Virtual Goods and the Greatest Story ever Told


Virtual goods make money

In a recent post about the profitability of online social networks in the US, China and Japan, venture capitalist Bill Gurley presents evidence that the more financially successful social network sites are those that downplay advertising revenue and focus on revenue from virtual goods. He points out that Users in Second Life are doing $450m annually in this business and taking out of Second Life $100m a year.

But why would anyone buy them? Continue reading

How do we know what we think we know? What the Density Classification Problem tells us

How can we know what the world is really like?

We often hear fairly frank opinions about how things ‘really’ are. We probably make these kinds of claims ourselves from time to time: ‘the fact is…’, ‘that’s just the way it is…';  ‘you know what it’s like…’

But how do we know what we think we know? And what makes us so sure that our assumptions are right?

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Is Belief in Free Will a Cultural Universal?

This is the title of a recent paper by a group promoting ‘experimental philosophy‘. This involves the “use of the methods of experimental psychology to probe the way people think about philosophical issues and then examine how the results of such studies bear on traditional philosophical debates” (Nadelhoffer and Nahmias, 2007: 123)

The paper examines two related philosophical concepts, determinism and moral compatiblism, and seeks to discover whether views regarding these differ across national cultures. Reading the paper through the lens of the Four Cultures is an interesting experience. Continue reading

The Four Cultures – No Way! Oh go on then…

greeneggMost of the dominant analyses of society allow for a straight choice between one of only two conditions. A clear example is political preference, the dichotomy between ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’ or between left and right. But the Four cultures approach explored on this website proposes that there are four, not two basic ways of organising society (but there aren’t any more than that). It claims that when we think in terms of only two ways of organising society,  we are missing out on the other two, and then our understanding as well as our freedom of action suffers for it.

Since this post is being composed on Dr Seuss’s birthday, I’ll use an appropriate example: Green Eggs and Ham. Continue reading