Friday, July 16, 2010

Pangolin: One thing both actual Harbin and virtual Harbin in Second Life have in common is their openness

Harbin ethnography:

... In what ways substantive and referential relationships articulate across the actual and virtual worlds divide, in terms of these Harbins, will be fascinating to study, and will shed much light on the already multiple distinctions between the actual and virtual worlds.

In many ways, one thing both actual Harbin and virtual Harbin in Second Life have in common is their openness. At actual Harbin, people take off their clothes and go into the pools, or chat easily, naked, on the sun deck in the Harbin pool area with friends or with people they meet there. And Second Life is an open-ended society where there aren't very many rules, except that you can build/make whatever you imagine; I've heard Second Life described as a computer war game without a purpose, because many virtual worlds, such as World of Warcraft, are developed around battle themes. Such openness at Harbin, and in Second Life, may predispose people to transfer their own imaginings and fears onto these 'places,' rather than find out what actually does happen there. 1) While harassment has probably occurred in both places in these open environments, as an unfortunate reality of life, it seems to be pretty limited in my experience. This Harbin ethnography will facilitate learning what happens in both actual and virtual Harbin as it unfolds. 2) An actual Harbin / virtual Harbin comparison is a fascinating anthropological 'experiment' which might both help contribute to anthropological concepts of culture, thanks to new milieus of virtual worlds informed by information technology, and contribute to the already rich literature on culture in virtual worlds. 3) To explore the contours of the ways in which 'actual counterculture' does articulate with 'virtual counterculture' may help to rewrite this assumption that culture finds form at both actual and virtual Harbin. The third above assumption will find further clarification in the ways in which Harbin residents contribute to a kind of wiki-building of virtual Harbin, with their knowledge of Harbin, and the ways in which their friends and guests engage virtual Harbin when they return home from visiting Harbin Hot Springs. Over time, some residents to Harbin Hot Springs will only know Harbin virtually and some will only know it in-the-actual-waters, but there will be much overlap and related conversation about this, as well.

THE VIRTUAL HARBINITE (vis-a-vis the Posthuman?) AND HARBIN FOLKS (vis-a-vis the Human?)

I first got an avatar, and found rich, 'flow' (Csikszentmihalyi 199.) experiences with these new information technologies, in the autumn of 2006 when participating in a Harvard University course, “CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion,” on its virtual island in Second Life. ...

( - July 16, 2010)

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