



You have a unique item. I say, "so what" and replicate the same thing. Or nearly the same thing. This means that you can possess no material object that I can''t have. Does this send you spiraling in to depression? If so, I find this reaction very strange.

Why-- other than through the influence of mass marketing-- would someone define who and what they are by what they possess?

quote:

Also, somewhere in the back of my mind I am having visions of "A Brave New World" and I am picturing a society fueled by depressant narcotics. The effects of such a drug would dismiss feelings of nervousness and anxiety concerning an indivual''s failure to be unique.This narcotic, being recognized by the government as a tool for maintaining socialism, would be freely distributed at the mall at no cost to any individual''s 3k limit.



I think you''d have to drug Americans, mostly. We''re the ones with the strongest individuality mythos. Despite the way we live (cookie cutter homes, jobs, communities, hobbies) Americans would be the most vociferous in rejecting the idea of this kind of community.





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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

_The Giver_ aside, I just fail to see how giving people lots of free time to make art with, free art supplies, and a Mall with the largest and most diverse selection you''ve ever seen, could possibly result in a society of people who aren''t individualistic.



The expression here is what''s noteworthy. Advertising has reinforced the notion that possession of unique items equals status. More rare and more valuable items display success to the world. This creates competitive pressures, and is how you get abominations like a six thousand dollar Mickey Mouse watch (ever read the Lexus and the Olive Tree? I''m paraphrasing the author''s general assertion, which I really agree with.)

Now, artistic expression is another thing entirely, and where I see the individuality of these hypothetical people really shining. You can see the model for this right here in this forum! Imagine if everyone here could create their own game instantly, at no cost: Do you think that we''d all think exactly the same thing? I don''t think so.

quote:

The stated goal of the government is to make everybody happy, which includes giving them plenty of room to be unique. To twist a slogan: "To each according to his/her comfort; from each according to his/her whim."


Funny.

Given the debate so far, though, a legitimate thing to think about: How would these people handle noncompliance? (This is OT, I know, but maybe helps highlight how this civilization works?)



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Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by nobodynews

Question though: If your writing a book, will the world have problems like those I''m describing? Or is it some kind of sociological paper? Does it have anything to do with games?(I''m not ridiculing on that last question, just curious)



Oops, I forgot to answer this before. I believe this world would like me to write it as a graphic novel. Something like: 4 artists live together. They want some special art supplies or something, so they make a deal with the government - they agree to acculturate ''pasters'': souls rescued from the past by using this matter transmission/replication technology to pull their brains out of their bodies just before death - in other words, the future has decided that it is morally obligated to make itself a ''heaven'' for the poor people who suffered through the past to make this future possible. (I hope that made sense.) Anyway, the first few pasters they get were mundanes when they lived in the past=our present, and so they adapt really poorly to the future and generally annoy the hell out of the artists. But the artists really want this special allowence, so they argue about it with each other, and decide, allright, we''ll do it one last time. And this time they get a big science fiction fan (i.e. me ) who reacts completely differently and who is soon out-doing them at their own game.

Think that would be funny?

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quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

I just fail to see how giving people lots of free time to make art with, free art supplies, and a Mall with the largest and most diverse selection you''ve ever seen, could possibly result in a society of people who aren''t individualistic.


Sunandshadow, your society has stolen struggle from your citizens. And by stealing struggle, you may as well have stolen the challenge of life. Struggle and challenge are what distinguish the strong from the weak. It is what enables us to evolve.

Materialism is not the ends to the means. It is one of the means to the end. By equalizing what everyone may have, you have created a society which enables all to participate in many endeavors which many may have no right to participate in.

Individualism is not alone defined by one''s artistic abilities. Perhaps I could say that life is a celebration of spirit, mind and matter. It is not one or two, but all three entangled together in story that unfolds the day we are born.

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

I think what you''re overlooking is the power aspect. You and several like minded folks could get together, manufacture the "rare thing," and hide it in the world in order to go on a quest for it. But it wouldn''t change national politics. It would be much more like geocaching, the new pastime that has arisen from people using GPS systems to hide useless items out in nature-- frivolous, fun, harmless.


But that is not it. It is not a contrived game that is played for frivolous fun. That is ultimately unrewarding. It is a true quest, with possible danger, conflict, and self discovery. This results in true character building. In short, it is life. And without the need to struggle and earn, much of the character building ingredients are removed from our hypothetical society''s citizen.

