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Virtual Salami

Since interviewing Edward Castronova, I’ve continued thinking about how prominent these virtual playgrounds are going to be in our lives. Then I came across this NYT article on hitting the clubs on the virtual Lower East Side of New York:

It began as a typical night on the Lower East Side. A few weeks ago a
crowd of young urbanites gathered in the bowels of Cake Shop, the
pastry cafe cum music club on Ludlow Street, to see a performance by an
indie-rock band, the Virgins. A couple of minutes into the show the
subterranean space was already packed to capacity and smelling of stale
beer, so I left.

I walked a few blocks to my apartment on Avenue A, turned on my
computer, directed a small, pixelated representation of myself to enter
a small, pixelated representation of Cake Shop, and rejoined the show.
There were no imperious bouncers or foul odors to contend with, and no
fluids of any kind expectorated on my shoes. Except for a slightly
choppy video feed, it was by my standards a pretty successful evening
on the town.

Despite knowing that its real-life inspiration
exists right outside my door, I have spent the last few months making
such visits to the Virtual Lower East Side (vles.com),
a three-dimensional, Internet-based social network fastidiously modeled
on a small but influential swath of Manhattan real estate.

The article includes this nice shot of a virtual Katz’s Delicatessen. You can just see the salamis hanging in the window if you look carefully:



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