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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 Individual and Collective Memory Consolidation

The authors of Individual and Collective Memory Consolidation propose that that individuals and collectives form memories by analogous processes. This BIT examines the collective retrograde amnesia in mainland Chinese populations that experienced the Cultural Revolution and discusses the persistence of consolidated collective memory despite traumatic disruption.

A BIT of The Really Hard Problem

How is meaning possible in a material world? Owen Flanagan proposes a naturalistic (rather than supernaturalistic) way to live meaningfully, to live a life that really matters, to flourish, to achieve eudaimonia—to be a “happy spirit.” In this BIT, Flanagan draws on insights from neuroscience and on the transformative mindfulness and self-cultivation practices in Buddhism.

A BIT of Racing the Beam

The Atari Video Computer System dominated the home video game market so completely that “Atari” became the generic term for a video game console. This BIT examines the interplay between computation and culture in the Atari emulator Stella and the Atari VCS game Combat.

A BIT of Laws, Mind, and Free Will

If the mind and the world are entirely governed by natural laws, there seems to be no room left for free will to operate. In this BIT, Steven Horst offers an account of laws that is compatible with claims for libertarian free will. He argues that one can embrace the truth of individual laws, or indeed any set of such laws, without any implication of determinism, because the idealization conditions of each law are essentially open-ended.

A BIT of Perplexities of Consciousness

What do we know about our inner life, our stream of conscious experience? In this BIT, Eric Schwitzgebel investigates some of our singularly inaccurate judgments about conscious experience. He considers unattended stimuli (does unremembered mean unexperienced?) and our visual experience when our eyes are closed.

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