Sure, some of the citizens would be truly talented artists. But many, if not most, I suspect would merely be recipients and take on the very yuppie-esque qualities a non-materialist despises. These citizens can essentially have anything they want, and they do. Every item they own now no longer has any rarity whatsoever attached to it. Each and every item takes on the look and feel of a Sharper Image gadget, or an Ikea knowckdown furniture item. Each item might as well be a disposable Schick razor. For there is no longer value or individuality attached to any object anymore. There is no longer a reason to care. Does this encourage wrecklessness?

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Why-- other than through the influence of mass marketing-- would someone define who and what they are by what they possess?


I can answer this. Let''s go back to that airplane to illustrate this point. And, sunandwhadow, I hope you are reading too, because this is not just for Wavinator. Suppose I seach up and down this country for a small plane in good shape that will suit my needs to engage in exploration of Northern Canada and Alaska. I buy it, and outfit it with avionics for mountain flying and bad weather, and then I put tundra tires (big donut tires) on it for landing on rough terrain. I have expended time, energy, and money to be an owner of this ''customized'' airplane. In other words, I have earned it. Do I now have it computer scanned, so anybody can matter-replicate it? No! This comes back to what I was saying about allowing anybody to participate in endeavors they should not participate in. Ease of entry causes saturation and decreases the pleasure of those who worked hard for something.

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Now, artistic expression is another thing entirely, and where I see the individuality of these hypothetical people really shining. You can see the model for this right here in this forum! Imagine if everyone here could create their own game instantly, at no cost: Do you think that we''d all think exactly the same thing? I don''t think so.


It is funny, Wavinator, what you are saying. And I think you are truly brilliant. But I look at the posts in the Game Design Forum descrbing the sci-fi game you are creating, and I see a game (of which I approve) whose analogue in real life are the very features I have been advocating here. Your game is based upon exploration, struggle, wealth building, enhancing one''s own spaceship, and carving out a niche in the galaxy. You wish to create an experience for the user where she can vicariously through the computer experience many of the things I attempt to accomplish in real life.

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Original post by sunandshadow

I just fail to see how giving people lots of free time to make art with, free art supplies, and a Mall with the largest and most diverse selection you've ever seen, could possibly result in a society of people who aren't individualistic.

Original post by Bishop_Pass
Sunandshadow, your society has stolen struggle from your citizens. And by stealing struggle, you may as well have stolen the challenge of life. Struggle and challenge are what distinguish the strong from the weak. It is what enables us to evolve.

Materialism is not the ends to the means. It is one of the means to the end. By equalizing what everyone may have, you have created a society which enables all to participate in many endeavors which many may have no right to participate in.

Individualism is not alone defined by one's artistic abilities. Perhaps I could say that life is a celebration of spirit, mind and matter. It is not one or two, but all three entangled together in story that unfolds the day we are born.



You can't steal struggle from people because people always manufacture some for themselves in addition to that imposed by the environment. Example: struggle is imposed on me by my environment in the form of the GPA I must earn every semester or be kicked out of my major. I impose struggle on myself by deciding that I must understand matriarchy, or plot structure, or something. This society merely frees people to choose the struggles they wish to partake in.

I am looking at material comforts (not materialism, it's different) as the means to an end. In this case the end is maximal quality of life and minimal stress (not eustress) for all citizens.

I'm really disturbed at that phrase "endeavors which many have no right to participate in." Am I mistaken, or do you think some people have no right to do art? Everyone has the right to attempt to create something beautiful; the result may be ugly, people may laugh at it, but everyone can make the attempt (and has had the ability to do so since the time of cavemen when people first thought of putting feathers in their hair and wearing shiny stones).

Distinguishing the strong from the weak. Well, I won't venture an opinion on whether they should be distinguished, but I will strongly assert that life as is does not distinguish between the strong and the weak because every individual is subject to different and unequal imposed struggles. Keep in mind that most of the factors that affect survival and reproduction of humans today are social, not environmental or biological. Do we really care whether we evolve to be better adapted to life in this society when in 100 years our descendants will probably live in a completely different society, for example the one described in this thread?

I do look at life as a celebration of spirit, mind, and matter, and I get really pissed off when having to get a certain grade or do laundry interferes with my celebrating.

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Original post by Bishop_Pass
But that is not it. It is not a contrived game that is played for frivolous fun. That is ultimately unrewarding. It is a true quest, with possible danger, conflict, and self discovery. This results in true character building. In short, it is life. And without the need to struggle and earn, much of the character building ingredients are removed from our hypothetical society's citizen.

