It’s Official: The Singapore Government Has Blasted Off To Cyber Space!
Posted by intellisg on August 21, 2007
Man it had to happen – it’s bound to happen – and now it’s finally happened. What am I talking about? The Singapore Government has decided to put on their space suits and magnetic booties to explore cyber space big time. It’s all here in this article:
Nope it’s not just talk this time, it’s real and just in case you have any doubts, I have even gutted out the juicy bits just to show you how serious they are in projecting into the virtual:
“AN IT-SAVVY government agency here owns an island – but one which does not exist in the real world.
Along with at least two other agencies, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) has bought real estate to operate in a universe that exists only online.
This virtual world, called Second Life, is visited by more than 8.9 million residents from about 100 real-world countries.
Besides the IDA, the Singapore Tourism Board and Economic Development Board have bought stakes there – not for commercial gain, but to reach their audiences, or to explore operations in a virtual world.
Senior Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts Balaji Sadasivan, revealing this yesterday, noted that life in this digital age was making the world increasingly porous, so it was important for people to ‘exploit the opportunities opening up’ in the cyberworld.”
Now I know most of you don’t really know what the virtual is – it remains the stuff of I know, but not really. So I am going to spend a few minutes just laying it out.
In a nut shell it’s a computer-based simulated environment that’s no different from any other domain. Granted there are a few kinks in this surreal world which still reminds one it is real – usually its always the small stuff, like you could break a chair and it breaks exactly the same way all the time – plasma guns never ever jam in real life and if you die, you can always come back next week, that sort of thing. Having said all that life in the three-dimensional graphical representations of the virtual world is very ‘real.’ Real enough to suggest that if you tabulated all the trade that goes on in a virtual environment in Norrath, it even has a GDP that’s equal to a country like Russia! Real enough even to suggest millions are traded in the sale of ray guns, space ships and minerals. Along with all this, of course is the ordinary stuff that one usually finds in the real world – real world rules such as politics, economics, sociology, technology and of course the means to put it all together.
I mean there are many genres of the virtual world, I can really go on all day to just list them all and along with what makes them so unique – Second Life – although not games, per se, but more like virtual environments that can include gaming – Entropia Universe, The Sims Online, Red Light Center, Kaneva, Weblo, particularly massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as EverQuest, Ultima Online, Lineage, World of Warcraft, or Guild Wars all add up to form the virtual environment that continues to attract people to sign up and define their “live” in computer worlds instead of the real.
It’s enough to ask to why? And now even the Government has decided to come into this domain – I don’t need to know why, there are really a thousand motivations accounting for it – it’s simple economics, where people flock to one place trade, transactions, ideas and possibilities happen. There is a whole lot of happening in the virtual realm and most of it generates even a strong enough gravity to attract real world businesses like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Reebok, Nissan and Calvin Klein to stake a claim on their ant hill.
We are not talking peanuts here, it’s big business conservatively estimated the market is somewhere around the upper reaches of over $1.2 billion on (earth) year and the ‘underground’ trade is at least 4 to 5 times this figure.
So am I so surprised the Singapore government is sending an exploratory space ship to find out more about this universe? Nope.
But don’t expect everything in the virtual world to be what it supposed to be – for one it’s not so different from the wild wild west. Most of the communities living in the virtual are very much like the early American pioneers who once transverse the great Sierra plains to stake a claim on ‘home.’ Whether you’re a person, a multi national company or even the government, it counts for squat all in the virtual world – the term ‘brave new world’ holds as much currency as words printed on the back of a chewing gum wrapper – its a gross understatement – so just remember every advantage, network and tool that works in the real world is pretty useless there! In the virtual your might as well throw away your clip boards along with all your real world tools of making sense of the world – nothing is what it ever seem – so be warned.
Having said that the virtual world like any frontier is the happening place for entrepreneurs – we do a brisk trade on all sorts of stuff in the virtual, from selling space stations to even magnetic boots. There’s even motels along with retail outlets that peddles kinky bondage paraphernalia, whips, ball gags, rubber suits and all just like the real world!
And it’s all real – real enough for thousands of people to even give up decent paying jobs just to work, live and play in a place like second Life, and you know what they even make real money that allows them to turn the wheel of life in the real world!
Big businesses are also muscling into the action. Avatars (virtual characters) can visit a virtual Reebok shop and even customize their footwear.
All this of course is made possible by the game master, the people who put the roads, building along with figuring how fast a stream should run and how many times you need to dip you hook, line and sinker to land a virtual trout, but again don’t expect them to know what’s really happening in the virtual world – there are plenty of blind spots and alternate universes in the virtual world – as the saying goes, there are chambers within chambers – which even the people who put it all together don’t even have an inkling what’s really at the heart of the virtual community. Through the years, you’ve be surprised how many ways we’ve figured to perfect our stealth technology that makes us invisible. For one the virtual realm is too big and there is so much human collaboration going you could even be assured of one thing – if you asked them ten questions, you likely to get nine sensible answers and one that sums it all up: “hey you go figure that one out yourself, we just put up the stuff together!”
So don’t be surprise space cadet Balaji Sadasivan, when you just basking in your artificial beach beneath a sun that never ever sets in your brand new virtual island – where waves can be produced ten foot high for surfing at the press of a button, each precisely the same as the last. Nor does this virtual paradise even have the mild inconveniences of crabs, jelly fishes and pesky creepy crawlies.
A place where you might even say to yourself: this just feels as if – how nature should be – don’t be alarmed, if you look up into the bluest of the blue virtual sky and suddenly an armada of space ships appears over the horizon lowering down their landing gear (no if the green starboard lights are blinking, its not an invasion. It’s just a friendly visit – don’t forget that, so keep the safety on those plasma blasters) – don’t reach for your plasma gun, be cool – don’t make any sudden movements, because our scanners can even see through your bunny trunks –As the alien steps out from the space ship, I know our diplomats look funny (we are working on issuing them some new uniforms). It’s probably Astro Boy. Don’t be alarmed by the brotherhood gothic garb and baby bonnet – after the exchange of pleasantries a conversation of sorts will probably follow (that’s how we train our diplomats), it starts with the weather and stuff like “how you’re enjoying yourself?” – “can we offer you a complimentary drink?” After that of course, they serious stuff slips in, “By the way, we are the brotherhood do you mind if we just park our fleet in one corner of your island? Coming to think of it have you renewed you license? Did you realize you need to buy recreational coupons and pay GST to lie down on this beach?”
Remember always: anything can happen in the virtual – tables can get switched around- sand shifts – but it’s a start a very good start and welcome, we have been expecting you – what took you so long?
[This has been brought to you by Aurora / written by Darkness, Harphoon, Astroboy & Trajan / Socio-political / Economics / Strategic Studies / Brotherhood Press 2007/ 983728-90 ES The Brotherhood Press 2007]
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