The Dangers of Monetizing Virtual Spaces
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The anarchy of the internet's various societies has been understood and accepted since places like Second Life and MMOs were invented. Some places excel at it, exploring humanity with grace and intelligence. Some fall apart at the seams and deteriorate into yet another Rapture of decaying ideals and the worst of humanity. Despite this understanding, there are still those who wish to govern and control the internet's virtual spaces, be it through law and punishment or capitalist means. One such fellow is Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs. He proposes control through capitalist means in a way that I believe would be extremely detrimental our virtual societies.

Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs was elected in March 2016 as the President of Virtual Reality by Entropia Universe users. Jacobs, apparently, is quite well-learned and famous within Entropia. He has a wiki page and everything. I can't decide if that makes his crazy ideas worse or better, but he's listed as an actor, entrepreneur, director, producer, and writer. Furthermore, if his IMBD page is anything to go by, he has a very bad case of narcissism. This guy is clearly a few chocolate chips short of a cookie, but his capitalist ideas make him very relevant and dangerous to the citizens of Entropia and all other virtual spaces Jacobs is keen on influencing.

For those of you that don't know, Entropia is an MMORPG with a lot of the "open world" part thrown in. In the usual sci-fi fashion, you can run about discovering planets, islands, etc., and help colonize them. You can also visit various planets that are already colonized, some of them based on real-world countries and cities. If you remember Second Life at all, it's pretty much the sci-fi version of that. For those that don't remember SL, Etropia goes beyond the usual MMO. Entropia is governed by its users and includes as much civilization, economy, and government as the real world.

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Jacobs' big idea is based on the teleportation system used in Entropia. People there use these teleportation sites as a kind of in-game navigation menu that can only be accessed at specific locations. That seems a little silly to me, but I suppose it's good for the game developers to keep track of how many people can go where and for how long. Jacobs wants not only to privatize and monetize this teleportation system, but to expand it across all platforms including the internet, other games, apps, and virtual reality.

One of Jacobs' main promotions, the glowing future of his idea, is a personal teleportation implant. He provides no specifics about it whatsoever, but it is all across his lengthy infographic. Small pictures of human shaped heads with chips inside them is not, in my opinion, a good way to promote your business venture.

The most significant problem with Jacobs' idea is that this teleportation use will grow beyond Entropia. Other game developers will never take kindly to having to pay for fixed navigation points in their games. The internet, however... I'm not sure I understand where Jacobs is going with this one. There is no need to travel from one point to another on the internet, there is no physical, or even virtual, space to travel in save from one web address to the next. Regardless of how he plans on working that angle, most internet users are not going to pay for such service. I can't imagine what Anonymous would have to say about charging for what should be a free service.

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Let's pretend, for a moment, that Jacobs' main promotion is not a personal teleportation implant, and that teleportation is something that will spread to technologies besides Entropia. First of all, the charge for using the teleportation device (10¢ per use) is in no way proportional to those who are being paid to build, maintain, and defend the devices themselves ($1/hour, 15 hour max per month). Perhaps in Jacobs's corporate mind, he believes that jobs based online are simply hobbies; you can't earn a living there.

In addition, Jacobs has this “conscription worker” idea, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Does he know that the word “conscription” means something different than “probation” or “internship”? I'm not sure if he does, but the conscription period lasts an entire year (which is way too long for any kind of probationary period) with the wages stated above. He never mentions how, when, or who might be conscripted. He never specifies if the conscription is restricted to Entropia or if it will include anyone who happens to be online, anywhere in the world, at any time. The similarities to William Gibson's Neuromancer are becoming uncanny at this point.

Frankly, I think Jacobs is on an ego trip and his idea has quite a few flaws. Monetizing teleportation in Entropia is all well and fine, I'm sure, but to expect such a travel method to spread from a relatively unknown MMORPG is dreaming pretty big. The personal implant is also asking a lot from a world clearly not ready for such technologies, even if does exist. Never mind the 'conscription' part that sounds especially shady. Nonetheless, we must be wary of Jacobs, and people like him, in case his ideas succeed and his capitalist control is spread across all virtual spaces as he intends.

Christine Pugatschew
Christine Pugatschew

Contributing Writer
Date: 05/27/2016

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