For your reading pleasure..

I need to apologize for the lack of recent posts – a new project is eating up my free time..

Here is your homework for the weekend: read Thomas Malaby’s paper about the different forms of capital in virtual worlds.  Professer Malaby has been studying us for the last year or so, and by us, I mean he was sitting about 10 feet away doing ethnographic research on Linden Lab last week.  He was sitting at a desk with a laptop, which may be a kind of dot-com version of a duck blind, but it seems that ethnographers try to immerse themselves in the culture they are studying.

I never got around to taking a anthropology class in college – my only experience with the social sciences finding a orange warning cone on a footbridge one morning, only to look up and notice a gaggle of students with clipboards trying to hide behind a bush.  I waved at them, and walked across the bridge.  For whatever reason, I tend to respect researchers who don’t try to hide behind shrubbery.

I had a whole long post planned out on how being researched makes me a bit introspective – in this case, my relationship to Linden Lab’s culture, and how it affects my relationship with "the world."  Unfortunately, it was long and rambling, so my internal editor chopped it all out and promised to include it in a future post.

Oh well, enjoy Prof. Malaby’s work!

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7 Responses to For your reading pleasure..

  1. blaze@blaze.com says:

    It’s interesting that this academic choses to dedicate significant space to Kermitt and Wells Fargo.

    Tringo got sold to Donnerwood, which, if I am not mistaken is run by Sean Ryan .. a friend from the RealNetworks days. Let’s face it, a big part of its popularity was the fact that it could be used to game dwell. An SL specific artifact in many ways.

    Wells Fargo, as we all know, dropped out after the beta, and really had nothing to do with the massively shared space Philip is creating to connect people.

    What am I trying to say here?

    Look through the hype and the manipulation of the press and you start to see the real truth.

    Get down and dirty and hang out in SecondLife, not at LL HQ. Get a job, make a lot of friends, teach classes, or explore in an extensive and detailed manner.

    SL has something cool but everyone misses it because all they see are the headlines and hear the word of mouth.

    They are just seeing this chunk of ice sticking out of the water and they are writing about that instead of the massive glacier that lies beneath.

    To understand or to write intelligently about SL you have to go under water, you have to *be* in SecondLife.

    Prokofy is a good person to follow (http://secondthoughts.typepad.com). He seems crazy but that’s because he writes from a perspective the tourists can not appreciate, and he does not really care to explain to the unFIC.

    There are others, Gwyneth is good, though she doesn’t live in SL in the same way.

    Torely Linden is another good reference.

    Basically anyone who has left their first life mostly behind and migrated to the new world.

  2. Thanks for posting the link to my paper, Ben (unprompted by me, despite my proximity to Ben’s desk last week, and the potential threat of nerf rockets, etc., I therefore posed).

    Blaze, I appreciate your comments, and you probably already know that there are social scientists doing field research inside of virtual worlds, including Second Life, which is very important work for all the reasons you describe. This project was conceived precisely to fill out the picture on the other side–what is the culture of a group of creators (in the broader sense, since all Second Life residents are potentially creators) of a virtual world? The work from within virtual worlds is crucial, but inevitably and fatally partial if we do not examine how these worlds are architected in the first place.

    As for the examples, they were chosen because they illustrate the key point I’m making in that paper, which is that virtual worlds, as architected, persistent, and contingent environments, allow for the potential accumulation of resources. It really does not matter what the status of those examples is now; as I pointed out in the paper, they are ilustrative, not comprehensive.

    I guess I am a little surprised that some Second Life residents (if you’re representative) might not think it urgent to study those who hold the most amount of control over virtual worlds. The culture(s) of the folks at Lindens Lab have inscribed themselves, inevitably, on the code of Second Life, for good or bad, and to the extent that we think Second Life is a special place, with special potential, we need to understand that.

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  7. moms anal says:

    I’ve basically been doing nothing to speak of. Basically nothing seems worth thinking about. I feel like a void, but that’s how it is. I’ve just been hanging out doing nothing.

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