In “Life 2.0: Augmentationists in Second Life and beyond“, Giulio Prisco writes on the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies’ blog about Second Life’s social changes due to the introduction of voice. The discussion went through the way immersionists disdain the use of voice as a too disruptive technology in our virtual world, while augmentationists claim the right to use whatever technologies they please, while being tolerant towards others that are unwilling to use a certain technology.
Giulio’s argumentation, while more open-minded than most augmentationists, claims that in essence immersionism is a lifestyle choice of a group of role-players, and that augmentationism, as an “alternate” lifestyle, should have the right to peacefully co-exist — while obviously criticising the lack of tolerance of immersionists in “trying to remove voice from the augmentationists”.
I think that his crucial highlight of the issue can be summarised in the following excerpt:
Unfortunately, immersionists have a very valid point when they argue that, with voice and more augmentationist options becoming available (such as the possibility to paste a realtime webcam feed onto an avatar face and body, that may well become available in one or two years), most users of Second Life will become augmantationists and this will effectively discriminate against immersionists and push them into a second class role. They will be able to join immersionist communities where voice and webcam feeds are banned, but will be effectively cut from interacting with most other users.
I understand this argument but it does not seem such a big deal to me. It seems a reasonable assumption that role players prefer to hang with other role players in SL anyway. […]
If you’re still interested in this debate, I encourage you to join the comments section on this article. Giulio welcomes the commentary and is not only very open-minded about the subject, but understands most of the arguments brought by immersionists. Well, perhaps with an exception: immersionism is not about role-playing, but sort of a fusion of “self as an art form” mixed with the notion that on a social environment where real life credentials can be absent, trust, reputation, and honesty emerge from your behaviour, not from the credentials you’re able to present (your real voice is just one of those). Similarly, augmentationism cannot be reduced to “just having another nice tool to play with”, but enforcing the notion that the mainstream society will rely on presentation of real life credentials to establish trust — those refusing to present them are still welcome to enjoy Second Life, but they’re cut off the mainstream and isolated in their ghettos.
If you think that the whole question is moot anyway — Linden Lab will not remove voice from SL (but add more and more features to it over time), and we do have voice already, so it’s pointless to discuss “what if?” scenarios anyway — skip ahead to the next article 🙂