May 23rd, 2005

Online Deliberation wraps up.

Online Deliberation was a fun conference. The talks covered a range of topics, from citizen participation in policymaking to electronic voting to critical reasoning in education. I got to discuss politics with some of the visitors from England and France and Germany, and learned just how differently we see things. Apparently, some of the e-governance experiments that are just beginning in the United States are five-year-old ideas in the UK or France. Also, in France, the huge thing in multiplayer online gaming is breeding games like Vacheland. I hadn't even heard of the genre before, so it was quite a shock. Some of these games have hundreds of thousands of players raising virtual cows and pigs, buying and growing virtual feed, buying and trading equipment with other players. I guess it's like their version of the Tamagochi craze. In the U. S. we have (hundreds? tens? of) thousands of people shooting and killing each other online, so who's the crazy one here?

I learned about the wacky and remarkable PerlNomic from its creators, istgut and zudini (whom i'd actually met previously but hadn't made the connection). In this implementation of Nomic (the game that you play by changing its rules), all the rules are implemented as code. No human interpretation or judgement is required; the ultimate arbiter of rules is the Perl interpreter. Clever idea.