Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Turmeric: Virtual Harbin comes to instantiate a kind of parallel-to-actual-Harbin form of human-relating & communication, Culture, Digital 'Making'

Harbin ethnography:

... (In the process, this book also comes into conversation with Tom Boellstorff's “Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human”).

The Making of Virtual Harbin as Ethnographic Field Site emerges from both the actual Harbin Hot Springs and its milieu, and the development of virtual worlds' software, making possible the ongoing making of representations of places and avatars, as well as open-ended, avatars-to-avatars communication, among many other novel forms of digital multimedia. Virtual Harbin thus comes to instantiate a kind of correspondence-to-actual-Harbin form of human-relating and communication, mediated by representations of 'place' and avatars. Virtual Harbin thus gives new form to socio-cultural processes of tool use, now digital, in two ways: 1) people/end users can make virtual Harbin islands quite easily, and 2) avatars can easily make Harbin-related virtual things on virtual Harbin island. Despite the relative complexity of virtual world software and programs themselves, the ease of making such virtual places as virtual Harbin, in Second Life and Open Simulator, gives form, too, to a “virtual worldview” (Boellstorff 2008: 24), akin, perhaps, to a related kind of “Lego-building-block worldview.” The relative ease of constructing things in Second Life has lead to a wide community of builders, who, together, have constructed the very large number of virtual islands, places, avatars, clothing, houses, art and the many other remarkable 'builds,' in Second Life. Like wiki (editable web pages) information technologies, a key aspect of this 'virtual worldview' is its collaborative aspect due to a large community of participants and a shared set of digital tools and approaches, defined by the software. So virtual Harbin not only emerges from actual Harbin but from a shared, group understanding of these Second Life and Open Simulator virtual worlds. Virtual Harbin's community in Second Life's community, gives form to actual Harbin's countercultural milieu in a particular virtual worlds.

Virtual Harbin's emergence from actual Harbin reflects ongoing expressions of the 'networked society,' (Castells 2000) ....

(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/06/turmeric-virtual-harbin-comes-to.html - June 29, 2010)

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