More Words

THE SHORT LIST

If you read only one thing I’ve written, please make it one of the following:

A RAPE IN CYBERSPACE

Widely reprinted, this curious little tale of crime and punishment online has become an all-purpose cybercultural parable, cited by authors, professors, and others looking for a quick way to explain how virtual life is and isn’t different from real life. “A classic.”* (The Village Voice, 1993)

RADICAL OPACITY

Christopher “moot” Poole created 4chan, an online community where people are free to be wrong — and where the “radical transparency” dreamt of in Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy isn’t even a joke. (MIT Technology Review, 2010)

MUTILATED FURRIES, FLYING PHALLUSES: PUT THE BLAME ON GRIEFERS, THE SOCIOPATHS OF THE VIRUAL WORLD

Reprinted in The Best of Technology Writing 2008. (Wired, 2008)

THE LIFE OF THE CHINESE GOLD FARMER

For 30 cents an hour, they work 12 hours a day and 7 days a week harvesting the virtual wealth of World of Warcraft and other online role-playing games. This is life in the gold farms of China, where the difference between work and play has itself become a kind of fantasy. (The New York Times Magazine, 2007)

HOW TO HANDCRAFT AN ACHINGLY SELF-REFERENTIAL VIRTUAL COMMODITY FETISH OBJECT (FOR FUN AND PROFIT!)

In this easy-to-follow seven-step Instructable, you will learn how to turn a weightless virtual commodity into a lovingly handmade piece of artisanal craftwork fated to collapse into its own meta-indexical core like the semiotic black hole it is. This project requires you to handle sharp implements, fast-bonding adhesives, and volatile distinctions between the real and the symbolic. It should not be attempted without professional legal guidance and a basic understanding of social-constructionist theories of reality. (Instructables, 2008)

WE PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE PENGUIN

We pledge allegiance to the penguin, and the intellectual property regime for which he stands. One nation, under Linux, with free music and open source software for all. Welcome to Brazil! (Wired, 2004)

PORTRAIT OF THE BLOGGER AS A YOUNG MAN

A profile of Jorn Barger, the Midwestern boho ascetic who coined the term “web log,” and an argument for the cultural significance of blogs. “Amusing,” Andrew Sullivan, Slate. (Feed, 2000)

UNPACKING MY RECORD COLLECTION

In the age of the MP3, when all that is solid melts into digital air, what is to become of record collecting’s physical attractions? If only Walter Benjamin were here to tell us. In his absence, alas, you get me. (Feed, 2000)

AFTER BABELFISH

An experiment in machine translation and a glimpse of the inhuman future of poetry. What happens when you take a perfectly good poem by W. B. Yeats and turn it into broken Portuguese and back a few times? You’ll be surprised, I bet. (Feed, 2000)

PIRATE UTOPIA

To a generation of techno-anarchists, steganography — the arcane art of hiding messages in plain sight — signified a dark sort of freedom. A decade later, it’s just another brick in the wall, and another mythical hidey-hole for the terrorist bogeyman. Reprinted in Best American Science Writing 2002. (Feed, 2001)

CAVESPACE

Who would have guessed the origins of online gaming lie in the depths of Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave? The strange, true story of how a pair of cave geeks separated by two centuries and a world of difference mapped the cultural imagination of the information age onto Mammoth’s maze of twisty little passages. “Amazing, trippy,” Amy Wilentz, The Nation. (Topic, 2003)

THE UNREAL ESTATE BOOM: THE 79TH RICHEST NATION ON EARTH DOESN’T EXIST

The population is 225,000, the hourly wage is $3.42. Welcome to virtual paradise, where a carpenter can live in the castle of his dreams — if he doesn’t mind an 80-hour workweek double-clicking pig iron and hoarding digital dung. An introduction to the economics of the imaginary. (Wired, 2003)

THE LONG LIST

For completists only: Enter at your own risk. (Still very much under construction.)

BOOKS

PLAY MONEY: OR HOW I QUIT MY DAY JOB AND MADE MILLIONS TRADING VIRTUAL LOOT

The blog that became a book. Publishers Weekly described it best: “In this cultural analysis — part memoir, part history, part economic investigation — Dibbell chronicles his attempts to get a piece of the estimated $880 million market in virtual goods, commodities such as armor, currency and even houses that exist only in the gaming world — but which people are willing to pay very real money for. Funny and uncommonly thoughtful, Dibbell takes us into the computer fantasyland, introducing us to real-world game players, virtual economies and the places they interact, such as a legendary office in Tijuana where unskilled workers make $19 a day to play online, ‘harvesting the resources of imaginary worlds.’ Dibbell dissects the history of computers and games and tackles a number of issues legal, ethical and esoteric, including the IRS perspective on profits from dreamed-up merchandise, the difference or lack thereof between ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ currency, and the knotty question behind all the time, energy and cash spent on so much mouse-clicking: ‘Why would anyone enjoy it?’ An unusual narrative, careful scholarship and real passion drive this circuitous (pun intended) study of a new American pastime.”

MY TINY LIFE: CRIME AND PASSION IN A VIRTUAL WORLD

Part memoir and part ethnography, My Tiny Life is about the social life of the online, text-based virtual world LambdaMOO and my own brief encounter with it. Andrew Leonard, in Salon, called it “the best book yet on the meaning of online life.” (Henry Holt, 1999)

 

 

2 Comments

  1. adam g.  •  Feb 9, 2009 @10:16 am

    I’ve been reading ‘My Tiny Life’ and thoroughly enjoying it! I stumbled across the lecture you participated in –‘Games and Incivility’–online and thought I’d give one of your books a try. Very well written. I like the RL/VL device–its very effective. Also, the Mr. Bungle incident was quite fascinating to me–especially the part about discovering the ‘fractured’ nature of his psyche. Gave me chills.
    Great stuff. Keep up the good work.

  2. fartbarber  •  Jun 5, 2014 @3:30 am

    A Mr. Bungle is an LJ is a Psycho is a ‘troll’. You attempted to sensationalize an ailing person’s textual coping mechanism. And yes it affected some one else, who could of unplugged his/her modem at any damn time but instead chose to turn it into MOO drama the likes of which repeated a hundred times before….

    The perp was the victim…

Leave a Reply

Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>



  • Latest Articles