The old concept of life as being something other than what we suppose returned to me just now while checking in at Bob Sutor's Open Blog, where I read about a Virtual Worlds Conference held at MIT on June 15 (you can view the agenda for the event at Bob's blog here, and find a live blog entry at Virtual Worlds News on a panel that Bob moderated here). And yes, there's (of course) a standards hook in here somewhere.
"A lot of people are looking at Second Life and saying, ‘Let’s do one of those,’" said Bob Sutor, vice president of standards and open source at IBM Corp. "The last thing you want is a lot of different ways to do the same things. You need standards for how to teleport between different virtual worlds and to bring objects with you." …Besides an avatar’s clothes, those objects could include the money it was using in your home virtual world as well as a presentation you might want to share with your colleagues or potential customers.
Making the assumption that the world is governed by rules instead of laws helps solve a lot of puzzles.After all, Newtonian physics work, but not all the time. When you get down to the realm of the really small, then you have to pull out a different rule book (the quantum physics one) to explain why things happen the way they seem to. And how about that pesky Dark Matter? If all physics is just a collection of imposed rules rather than the observable physical laws we think it comprises, then we never have to figure out where all that Dark Matter is hiding. It becomes just another "known issue" that the programmer fudged. Once we quit insisting on immutable laws and think in terms of design rules, used only to the extent that they’re really useful and not in the way, we don’t need a Theory of Everything and bizarre patch jobs like string theory at all.