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Do you consider Second Life a force of globalization?


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I have a different feeling about the term globalization.  To me it means the homogenisation of nations to suit the interests of global corporations.  So, bad news.  The good news is that Second Life is still so heavily US-centric that it can't function efficiently as an arm of those corporations.

There's all the difference in the world between free communication and enforced sameness.

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Even a small force is a force.  Ask any physicist or engineer.  Whether SL is a significant force is a matter of opinion and context.  It's arguably a significant force for many of us who have been in SL for a while and have made friends and interacted with SL residents from distant parts of RL.  Heck, my own travels in Europe and Asia have affected my world outlook and may well have helped people I met shape a more complete impression of what Americans are like.  Tiny forces, but significant on a personal level, so who knows?

I have trouble with the world "globalization," which as developed a strange double meaning, as Garnet pointed out.  I think of globalization as a process of nurturing interrelationships across political and cultural boundaries and, therefore, a good thing (better understanding, mutual support, shared resources ... all the "good" things ).  Sadly, it can also be a code word for the sort of monopolization and cultural bullying that sometimes happens when multinational businesses or trade partnerships use their size and influence to control more than their fair share of things.  I really don't think that second meaning is directly relevant to the OP's question, but it hangs out there as a linguistic land mine to remind us that cooperation and collaboration are risky balancing acts. 

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Speaking of globalization, though...

I saw one of those forwarded memes on FB yesterday.  This one was all about how China is taking over, and the USA is letting them, 'cause it's cheaper.  Now, I don't disagree with this.  But the lead example was the purchase of Smithfield (the giant pork company) by a Chinese company.  The meme claimed that they were going to raise pigs in the USA, ship them to China, slaughter and package them there under unsanitary conditions, and ship the packaged meat back to the US.  This is, in fact, not true (except for the fact that a Chinese company did buy Smithfield.)

The whole idea of global supply chains is shown to be ridiculous by this fictitious example, though.  Shipping pork TWICE across the Pacific?  No way!  But, we routinely DO do stupid things.  One example...during the California Gold Rush, miners shipped their dirty laundry to HAWAII (by sailing ship!) to get it cleaned (!)  Think of all the Amazon Associates, too...little home-based businesses importing endless bric-a-brac from China.  It's sent to a port in the US.  Then to a warehouse.  Then to multiple warehouses, depending on where Amazon thinks the demand will be.  Or sometimes, these home businesses buy up goods at Costco or Target, ship it to an Amazon warehouse, maybe across the country.  When it's sold, it might be shipped right back to a buyer in the same town.

All this unnecessary shipping is not doing anything to help our pollution and global warming problem.

Edited by Lindal Kidd
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19 minutes ago, Lindal Kidd said:

All this unnecessary shipping is not doing anything to help our pollution and global warming problem.

Absolutely true, although I'd argue that this is not necessarily a unique feature to global trade.  Within the past 75 years, the field of Transportation Logistics has rather suddenly become a major focus for businesses of all sizes, but especially for ones that are large.  The first time I remember thinking seriously about it was when a good friend, an airplane pilot, explained what the airlines have to go through when they need to get the right number of airplanes at the right airports with full crews, fuel, passengers, and baggage -- across their entire corporate network.  It's a real challenge to do that juggling efficiently and cost-effectively, and to factor in all of the maintenance schedules, federal regulations, union rules, and the weather.  Any large system is full of places where things can go wrong, or at least where there are plenty of inefficient solutions.  A generation back, Peter Senge wrote an excellent book called The Fifth Discipline, based on his research at MIT. I recommend chasing up a copy somewhere and reading, in particular, the chapters in which he discusses the beer distribution problem. It's a classic in the field.

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If we go with Rolig's understanding of "globalization" I'd say SL's force is zero, plus or minus some small amount. For the most part, SL residents are from the the first world, particularly western democracies. If you mapped SL inter-resident relationships and RL trade routes, I think they'd look very different. Things may have changed, but it was once only possible to access SL from China via government evading VPN. China is the US's third largest trading partner. I've yet to meet anyone from China here.

