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Notes on Boellstorff (2008), Chapter 7

July 10, 2009

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

Chapter 7. Community, pp. 179-201

180, again virtual worlds are places; ‘what makes them sites of culture… is that people interact in them’

180 virtual worlds “do become true communities after a time” (Curtis 1992 and others) [erm, but you’re not telling us what you mean by ‘communities’, this most comforting of fictions].

181 community rhetoric of Linden Lab, e.g. when citing “community sentiment” to alter the platform but without explaining ‘who constituted or spoke for the community in question’ [EXACTLY, that’s precisely why community is such as dodgy notion].

182 * social gravity: dots on screen beget dots on screen; what really mattered to residents were ‘social places’ [cf. empty cyberjaya, no social places]

182-183 events ‘involved a conjunction of place, time, and sociality’; events have to be synchronous to be events; technical constraints on events during fieldwork, max. 25 avatars; events as temporary groups [cf. my research on place-making in Subang Jaya], or more exactly  ‘as groups temporarily formed in time and place’ [is group the best term?].

184 could learn a lot from perusing residents’ groups listed on their profiles; great big ‘furry’ community (animal avatars)

185 not many founding residents were religious; more arrived later

186 kindness is rewarded; some official recognition for altruism from Linden Lab, but not too significant; at any rate kindness and altruism predominated in SL; many types of acts of kindness, e.g. giving things away

187 disinhibition (old CMC topic) and griefing; social inhibitions not annihilated, only redefined (Reid 1999); 188 griefing could be a foundation of a specific kind of SL sociality with other griefers (troublemakers)

188 Manchester School taught us centrality of conflict to human endeavour [another link to my own place-making research]

189 some serious forms of harrassment inworld, e.g. sending multiple ims, stalking, verbal abuse.

192 lag bombs; 193 griefer community spoke of sense of community; 195 griefers have code of conduct

196 some signs of ‘frontier ethic’ of residents’ taking law into own hands

197 dividual personhood [see earlier blog entries]; common to move between virtual worlds;  sometimes stumbled upon old friends they had met in another virtual world; 198 this interworld experience allowed them to ‘reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of Second Life’

197 virtual diaspora, refugees from extinct virtual worlds [I love this stuff!!!!]

198 also did research beyond SL: forums, websites, blogs, etc; 199 SLogosphere includes actual-world local governments; a manner of ‘virtual virtual world’

200 f2f meetings are traditional in virtual worlds [cf.]; 201 but exaggerating the significance of ‘actual-world meetups reflects an unfounded suspicion that cybersocialities are not legitimate or sustainable places of human culture in their own right’ [nice cautionary tale for my own analysis of Subang Jaya online worlds f2f spin-offs]. Yes, actual-world bodies and computers needed for existence of virtual world, but via techne SL residents ‘reconfigure these elements in unforeseen ways’.

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