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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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November 6, 2007 9:31 AM

Gaming the Future: A World Without Oil

Had an interesting story cross my desk last night about the use of gaming for societal gain. More specifically, a game put out by the Independent Television Service called World Without Oil.

Referring to this as a "game" may be a bit disingenuous as it was really more of a simulation, but that doesn't negate the intriguing possibilities raised by 1800 people across 12 countries coming together for six weeks to join together in finding solutions for a not-so-fictional oil crisis.

Here's a description of what this game entailed from an excellent Christian Science Monitor article:

"During the game, players worked from a shared "alternate reality dashboard," which provided real-time data on oil prices and availability, as well as descriptions of their impact on regional economies, society, and quality of life. They used this data to inspire their own ideas about how the fictional crisis would affect them personally and play out in their part of the world. They contributed fictional firsthand experiences and proposed real-world solutions to our oil dependence in thousands of blog posts, podcasts, videos, and wiki articles. The result is an online, immersive archive of the collective forecast and solutions toolkit created by the players (which you can find at www.worldwithoutoil.org)."

While the simulation is now over, their site encourages people to continue participating by imagining your life during an oil crisis and creating something to represent it, in my case this blog post.

I got to thinking not how an oil crisis would affect my life today, but how it might impact society if we were to more fully embrace the possibilities of broadband.

Firstly, I imagined that not having cars wouldn't be the end of the world as we'd all be telecommuting anyway, so need for oil to get us to the office any more.

Secondly, I thought about how more robust webconferencing technologies could replace the need for flying across the country to attend events (which I'm getting ready to do in about an hour).

Thirdly, on a more general note, we could begin to get rid of the need for ever traveling to physically be somewhere, instead using cameras to allow our eyes to see anything anywhere, whether it be talking to your doctor or a family member or a teacher, all made possible through broadband applications like videocalling.

Fourthly, I realized that without oil we'd have to get more efficient at the delivery of goods, meaning less reliance on popping over to the store and more emphasis on ordering goods over the Internet and consolidating into centralized distribution centers. This would mean less need for petroleum-based plastics for eye-catching packaging that litters store shelves.

Really, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if a world without oil wouldn't be such a bad thing, assuming we all have access to and know how to use broadband.

Now of course I say all this somewhat facetiously as I realize the true impact of a world without oil could be devastating, but I do so to highlight how much of what we rely on oil for today could be replaced with virtual constructs and broadband technologies.

And since we're facing the possibility of a world that's truly without oil within our lifetimes, I think this just adds more fuel to the fire for why we need to be doing more to fully embrace the possibilities of broadband today rather than waiting around for a crisis situation to force our hand.


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