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How to Destroy a Community

Tim Maly reports on Alex Gianturco, an EVE Online World of Warcraft player who uses espionage and psychological warfare to destroy rival guilds:

An aggressor, he says, can untie the binds of community by putting pressure on the group until individuals stop thinking of themselves as part of the larger collective. Power blocs in Eve are made up of alliances, which are made up of corporations, which are made up of individual people. In a strong alliance, individuals think of themselves as part of the greater whole. As an alliance weakens, individuals experience a shift in identity. They think differently about who they are.

“Pressure and not having any fun in the game makes pilots blame the alliance for their failures — ‘my alliance sucks, but my corp is great’?“ Gianturco says. “Enough people shift identity from ‘I’m a member of Band of Brothers’ [an alliance] to ‘I’m a member of Reikoku’ [a corporation], and it’s just a matter of time before those corps blame one another for the alliance’s failures.”

When it comes to putting pressure on your enemies, not all adversity is created equal, he says. Dramatic wins or losses, though exciting, do little to turn the tide of war. Humans are quite adept as rationalizing these sorts of events. If you lose one big battle, you can tell yourself that the other guys cheated, or that it was server lag.

Instead, Gianturco suggests a campaign of sustained low-level misery. “The trick is to find what the enemy hates the most and feed it to them nonstop. You listen to their discourse and find the core of their identity and then step on it as hard as you can.”

Figuring out what part to step on is the job of Gianturco’s spies. With access to the private communications of his enemies, Gianturco can figure out what parts of the game they hate and then force them to live only that.

Full Story: The New Inquiry: How to Destroy a Community

Community Building: Small Is Beautiful

Coumunity, the online magazine of Thee One True TOPI Tribe, is up. I wrote an article for it about my experience co-orgnizing EsoZone and the way the lust for more attendees can ruin a beautifully small event:

In a community, the quality of connections between members always trumps the number of members. Unlike a network, which thrives on weak ties between ever larger numbers of people, a community thrives on strong bonds.

But it’s easy for community builders to lose sight of this, especially when you’ve gotten a taste of quantity. I know because I’ve been there. Community building is more important than ever, so I’m sharing my story so that hopefully a few others can avoid falling into the same trap I did.

I was the lead organizer of an occultural festival called EsoZone from 2006 -2011 (though I did take a couple sabbaticals along the way). The second annual EsoZone festival started on October 10, 2008. We had talks by Dennis McKenna, Antero Alli, Paul Laffoley and many more, along with performers like Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule and Hecate.

It was a huge success. Around 300 people turned up, and there were write-ups in the local press as well as High Times magazine. People told me it changed their lives.

But it was also incredibly stressful.The digital projector died constantly. The schedule was constantly shuffled, partially due to the projector, partially due to other logistical nightmares. Some speakers and performers felt snubbed by the changes and problems. One group didn’t get to perform at all.

Full Story: Coumunity: Community Building: Small Is Beautiful

Fixing A Scene: Examine Your Assumptions

This is about underground hip hop, but much of it could apply to almost any scene:

Bars are, for the most part, terrible places to be. Obnoxiously crowded and stupid expensive. The sound system has never been set up right and it’s always too loud. So why do artists keep presenting their blood and guts in these fast food environments? I’ve played shows in beauty salons, backyards and basements and had a great time doing it—there’s not a “tour circuit” for this yet, but there will be soon.

How many shows can you play for a room full of dudes before it’s time to kill yourself in a hotel room? Why don’t more women come to rap shows? That one is easy: because they don’t want to be there. They don’t enjoy themselves, they don’t feel safe and they don’t have fun.

We need more than “Alternative Hip Hop,” and definitely more than another coffee shop for spoken word navel-gazing. We need an alternate Universe, a great & secret show, a Truth & Beauty circuit full of fresh fruit, fine foods and exotic tea from fictional continents. We need daytime shows, midnight gigs on anonymous rooftops, costume concerts and a nationwide revival of Acid Tests from coast to burning coast. We need all four alleged “Elements of Hip Hop” in the same building again—most of all, we need parties worth going to, parties worth putting down your fucking phones for and actually living.

Hump Jones: Fixing Underground Hip Hop

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