Make up

Week 1

 

In the article, “Same Shit, Different World” by, Lauren Bans, argues that virtual worlds like Second Life, give a person a chance to be someone they are not in real life. In the beginning of the article Bans talks about a man name Ric who has an illegitimate second life, on “second life.” He is everything he wants to be in real life. He chooses to be thinner, thicker hair, and more adventurous riding motorcycles with his second wife. While reading this I felt this is cheating. This man spends 14 hours on this application, and is living in a fantasy world. People are addicted by this concept of the idealism. I feel this fantasy could become a reality. If he wanted thicker hair, and to be slimmer, and more adventurous with a wife. Those are all things that could happen. Second Life should be able to give people the courage to make these life changes in Real Life, not having them spend half of the day in a world that will never change. I find it a waste of a time when 14 hours are spent in a virtual world. However the concept of being able to be yourself, and feel confident enough to do this you normally would not do in real life is encouraging, and I would hope to see that this would encourage users to maybe one day make the change and stand up for their identity, and also  gain confidence in who they want to be. Life would be a lot happier if this was the case. 

 

As the article progresses, Ban talks about a couple who met on Second Life, and really formed a true relationship. Although the never met, they still had strong feelings for one another. As the relationship progressed, to even talk of marriage, the two figured out they were both cons of who they perceived to be. People’s feelings were hurt and a catfish has been caught. Online dating is a great tool, and I am a huge advocate for it. I have many friends who are married to the love’s of their lives, and they met online, but there are the cases of people faking their identity. The difference on Second Life, is these people may not be who they said they are, but they have the advantage to change their identity , they are free to do so, and in their eyes they are not lying. This is how they want to be, but this is the disadvantage to second life, because people get caught up, ad begin to believe that second life is their primary life, and it can end up hurting themselves. I have very mixed feelings about using a virtual world for personal use. I feel it would be more successful as a teaching resource, or for businesses.

 

 

Week 2.

 

In the article describing the Proteus Effect, written by, Nick Yee & Jeremy Bailenson discuss how Online game users, and in virtual worlds use how they represent themselves as defining their identity. Users have the luxury to represent themselves in any way they want. Usually people tend to get creative and make themselves into something they are not in real life. It is a fantasy world they are in. Most users get addicted to playing games and using virtual world for this sole reason. They are obsessed with portraying themselves in a better light then they are in real life. 

 

The proteus effect describes how users are able to take on different self representations, and how that changes their behaviors. Being able to change our identity in virtual environments is more affordable then making changes in real life. Virtual life in general seems to be an easier route in escaping to world where one would feel accepted. People alter their personas on the environment they are in. I feel this can dangerous because people who get extremely into the game “world” can bring their behaviors into real life. For example, I feel a lot of these school shooting can maybe stem from the video game world they are sucked into. I personally know a kid who is 15 and plays video games constantly, he is sucked into his headphone and locked away in his room for hours. I feel the escape of  real world would have to eventually psychologically effect the brain. Certain people are more prone to psychological disorders, and this would only make matters worse. There has been to many devastation with school shootings, and now they have expanded to movies and the mall. In some of these instances people dressed up in costumes, believing they were another identity then what they were brought up to be. Most of the time the parents are in shock, and have no idea where these behaviors have come from. 

 

 

Week

3- presentation

 

 

Week 4

 

This week I missed. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

week 5,

 

In the article “Look at Us”, by Andrew L Mendelson, and Zizi Parcharrsi argues that social media picture that are uploaded are a definition of our self representation. In other words, the pictures we post are a representation of how we want to portray ourselves to our followers. I definitely agree with this because people post pictures that they want everyone to look at because this is how they want people to see them. For example, this whole new phenomenon on the “Selfie” is all about taking pictures of yourself and uploading them for people to see. This picture usually consists of pictures that the uploader thinks looks good. There are famous poses that are done for people to enhance their features. For example, girls may do a “kissy face” to enhance their lips. Boys may flex their muscles to enhance their physique. The reason these users go all out in posting these photos is gain attention they want their followers to notice them and like their picture or comment. The more likes and comments a user gets then the more it boost their egos, and helps them gain confidence. Also on someone’s social media page you’ll find other photos, it could be of things they like to do, their career, friends, family, pets, and or favorite music. All these features on their page lets followers get a good idea of who they are, and what is important to them. They display their identity through these photos. On my facebook, they are all pictures of my family, friends, and cat. These are the most important things to me in my life, and are actually my life so a person visiting my page would get this impression. OH! and also my relationship for Rutgers. That is on their too !  I have some strong feelings about this school I attend, lets just say it will be bitterSWEET leaving!

