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[OTHER] Social v. Scientific MOOs

Well, this post has nothing (?) to do with programming MOO, so unless you're
interested in the social aspects of MOOs, skip it.

I just finished reading the excellent interview with Pavel and Amy on MediaMOO
(great MOO, btw) and a couple of other white papers on related topics, and one
thing that came up there is a difference between the kinds of communities
that develop on MOOs like AstroVR (intended for a close-knit research
community) and say, LambdaMOO (open to the whole wide world).

Because I have some experience with both AstroVR and social MUDs and have been
developing a MOO for mathematics, I am wondering what others have to say about
this sort of phenomenon.  I really agree with the constructivist ideas brought
forth in the interview -- the best MOOs IMHO (the best anything?) are the
`build it yourself and then you'll really understand it' type -- but most
researchers I know have the attitude that there are better things to do with
their time than learn how to work a MOO (or for that matter, anything on the
net).  [Digression: It blows my mind that people have these incredible
communication tools sitting on their desktops and don't even know how to use
them, let alone create with them!!]

Rather than constructivist attitudes, I perceive a `build it and then maybe
we'll come' attitude out there: The mathematicians I've talked with want
something that works as is -- they don't seem interested in building anything
themselves. (Yet of course they want full control over anything they use in
their classroom.)  How do these sorts of issues become resolved in a MOO?

I suspect the `answer' is that there are those who use the tools, and those
who make the tools.  Few of us bother to delve into the inner workings of the
MOO server code; rather, we let Pavel and others do it for us, and then we
use what they make.  Do MOO societies mimic real life in this manner,
developing into layered communities of those who use what others built using
what others built using .... what Pavel built?  And if so, what role (if any)
do the MOO administrators/wizards/janitors/programmers/etc. play in this?

And how, as more and more MOOs are used for technical/professional work, will
those societies develop?  Who will make the tools?  Will we all sit around
in blandly described rooms and talk over the MBONE to each other, and not
even notice the MOO at all?



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