Culture has become an increasingly vital topic in the Second Life blogosphere over the last six months or so. This issue has emerged in response to an unprecedented series of actual and anticipated changes in technology and governance that will likely impact the status quo of almost every Second Life sub-culture and community of interest.
We are therefore working to distinguish which aspects of Second Life are crucial to the continuity of the groups we care about. We are also considering whether what we personally hold dear in Second Life has a value to the wider world. The recent focus on the cultural aspects of Second Life is at least partially an attempt to articulate in understandable terms a worth that seems self-evident to participants.
After reading many of the recent posts and comments on the topic, I have couple cautions about the use of the Second Life Culture meme:
- The use of the concept of culture as an argument for policy decisions has a lot of emotional baggage. It can therefore stimulate knee-jerk reactions that are neither relevant to the Second Life discussion, nor conducive to clear thinking.
- Culture is such a complex and broad concept that it tends to stimulate conversations that are more about semantic disagreement than clear examinations of the salient conditions, causes and effects related to the actual issues.
Despite these concerns, I believe that the recent focus on culture has added a useful dimension to our ongoing conversation about Second Life. For the best overview of the discussion to date, along with excerpts and links to key posts from Second Life bloggers, see Grace McDunnough's Search for A Second Life Culture or Omphaloskepsis.)