While Dr Freemont and I were working on the VF pill casing at Morris Sandbox we were “attacked” by “griefers”. We attempted to finish our work but movement eventually became impossible. This event was very memorable and brings up many issues that we will perhaps return to in this blog. Despite the opinions of some that griefers are “terrorists,” which we feel dilutes an already fuzzy term, the practice seems more like “noise bombing”.
For myself, the whole experience was quite spontaneously beautiful. One even might say that it was a liminal experience, removing one temporarily from the pragmatics of making things to an experience of being. The cacophony of visual, audio and textual information was in its own way, ecstatic. However, the important Wired magazine article on this practice introduces a cacophony of questions not only concerning it’s practitioners but also the nature of virtuality. Strangely, the injection of emotional categories into the dialectics of web vs real world epistemologies, strikes us as an odd development on both sides of the issue. Griefers (aka goons) want virtual participants to lighten up about the silliness of taking the virtual world too seriously. Goons often employ virtual violent disruptive means to inspire humor. It is interesting to consider whether Griefer’s see themselves part of the larger hacker community and hence connected to the alternative value system of hacker ethics or simply operate from internal drives such as the Pleasure Principle.
On the other hand, the emotional suggestion that virtuality is silly, unreal or impotent seems increasingly irrelevant in the context that it is now inseparable from many real world activities and institutions. A virtual bomb on stock market data exchange would have a very real set of catastrophic consequences that might not be so funny. Conversely, a Mercedez Benz is no more real value in terms of its material than a Tata car, its all about surplus value. But try telling the police to lighten up after you have just rammed a Mercedes-Benz CL or to the nicely dressed hacker who has just taken a high paying job at Microsoft and is the proud owner of the car.
We are aware that the development of a drug like VF could similarly be viewed as antisocial, or “disruptive” (as Dr* Fremont likes to call it). After all the affects cause aimless wanderings across the use oriented grid of Second Life. It gets hard to see property formation, social order and profit through the lens of hallucination. But that’s what makes our study so intriguing. And we are also a clinic- as interested in administering the drug as addressing its affects.