Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Avatar Culture...and identity.

Now, as with any Culture, avatar culture is marked by, amongst other attributes.... a shared language (e.g. prim, rezz, lag) and...

... as Lalo Telling puts it...."One aspect of virtuality in general, and Second Life in particular, about which Dusan and I have never parted company is its culture (I'm tempted to capitalize the word -- Culture -- because it carries that much weight). My guess is that, if you were to ask each of us what we mean, we wouldn't answer the same way... but that doesn't mean that we don't grok [?] each other. So, what do I mean by culture? Commonality: shared experience; shared symbology and language; shared worldview; shared purpose; shared philosophies of what is "right behavior", and why, and how to coax it from people... in the case of Second Life, I'll even borrow from archaeology and include a shared "tool kit". The operative word, obviously, is shared."

and......by the need to ask the question "Who are we?" ....

now... Botgirl's quest to make some sense of the subject of Avatar identity is fascinating...(..here..).... possibly more than fascinating.

Identity is, for all of us, of primary interest. There are many theories, models etc constructed to explain the various ways in which we create our own immersive storyline which we call "me" and "I". Avatar Identity is, on the surface, no different to Identity in general and is informed by the theories/models we have accepted and can relate to. ....but....

The Digital Person, when not killed off by the Typist's Angst (for 'honesty', 'truthfulness', 'disclosure',) is a new and vital link in identity research. We have, for the first time the possibility to see our identity from 'outside'. The avatar is a monumentally important research tool, (if it is allowed to be) a mirror.

Jung hints at the enigma of a consciousness which lays outside of consciousness, i.e. in the unconscious. He didn't pursue this too vigorously in print as he knew that it was, by definition, impossible to defend this paradox. He pointed to the way in which the process of Individuation (as he called it) seemed to be guided by a consciousness wiser and older than our ego-consciousness, and, of course, his well known work on Synchronicity implies a level of consciousness which is, as yet, not understood at all.

I have the feeling that this strange and difficult identity issue that we have to face and deal with is, possibly more than anything else, what makes us avatars, what makes us Us. The duality is not even negated when people decide to reveal their RL names. I find that in the long term it makes no difference to me who Botgirl is, or who Dusan is....they will, most likely, always be Botgirl and Dusan to me.

As I believe I have said before, the one person I have met in RL, Pixi Cosmos (was wearing wings when we met),...I called her Pixi in both worlds and she called me Soror. The name game is NOT the point...... the name, any name is nothing more than a sign, a title. (" a rose by any other name.." or "Goodness is just another name"), (it just gives me another set of words to forget).

This shared, totally new, dual role of avatar and typist is just not possible to explain fully or understand unless.....unless you are one of Us.

Dusan Writer (recommending highly his post here)...."We create variations on our identity – even when our avatars are tightly coupled to who we are, and look like us, and act like us, we’re still one removed from, well, ourselves."

He could not possibly have written this if he were not one of Us...

So..... this thing we have, this Culture....tends to separate us slightly from those who are not part of our tribe?
..is this why the Boys just haven't understood SL? ..
because they don't live and breath it?
because they are actually not one of Us,
even tho they know the words prim, rezz and lag??

..and while I applaud the ongoing efforts of everyone involved in the rather intellectual attempt to explain it all...

....well....we know who we are.

That means we have a Cultural Identity.

YAY! Us.



  1. Brava!

    and, thank you, soror :)

  2. /me applauds. Well said. I've met SL'ers in RL and found that we all used each other's SL names by preference.

    We should really thank Whatsisname Linden for being so remarkably obtuse a few weeks back ("there is no culture"), given the outpouring of high-quality thought that he provoked.

  3. True, Wol, seems like everytime a Whatsisname opens his gob a blogpost or three are born....

  4. Great post! I I think you really cut through to the heart of the matter. It's impossible to grok the visceral reality of avatar identity without experiencing it personally. Many states of consciousness are like that. For instance, no matter how much you have researched falling in love...the biochemical and psychological processes, first hand accounts, poems, songs, etc. ...you don't really "get it" until it happens to you.

    I just realized why I haven't resonated with the Immersion paradigm. I have taken Immersion to mean being absorbed within the "magic circle" of the virtual world. But what I actually experience is being immersed in the consciousness of Botgirl. That's a huge difference. Although my avatar identity was born in the womb of a virtual world, it is now fully independent of it.

    Thanks for giving us a whack on the side of the head. I've been really enjoying the interplay between multiple bloggers hashing through the issues of culture and identity. I'm thinking there's an anthology in our future? ;)

  5. Yes, and Dusan's take on the Sion chickens is interesting....the idea that our combined "computing" power is probably capable of quite deep research.
    I like the idea that it is 'additive' rather than a Research Collaboration... the additive method seems so much more organic. Everyone has slightly different 'Data'....

  6. Avatar Identity? lets play!

  7. Absolutely my Dear...
    You must live Secondlife to experience it.

    I have never jumped out of an airplane, and I suspect all the reading and nomenclature knowledge has little to do with the actual experience.