Monday, May 16, 2011

Waking up at the Federal Consortium of Virtual Worlds Conference

I don't remember the exact moment it happened, but at some point during the Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds Conference I awakened to the deeply provincial nature of my habitual perception of virtual worlds. For all my lip service to the Transworlder ideal over the past few years, my own mental model keeps falling back into the narrative of individual avatar identity created for personal reasons in the current virtual world environment.

Reality is much bigger than that.
We are in the cloud and we are wearing it . . . The computer is an instrument whose music is ideas. The augmented conversation is Jazz. David A. Smith at FCVW 2011
We say, "Music shall fill the air." We never say, "Music shall fill a particular segment of the air." Marshall McLuhan in The Medium is the Massage
Early adopters of the horseless carriage didn't have the faintest clue that automobiles would eventually transform almost every aspect of life:  wars; suburbanization; integration; retail chains; woman's liberation; climate change, etc. The conversations we tend to have today in the avatar community about virtual worlds are analogous to early car adopters getting worked up about Henry Ford's decisions on pricing and features for the latest version of the Model T.

From our present vantage point we can clearly see that those kinds of issues about the automobile might have been compelling and necessary in the short run, but didn't really matter in the long run. So over the next few posts, I'm going to try rise above the ground clutter and think about the virtual world from a more expansive and inclusive perspective. Wish me luck!
It's no longer virtual worlds, but a virtual world. Sandy Kearney at FCVW 2011
Our technology forces us to live mythically, but we continue to think fragmentarily, and on single, separate planes. Marshall McLuhan


sororNishi said...

Funny you should say that. It adds to a post I've been brewing for a week or so.

Miso Susanowa said...

Funny you and soror should say that... it is where I have been posting from.

Botgirl Questi said...

soror & Miso: Birds of a feather and all that. :)

It makes sense that those of us using virtual worlds for mostly artistic purposes would tend to keep questioning the status quo as well as our own perceptions. Marshall McLuhan, for instance, said,

"Art at its most significant is a distant early warning system that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen."


"The poet, the artist, the sleuth – whoever sharpens our perception tends to be anti-social; rarely "well-adjusted", he cannot go along with currents and trends. A strange bond often exists among anti-social types in their power to see environments as they really are."

Darrius Gothly said...

*smiles knowingly* That sudden flush of epiphany is both energizing and frightening all at once. Realization that you aren't just walking down a new stretch of sidewalk, but instead are merrily skipping down a concrete path woven into the bowels of a new neighborhood, in a new city, in a new country, on a new planet .. and most probably even in a new universe. The walls between the two versions of "you" suddenly transform into connectors linking them and not dividers keeping them safely defined.

The "Big Idea" is truly big .. and yet in our typical human fashion, we embrace it with temerity, fear and confusion.

Welcome to Today Botgirl. We've been waiting for you. *sly wink*

Botgirl Questi said...

Darrius: So, when do I get to learn the secret handshake?

Jenn Forager said...

/me rummages for the Secret Handshake poseball.
Excellent post!

Crone on the Loose OG said...

love the post... yes, reality is much bigger than that.. inclusive of many virtual moment, thoughts, actions.. that we do not really think of as virtual.. hell i think my whole life has been virtual from the get-go :))
technology has just introduced me to new corners.. and i enjoy them all

Unknown said...

I have a feeling that Chimera was trying to explain this to you way back when you were researching psychology and identity and the downsides of SL. It is many different things to different people. Ultimately for me it's all about community, bringing together those who would otherwise never meet, and forming networks that stretch across the globe. It's for education, for art, and for just about anything you want. ;-)

Splash Kidd said...

Always enjoy reading your posts on your blog Botgirl when time permits. I find it interesting your line of reasoning and the analogy you utilize in respect to the early adoption of the automobile with that of the use of an avatar, computers and the "cloud". If I can be so bold, my overall macro perspective is that the automobile over the last 100 plus years has done more ecological and psychological damage to the natural environment and to us as individuals than good. The growth in the sophistication, speed and utilization of computers is no different in my view. Sure we are more connected to each other via computing and the cloud, however the vast majority of that connectivity is extremely superficial and very much dehumanizing at the same time. The amount of time we spend now with our oh so sexy computers, smart phones, etc., is increasing and surrounds us in almost ever fabric of our lives. A day, not so far away, will come when our carbon based units are embedded with numerous nano-based computers, all based on the theme of trying to make us live longer, more productive and "happier" lifes.

The reality, in my humble opinion, is that we (the royal we of course) are very much on a run-away train that constantly morphing and evolving into this super charged technological monster, that in the long run, won't need to retain it's prisoners (carbon based ones just make to many errors). The further we pull away from the "garden" (again in my view) the closer we ultimately get to the point of no return and will eventually break the poor camels back we have been riding on since the beginning.