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Notes Towards Day 21: “Spending more time in our dreams”

Notes from our conversation….

Images from our conversation….

(from Cleo’s frustrating and
Ruth’s embarrassing
adventures in SL)

Cf. Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen:
“virtual reality enables us to spend more time in our dreams”

Was that your experience?

I. Let’s start by sharing a bit
(Cleo, Mista Jay, Solomon, Rebecca, Aline, Ruth, Sugar Spice, Alexandra, Hillary, others?)

will spend time later thinking/talking about experiences we can have on-line that are/not tied to our bodies

II. Coursekeeping
We have entered the fourth-and-final section of the course, on
“Contemporary Engagements in Gender and Technology”;
your “paper” for this section is (appropriately!) a multi-media project.

Laura re: More on Multi-media
Rebecca re: the range of alternatives
a project in meatspace: a visual art piece involving a strange mix/intersection of photocopied images, computer pieces, sewing, embroidery….?More immediately: for Monday’s class, read
Williams, Consalvo, Caplan & Yee’s 2009 “Looking for gender (LFG): Gender roles and behaviors among online gamers,” Journal of Communication.

Also spend some serious time over the weekend playing video games. If you don’t play, find a friend who does or go online and find a game to play–preferably, one that requires you to construct or select a character. Spend some time exploring–-take screenshots and/or screen captures to post and/or show in class; these can constitute your postings for Sunday evening.


III. Reporting in from/processing/applying
your “third quarter feedback”

1. last section of course, on “representation”; per
Roisin: literature a more consumable, imaginative, stream-lined version of ideas
Kalyn: look at current representations of gender and technology closely in order to better understand alternative forms

**but was filled with very dystopic/negative portrayals of technology
dekman: I’ve always thought of technology mainly as a way of empowering people, including women, and now I am reexamining that idea.

2. our particular site of applications! on-line commentary

Simran: The online commentary is OK. I’d rather it be private.

Michelle: I think this is a good system.

Natasha: the comments given on-line seem public-friendly

Cleo: It’s very satisfying to post papers and have them be right there for easy access. I’ve really enjoyed the online feedback, and the fact that my friends who are interested in these topics can read mine and others’ papers.

dekman: For the papers it not so helpful, mostly because other students don’t do much with the papers.

Alex: I think I like the idea of online commentary rather than the actual practice

Rebecca: I think I’ve read a couple other people’s papers, mostly just skimming through them if the title looked interesting. Really, though, it’s easy to forget that my and my classmates’ papers are on the internet.

Ruth: I’m not sure if I’m supposed to respond, like treat it as a comment on a blog post? The comments online have been helpful, but I just don’t know if I’m supposed to take it the same way I would comments written at the end of a paper I turned in, if that makes sense.

Roisin: I’ve been trained to want to wash my hands of a paper once I’ve passed it in, and having it online doesn’t afford me that option. I’m not sad if people don’t comment on my paper, but I get that the point of having them online is to share more.

Julia: I enjoy the online commentary on my papers, and wish that I had opened up a more conversational response to the previous two papers. I think it’s an interesting concept to never actually be done with a paper (even if it is “officially” over).

yes, please, as we respond to this set of papers, please do respond, go on thinking w/ us, on-line, about work upcoming that might arise out of work already “done” (=never done!)

IV. On Monday:
–got you to do some of the summing-up yourselves
–got you to design next stage in convo yourselves

questions were all about how important the body is in defining the self:

  • how far do/might we stray from (what Andy Clark calls) “the biological skin-bag” when on-line?

  • how do we define the boundary between fantasy and reality?

  • how do the norms of virtual reality affect social norms in the real world?

  • “why grant superior status to body when selves without have different kinds of experiences”? (Sherry Turkle, Life on the Screen)

Aline on Origins of Avatars: Sanskrit “incarnation”
O.E.D.: Hindu Myth.
The descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form–>
loosely: Manifestation; display; phase–>
Now: a graphical representation of a person or character in a computer-generated environment.

The ten avatars of Vishnu

To what degree (and in what contexts) are our avatars
“descents” or “expansions,” reproductions or alterations
of who we are?

Hannah: we all agreed that we strive to present the most accurate picture of ourselves online as we can

Alexandra: a virtual world is only useful if you can use it to experience something you can’t do or are hindered from doing in your real life.

Michelle: the point of creating an avatar, it would seem, is to be able to foster an identity connected to you, but not exactly representing your “true self.”

Rebecca: context influences our decisions (i.e.: re-create my physical self in my avatars because I’m blogging here under my real name for a class taught in “the real world”).

The Doctor: I don’t truly see a difference. Both…Both require navigating through defenses we set up when dealing with other people…takes a long time. We already use avatars to represent ourselves in real life, they’re just generally tailored closer to our biological bodies than those we create online.

V.Today’s plan for discussion put together in response to those of you who don’t like small groups so much, want more pulling-together than they provide

dekman: I think it would be interesting to have a new way to form groups…Maybe having people support different arguments?

Get into Monday’s (self-organized) small groups

Second cut: those on the left will speak from the place that privileges the experiences of the body (equates them with those on-line); those on the right will refuse to do so (will grant separate status to on-line activities).

Prepare for a debate/discussion about the degree to which you are (should be held?) responsible for what your avatar does on-line :

1. does on-line sex constitute infidelity to your real-life partner?
2. does sexting (your own photo, if you are underage) constitute grounds for charges of sexual abuse of a minor?
3. construct a third scenario/thought-experiment to defend your position.

From Andy Clark, Natural-Born Cyborg:

One root of the worry [about disembodiment] is the popular image of the lonely keyboard-tapping adolescent, who…identifies more closely with his or her own electronic avatars than with his or her biological body….

The image is open to empirical question…heavy internet surfers are more likely not less to belong to some real-world community group….Talking to others on the net encourages…the appreciation that we can get together with like-minded folks and actually make a difference in the world…

Isolation…is often a matter of persepctive. The apparently isolated individual tapping away night after night is, in many cases, spending quality time in her own chosen community. These eclectic electronic communities often bring together a greater number of like-minded folk than we could ever hope to find in our hometown or even in a large city….

There is, however, a new danger that accompanies the creation of more and more specific (often gated) electronic communities….the danger of a new kind of marginalization. By relying upon an electronic community in which it is easy to speak of unusual needs and passions, people with special interests may find it easier to live out the rest of their lives without revealing or admitting this aspect of their identity. This could be dangerous insofar as it artificially relieves the wider society of its usual obligations of understanding and support, creating a new kind of ghetto….

What do you think?

Anyone want to do what Mista Jay suggests?

one class while we’re having our big group discussion, a few of us (on a volunteer basis!) could graphically facilitate our discussion on the blackboard?

Notes from our conversation….

Images from our conversation….