I've also yet to meet anyone who can't afford the computer and internet access necessary to log-in. That's currently half the planet. The poor half.

Like Rolig, I've been to Europe and Asia. My twelve years in SL has taught me almost nothing about those cultures compared to actually visiting them. Most of what I know of Iran comes from my RL best friend, who was born there. Watching news and documentaries, reading books, dining with people from other cultures, all of those exert far more globalizing force on me than SL. There are less resource intensive social networks that have neither steep learning curves, nor the required indirection of virtual reality. The world inside SL is not the one we all live on.

And, to whatever extent SL exerts some globalizing "force" on me, I'd say ALL of that force comes from the forums.

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2 hours ago, Lindal Kidd said:

Shipping pork TWICE across the Pacific?  No way!  But, we routinely DO do stupid things.

Not unrealistic at all. Much of the fish caught by the Norwegian fishing fleet is sent by plane to China to be processed and then back (still by plane) to Europe. It's actually cheaper than processing it in Europe.

 

55 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

If we go with Rolig's understanding of "globalization" I'd say SL's force is zero, plus or minus some small amount. For the most part, SL residents are from the the first world, particularly western democracies.

Particularly from the USA even, SL is US centric enough to limit its appeal to the rest of the "western" world too. For all I know, it may even be California centric enough to limit its appeal to the rest of the USA. (To put this into perspective, USA accounts for 5.25% of the world's population, 22% of the western world's population and almost 50% of SL's population ... and come to think of it, probably about 5% of SL's content creators.)

Stilll, as Rolig said, even a weak force is a force.

Edited by ChinRey
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10 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

And I said zero, plus or minus some small amount. I think it's possible SL works against globalization.

True.  If delta is smaller than the noise, we'll never know about SL as a whole.  Still, on a personal level I think SL has potential for being a measurable positive force. I have found more opportunities to use foreign languages here than I have had in RL for a long time, and have met and worked with people from all over the world.  Granted, they are largely from the English-speaking world and Europe, but at least that's a start.  

Edited by Rolig Loon
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Globalization is quite a loaded word these days, generally hated by everyone who uses it.  Certainly SL as a force for social globalization is minimal but there is some, limited to the few thousand people who regularly use it to interact in any meaningful way with people from other countries.  It's force for political globalization is nil.  For economic globalization, nearly nil. 

I wound Maddie's comment about being potentially a negative force interesting.  Certainly there are dark corners of SL where anti-globalists of the Trump and Rand Paul stripes congregate, and plenty more of the Bernie stripe, so definitely potential for more of an anti-globalist force than anything else, at least from an economic perspective.

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I don't know what you mean by "force of globalization" and I'm wondering if you meant "source of globalization"?

It is a kind of a source according to one definition of what globalization is.

Globalization is the connection of different parts of the world resulting in the expansion of international cultural, economic, and political activities. It is the movement and integration of goods and people among different countries.

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I'd say SL is a source of globalization.

I have met people from all over the world here and shared some of their culture and they shared some of mine.  As well as we've had inworld talks about "governments" and what some governments will or will not allow in their country and they are curious to hear about my government and what they allow or do not allow.

I have also traded goods with people from Europe, India, Dubai, Australia to name a few off the top of my head.

But, I think with internet communities that deal in virtual goods, it is a different kind of a source of globalization. 

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From the Wikipedia: 

The steam locomotive, steamship, jet engine, and container ships are some of the advances in the means of transport while the rise of the telegraph and its modern offspring, the Internet and mobile phones show development in telecommunications infrastructure. All of these improvements have been major factors in globalization and have generated further interdependence of economic and cultural activities around the globe.[3][4][5]  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globalization

 

So, I'd say it's a "source" albeit it's own little small one.   However, the whole internet is a source of globalization if not the main one.  

Edited by FairreLilette
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34 minutes ago, Madelaine McMasters said:

And I said zero, plus or minus some small amount. I think it's possible SL works against globalization.

;-).

Oh Maddy you are so wrong here...you have opened up the entire world to the lil devil....

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