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A Second Life? To me, its still a game.

Sorry that this is a day late everyone. My computer crashed and is currently being fixed by Chipheads (a great company by the way!)

In the past, the only places that I have had an internet identity were on AOL in chat rooms or instant messaging, or facebook (which really isn’t a hidden identity at all!) But, on facebook, I have decided to limit who can see my information. I made this decision because I know that what I put up there could be used against me or in the wrong way. Especially as I go into the workforce, I am careful to post only things on my profile, picture, and on others’ walls that is appropriate. MY rule of thumb is, “What would my grandma think if she saw/read this?? That way everything is respectful and not offensive. On AOL, my account was set-up when I was in second grade. Therefore, my mom made up our screen names. She used the first part of my last name for all 4 screen names (mom, dad, brother, Kate) and then our initials after that. We ended up with “GUSTTA, GUSTSC, GUSTTJ, and GUSTKC.? Original I know. On facebook, I am hiding nothing. There is no need for a pseudonym. Again, neither one of these allow me to use Avatars. Well, I suppose AOL allows you to use a symbol or a face, or a musician, or a season to decorate your name. So, in the past, when I used to IM a lot, I remember using things like snowflakes, hearts, and sometimes smiley faces. I can also remember dealing with chat room problems. The whole a/s/l took me a while to figure out. Once my mom found out what I was doing, chat rooms were off-limits in our households! (Little did she know that IMs were the real problem!)
After reading the assigned articles, I find the Turkle articles the most thought-provoking. I believe that my experiences do not relate to the MUDS talked about, but the idea behind it makes a whole lot of sense to me. I think that individuals seeking social contact, but may fear rejection can come to an online environment and feel like they can project themselves onto characters or be someone entirely different. As far as the argument between psychotherapy or addiction, I believe that any online community with any hint of anonymity allows people just one more outlet to “try? being someone else. The example of the individual who was violent online instead of real life is actually a saving grace. So, in my mind, as long as the environment does not change the individual and does not become a habit that can become defined like any addiction, then the activity is just fine. But, summed up nicely “MUDS blur the boundaries between self and game, self role, self and simulation? (Turkle 192).
I also think the CNN article by Kirkpatrick is a nice lead-in to what’s to come. It’s an outlet for individuals to explore who they are, who they want to be, and how they want to act. But, what I find most interesting is the statement regarding future business. “But what's beginning to catch the attention of IBM and other huge corporations is something potentially far more profound than a new online pastime. It's the ability to use Second Life as a platform for a whole new Net - this one in 3-D and even more social than the original - with huge opportunities to sell products and services? (Kirkpatrick 1). As a marketing major I find this compelling. You could use product placement, have avatars be spokespeople for items, offer services in the virtual world, and so on and so forth! The opportunities are endless, and an entire new media outlet would be created.
Secondlife would be a nice addition to the online world, but I also think there could be dangers in it just like any other online community. People have been known to abuse things that are new in the virtual world, and this program should be monitored and used with caution until it is wholly figured out. If I joined Secondlife I would bet that I would try things that a CEO of a large marketing firm would do. It would be interesting to “test? ideas without real consequence.

Comments

Your last line about testing ideas at a low cost is a point I hadn't thought about. It would be a completely low-risk environment. Though, like we saw with the web-explosion of a couple years ago, when everything is electronic and virtual, things can go away very, very fast. Booms and busts can happen much faster in such an environment as well. I also liked what you said about ethics toward the end of your post. Kind of a scary thought when the real world is so far out of order, do we really need another world to regulate?

I agree with you that there can be problems with online communities. One of which that "Virtuality and Discontents" talked about was the ability of wizards to hack into other people's conversations. That is an issue of privacy and needs to be dealt with because one of the pluses of why people go on MUDs is to be anonymous and have private conversations with others. I don't think that many people like having their conversations spied on. I think that there probably will be some abuse issues with the SL program that haven't come up yet. I think that it would be smart to have someone monitor potential problems.

In response to your comment on how virtual reality games can be a saving grace to someone who is experiencing violent or abusive feelings. I think that it may not be a good idea to have them express violent feelings and thoughts openly on online communities such as MUDs because that may be a way for them to plan out their violent schemes. I'm afraid that it's just a way for them to play things out before they act upon their feelings.

I agree with a second comment I read regarding "how virtual reality games can be a saving grace to someone who is experiencing violent or abusive feelings." I think people like those given as examples in out Turkle readings actually needed professional help and not mor efantasies in their lives.