 

 

week 6, 

 

In the article, “From Treehouse to Barracks,” authors argue that games like World of War craft creates a social environment where users form relationships, and continue to build on them while playing this game. From the readings through out the week I recognized a pattern, and how users of virtual worlds, and games are not only getting addicted to these games because they are entertaining, but also because of the relationships they are building online. Gamers alter their personas in the online world, and gain the confidence to build relationships. The authors of this article study the relationships between gamers in World of War craft, and wanted to hypothesize the reasoning behind the groups of people of who formed connections. What correlates between each groups and what do they do in these formed social groups. A bunch of research was done to help answer these questions, and they formed guilds to help lead them to a conclusion.  It was hard for me to understand this article, but from my own personal experience using online gaming resources I noticed groups that stay connected are usually based up age level, and how often a user is active on the game, the more experienced a user has, the more they will find the people on the game who have the same interest. 

 

Week 7

 

 

In the article “Living in virtual communities,” by Carter talks about the authenticity of virtual contexts. In my experience on social media networks, it is common to keep personal information, like address, and phone number on the down low. There are a lot of people that are frauds online, and they seem and look like they are someone who maybe interesting to you, but in fact they can be very dangerous. The web allows you to put whatever information you want others to perceive you as, and this can be a bad because a lot of these frauds are dangerous. I remember when the internet started getting huge, there would be news specials on kids who would talk to strangers online, and decide to meet up with these people and realizing they were not who they expected. I remember my mom stressing, make sure to not put my address on myspace, and personal information, and how there are “bad” people online. It is extremely hard to tell who is authentic or who is a fraud. Carter questions how can you tell if someone is being truthful or not. In my opinion its really hard to tell. Even in real life it is hard to tell when people are being truthful. People are frauds in person just as much as they are online. The exception here is that online it makes it easier to lie because people do not have advantage to the verbal and nonverbal cues, a person usually makes when they lie. They can look away, or look to the ground when they lie in person. Online it makes it easier to be more confident and seem “real” to what they are portraying. I am also guilty of some truth not being so true on social media. For example, I only choose pictures that are positioned, and filtered to make me look better. I do not look as good in person as I do online. I can edit photos, and crop out things to make them look better. People want to look perfect, and show only the good things to portray a certain lifestyle to others. We are all guilty of this.

 

 

Weeks 8, 9, 10, 11 , 12

 

youve graded! thanks!

 

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Week 5: Playing and Collaborating Online

In my opinion, gamification is the most genuinely interesting buzzword of recent years. Its effects on user experiences are felt across educational applications, productivity applications – virtually everywhere that was not already a game. I perceive the rise in popularity of gamification to coincide with the rise in casual gaming that followed ubiquity of smartphones. This shift is illustrated by Jenkin’s (2006) work, “Fans, bloggers, and gamers: Exploring participatory culture”, where he explains that “fans” are an archaic concept. Users are now directly involved with content production and dissemination – and if they want to gamify banal tasks, they surely will.

Persuasive Games’s Ian Bogost, the developer of such hits as Fatworld and Cow Clicker, understands the phenomenon under these games better than anyone. The most bewildering part of these games is that you are not doing anything cool. There are no cars, spaceships, or Italians racing; there is no flying, building, or sexual release like the non-objective-based Second Life can afford. Users literally go through the motions simply sustaining another version of their existence in a farm, a diet, an airport, etc. The idea that this is enjoyable – or even falls under the definition of a “game” – could alternatively illustrate technological determinism. In other words, our devices now dictate what we classify as “fun”, not the other way around.

Benefits of gamification to corporations include…

In either perspective, it is undeniable that using technology in this way is changing mediated communication. Now more than ever, we are awarded achievements for connecting with others, and level-up by furnishing corporations with more information and people. Whether this power will tip more towards today’s interactive audience, or big data and corporations, remains to be seen.

