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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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vCity 1.0
Chapter 4

". . .every one is the best and sole judge of his own private interest . . ."

--Alexis de Tocqueville--



In my e-mail there is a letter from "Lee Ward". S/he writes:


Thank you for your recent note about my new site at Sage Advice.

Exon Inspiration is merely interactive art applied to the free market.

If people do not wish to go there, they don't have to.

As for the body parts, I thought that was rather a neat statement

summarizing the raw elemental nature of sex from the point of

view of the id.

Thanks also for your offer of employment. I like the job I have.


I groan inwardly. This is going to be a nasty one, no doubt about it. There is nothing more intransigent than an artist defending art for the sake of freedom of expression; nothing more dangerous, unless one gets between a baby hippopotamus and its mother.

Yet there is no point hiding or even wasting time. I learned long ago that crafting a response for e-mail is a waste of time. On the Net one has to speak one's mind, speak one's heart, and let the truth prevail. If truth can be found.

FROM: First Citizen / VCID:

TO: "Lee Ward" / VCID:

DATE: 20 JUN 02, 10:27 EDT

RE: Wherefore art?


Art speaks to the human condition, and, more than technology, is our

last and best hope for progress.

The hallmark of civilization is that while we recognize our capacity

for evil, we nevertheless renounce it and work towards a better future.

Your site graphically portrays sadism, rape, torture, and murder. Okay,

others have done so in other media before you. Because your site

is interactive, however, it enlists the participation of others to engage,

even if only conceptually, in such cruelties. By charging fees to

others for participating, you thereby assign value to dehumanization.

And you make no attempt to renounce the evil you display.

In the arena of the spirit, silence is consent.

In short, I believe that you have moved beyond art into exploitation

for profit. This is not a good thing.


First Citizen



I barely sit down to enjoy my first cup of coffee of the day, a good, strong French Roast, when Lee replies. S/he must be staying up late at the keyboard. I am delighted. The more e-mail I can get from Lee, the more chance I have of obtaining something that I can use. In the world of infodemocracy, discourse is water. It makes life possible. S/he replies:


But that's the point. Don't you see? You talk about

'evil' and 'good' as if these were objective criteria.

But they're not. You have to let people decide for

themselves what constitutes 'good' and 'evil'.



I can feel the coffee churning in my stomach. This is really going to be a tough one. If Lee had told me, in good Australian fashion, to go piss off, I would be happier. Instead, I've stepped into an oozing black tar pit of moral relativism; Ethics 101.

At any rate, s/he has given me the wedge I need.






FROM: First Citizen / VCID:

TO: "Lee Ward" / VCID:

DATE: 20 JUN 02, 11:04 EDT

RE: OK, see you in COPO


When the Nazis threw Jews by the trainload into the gas chambers,

the Nazis were working with a subjective criteria of good and evil.

Allies from around the world kicked their ass anyway.

Let people decide? Okay, see you in the Court of Public Opinion.

First Citizen

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