Friday, November 17, 2006

Reality is becoming a luxury good

My personal definition of luxury goods is that they are exclusionary -- if one person owns them, then another person can't. Original works of art. Wineries in Napa. Antique Ferraris. Houses in Atherton. All exclusionary goods.

I was chatting with Brian Smith this morning about Second Life -- and it hit me that a lot of what goes on in Second Life is people expressing very human creative urges in virtual reality, because doing so in reality is (often) too expensive. In Second life, you can build a house, an orchard, furniture, a boat... owning the land and the machinery and taking the time to do all that in reality is simply beyond the means of most people.

I don't spend any time in 2nd life, because in real life I'm building a company, and I have a 2-car garage full of woodworking machinery which I use to make furniture, in my very limited time. I've also been working to create a citrus orchard on our patio. If I lived in an apartment in San Francisco, I wouldn't be able to do that last 2; and anywhere but Silicon Valley, the first would be vastly more difficult. Luxuries all. Exclusion runs on a personal timelie as well -- I have spent several decades of my life learning how to work in wood, and time is the ultimate exclusionary good. My ability to build furniture is inversely correlated to my ability to play the piano, hit a fastball, or any of a number of other ways I might have invested large slices of my life.

Tonight at 11:30pm, I am flying to Columbus, Ohio to watch the latest iteration of the awesome Ohio State - Michigan football rivalry. Thanks to my ex-OSU faculty father, my brother Ben and I have tickets at face value(score!), but I'm still spending 48 hours and nearly a thousand dollars to be at the game. Meanwhile, 500,000 people voted in an ESPN poll on who will win the game, and millions will watch it on television.

Reality is luxury, indeed.

Oh, and Ohio State wins, 16-9.

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