Real world licensed bank in virtual environment

Futuramb writes that: The Swedish based game developer MindArk has been granted a banking license – a real one – by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen). The license will allow Mind Bank AB (a wholly owned subsidiary of MindArk) to function as a central bank for all virtual worlds within the Entropia Universe.

On the one hand this is an obvious step since the connections between virtual/real worlds is getting stronger and eventually currencies in virtual worlds will affect real world currencies. It is surprising that this occurred so quickly. On the topic of real world economies the researcher Castronova published some interesting work a few years ago:

Castronova, Edward. “Virtual Worlds: A First-Hand Account of Market and Society on the Cyberian Frontier,” CESifo Working Paper No. 618, December 2001.

Castronova, Edward. “On Virtual Economies,” CESifo Working Paper Series No. 752, July 2002.

Castronova, Edward. “The Price of ‘Man’ and ‘Woman’: A Hedonic Pricing Model of Avatar Attributes in a Synthethic World,” CESifo Working Paper Series No. 957, June 2003.

Virtual marketing for university course

Since being given permission to hold a course on the Vulnerable IT-Society I have been very busy in trying to market the course. The course was approved far too late for it to be included into the ordinary university course catalog so I have been left to my own devices. Basically I have had two months (last date for applications is 15 April) to make people aware and to get them to apply to a course that has been totally unknown.

The attempts to market the course have kind of taken a life of their own and I think that it may be interesting to write an article on the way in which university marketing may work. The first thing I did was to start a blog on the 23 Febuary. The content of the blog mirrors the topics which the course will address and over the last weeks I have added pages of information of literature, course information, lecturers and web2.0 stuff.

A couple of days ago I started a Facebook group and added information to the site. Actual spamming has been relatively low impact and has not resulted in all too much visible results. Finally I have posted notices around town and at various university libraries the results of this have yet to be measured. At the begining of the course I intend to poll the students to find out which information the students found and which had the most effect on them. My hopes for the course is that it will be a big success even in the number of applicants.

The figures so far (all based on the blog stats)

Total views up until today: 2,890

Busiest day: 248 views (February 27, 2009)

Total Posts: 74 & Comments: 70

Over 250 views of the about the course page

All in all this has been a successful blog but will the blog transfer to applications? And will the applications eventually turn into students attending the course? All remains to be seen.

Wikileaks needs support

From Boing Boing:

Wikileaks is currently overloaded by readers. This is a regular difficulty that can only be resolved by deploying additional resources. If you support our mission, then show it in the way that is most needed. On average, each donation catalyzes the publication of around 150 mainstream press articles, exposing human rights abuses and corrupt government around the world. These exposures result in substantial reforms and have changed national election outcomes.

Wikileaks is overloaded by global interest

Mozilla e-learning course

This came in the mail:

Mozilla Foundation launches online course – Hands-on open education 17 March 2009

The Mozilla Foundation (in collaboration with ccLearn and the Peer 2 Peer University) launches a practical online seminar on open education. This six week course is targeted at educators who will gain basic skills in open licensing, open technology, and open pedagogy; work on prototypes of innovative open education projects; and get input from some of the world leading innovators along the way.

The course will kick-off with a web-seminar on Thursday 2 April 2009 and run for 6 weeks.

Weekly web seminars introduce new topics ranging from content licensing to the latest open technologies and peer assessment
practices. Participants will share project ideas with a community of peers, work on individual projects, and get feedback from experienced mentors. We will also take a close look at some of the most innovative examples of open education projects, and speak to the people who designed them, including:
* The Open Source Software courses at Seneca College;
* David Wiley’s Introduction to Open Education;
* The open blog infrastructure at Mary Washington University; etc.

The course is targeted at educators who want to help shape the open education future. Participants should have some knowledge of web technologies, or open content licensing, or open pedagogy (or all
three), but don’t need to be experts.

Interested in participating? Head to the course wiki, and submit your project idea!

