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Lisa Meehan and Diana Xu: Questions

2009 April 22
by Kalyn Schofield

Background: As a Gender & Technology class we are constantly making an attempt to understand the many levels in which these two subjects can interact. After reading the story Out of Time: Reflections On The Programming Life by Ellen Ullman, I wondered if a computer scientist would believe that the computer is an extension of themselves or simply one facet of their personality. For instance we’ve previously discussed in class a person’s attachment to their own body and to what extent it affects them. We explored such issues as:  To what extent does the body define a person? (Handmaid’s Tale) Are physical realities/experiences of the body more important than virtual realities/experiences in the mind? (Video gaming).

Question 1: How would you define your relationship with computers? Is the computer an extension of yourself or do you separate yourself from the computer?

Background:We’ve recently explored the video game world and the “obsessive” qualities that some gamers face when playing video games. We’ve specifically looked at WOW (World of Warcraft) in terms of  both small-scale gamers and its larger world wide implications. For example, some people make a living through playing video games compared to others who do it for fun. Other games, such as Second Life, provide a social reality for people as they experience a second “life” through this game. These games and others  provide parallels to the many lives of gamers with both the gaming world and the “real” world they inhabit. When I think of the word “gaming,” I see it as a term used to describe the playing or manipulation of a world/character/or event in a place unassociated with the same rules of reality.

Taking a quote from the Ellen Ullman paper we had to read for class today. “Programming is more like an illness, a fever, an obsession.” (Ullman, pg 1)

Question 2: Would you describe your work as an obsession similar to the obsession gamers feel? If so, was your obsession something you had prior to working in your field and it developed into a job? Or would you describe your job as just “work” and completly seperate from your “real” life? Do the two ever blend together?

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