Saturday, April 26, 2008

Howard Rheingold (a little late)

The questions first posed within this article align precisely with how I feel about these virtual worlds. What is the appeal and hype surrounding them and how could someone possible spend so much wasted time in front of the computer? This type of technology does allow people to dissolve boundaries and create new identities, one which may not align to who the person really is, but more along the lines of who they wish they were, or even some complete fantasy person or being that would never exist in the real world. I could see the appeal of this ability; however, since playing in these virtual worlds with these virtual characters will never result in actually becoming them, many people may be wasting time and energy working to become someone that they’re not. Also, making friends in these virtual worlds rarely, if ever results in an ‘authentic’ friendship outside of the virtual world. I can relate to his quote “It’s dizzying at first, like learning a new kind of communication gymnastics.” My first experience on second life was me being clueless wandering around the opening scene having no idea what I was supposed to do. When I got to the SCU Island I still really had no idea what to do.

When he started talking about the different challenges and games that exist in the MUDs I got a little confused. I guess I don’t fully understand all aspects of second life or the different worlds that exist within its ‘walls’. He brings up a very interesting point about how those who very actively involved with ‘MUDing’ may be ‘actively seeking society rather than shunning it’. They may not be shunning society; however they are somewhat shunning their direct surroundings. They’re more interested in connecting with people across the internet rather than develop relationships with those whom they have direct contact with. The addiction he discusses is very real and probably my biggest concern when it comes to these online communities. Just like video games and TV, it is very easy to get addicted to this constant entertainment.

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