First of all, I am terribly sorry for this post being late. My internet has been having lots of problems; but, I think the kinks are all worked out! This was probably one of my favorite discussions so far. We had so much to talk about and I’m really enjoying the experience of tying things together and really making connections to past readings. We are reading them in an order that makes sense! The piece that we read, “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitats” by Morningstar and Farmer, was fascinating. The first sentence gave me one of this sinking feelings when you know that this article is 1) going to take forever and 2) probably because it will be boring and have no significance to your life and 3) you’ll be wondering forever why it connects to this course. BUT, boy was I wrong. My highlighter was going crazy all over these pages at nuggets that are not only applicable to this piece and virtual worlds in general, but to the “real” world as we know it, in a very broad sense.
One of the beginning nuggets that I highlighted was, “The essential lessons that we have abstracted from our experiences with Habitat is that a cyberspace if defined more by the interactions among the actors within it than by the technology with which it is implemented.” This got me thinking of several things. 1) the difference between Twitter and Facebook. It seems as though Facebook recognizes that the interactions are there and of course they make up your experience, but it’s more important to make it innovative through changing the layout and adding new features so that it can be, ironically, more “user-friendly”. On the other hand, we have Twitter which for the most part (as far as I have heard in class) has stayed true to its original identity, focusing on incorporating only the necessary and user-demanded characteristics that we now take for granted, such as the # and the @. These symbols represent this idea that the interactions are what matters. They make up the technology. 2) this idea of having multiple “selfs”. Which one is your true identity? Do we need to deciphere betweewn your virtual avatar and you as a human being? Well, why should we-shouldn’t it be a reflection of who you truly are? That’s an interesting question because then you start diving in to later nuggets that I highlighted which including the discussion of whether or not to have weapons and how murder should/if murder should be punishable in the virtual world. Do we punish people at all? Do we even make it possible? Do we punish their avatar or them as a human being? What is that line that marks the difference between virtual and real, and why is it there?
All of these questions are extremely fascinating to me, especially since I am so engrossed in social media through my organizations, major, and just simply living in 2012. Social media is, essentially, a virtual world. Books are, essentially, virtual worlds. Anything that takes you from what you can tangibly see, feel, and hear to a place where you can interact with people without seeing them, feeling, or hearing is virtual. So, who’s to say you need to be accurate in your portrayal of yourself on the internet or even when writing books? It’s an interesting question and in class we talked a lot about good v. evil- whether people are inherently good or inherently evil. This question has been raised several times in varying ways, particularly when talking about deschooling, self-motivation, and productivity farms (all three of which are very closely related). Though it is a question that should be addressed, i think the point we are trying to get at is, why, in this environment where everyone generally grows up with the same fundamental rules that murder is bad and charity is good, do some people think that virtual murder is good and that some people think virtual murder is bad? The answer we proposed was that it involves a lack of consequence. People are trained to react and interact with each other based on the consequences that they will receive or not receive from their actions. So, if you take away those consequences, our innate and raw emotions are brought up again. But, is the idea and act of murder “innate and raw”? OR is it just scandalous and thrilling to pursue an action in a virtual world (with no consequences) that you know you cannot pursue in real world (where there are consequences)? I’ll use the example of something as simple as taking a cookie from the cookie jar before dinner when your mom’s upstairs. If you knew there was no way she could find out you took the cookie, of course you’ll take it. If, however, you knew that there was about a 95% chance that you’d get caught-you might think twice or not even risk it at all. Well, at least I wouldn’t. BUT, there are some people who would do it no matter what (or perhaps be even more likely to if they knew there was a risk). Why is that? Well, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe the thrill? The feeling of being sneaky?
I have raised so many questions in this post and I cannot begin to answer them all. But, I challenge you to take a gander at this piece and attempt to come up with some opinion. I certainly have mine, but I find I am always thinking of new things or hearing new things that make me contradict myself! Hopefully you all can help me sort this out!