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Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

DOWNLOAD Æ Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds The residents of Second Life create communities buy property and build homes go to concerts meet in bars attend weddings and religious services buy and sell virtual goods and services find friendship fall in love the possibilities are endless and all encountered through a computer screen Coming of Age in Second Life is the firs. In his book Coming of Age in Second Life Tom Boellstorff makes a statement that he wants to treat Second Life as a virtual world in its own terms His rationale for this is that there do exist distinct cultures in virtual worlds even though they draw from actual world cultures 18 I find his approach towards virtual worlds not only provocative but also strategic While it presents a fresh perspective in observing new media culture it also aptly serves his purpose to map Second Life culture as a whole 29 and thus demonstrates how ethnographic study of virtual worlds is conceivable and perhaps necessaryTreating Second Life not merely as techno metaphorical place but as a real form of place with political and economic conseuences Boellstorff attempts to lay out various aspects that eventually highlight the richness and uniueness of Second Life such as the notion of place and time personhood and gender and race In this regard he focuses on what he regards as the mundane aspects of virtual worlds such as lag afk and voice chat This strategy is based on his argument that culture is lived out in the mundane and the ordinary 72 While doing this he also introduces innovative concepts such as homo cyber age of techne and creationist capitalism grounding on comprehensive list of works on virtuality and digital cultures The use of these concepts then builds up his argument on the productive ramifications of a gap between actual and virtual in the realm of the virtual 58 original emphasis However despite the resourcefulness of Boellstorff s book I personally find some of the elements of his book a little bit unsettling For instance I feel that there is a sense of reluctance in seeing the creative mis uses of technology in Second Life as a form of techne It seems that he only treats the instances of technological deviance ie hacking in the context of Second Life such as the grid attacks and the hacker intrusion 131 only as side notes It is a little bit strange considering the culture of hacking is perhaps one of the fittest examples of his concept of techne as creative force in cybersociality I suspect he somewhat submits with the general assumption on hacking as hazardous activity Thus he overlooks the possibilities to consider the scripting and building activities in Second Life as hackingMoreover I feel that some of his analyses on the culture in Second Life a little bit pendent The most obvious instance for me is in his discussion on gender and race 138 47 The end of that section was so dangling to me that it really put me into a state of disappointment I did not find any concluding analysis that at least hints on the issue of the gap between the virtual and the actual that he deems significant Also he seems to ignore the possibility of relating to issues of cybertyping I borrow this concept from Lisa Nakamura in his observation about some of the resident s tendency to treat people according to their avatar 130 This kind of negligence is also made apparent in his discussion on voice and agency It becomes a little bit annoying to me that he seems to forget to at least make a side note on the case of voice chat controversy 112 16 in his discussion on agency 147 50 This is problematic since on the issue of agency Boellstorff points out the possibility to expand Gayatri Spivak s statement can the subaltern speak into can the avatar speak 149 I suspect this is related to his own position on the issue of voice chat capability itself I notice he was sitting among the protesters on Figure 43 I understand that since Boellstorff aims for a holistic perspective he provides only a preliminary analysis 165 Yet I do not think that this stand should hinder him from providing prolific assertions on the complexity of culture in virtual worlds All these exasperations leave me with a mixed feeling towards the book It indeed provides one of the most comprehensive and original analyses on the culture in virtual worlds however I wish this book could have presented a complex view

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DOWNLOAD Æ Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human Of gender race sex money conflict and antisocial behavior the construction of place and time and the interplay of self and group Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itsel. An ethnography on the Second Life virtual world The author provides context by discussing concepts and history such as virtual ancient eg language memory palaces cyber ancient Greek control governor teche gaming and othersHis discussion includes many different aspects of SL including relationships love avatars money genderrace sex ethics addiction etcetera He points out that culture and the particular rules we follow in a society are no less artificial than those in a virtual world and that the relationships in SL are real because there is communication and emotionThis book provided me with a good background and better understanding of virtual worlds and several aspects of the internet and its relationship to our society