Week 4: Virtual Contexts

Virtual worlds as a basis for research are relatively new. Furthermore, as they evolve, their categorization is an ongoing process. For example, Bloomfield discusses in “Virtual Worlds for Studying Real-World Business” how games like Second Life can be sources of education and research material: “Many educational and research goals would be achieved more effectively by creating bounded and unconnected worlds, and endowing participants with new actors, initial wealth levels and other attributes” (Bloomfield, 2007, p. 20). Indeed, the ease with which software can create “bounded” – non-persistent, isolated worlds for users to inhabit is staggering. So, while Second Life might represent a venue for deviant behavior or a gloomy alternative to real life, its utility is much greater.

“Over 125 educational institutions own land, hold events or collaborate in Second Life, including Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford” (Bloomfield, 2007, p.1).

Portwood-Stacer’s work on media refusal looks at today’s new virtual contexts in a different light. Users are literally addicted, and their figurative drug dealers are blameless: “Consumer culture and the corporations which power it are thus left unproblematized, while individual pathological behaviors are subjected to scrutiny and critique” (Portwood-Stacer, 2012, p. 1). As a result of this power imbalance, the only way for consumers to reassert themselves is to refuse media outright. While this conclusion of a need to ramp down media providers’ control over the public is valid, it also proves how important that control is in present cultural and technological contexts; moreover, it necessitates further scholarly work on the subject. This work, in turn, cannot be completed without so many of these big corporations’ products and services. Indeed, media refusal is not as simple as some may think.

Quitting this guy is easier said than done.

Finally, Taylor explores the negotiation between virtual worlds and real worlds through a “fan faire” for MMORPG Everquest, in “Finding New Worlds”. This article illustrated one instance of a blend between virtual and and real worlds. In other words, an offline Everquest meeting retained aspects of, and references to, ideas that originate in online gameplay or communication. Implications for the future seem indeterminate: technology will only improve, making virtual contexts more and more appealing. As a result, will real-life interaction become more seamlessly connected with the virtual, or instead rot as the inferior alternative?

Week 12: Romance and Sex Online

The internet is a fascinating place for non-normative cultures and behaviors. In particularly, “non-standard” romance and sex flourish in places like Second Life. Articles by Brookley & Cannon and Gross helped to frame some of my observations from Second Life field trips.

In “Sex Lives in Second Life” Brookley & Cannon discuss Second Life locations such as “The Orchid Club” and “Bound & Determined Fetish Club”. Whether fortunate or unfortunate, I did not travel to these locations for Second Life observations. Nonetheless, Brookley & Cannon’s analysis provides insight into conversations I did have in Second Life. For example, the “liberatory perspective” refers to how users of Second Life may have “greater agency to explore and refigure gender norms and sexual roles”. As Gross explained in 2003, 6 years before Brookley & Cannon’s article, “the internet offers most young people readier access and greater privacy” (p. 261). Brookley & Cannon’s concept is essentially an extension of Gross’s initial observation.

An event where liberation is sure to occur.

While I didn’t observe this behavior firsthand, avatars that I conversed with mentioned “sex outlets” and the concept of being much happier in Second Life than real life. Using the liberatory perspective, it follows that some of this happiness is caused by the ability to act outside of one’s real life gender norm or sexual role.

Furthermore, if a user is on an island accompanied with numerous others similarly exploring non-normative genders or sexual roles, they will feel even more motivated and happy to do so. This sexual liberation, along with the general liberation Second Life affords, also helps explain the travel journal quote “I figure that people arent having a good life in rl, and make up for it here”.

 

Week 3: Avatars and Self-Representation

Goffman’s Introduction presents the dramaturgical presentation of self, a seminal theory in the communication field. It suggests that every aspect of interaction has a specific purpose, even if that conducting subconsciously. Passiveness, appearance, even “the rapidity with which a visitor lifted his fork or spoon to his mouth” (Goffman, 1959, p. 7) – these apparently minor actions all convey enormous amounts of information to other interaction participants.

Our self-presentation is just as complex as a Broadway production.

In a virtual world, individuals have fewer of the communicative signals that Goffman described. For example, online interactions lack the complexity in timing and tone of face-to-face conversation; the wealth of signals from observing others’ facial expressions; and the impressions given off by others’ clothing, posture, and demeanor. As a result, the few signals that are available constitute all of the impression an avatar is giving off. In other words: avatar appearance is everything.