Sure, some of the citizens would be truly talented artists. But many, if not most, I suspect would merely be recipients and take on the very yuppie-esque qualities a non-materialist despises. These citizens can essentially have anything they want, and they do. Every item they own now no longer has any rarity whatsoever attached to it. Each and every item takes on the look and feel of a Sharper Image gadget, or an Ikea knowckdown furniture item. Each item might as well be a disposable Schick razor. For there is no longer value or individuality attached to any object anymore. There is no longer a reason to care. Does this encourage wrecklessness?



So you're saying playing games is never truly rewarding? I beg to differ; games, especially tabletop RPGs, and reading fiction, which is essentially a game of pretend you play with the author, are much more rewarding to me than most of the things I do everyday. In a year, who will care if I did my Latin homework? But If instead I had spent the time reading a book that changed my philosophy and thereby built my character, in a year I would be an entirely different person than I would have been otherwise.

I am neither yuppie-esque nor an anti-materialist. I am technically a member of generation Y, which has been dubbed "the shopping generation", and I do enjoy shopping. But let's look around my room, shall we? The only decorative objects in the room are some pictures of me and my boyfriend, three pieces of art that I didn't make, one piece of art that I did make, and my clothes and jewelry. Of these I have exactly enough laundry that I only need to wash it every two weeks, and almost all of that is practical enough that I can wear it to tromp across campus through snowdrifts, like I did today. And yet I never see people wearing the same thing: for example today's shirt is blue and green with black leopard spots, and I've never seen anyone wearing the same one. All of my jewelry fits in a 2' x 2' x 6" tuperware box, and I mostly only get it out for the purposes of doing cosplay (recreational costuming, one of my hobbies). Everything I own, except the pictures of me and my boyfriend, was mass-produced, but my choices among all available objects express my individuality.

quote:

Original post by Bishop_Pass
Let's go back to that airplane to illustrate this point. And, sunandwhadow, I hope you are reading too, because this is not just for Wavinator. Suppose I seach up and down this country for a small plane in good shape that will suit my needs to engage in exploration of Northern Canada and Alaska. I buy it, and outfit it with avionics for mountain flying and bad weather, and then I put tundra tires (big donut tires) on it for landing on rough terrain. I have expended time, energy, and money to be an owner of this 'customized' airplane. In other words, I have earned it. Do I now have it computer scanned, so anybody can matter-replicate it? No! This comes back to what I was saying about allowing anybody to participate in endeavors they should not participate in. Ease of entry causes saturation and decreases the pleasure of those who worked hard for something.



I can see how you would enjoy working for something and achieving it. But why do you care whether or not other people have to work for the same thing? If it makes them happy to work for it, ok, they should work for it. But if they don't get a kick out of working for it, they shouldn't have to. They should only have to do what they feel like doing (according to this society's stated goal of giving all citizens a maximal quality of life). Ease of entry can easily be compensated for on an individual basis, but you must realize that only some people would prefer that it be compensated for.

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Now, artistic expression is another thing entirely, and where I see the individuality of these hypothetical people really shining. You can see the model for this right here in this forum! Imagine if everyone here could create their own game instantly, at no cost: Do you think that we'd all think exactly the same thing? I don't think so.

Original Post by Bishop_Pass
It is funny, Wavinator, what you are saying. And I think you are truly brilliant. But I look at the posts in the Game Design Forum descrbing the sci-fi game you are creating, and I see a game (of which I approve) whose analogue in real life are the very features I have been advocating here. Your game is based upon exploration, struggle, wealth building, enhancing one's own spaceship, and carving out a niche in the galaxy. You wish to create an experience for the user where she can vicariously through the computer experience many of the things I attempt to accomplish in real life.



The key difference between a game and reality is this: when you play an computer game you don't have to sleep out in the cold, you don't get hurt, you don't die, and you can always win if you do it right. In real life you get hurt. In real life you get so frustrated you scream and cry, and you take your frustration out on other people, damaging your relationships with them and making them unhappy. In real life you can die, and no one gets any satisfaction or character development from that. The whole point of computer games is to tame struggle and make it safe to enjoy.

