I’m a bit slow on this one, but I suppose it’s better late than never. U-M philosophy and linguistics professor Peter Ludlow has been generating not a little media attention over an online experiment he’s conducted, including a write-up in the New York Times, the BBC, the Detroit Free Press, and even an appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show. Prof. Ludlow is getting all this attention after joining the online game The Sims Online and starting a newspaper called the Alphaville Herald to report on events in the virtual community. His account was famously canceled after he posted the identity of a 17-year old who operated a virtual brothel (although the characters aren’t able to engage in sex acts in the game). The actions of Maxis (the company which operates the game) have sparked some online discussion about how free speech rights apply in virtual, private worlds.
All of this was ostensibly in the name of truth: Ludlow is collecting material for a book, and is interested in studying “emergence of an online governance structure, virtual legal systems and the development of social culture within the game.” I’d be interested in what Prof. Ludlow thinks about blog culture in general, and the local blog scene more generally. As these types of online culture develop, perhaps an online BlogCourt won’t be too far in the future.
Also, add Prof. Ludlow to an extremely short list of U-M professors who operate blogs – to my knowledge Juan Cole and Stephen Darwall are the only other faculty bloggers, although all three are fairly narrowly focused in subject matter. Am I missing anyone? With a large and talented faculty, I would assume a few more U-M faculty would have discovered the blog world before now, but perhaps they’re too busy publishing or perishing.