blog archive: 2000 - 2001

Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier

Edward Castronova, December 2001

In March 1999, a small number of Californians discovered a new world called "Norrath", populated by an exotic but industrious people. About 12,000 people call this place their permanent home, although some 60,000 are present there at any given time. The nominal hourly wage is about USD 3.42 per hour, and the labors of the people produce a GNP per capita somewhere between that of Russia and Bulgaria. A unit of Norrath's currency is traded on exchange markets at USD 0.0107, higher than the Yen and the Lira. The economy is characterized by extreme inequality, yet life there is quite attractive to many. The population is growing rapidly, swollen each each day by hundreds of emigres from various places around the globe, but especially the United States. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the new world is its location. Norrath is a virtual world that exists entirely on 40 computers in San Diego. Unlike many internet ventures, virtual worlds are making money -- with annual revenues expected to top USD 1.5 billion by 2004 -- and if network effects are as powerful here as they have been with other internet innovations, virtual worlds may soon become the primary venue for all online activity.

To: lyberty
From: Tara
Date: Sept. 18, 2000
Subject: Re: Follow-up: URGENT: unexpected visitors?

it would be FANTASTIC if you could come to stay!!

I even checked with Richard, (seeing as he IS the man I live with I thought
I should!), and, being the fab boyfriend he is, he thinks it's a fantastic
idea as well!! Hopefully, even the rabbit will approve - although I
wouldn't hold out your hopes on that one unless you come bearing copious
amounts of spinach...

If you're extrememly lucky, I may even be able to get Richard to cook for
you during your stay - enough to make you stay forever!!

Okay, I think the best idea would be for you to head from Waterloo to
Wokingham by train on the Friday afternoon and call me on my mobile when you
arrive. I'll make sure that I'm at work at the crack of dawn that day so I
will be able to leave early to collect you from the station - it's only
about 15mins max. from my office so you won't have to wait long.

Friday night - you get to experience an English pub. Warm people, warm
atmosphere, warm beer...

Saturday - we could go to Glastonbury if you like, or Stonehenge or back to
the pub if you need a hair of the dog! I would suggest London but it will
be BEDLAM!!!

Sunday - London would be better this day, we can show you all the sights:
Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park and Harrods. Don't forget
your camera!

Monday - I'll have to work so you could go solo into London, have a wander
and then home!

If you decide that you want to do London on the Monday we can go to Windsor
instead on the Sunday and go to see the castle. Then a wander over the
bridge into Eton, (where Prince William and Prince Harry study), and then
you can brave the Queen's swans if you feel up to the finger nipping... You
really do have to try and see Windsor while you're here, it is outstandingly
beautiful and is one of my favourite places.

How does that sound? Of course, if you have ideas on where you'd like to
visit then do let me know and I'll get the map out!

And while I'm on the subject of 'our home', there are a couple of house
rules which I had better run through now:

Wine, whiskey, beer, gin & tonics, etc. must be consumed daily
Make a mess wherever possible, tomorrow is tidying up day
All must join arguments over what to watch on tv
Where cushions are concerned - first come, first served
And finally, don't get the rabbit stoned...

Just to inform you... Wokingham is about 30mins drive / train from central
London but is very 'countryfied' so you will get the best of both sides of
England - from the bustling city to the piece and quiet of the home
counties. Don't forget to pack a jumper and coat though, we really aren't
having wonderful weather at the moment - wouldn't be England without the
rain though 'eh?! No, I'm only joking, it's just that autumn has kicked in
and I'm worried you'll be chilly after all that San Francisco sunshine!

Give me a call me tonight, well, today by your standards and we'll have a
quick run through.

I can't believe that you might be coming over!! This is going to be
brilliant - it will be so wonderful to have you to talk to - at last,
someone who doesn't think I'm spaced out...!

Gosh, how will I recognise you at the station I wonder???

Speak later!



At 01:02 PM 6/21/2001 -0700, you wrote:
June 21, 2001 Thursday eve., 7:00-10:00 P.M., all time zones.

In protest of the current energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency
and conservation, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first
day of summer, June 21 from 7 P.M. - 10 P.M. in all time zones (this will
create a blackout that "rolls" across the nation.)

It's a simple protest and a symbolic act. Please participate. Turn out your
lights and unplug anything in your home that you safely can.
Send a message to local and national leaders that you believe we need energy
policies that include ideas other than just greater production.

Please resend this message (but don't use the forward button).

Did you know...?

-You can safely keep food in an unplugged refrigerator for up to two hours
if you keep the door closed.

-A representive for the Whitehouse claims that this protest misrepresents
the goals of the current administration. However, Vice-President Dick Cheney
recently made public comments that he believes that conservation is
essentially useless, and that additional power generation (ie. drilling for
more oil, building new power plants, etc.) is the only feasible plan.
"Conservation may be a personal virtue, but it is not a basis for a sound,
comprehensive energy policy," Cheney said.
While conservation can't solve all our problems, it should be paired equally
with exploration in any "comprehensive" energy policy. Automotive and
industrial efficiency standards could reduce demand for imports 11 percent
by 2010, according to a new study by the American Council for an
Energy-Efficient Economy.

-A University of California, Berkeley scientist has estimated that if
everyone in the United States used the most energy-efficient lightbulbs now
available, we would save the equivalent of the ENTIRE oil resource of Alaska
in 10 to 20 years. You can buy compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in watts
ranging from 25 to 150, and they
can last 15 to 20 times longer than 100-watt incandescents.

-Most consumers (companies and individuals) don't buy energy-efficient
devices because they cost more at the time of initial purchase, even though
most devices would return on that investment many times over the device's
lifespan through power savings. For example, choosing one of the more
expensive new fridges can save you $50 to $100 a year (assuming a 7 year
life span, that's an average of $525 in savings).

-With about 3 percent of the world's population, the US uses 25 percent of
the world's oil supply.

-Adopting tougher fuel economy standards and other policies for increasing
the efficiency of new vehicles could save 1.5 million barrels of oil per day
(MBD) by 2010, 4.7 MBD by 2020, and 67 billion barrels of oil over the next
40 years. This is 10-20 times greater than the potential oil supply from the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. --The American Council For An Energy
Efficient Economy [ ]

- On March 29th of this year, President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto
climate treaty and its mandatory pollution reductions as too harmful to the
American economy.
The Kyoto Protocol called simply for the reduction of three greenhouse gases
(including carbon dioxide) to below 1990 levels by 2012. The United States
signed the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) on November 12, 1998.

-The American Council For An Energy Efficient Economy [ ]
reports that refrigerators alone use the output of 25 NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
-- almost 7 percent of the nation's total electricity consumption!

more info:


December 19, 2001:

Fans Line Up for 'Lord of the Rings'
Wednesday December 19 6:24 AM ET

By ANTHONY BREZNICAN, AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) - From hard-core fans to some who couldn't read past the first pages of the books, people flocked to theaters like hobbits on a pilgrimage to Middle-earth to see the much-anticipated debut of ``The Lord of the Rings'' early Wednesday.
``Amazing - just amazing,'' said Edward Chu, 26, leaving a late-night showing in Toronto. ``I am definitely going to have to see that again. A couple of times.''

. . . . -= Official movie site:

Dec. 20, 2001:

Featured Link / New Entry: A Reader's Map to the Lord of the Rings

Other links:
-- Ian McKellen's (Gandalf the Grey) Filming Diary
-- Lord of the Rings online course

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