Yee’s research also recalls the chilling Stanford prison (or Zimbardo) experiment, where random individuals took on assigned guard/prisoner roles and fleshed out their identities to a disturbing extent.

Yee & Bailenson extend this idea to show how avatars influence given-off impressions, but also influence the avatar’s behavior itself. Just as a 1988 study demonstrated how wearing a black uniform caused both observers and the uniform-wearers to assign “tough, mean, and aggressive” characteristics to the wearers, one’s avatar choice has implications for their behavior and the behavior of those around them.

"Should I tell him what a ridiculous impression he's giving off?"

“Should I tell him what a ridiculous impression he’s giving off?”

The state of video chatting in today’s online environment demonstrates current attitudes and beliefs in virtual interaction. In my experience, despite more bandwidth, better cameras, and the ubiquity of the internet, video chatting is not a preferred method of interaction for many. I almost never engage in video chatting, and rarely see others doing so. This speaks to peoples’ familiarity with lower-context forms of communication – e-mail, IM, the telephone. Interactional partners in these types of interactions are often represented by an avatar or icon. However, in video chatting, so much more information is received – the impression given off has so much more detail – and it seems people are not fully comfortable receiving it in a virtual context. Thus, less rich, avatar-invoking communication is often preferred.

“Just because it is imaginary, doesn’t mean it isn’t real”

The Synthetic Worlds article was very fascinating. The line, “a synthetic world that grows together with the outer world like two vines on a tree, each one imposing more and more development on the other year by year” absolutely blew my mind. And the more and more I think about it, the more it makes sense. In other post that I did, I compared the universe to the Internet. How fitting is it that humans eventually created the Internet; a complex, interconnected and unimaginably infinite amount of space where information and energy is processed, created and passed from one receiver to the next (sounds a bit like our universe, doesn’t it?). The universe is all we have ever known—to me it makes sense that humans would eventually create a virtual or synthetic version of it that is smaller and more comprehendible.

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(Taken from: http://antifan-real.deviantart.com/art/Grand-Universe-17189369)

The author also mentions the “magic circle,” which I thought was another interesting point. The magic circle is the realm in which games take place. It is where the unimaginable becomes imaginable, with heroes and villains and quests and so forth. I think the reason the author brings this up is because it infers the points he is trying to make. Synthetic/virtual worlds do not necessarily need to be a bad thing for our society. A lot of people give video games and virtual worlds a lot of flack because they somewhat inhibit the growth and development of social abilities and interaction, and they encourage a somewhat sedentary lifestyle. However, they do encourage creativity, and invigorate and create sense of thrill and importance for the user.

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(Taken from: http://www.techpolicydaily.com/internet/10-myths-realities-broadband-internet-usa/)

The world we live in is very limited in terms of what is possible and what is not possible. We cannot fly, we do not get respawns or do-overs, magic is not real, etc. In virtual worlds, though, they are. I think the point of the article is to play devil’s advocate and say: are virtual worlds such a bad thing? They allow us to do things that previously only existed in our imaginations and our dreams. Although they are not real, they do create real ties and real emotions. I have played video games that were so moving or so powerful, that they had a very substantial impact on my life. One of which was Bioshock Infinite. The message and storyline were so incredible that it changed my perspective on life a bit. Another game that I played (as a kid) was Final Fantasy X. The ending was so sad, and the game makes the player so attached to the characters that it breaks your heart if something bad happens to them. I think that just because virtual worlds are not real, doesn’t mean that they are bad. They have real impacts on real lives, and I think that is what is important, and that they can have impacts or effects on people’s lives just as much as something that is “real”.  Here is a quote I really like from South Park that I think fits in well to the argument of this article: “Just because it is imaginary doesn’t mean it isn’t real” (ImaginationLand pt. 3).

Potential in Synthetic Worlds

I found Castronova’s article to be especially optimistic in terms of the potential synthetic worlds have. While he is correct in the idea that many people still do view video games and virtual world technology to be “silly”, it is very hard to deny the numbers regarding usage. There is absolutely something to be expanded on, but how these technologies will grow is still quite hard to predict. I found his point about having these worlds supplement real life actions instead of completely replacing them to be crucial to their success. Obviously these virtual worlds have showcased the level of immersion involved, and negative instances have definitely occurred, but I agree that it will come down to policy and user responsibility. There is no doubt that these worlds are incredible teaching and training tools, as the potential to screw up in the most serious of situations is gone. Surgeons, pilots, and military personnel have already begun to utilize this virtual technology; all that is left is to refine it.

