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Get A (second) Life

I am very security conscious. Probably stems from my days in the service with Naval Intelligence and my current profession as a computer programmer. I’ve given far more information to this course blog than to any other online entity. It’s an issue of trust. I have an inherent trust of the students at the University of Minnesota. We all belong to an actual physical community and are merely online as a medium for communication versus being total strangers conducting business online. I do not use my real name online, only pseudonyms. I have never used an avatar. I primarily manage my investments and conduct other business online. I have never role-played in the MUDs. That doesn’t mean that my online experiences are dull however. I find that “getting away? from the office to research a stock and make a trade or two extremely therapeutic (Sherry Turkle, Identity in the Age of the Internet, p. 197). I can’t say I get away from some of the tortured lives Ms. Turkle investigated, or that I have an online addiction. But getting away from the daily barrage at work really helps me get through the day.

Rooting around Second Life was quite interesting. It reminded me graphically of early 1980’s Apple II computer games. Those games were only interactive whereas Second Life is reactive. Ms. Turkle conducted her research in 1995. How far Second Life has come from the text based virtual reality to that of the graphics and avatars of today, as klunky as they may be. The panoptic (Turkle, p. 246) view individuals have in the virtual reality space of Second Life is very interesting. Granted, this view is classically only reserved for the wizards (system administrators) (Turkle, p. 248), however, I think everyone also has that power because you are not really there. You can observe others interactions with one another and disguise your own true identity.