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Friday, October 24, 2008

First trial for murder of an avatar in Japan



Simulpost with techlearning

Perhaps the first trial for a virtual world murder is going to happen in Japan.  (Technically it is for hacking as the crime.)  The article Japanese Woman Arrested for Virtual-World 'Murder' tells the story:

"A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband's digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, police said Thursday. The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game "Maple Story" to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy."
To me, this comes back to the emphasis of WHAT we should be teaching students:


Online behavior has offline consequences. 

If we can teach them in small things, then hacking, which is increasingly being treated with the seriousness that it deserves, will not be something they do. Most people will think this to be laughable, but then again, how would they feel if their prize possession on their desk were irretrievably smashed by an enemy, or their car was keyed beyond repair?  They would care!

I spent several weeks a go after speaking at Hoover City schools in Alabama trying to explain Second Life to my Uncle and Dad -- the conversation was full of laughter as they heard of people buying and selling virtual real estate.  And although it is inside a computer, it has to be run by servers, connected to the internet, maintained, and upgraded!  It is virtual but it IS, most definitely REAL!

It is not Real world vs. virtual world but physical world vs. virtual world:  both worlds are REAL.

Things change and this is a big one. 

We are doing society a favor if we teach that

Online behavior has offline consequences.

So many schools are punishing the portal, the website, the tool.  It is not the tool's fault that humans misbehave.  That is human nature.  Hold the humans accountable who do wrong things in these spaces. 

Some administrators would rather take the "easy" answer.  However, if they want easy answers, close the school - then you won't have fights in the lunchroom or altercations in the hall.

As for me, I much prefer online student altercations if I had to pick, because there IS NO "He said, she said" - it is all in black and white, printed in nice little text for all to see.  It is trackable and manageable and very clear what to do.

I think perhaps administrators uncomfortableness with online spaces has more to do with their unwillingness to discipline for behavior there.  However, my administrator has dealt with online discipline issues before for technologies he didn't understand because he can read a printout.

Again, I will repeat:

Online behavior should have offline consequences.

And we need online educational networks and spaces to teach this - both private and eventually, before a student graduates, public spaces that protect their identity. 

Like it or not, this is the world we live in and VL is part of RL. VL = RL (Virtual Life = Real Life) or maybe we should amend this as per Karyn Romeis wise comment to be


Physical Life + Virtual Life = Real Life



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