                While these instances have found success, I do agree that in order to expand these capabilities to a mass audience a certain order must be in place. Virtual worlds have already become home to many people who use the anonymity in order to be hurtful and such behavior would only slow down the medium’s momentum if it was beginning to be used for more serious purposes. For instance, as Castronova describes visiting his “Meemaw” via virtual reality, I’m sure he would not want a complete stranger’s avatar joining in unexpectedly. Yet just as discussed in the article, such order would have to be established and maintained by a larger entity which may also disturb those in support for zero restrictions on the Internet. This begins to make one question what online freedoms society will set aside in order to maximize the technology’s potential, if any. Will people be able to create and participate in vast, informative, and beneficial worlds without it being completely out of control? While the answer is unclear, the potential these technologies have and the controversy such growth might create is cause to take notice and actively consider. 

Week 13: Living With Virtual Worlds

Courses in the DCIM minor have changed my perspective on the overall effect of technology on society a great deal. The danger of “big data” and basic concepts presented by Andrejevic and Castranova are not entirely new. However, before these courses, their danger seemed to be at most a subtle hum in the background – which should certainly inspire some extra critical thinking about the choices we make in a mass-media world, but in the end, are not significantly dangerous. Now, with a better grasp on the implications of these power imbalances – and specifically, how carefully mass media tailors their marketing to foster a sense of interactivity and democracy – I am slightly more afraid.

This week’s readings reminded me of a guest lecture from an earlier semester about the idea of a digital panopticon. Pictured to the left, the panopticon is essentially a prison design  by social theorist Jeremy Bentham from the 1700s. The appeal of the design is in how all prisoner cells are visible from a central guard tower. This means that the prisoners can see very little, and the guards can theoretically watch all of the prisoners, all the time.

To connect this prison design to our readings about virtual worlds’ frightening new implications, replace some variables in the design. The institution is not a prison, but the internet; the center tower does not hold guards, but instead represents Google; and we, the users, are prisoners. This image is a frighteningly accurate depiction of virtual worlds’ “ramifications and consequences”. Users, as Andrejevic noted, “have less knowledge about and control over how [information about them] is being used” than ever before – they are prisoners, unable to see many other prisoners, much less the guards who monitor them perpetually. Meanwhile in our example, Google is in a uniquely perfect position to collect endless amounts of data from those who surround them, unable to hide a thing – “producers have more information than ever before”. Analyzing the internet through the model of a prison is decidedly dystopian – but if deception by producers continues to develop at its recent speed, the dystopia may be very real.

I’m Human & So Are You

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“Jabra even wants to provide a guide so that other female avatars can make themselves more sexually attractive” (R.A. Brookey and K.L. Cannon, 2011, p. 151).

The above sentence is so much of what I have a problem with when it comes to the objectification of women. It’s bad enough that it happens in real life, but horribly misogynistic world views make their way into the online realm, honestly, please leave! Then there’s women who internalize these feelings of needing to doll themselves up solely for the pleasure of mean, it’s sad and unfortunate that this is the criteria society teaches both women and men by which to measure females’ worth.

I have no problem with a woman who wants to make herself look presentable; by all means, that’s a great thing to do. But with the statement like that quoted above, for the sake of being “sexually attractive”—NO there’s more to being a woman, there’s more to being a human than your sexual attractiveness.

This is why it bothers me so much to see the stores in Second Life selling promiscuous clothing for women. More than it making me uncomfortable, it makes me sad. Is there any environment in which women don’t get reduced to objects to be played around with?

I found it shocking to read that a Playboy-esque magazine exists in Second Life; but maybe I’m just new here. Maybe it shouldn’t be a shock at all. Maybe it would be more shocking if something like that didn’t exist. After all Second Life is both a fantasy world conjured up from imagination as well as a reflection of much of the real world. If such magazines, thought processes, and objectification exist in real life, maybe it only follows that it would exist in a world where users can remain anonymous, hidden, and enjoy whatever they want to enjoy without being judged by family, friends, and other people they’re forced to have relationships with in life.

Despite all those maybes, I still wish there were more people who’d see my kind as intellectual beings instead of mere toys both in the online and offline worlds.