Jentasmic Geeks Out About VMK

9 May

The pending closure of DIsney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom made me nostalgic for one of my old hangouts . . . and cranky about our society’s growing investment in proprietary virtual environments.

[… ]the relationships forged and supported in such a space can be quite rich and complex. I “saw” these people every day, often working more closely with my geographically-distributed colleagues than I did with the guy on the other side of my cubicle wall. I never would have thought of these as “virtual” relationships . . . they were real, actual relationships, expressed primarily in a text-based space. We got a lot of work done, and we laughed a lot too.

Eventually, the project shifted communications strategies, and we had to leave behind the MUD where we’d all become so comfortable. But here’s the good thing: MUD software is not under the control of a single proprietor. Some of the code I’d written in our old hangout could easily be duplicated in the new place. All it took was an email to the admin to get my programmer bit set again, and a fairly simple copy/paste operation. I couldn’t bring my lightsaber, nor my Jedi credentials, so it wasn’t quite the same. But there was some degree of portability, and we got used to the new space in short order. Plus, it was easy to move us all to the new space, communicating through email lists.

Virtual Magic Kingdom users don’t have any such options, because the environment in which they’ve invested their heart, soul, and creative energies is completely under corporate control.

There’s a whole lotta people out there trying to save VMK, and I hardly know who to link to first . . . but this one’s probably a good place to start (Google will find you way more).

One Response to “Jentasmic Geeks Out About VMK”

  1. Jon May 12, 2008 at 1:43 pm #

    As much as I like VMK, I have to say that the argument to keep it alive is weak. Recently the VMK Shutdown protest only yielded 12 people [http://ocresort.freedomblogging.com/2008/05/10/fans-protest-end-of-virtual-disney-site-in-front-of-disneyland/]

    I loved VMK for the art and environments, but I can’t say I had many friendships there. Anyone that has used the interface knows that the word censors made it very difficult to express yourself.

    What I’m surprised about is that Disney isn’t keeping it alive and making it a pay service.

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