[MUD-Dev] Community Relations

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Thu Feb 3 00:26:21 CET 2000

"Koster, Raph" wrote:
> J C Lawrence wrote:
> > Yup.  I suspect at this point in VR societal development that the
> > base nature to evolve towards heirachial systems cannot and should
> > not be fought
> Er, what real world social structures AREN'T hierarchical, formally or
> informally?

Err.. Anything that can be compared (less-than/distance) can be forced
into some kind of hierarchical interpretation through some kind of
cluster analysis... A bureaucracy is inherently hierarchical (except for
the fact that the hierarchies are broken in practice because horizontal
communication often is more convenient than vertical), but I don't think
all groups have to be. Groups need different roles to be filled, but a
role can be taken care of by more than one person (or some other

I don't understand the evolution argument either...  IRC, email, web?  I
don't see the trend in the larger picture.  If there is a trend it is
probably more due to designers wanting to enforce a particular vision on
the users.  What you end up with is just another TV with most users on
the bottom.

I think, what you _need_ is some way for individuals to grant other
people the right to act on their behalf (when they are offline).  Say in
a group.  And of course conflict resolution tools (such as voting
mechanisms) and possibly conflict limiting concepts (such as borders). 

I certainly don't think you need to organize the groups in hierarchies.
Maybe your postulated vision demands it, but that is a different story.

> The same thing again. At least, according to current sociological and
> anthropological theory. Check out "Guns, Germs, and Steel" by Jared Diamond,
> which argues cogently that this stage is social development cannot be
> improved upon without certain population densities and ratios of available
> resources to caloric consumption. Which has lots of implications for mud
> design that I have been mulling over for several weeks now.

I haven't read this, and I am not even sure what you talk about, so I
shouldn't comment on it... But isn't the greatest diversity and dynamic
evolution to be found in the small individualistic constructivist
communities with access to flexible tools?

What I dislike about the mud-dev discussions is that there is tendency
to think design on the global level from an postulated vision. Then the
challenge is to get the user mass to comply. The challenge ought to be
how to make the global level less important and facilitate the local
level. If typical users are actively participating for a couple of
months only then the group (or cluster of acquaintances) is what matters
most. So how do you facilitate their ability to establish and maintain
their borders without hampering meaningful interaction with neighbouring

I am not ignoring the value of the long term or hardcore users who
operate on the global level, but I think they eventually turn into
informal admins (albeit more difficult to control). Maybe even view
themselves as such (which may be both useful and hopeless). So maybe
they should be considered separately? *shrug*


MUD-Dev maillist  -  MUD-Dev at kanga.nu

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