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Ethics for a Digital Age


Edited By Bastiaan Vanacker and Don Heider

Thematically organized around three of the most pressing ethical issues of the digital age (shifting of professional norms, moderating offensive content, and privacy), this volume offers a window into some of the hot-button ethical issues facing a society where digital has become the new normal. Straddling an applied ethical and theoretical approach, the research represented not only reflects on how our ethical frameworks have been changed and challenged by digital technology, but also provides insights for those confronted with specific ethical dilemmas related to digital technology. With contributions from established experts and up-and-coming scholars alike, this book cuts across disciplines and with appeal to communication scholars, philosophers, and anyone with an interest in ethics and technology.
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8. When the Inmates Run the Asylum: Grief Play in the Virtual Panopticon of Second Life


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8.   When the Inmates Run the Asylum: Grief Play in the Virtual Panopticon of Second Life


As computer-generated 3D spaces in which people socialize and play through their personalized avatars, virtual worlds have become important spaces for social interaction over the past several decades. Millions of people from all around the globe spend approximately forty hours a week interacting with one another in a number of ways. Edward Castronova predicts an exodus to virtual worlds because it is becoming an appealing alternative to real life (Castronova, 2005). For legal scholars like Greg Lastowka and Dan Hunter, the allure of these worlds is of a different kind. For them, these worlds are research-worthy because they are erasing the economic boundaries between real and virtual spaces by allowing different forms of capital to flow from one to the other. While their primary concern is the challenges that this fluidity poses to real-world legal systems, equally important to consider is how it situates virtual worlds amidst a complex matrix of social tensions that come about as a result of disruptive play, which in turn, affects virtual governance. In this article I consider the impact that peer surveillance has on the socio-political and legal hurdles that await virtual worlds.

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