Edited by - sunandshadow on February 24, 2001 5:13:40 PM

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Original post by sunandshadow

I'm really disturbed at that phrase "endeavors which many have no right to participate in." Am I mistaken, or do you think some people have no right to do art? Everyone has the right to attempt to create something beautiful; the result may be ugly, people may laugh at it, but everyone can make the attempt (and has had the ability to do so since the time of cavemen when people first thought of putting feathers in their hair and wearing shiny stones).


No need to be disturbed. Everyone certainly has the right to do art. But your matter-replicating society allows everyone to have a perfect working copy of virtually anything somebody else might dream up.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

I do look at life as a celebration of spirit, mind, and matter, and I get really pissed off when having to get a certain grade or do laundry interferes with my celebrating.


Do you not revel in the joys of cramming for exams or sorting whites from bright colors?

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Original post by sunandshadow

So you're saying playing games is never truly rewarding?


No. I am saying playing games is frivolous fun, and nothing more. It can never equal the satisfaction derived from the true struggle of life. One should live life, rather than endure it and seek methods to escape it. What I mean is, while game playing is perfectly acceptable and fun, the pretending is no substitute for the rewards waiting for those who are not shy to participate in the real life analogue. I can play a flight sim, or learn to fly. I can play a dungeon and cavern exploring RPG, or I can go canyoneering or spelunking. I can acquire treasure in a fantasy game, or I can build wealth through business. Game playing will give me a few hours of diversion and fun while real life endeavors will build my character and move me ahead in life.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

I beg to differ; games, especially tabletop RPGs, and reading fiction, which is essentially a game of pretend you play with the author, are much more rewarding to me than most of the things I do everyday.


Yes, to a degree. Certainly reading a book is more enjoyable than transfering laundry from the washer to the dryer.

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Original post by sunandshadow

In a year, who will care if I did my Latin homework? But If instead I had spent the time reading a book that changed my philosophy and thereby built my character, in a year I would be an entirely different person than I would have been otherwise.


But here is where struggle aids in building character. It tests your fortitude. Although I admit I probably do not have the fortitude to endure Latin homework. But where is the character building happening with our utopian artists and consumers of their matter-replicated art? These poor souls have it too easy. Their art will undoubtedly be of the worst nature imaginable. For without the poignant and life enriching experience of actually living life, they will have trouble portraying it.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

I am neither yuppie-esque nor an anti-materialist. I am technically a member of generation Y, which has been dubbed "the shopping generation", and I do enjoy shopping. But let's look around my room, shall we? The only decorative objects in the room are some pictures of me and my boyfriend, three pieces of art that I didn't make, one piece of art that I did make, and my clothes and jewelry. Of these I have exactly enough laundry that I only need to wash it every two weeks, and almost all of that is practical enough that I can wear it to tromp across campus through snowdrifts, like I did today. And yet I never see people wearing the same thing: for example today's shirt is blue and green with black leopard spots, and I've never seen anyone wearing the same one. All of my jewelry fits in a 2' x 2' x 6" tuperware box, and I mostly only get it out for the purposes of doing cosplay (recreational costuming, one of my hobbies). Everything I own, except the pictures of me and my boyfriend, was mass-produced, but my choices among all available objects express my individuality.


But despite this case you make (and it is a good case; I have always liked the word 'tromp') that your modest consumerism still enables you to define your individuality, you have tied its origins to mall shopping. Malls are the most unindividualistic places on Earth, second only to food marts. If you've been in one mall, you've been in them all. I must say I avoid them like the plague. I choose only to patronize them when I realize I may need some new clothes.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

I can see how you would enjoy working for something and achieving it. But why do you care whether or not other people have to work for the same thing? If it makes them happy to work for it, ok, they should work for it. But if they don't get a kick out of working for it, they shouldn't have to. They should only have to do what they feel like doing (according to this society's stated goal of giving all citizens a maximal quality of life). Ease of entry can easily be compensated for on an individual basis, but you must realize that only some people would prefer that it be compensated for.


Back to the phrase "endeavors which many have no right to participate in." They should have to work for it. And this will keep the numbers of participants down. By working for it, you have declared your desire to be a participant. If anybody can become a participant, the field becomes clogged with unlearned and noncommittal individuals creating numerous problems and possibly endangering others.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

The key difference between a game and reality is this: when you play an computer game you don't have to sleep out in the cold, you don't get hurt, you don't die, and you can always win if you do it right. In real life you get hurt.


