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Notes on Boellstorff (2008), Chapter 4

July 8, 2009

Boellstorff, T. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chapter 4. Place and Time, pp. 89-117

91 place-making is crucial to virtual worlds; whatever people do in them, virtual worlds are “just a set of locations. Places” (Bartle 2004). Yet long history in mass media studies of seeing place-making as ‘antithetical to the virtual’. What’s truly revolutionary about virtual worlds is that ‘they are new kinds of places’ [my emphasis]

92 3D visuality is key feature of virtual world, unlike websites or blogs

93 landscape and residence: conflict over store not because encroached on a building but because ‘it damaged a landscape’. If loses control over landscape this can impinge on viewer’s sense of own efficacy.

96 aesthetic of community and openness embodied in sky builds; resident who created in her SL home a ‘virtual virtual landscape’ although for the creator the images stood for a real SL landscape: “The scenery on the walls…is actual scenery here in sl”.

97-99 not just neolib consumerism; also ‘a place for forms of barter, donation, and communal ownership’

99 a commodity economy (Strathern): “both persons and things objectified as things”

99 SL homeless out of need or lack of interest in ownership; so excluded from important SL sociality dimension of building

101 home as personal space: ‘”I love being there” or “I built this place to relax. It’s my place, it’s mine”.

101 synchronicity and sociality [see Baym]: synchronic interaction crucial to making virtual worlds seem like worlds. 104 Lag – very interesting stuff, esp. with ‘synchronic’ sociality; lag disrupts/threatens this sense of being in a world

105 real-world geography

106 Heideggerian explanation of lag as time breakdown

107 afk (away from keyboard) and lag seem banal elements of cybersociality but both have ‘important theoretical implications for questions of place and time’

109 being ‘back’ – person and avatar reunited after afk – welcome back! This ‘signaled that the actual was once again present in the virtual’

111 practical jokes

116 the assumed effect of techne now not sensory immersion of virtual reality but rather social immersion of virtual world

117 you’re never completely ‘back’ after afk cos you’re still physically away from the virtual world as an actual embodied being; endlessly deferred (Derrida) resolution of this conundrum

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