Julian Dibbell

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Julian Dibbell
Birthname Julian Dibbell
Date of Birth February 23, 1963
Birth Place California, USA
Nationality American
Occupation Author, Editor
Biography Freelance Author and Editor for Wired Magazine.

Julian Dibbell (born on February 23, 1963) is a freelance author and editor for Wired Magazine. He grew up in California and currently resides with his family in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout the years, he has established himself as an active member in the discussion relating to digital culture.

Education and Career

Dibbell received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Yale University. After college, he spent some time working as a freelance writer in Brazil. He received the ITT International Fellowship in Brazil in 1986 and is a visiting fellow at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society.

Julian is currently an editor for Wired magazine. He has been a freelance writer and editor for several other publications, including the Village Voice, NY Times magazine, Voice Literary Supplement, Pantheon Books, and Chicago Review Press Books.

Contributions to Online Environment

Dibbell's most recent book

Dibbell has published a great deal of content relating to online culture. His website describes the topics he has covered, including "books, essays, and articles on virtual worlds, social media, online communities, hackers, bloggers, music pirates, computer viruses, encryption technologies, and the heady cultural, political, and philosophical questions that tie these and other digital-age phenomena together[1]." His most well known publication, "A Rape In Cyberspace," appeared in the Village Voice. It takes us through an experience Dibbell had in LambdaMOO, a text-based virtual environment where users, with the use of an avatar, use words to describe events. A man in the online environment, Mr. Bungle, was accused of virtual rape. Although he was not punished in real life for his actions, he was kicked out of the LambdaMOO environment. Through this series of events, the article further alludes to the fine line between "virtual" and "reality" in cyberspace[2].

His most recent book, Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot, started as a blog that documented his attempt to make a living by selling virtual objects, like armor and virtual houses. It explores the world of Massively MultiPlayer Online Role-Playing Games, known as MMORPGs, and focuses on how the society and economy in the virtual environments can influence the real world. The possibility of earning real money through playing games in the online environment is very real since many people are willing to pay for commodities in the virtual world. He provides real examples of already-existing places, such as an office in Tijuana which had workers play games online for $19 a day.

Dibbell further discusses the role of virtual environments in terms of making a living with his article published in the New York Times magazine in 2007. The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer describes a Chinese man whose definition of work and play may be blurred. This man plays World of Warcraft twelve hours a night, every day, to earn a living. The amount he makes averages out to be 30 cents an hour. There are several other places throughout the country that have similar practices. Altogether, there is an estimated number of about 100,000 players as workers in the country. These operations, youxi gongzuoshi, are also known as gold farms.

Julian is also the co-founder of Terra Nova, a weblog created in 2003 that is completely dedicated to virtual environments. Topics discussed range from academia to humor to philosophy. Other active authors as well as guest authors occasionally contribute to the blog, including Richard Bartle, Timothy Burke, Nate Combs, and Mia Consalvo.


Julian Dibbell has written several hundred of publications. The list below is a few listed in his online CV.


LambdaMOO environment, setting of Dibbell's "A Rape in Cyberspace" article

2008 “Mutilated Furries, Flying Phalluses: Put the Blame on Griefers, Sociopaths of the Virtual World.” Wired magazine. Reprinted in The Best of Technology Writing 2009 (Yale University Press, in press).

2007 “The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer.” The New York Times Magazine. Reprinted in The Best of Technology Writing 2008 (University of Michigan Press, 2008).

2006 “Dragon Slayers or Tax Evaders?” Legal Affairs. Reprinted in The Best of Technology Writing 2007 (University of Michigan Press, 2007).

2001 “Pirate Utopia.” Feed. Reprinted in The Best American Science Writing 2002 (HarperCollins, 2002).

2000 “Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Man.” Feed. Reprinted in We’ve Got Blog: How Weblogs Are Changing Our Culture (Perseus, 2002).

1993 “A Rape in Cyberspace: Or How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database into a Society.” The Village Voice. Reprinted in Reading Digital Culture (Blackwell, 2001), Flame Wars: The Discourse of Cyberculture (Duke, 1994) and ten other collections, as well as in Spanish, Japanese, and Norwegian translations.


Play Money: Or How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot

My Tiny Life: Crime and Passion in a Virtual World

Violation: Rape In Gaming

See Also

External Links


  1. http://www.juliandibbell.com/, Julian Dibbell's Personal Website
  2. http://www.villagevoice.com/2005-10-18/specials/a-rape-in-cyberspace/, Dibbell, Julian. "A Rape in Cyberspace." The Village Voice 21 Dec 1993.

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