Yes, and getting hurt just plain hurts. I know. But to quote Gordon Wiltsie, an author and in his own way, an artist: "Here, in the spacious wilderness stretching between Mount Whitney and the Sawtooth Range, lie most of my fondest climbing memories, as well as my closest brushes with elements far more powerful than I. This landscape has humbled me and it has almost killed me. But mostly, it has inspired me to come alive ."

The very same mountains he describes have filled me with awe and wonder. I have labored up four miles of steep canyon and snow to stand in reverance at what one could only describe as God's own throne room. And I am not religious. On like trips, I have been rained and hailed upon. I have experienced thunder and lighting that has truly scared me. Yet I reveled in the awesome power of it. I have vomited from the high altitude more times than I can count. And yes, I have slept out in the cold. In short, I have been absolutely miserable. But the power of the experience is so intense, that despite my vowing never to do it again, I soon find myself yearning for the experience once again. It does build character, and the memories produced shine like beacons among the more mundane.

To succeed at art and literature, it seems to me you must live and experience life. You must experience the struggle of striving and failure. Tragedy and loss too. Art to me is not just the materials and tools. It is the experience it portrays, and the entire process of creating it.

quote:
Original post by sunandshadow

The whole point of computer games is to tame struggle and make it safe to enjoy.


Yes. It is the watered down version.




Edited by - bishop_pass on February 25, 2001 8:55:54 PM

Edited by - bishop_pass on February 25, 2001 10:46:05 PM

Edited by - bishop_pass on February 26, 2001 11:05:03 AM

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Original post by bishop_pass

Sunandshadow, your society has stolen struggle from your citizens. And by stealing struggle, you may as well have stolen the challenge of life. Struggle and challenge are what distinguish the strong from the weak. It is what enables us to evolve.



This is so awesome. This, right before our eyes, would be the extraordinarily difficult philosophical transition this civilization would have to go through. (S&S, meat for the story? )

Bishop, consider that you are neither right nor wrong here. Imagine what hunter gatherers might have felt about the nature of life as they watched agricultural tyrannies, with their walled cities, standing armies, and rampant disease encroach on their way of life.

Or imagine how farmers and artisans would have responded to the the Industrial Revolution. The work of a man devalued, their lives thrown to the whims of the free market, the old ways of life and meaning disappearing...

So for a civilization dependent upon ravenous competition, where the weak are gutted and removed from the gene pool, this is a disaster. But consider a society evolving compassion: One in which our fates are intertwined, and we can not afford to throw anyone away. A remarkable society like this, as alien to us as Silicon Valley would be to Mesopotamia, would not define itself in terms of blood and fire.

To you, they''d be breeding increasing weakness. To them, weakness would have been redefined as empathy and strength.


quote:

Materialism is not the ends to the means. It is one of the means to the end. By equalizing what everyone may have, you have created a society which enables all to participate in many endeavors which many may have no right to participate in.


Right is defined by the society. Once upon a time (and still), right was who had the biggest gun. Right was whoever could kill and take. Then humankind began developing this sociological phenomenom called empathy... and just in time, hopefully, as it may be the only thing that saves us from bombing ourselves into non-existence.

quote:

But that is not it. It is not a contrived game that is played for frivolous fun. That is ultimately unrewarding. It is a true quest, with possible danger, conflict, and self discovery. This results in true character building. In short, it is life. And without the need to struggle and earn, much of the character building ingredients are removed from our hypothetical society''s citizen.


They may have developed character of a different nature-- one which a society of scarcity could never value.


quote:

It is funny, Wavinator, what you are saying. And I think you are truly brilliant. But I look at the posts in the Game Design Forum descrbing the sci-fi game you are creating, and I see a game (of which I approve) whose analogue in real life are the very features I have been advocating here. Your game is based upon exploration, struggle, wealth building, enhancing one''s own spaceship, and carving out a niche in the galaxy. You wish to create an experience for the user where she can vicariously through the computer experience many of the things I attempt to accomplish in real life.


Wow! Thanks for the high compliment! (et tu...)

But have you ever noticed that we put ourselves through game experiences and our heros through fictional experiences that we would define as hell in real life? Hanging from cliffs by a pinkie, dodging freight trains, being stalked by insane madmen, facing down the eradication of human civilization, defusing a nuclear bomb... etc, etc., etc.

Ask real life cops. Or soldiers. Or FBI profilers. Hannibal may be a top grossing movie, Saving Private Ryan an excellent film, and SWAT 3 a popular game... but living the moment is something else entirely. It is thrilling because it is vicarious .

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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