Diplomacy in Cyberspace
University of Surrey
So people are playing games. So what?
• People are gathering in these spaces
• People are communicating with one another
• People are developing meaningful relationships
• People are creating new understandings
• People are participating
But before we get ahead of ourselves…
• The differences between online and offline:
– Physical appearance
– Physical proximity
– Greater transience (more weak ties)
– Absence of social cues
So how can the interactions in
cyberspace be meaningful ?
• In traditional definitions of “community”,
there’d be no such thing in cyberspace
– How can you develop meaningful relationships with
people you’ve never met?
It’s been happening for years
• These virtual worlds are the
places which the online
communities are tied to
So how does it happen?
• Virtual worlds are designed that way – people
must rely upon one another to survive and
• Anonymity becomes Pseudonymity
• Whatever role trust plays in offline communities,
it plays in online communities because these
interactions are human-bound
This is where things get interesting
• Incorporating real-world ritual into the virtual
• Commemorating real-world events
• A non-official policing force in a space where an
official police are absent
• Representational government for the people by
• Judicial systems
• Thriving economies worth tens of millions of
So what does this mean for public
• These spaces integrate the functionality of the
internet, the creativity enabled by digital media
and the collaborative possibilities offered in the
• They are integrated and immersive media
platforms which encourage active participation,
collaboration and innovation
• They extend traditional information access, and
support new ways of creating exchanges and
experiences for a global population
Others have chosen to use them
• Charities • Political Parties
– Global Kids – John Edwards 08
– UNICEF – National Front
– American Cancer Society – UKIP
– Centre for Disease
– Sweden Control
– The Netherlands – NOAA
– World Economic Forum
So how do you do it?
• It’s very easy. It just takes a bit of planning. The
most important thing to remember is that it all
comes back to the community
– What are their social norms?
– What can you provide which offers value?
– What can you provide which offers the community a
stake in how and where you’ll fit into the social
• Virtual environments are thriving worlds
populated by tens of millions around the world
• They simulate and stimulate
• People are motivated to participate
• And if you want to get involved, you must too
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