... The choice to actually visit both actual and virtual Harbins, reflects choices to engage easy-going, Harbin culture, to participate in the life there, if only to ease into the Harbin warm pool, there, or at home in the bath tub, visiting virtual Harbin from afar.
A PERSONAL, VIRTUAL, HARBIN HISTORY
In 2005, upon returning from Edinburgh, Scotland, where I had studied for a year in the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and written a paper on virtual St. Kilda (MacLeod 2004), I applied to work at Harbin because I wanted to live in community, and also with the idea of writing an ethnography, in the back of my mind. I was hired as operator, providing information about Harbin, and taking room reservations. Before that I had studied anthropology with an interest in information technology at both U.C. Berkeley and U.C. Santa Barbara, having developed a specific interest in studying the social effects of information technology, networks and the network society, partly from a course with Professor Manuel Castells at Berkeley. I had also written two academic papers at UC Berkeley, one on tourism and the internet (MacLeod 2001a - http://scottmacleod.com/anth250v.htm), exploring partly the enjoyment of travel, both touristically and via online surfing, and the other on science in Malinowski, Bateson and sociocultural anthropology, including a focus on anthropological epistemology vis-a-vis computing (MacLeod 2001b - http://scottmacleod.com/anth250x.htm). I had long been attracted to living in community, - at least since my undergraduate, college years at Reed College in the early 1980s, where I lived in collective houses with other Reed students – a kind of student, hippie life style - for many of those years. After this I considered living at Alpha Farm, a secular (the four founders of Alpha Farm left the Philadelphia Quaker world to living in community with Quaker process, but without Quaker religion), consensus-based, intentional community in the Oregon coast range, which began in 1973. After wanting to study yoga to become a teacher with senior Iyengar Yoga teacher Mary Dunn, I spent, instead, about 4 years at Pendle Hill, at that time called 'A Quaker Center for Study & Contemplation,' near Philadelphia, in order to live in community. My interest in living in community probably emerged from ideas of the 1960s, including the idea of freedom-oriented, ecologically sensible, harmonious communes, that shared resources equitably, and lived well with the earth, as well as from having heard about the back to the land movement; community was an attractive to me. As an anthropologist whose field site is actual Harbin Hot Springs, related ideas of community, in particular, inform conceptions of the emerging virtual Harbin, which, in turn, come from 1960's influences at actual Harbin in multiple ways. As an anthropologist, I add this personal history to situate, and make transparent, my personal interests while engaging in the social science practice of writing ethnography, now with the addition of the building of virtual Harbin, in a virtual world, for ethnographic study.
The concept and experience of community at Harbin is virtual in two ways here. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/08/rosa-gymnocarpa-upon-returning-from.html - August 31, 2010)