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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.

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.

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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