I began Pixels and Policy as a way of exploring my thoughts
about digital communication as a potentially transformative medium on the
global stage. Around the same time as I began writing Pixels and Policy, way
back in August 2009, tens of thousands of brave citizen activists in Iran stood
up to a regime universally regarded as brutally repressive, violent and theocratic.
Within days of Iran’s
rigged election, the governing powers enacted strict limitations on the flow of
Though much of their fight took place in city streets and town
squares, the rest of the world came to know Iranian protest figures like Neda Agha-Soltan
and Mir-Hossein Moussavi chiefly through their creative use of digital
communication sources as a platform for civic protest. Western news outlets couldn’t
get enough of how the pro-democracy “Green Revolution” mobilized disparate groups
of protesters through online social media like Twitter. Less reported was their
widespread use of virtual social media like Second Life and Facebook, where
communication could carry on unencumbered by the heavy hand of Iranian security
Nearly one year on from my first article about Iran, both
Pixels and Policy and the digital communication landscape have changed
markedly. Without noticing it at the time, Pixels and Policy moved from serving
as a space for compelling original analysis of digital communication on the
world stage to serving as a sort of sub-par news aggregator for virtual worlds.
Pixels and Policy also became uninteresting to read along the way, as my
interactions with readers illuminated. Now I hope to correct course and get Pixels and Policy back to what it once was and should be.
Continue reading China, Zynga and the Growing Clout of Digital Communication
There's no denying it – despite a worldwide consumer recession and spiking unemployment, virtual worlds are still growing with impressive speed.
A report by the Virtual Goods Summit shows that purchases of virtual clothing, weapons, and accessories will top $1 billion for the first time, and will nearly double to $1.6 billion by 2010.
There's only one thing missing: competition..
Continue reading Is the Metaverse Falling Victim to Large Platform Monopolies?
digitally marketing their new electric car to a slew of virtual
reality themed Hollywood blockbusters, focusing on virtual worlds as a
potential revenue source is all the rage. But as companies have repeatedly shown by high-publicity failures, marketing in the virtual world is a tricky proposition.
Pixels and Policy looks at how to effectively market products to eager eyes in the Metaverse.
Continue reading Thinking Virtually: Helping Companies Succeed in Marketing to the Metaverse
A few weeks ago, Pixels and Policy took a look at how virtual worlds might be helping the U.S. Army look for promising new recruits.
Today we take a look at the policy applications of a defense-themed virtual program.
The University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies has interesting ideas on the future uses of virtual worlds in combat. Find out just what the military has in store for the Metaverse.
Continue reading Virtual Worlds Enlist as Military Operations Simulators
There's been a lot of work done on virtual economics over the past few years, from Indiana University studies to the Virtual Economy Research Network.
These researchers all use virtual economies as a test-bed for real-world economic policies, as well as testing grounds for real-time experiments on price, economic growth, and wages.
They had best be cautious. As Pixels and Policy reports, virtual economies are far from the hailed research tools some virtual world cheerleaders think.
Continue reading Virtual Economies Remain Badly Flawed Research Tools
There's quite a bit of insecurity in the United States about the prospect of biometric identification cards, an issue that finds its roots in the illegal immigration debates between 2004 and 2006. For civil libertarians, the concept of a card containing your fingerprint, medical data, residence information and – potentially – rings an Orwellian bell. Pro-immigrant activist groups feared the card could be used to discriminate against granting new work visas.
Now Congress is again pursuing the issue of a "smart" national ID, pushing the Obama Administration to consider the use of biometric identification as a simpler means for employer verification of residency and legal working status. Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union are dusting off their talking points in preparation for the fight. With a decidedly left-leaning Congress and White House, the issue seems dead in the water.
But ignoring the possibilities of a digital biometric ID gives the touchy issue short shrift, for a national biometric ID card need not be an Orwellian intrusion into the private lives of Americans, nor does it need to be a major identity theft crisis waiting to happen. In fact, contrary to the arguments of both hard-line conservatives and privacy advocates, national biometric ID's could potentially turn the United States into a better, more efficient place to live. Let's find out why.
Continue reading Making the Case for Digitally-Accessible Biometric ID Cards
China and the United States have shared dominance of the
virtual world market for years on the backs of games like Lineage and World of
Warcraft, but a new entrant may be on the horizon.
to a study by Deloitte,
rapidly industrializing Brazil is prepared to sate
its citizens’ craving for virtual worlds by expanding its commercial Metaverse
presence. Wired Brazilians are prepared to build virtual worlds that appeal to
the Latin American community.
Who’s ready for some creative destruction?
Continue reading Is Brazil Set to Become a Virtual World Superpower?
It's no shock that militant groups around the world make use of mass communication tools like the Internet in order to recruit new faces and keep isolated cells informed of worldwide developments. The power of virtual communication is again in the spotlight after Islamic militant group Al Qaida used Internet message boards to announce their intent to bomb South Africa's World Cup this June.
There is valuable knowledge to be gained by understanding why militant groups – including American-based right-wing militias recently raided by the FBI – are turning to New Media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and free message boards in order to organize and promote their messages. But don't expect to find an Al Qaida fan page on Facebook – in many cases, the social networking of militant organizations is rudimentary and easily destroyed: The perfect cover in an age of increasing anti-terror surveillance.
Let's take a look at how global militant groups are falling in love with the message-amplifying power of virtual communities, and why some in the United States intelligence community are wary of the virtual world's potential to serve as an unwitting base for real-world radicals.
Continue reading Virtual Extremism: How Social Media Gave Terrorist Groups a Second Wind
The Scotland Herald isn't the first place most people turn for commentary on how virtual worlds are changing our social experiences, but their recent article on the changing face of childrens' play is thought provoking.
t's an interesting topic worthy of some focus for Wednesday's and Friday's articles.
Let's look at how children are moving from the playground to the Metaverse for entertainment, and the shift from real to virtual means the concept of safety is evolving as well.
Continue reading Are Social Networking Websites A Dangerous Gamble for Kids?
The media appears quite smitten with augmented reality technology, the webcam-based tool that allows graphical, interactive overlays to be placed over most objects sporting a special bar code.
The problem is, excessive media hype could end up damaging augmented reality's much-needed development, turning a possibly great future product into a barely useful current one.
Let's look at why augmented reality is a promising technology almost certain to underwhelm, especially after the hype treatment heaped on its promise by the mainstream medi
Continue reading Media Hype Could Permanently Damage Augmented Reality