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A BIT of The Second Life Herald

This BIT chronicles the migration of virtual journalist Urizenus Sklar (the avatar of author Peter Ludlow) from The Sims Online to Second Life. Banned from TSO for journalistic truth-telling, Urizenus finds a new home in Second Life, where he and other TSO refugees learn to live in a labor-intensive, richly creative virtual world of resident-created content.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book The Second Life Herald, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Networked

Social networks, the personalized Internet, and always-on mobile connectivity are transforming—and expanding—social life. In the new social operating system of “networked individualism,” anyone with an Internet connection and a bit of digital literacy can create online content that has the potential to reach a wide audience. This BIT explores how the boundaries between producers and consumers are becoming blurred, with noncredentialed amateurs participating in many of the arenas that were once limited to recognized and sanctioned experts.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Networked, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of The Virtual Community

The “virtual community” of online networking is as real as any physical community. In this BIT, “First Citizen of the Internet” Howard Rheingold offers an account of the people who made this networked world possible—“stubborn visionaries who insisted that computers could be used by people other than specialists”—describing pioneers of citizen tool-making that range from a former radar operator who had an epiphany on the way to work in 1950 to crusading programmers, clever MIT hackers, and the creators of Usenet, MUD, and the WELL.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book The Virtual Community, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Virtual Economies

In the twenty-first-century digital world, virtual goods are sold for real money. Digital game players happily pay for avatars, power-ups, and other game items. But behind every virtual sale there is a virtual economy, simple or complex. This BIT explains that the objectives of virtual economies—providing content, attracting and retaining users, and earning revenues—are often best pursued in unfree (that is, regulated) rather than free markets.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Virtual Economies, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Hello Avatar

A crucial aspect of our cultural shift from analog to digital is the continuum between online and off-, the “x-reality” that crosses between the virtual and the real. Our avatars are not just the animated figures that populate our screens but the gestalt of images, text, and multimedia that make up our online identities. In this BIT, B. Coleman looks at the research history in HCI of putting a face on things, the consequences of virtual embodiment, and our perception of simulation.

Purchasers of this MIT Press BIT will also receive a discount code (good on the MIT Press website only) for 40% off the price of the book Hello Avatar, from which this BIT is excerpted. Please email mitbits@mit.edu with your order number to receive your discount code.

A BIT of Tomorrow's Energy

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. An invisible, tasteless, colorless gas, it can be converted to nonpolluting, zero-emission, renewable energy. In this BIT, Peter Hoffmann makes the case for hydrogen as the cornerstone of a new energy economy, offering a history of the technology from the nineteenth century to the present and introducing the concept of “hydricity.”

A BIT of Interface Fantasy

In this BIT, AndrĂ© Nusselder uses the core psychoanalytic notion of fantasy to examine our relationship to computers and digital technology. Lacanian psychoanalysis considers fantasy to be an indispensable “screen” for our interaction with the outside world; Nusselder argues that, at the mental level, computer screens and other human-computer interfaces incorporate this function of fantasy: they mediate the real and the virtual.

A BIT of The Art of Failure

Every day, hundreds of millions of people around the world play video games—on smart phones, on computers, on consoles—and most of them will experience failure at some point in the game; they will lose, die, or fail to advance to the next level. Not completing Super Real Tennis is not a tragedy. But it feels like a failure. This BIT explores how it feels when we fail.

A BIT of The Consciousness Paradox

Consciousness is perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the world and yet it is so very familiar to each of us. In this BIT, tackling a central paradox of consciousness (namely, how it is possible to hold a number of seemingly inconsistent views about it), Rocco Gennaro proposes a version of the HOT (higher order thought) thesis that is consistent with animal consciousness. Gennaro’s integration of empirical and philosophical concerns will make his argument of interest to both philosophers and nonphilosophers.

A BIT of Democracy Despite Itself

Voters often make irrational decisions based on inaccurate and irrelevant information. Politicians are often inept, corrupt, or out of touch with the will of the people. This BIT examines how democracy can lead to successful outcomes even when the defining characteristic of democracy, elections, is flawed.

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