Just as in Boellstorff's book (2008: 18), key terms in my ethnography of Harbin Hot Springs are 'actual' and 'virtual.' In the context of both digital, virtual worlds, as well as human, symbolic processes of representation, virtual here refers to something “that is so in essence or effect, although not formally or actually.” This definition has utility in this actual-virtual ethnography of Harbin Hot Springs in making it possible to examine linguistic correspondences between on-the-ground Harbin and the essence or effect of modeling a physical place using computer code to create interactive representations – virtual Harbin - that allow for type-chat and voice communications – human symbolic processes – among a whole variety of human interactions. This OED definition further highlights the distinction, in this instance, between Harbin the actual place and Harbin the digital representational construction. Interactive human experience in actual and virtual Harbins has multiply, if not infinite, parallels, - while the ongoing multiple distinctions and differentiations of the between the potential (Massumi 2002:30) of virtual Harbin to be like actual life at Harbin, ethnographically interpreted, in this comparative approach, aren't minimized. The significance of this interpretation of actual and virtual is that it yclepts (Money 1988: 118) or classifies and labels, both what's similar and different about actual/virtual Harbin in an unfolding way. Actual Harbin changes continually in terms of process and temporality in a developing way, and virtual Harbin allows also for its ongoing construction, by avatars there who have permissions to digitally build and create it.
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/05/wilderness-virtual-here-refers-to.html - May 14, 2010)