Course outline: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse

Sign-up page: https://wiki.mozilla.org/Education/EduCourse/SignUp

For questions about the course or the sign-up process, contact:

Philipp Schmidt
Peer 2 Peer University
philipp@peer2peeruniversity.org

Contact Mozilla Foundation:

Frank Hecker
Mozilla Foundation
hecker@mozillafoundation.org

Contact ccLearn

Ahrash Bissell
ccLearn
ahrash@creativecommons.org

No twittering in court

A post on Slashdot this morning dealt with a juror who posted twitter comments about a trial (while it was in progress) and the effects of this may be to declare the trial a mistrial.

“Russell Wright and his construction company, Stoam Holdings, recently lost a $12 million dollar lawsuit brought by investors. But lawyers for the firm have complained that juror Johnathan Powell’s Twitter comments broke rules when discussing the civil case with the public. The arguments in this dispute center on two points. Powell insists (and the evidence appears to back him up) that he did not make any pertinent updates until after the verdict was given; if that’s the case, the objection would presumably be thrown out. If Powell did post updates during the trial, the judge must decide whether he was actively discussing the case. Powell says he only posted messages and did not read any replies. Intriguingly, the lawyers for Stoam Holding are not arguing so much that other people directly influenced Powell’s judgment, rather that he might have felt a need to agree to a spectacular verdict to impress the people reading his posts.”

This is an interesting example of the way in which new technology practice is clashing with established rules and ideas. During the recent Pirate Bay trial in Stockholm there was a vertible information orgy with live audio feed, spectators twittering from within (and outside) the courtroom and live bloggers en masse – in addition to traditional media channels. Yet the interesting thing was that the audio tape picked up the judge telling individuals in the courtroom that no pictures could be taken. On a least two occaissions the judge asked whether a laptop and a phone was being used to film the proceedings.

Everybody was filmed, photographed and interviewed entering and leaving the courtroom. All the participants were activly seen courting and presenting their cases to the media on the courtroom steps – but no photographs in the courtroom.

When a witness who was to be heard at a later date was discovered in the audience he was asked to leave. Before leaving he asked whether he was allowed to listen to the radio. The judge understood the futility of the rules when he replied – well you cannot stay in here.

The “no images” rule in Sweden or the no communicating in the US are rules which need to be explained logically to the participants. Naturally the principles of justice and equality must be upheld and should not need to be questioned at every turn…

Open Database License beta

The Open Database License is

The Open Database Licence (ODbL) is a licence agreement intended to allow you to freely share, modify, and use this Database while maintaining this same freedom for others. Many databases are covered by copyright, and therefore this document licenses these rights. Some jurisdictions, mainly in Europe, have specific rights that cover databases, and so the ODbL addresses these rights, too. Finally, the ODbL is also an agreement in contract for you to act in certain ways in return for accessing this Database. (okfn blog)

Here is a clip from the latest Open Knowledge Foundation Newsletter (No. 10) concerning the developments in the Open Database License:

BETA VERSION OF THE OPEN DATABASE LICENSE (ODBL)
================================================

As we announced in January the OKF has adopted the Open Data Commons
project. As part of the project Jordan Hatcher has been working on a
new Open Database License (ODbL) – which is now in beta.

Beta version of the Open Database Licence (ODbL)
http://blog.okfn.org/2009/03/16/beta-version-of-open-database-licence-odbl/

Open Database Licence (ODbL)
http://www.opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/

Comments on the license can be made here http://www.co-ment.net/text/844/

Global Earth Hour

WWF has launched a great effort to bring awareness to the environment – but can equally be used to bring about technology awareness. It’s the WWF Earth Hour.

The idea is to collect a billion people around the world who will switch off their lights for one hour all at the same time. This is the information for those in the GMT zone

On Saturday 28 March 2009 at 8.30pm, people, businesses and iconic buildings around the world will switch off their lights for an hour – WWF’s Earth Hour.

We want a billion people around the world to sign up and join in.

Sign up to show that you care about people, wildlife and the planet, and that you want the world’s leaders to take action to tackle climate change.

Some 934 cities from 80 countries have already signed up. In addition, a great number of iconic landmarks will be plunged into darkness, including Nelson’s Column, the Forth Bridge, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Table Mountain in Cape Town and Sydney Opera House. The London Eye, too, will be dimmed for the hour. Visit our ‘Who’s signed up to switch off ‘ page to find out more.

Please join us, and help us make this the biggest mass participation event ever!