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DOWNLOAD Æ Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human T book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universeTom Boellstorff conducted than two years of fieldwork in Second Life living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so called real world He conducted his research as the avatar Tom Bukowski and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life including issues. Tom Boellstorff takes a fascinating approach to researching culture in one of the largest virtual communities called Second Life His primary goal in researching this virtual world is to gain insight into the culture that exists there and further understand the norms that are shared by those who participate In studying Second Life Boellstorff took a research approach used by anthropologists studying culture called ethnography He conducted research by interviewing participants and forming focus groups in Second Life However the majority of his research comes from simply observing users and their behaviors by interacting with them During his time in Second Life Boellstorff s avatar which he made to be openly gay and biracial bought clothes interacted with other avatars hosted events constructed a house and office participated in games and traveled the virtual landscape In conducting research on Second Life and the distinct cultures which take form there Boellstorff chose to study the realm in its own terms by viewing it as its own entity rather than taking a common approach to that of many researchers who choose to study online interactions and how they correlate to interactions offline This approach was especially appealing to me as it allowed me to think about my motivating uestion in a uniue way When choosing this book I hoped to understand why user s turn to Second Life as a place for self expression and how this is similar or different to user s self presentation in other social networks Because Boelstorff studies Second Life as a distinct realm and chooses not to compare its ualities to other social networks I was forced to infer deeply from the text in order to draw my own parallels between self expression in Second Life and how it correlates to other networksBoellstorff was able to draw hundreds of conclusions about the culture in Second Life In terms of self expression one of his first findings was that the avatar s appearance made a large impact on how other users perceive that avatar and interacted with it in Second Life Boelstorff argues that the link between avatar and sociality was widespread and Second Life residents believe that people treat you according to your avatar It s a shame but it s true p 130 Another resident claimed I sort of judge people based on their avatar appearance I don t tend to like the tall skinny blondes p 130 It is fascinating that judgment based on appearance is still a prominent aspect of Second Life even though the avatar is not real and users never know who is controlling the avatar In class we freuently discussed the concept of how Facebook users strive to present their best version of themselves which often can be far from who they actually are in order to gain some confidence or attract a certain audience To do this Facebook users often go to great lengths to portray themselves in the best way for example by un tagging pictures that they perceive will be viewed as unfavorable Users of Second Life also spend significant effort hoping to portray a certain outward image and to do this the majority of users purchase using real money converted to Linden dollars in Second Life hairstyles clothes and jewelry Fashion design is considered a competitive business in Second Life and those users who design the clothing actually make on average around a thousand dollars a year The fact that there is an economic demand in Second Life with regards to purchasing products to enhance the avatar s image draws light on the extent to which appearance is crucial no matter how real or in what medium the self presentation exists An actual economy exists in Second Life which relies on skilled laborers who even sometimes make their actual world livings by serving as builders fashion furniture and textile designers and even sex workers and strippers Users of Second Life have the ability to make an incredibly uniue avatar because of the huge selection of goods they can purchase and as a result self expression is a huge aspect of this virtual realm because of the endless possibilities to customize the avatar and insert personality into its appearance and behaviors One resident argues Second Life is a chance to be someone else beside yourself which you can t really do in RL real life unless you want to lead a double life p 120 Boellstorff found that many residents of Second Life say that their Second Life persona is outgoing and assertive than they are in their actual life For example one resident told Boellstorff s avatar The SL me and the RL me are two totally different people I may appear strong in my online presence but in RL I m so weak it s not even funny p 120 In class discussion we have discussed how on popular social networks such as Facebook and Twitter people are cautious about being perceived as trying too hard to come off a certain way which does not represent the real self In contrast in Second Life it is acceptable and normal to experiment with different personalities and even as a different gender than in actual life without anyone knowing that you are not being your self This affords users to experiment with self presentation to a far greater extent than Facebook or Twitter allows for Boellstorff found that many users experience a confidence in Second Life or a revelation about the self that they were able to bring to their real life in order to make a life changing transition This transition occurred in residents in distinct ways but in each case Second Life served as a comfortable medium in order to try something new before adapting the change into one s real self Boellstorff found that a large amount of Second Life residents have a different sexual orientation or gender than they do in real life The following is from a conversation between Boellstorff s avatar and a female avatar named Pavia who disclosed the following Tom I m not the person you have gotten to know But at the same time I am I m a man in real life but about three weeks ago I learned that I m transsexual I ve pretty much known that I was different all my life Here in Second Life I created something new in myself that I never realized was there before At first it was just role playing but then I grew to love Pavia I kept infusing myself into her but then something unexpected started to happen Pavia started coming out in the real world I became her she became me p 138 For many transsexuals and gays in Second Life the medium serves as a virtual closet where they can experiment with their desires that they do not yet feel comfortable acting on in the actual world Thus Second Life affords residents struggling with their sexual or gender orientation to have the ability to become comfortable with their gay lesbian or opposite gender orientation before choosing to come out in the real world In addition to this transition in gays and trans genders Boellstorff observed a somewhat similar kind of gained confidence in Second Life that translated to the actual world for those with disabilities Boellstorff learned in Second Life that a strong survivor who has been in a wheelchair for a couple of years found the strength to work toward walking again thanks to his involvement in Second Life p 121 Although the Second Life resident struggling with their gender orientation and the disabled person undergo very different struggles and have different goals they both were able to gain the confidence to act on their desire in the actual world by experimenting with their identity in Second Life In class we discussed how Facebook does not always serve as a supportive network to disclose something very personal about the self due to user s often having a large network made up of weak ties However the ability in Second Life to naturally experiment with the self and befriend strangers who are not aware of one s real identity provides residents with a chance to be supported for who they are This book was not only fascinating and opened my eyes up to a world I had no previous knowledge about but it was also beautifully written and engaging while still written in scholarly language I chose this book to understand about why users turn to Second Life as a medium for self expression and after completing this book I fully understand how this virtual world allows users to not only express themselves but also experiment with their identities far beyond what any other social network affords It is the ability in Second Life to construct a new self through experimenting with appearances new behaviors and even occupations that the medium affords users the ability to not only gain confidence but fall in love with a self that they are able to incorporate into their offline self In thinking about how positive many Second Life residents experiences have been I am left with the uestion of why these virtual worlds are not prevalently used as a way to explore the self through computer mediation rather than using other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter

  • Hardcover
  • 316
  • Coming of Age in Second Life An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human
  • Tom Boellstorff
  • English
  • 01 March 2018
  • 9780691135281