David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 3 May 06 07:52
I'll come out of lurking in this great discussion to say, yeah, absolutely, that's my attitude towards all of this as well. Looking at the idea in the grossest possible "real worlds vs. virtual worlds" way, all of my virtual interactions are really about the real world. Although I've been a member of this here virtual community for, gosh, 16 years now, nearly all of my participation is in conferences that have to do with doing stuff in the real world -- arts, photography, cooking. My closest relationships in this community are with people I've met in the real world -- everyone else, apologies to all, are just imaginary people. And every time I try to check out Second Life, or a MMRPG, or even the Sims, I just get creeped out and head outside to make photos or read a physical book. But on the other hand -- I'm trained as a graphic designer, literally the last generation of students at the school I went to who were trained primarily on traditional production techniques. But I grew up using computers before that, so I am perfectly comfortable using online tools. Many designers I've talked to who are 15+ years older than me describe using online tools (pagemaker, indesign, illustrator, etc.) as design on the end of a long stick or some similar phrase -- they feel like the can't actually touch anything. So I wonder if the idea that 'the real is privileged over the virtual' is really just a transitional, generational view of the world. Maybe the 12 year olds I know who are playing World of Warcraft won't have this distinction in their lives. I'd like to believe that strolling on the beach "IRL", as they say, will always trump iBeach 7.0, but maybe it won't for the next generations?
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 3 May 06 12:07
Some years back I remember sitting in a cafe with Jon and a writer friend, who said something stunning. I am not sure I have permission to quote, so I will not say his name. He said that online community had been "remedial community" for him, and that he had learned how to give, take and ignore attention, how to connect genuinely, and how to present his ideas. At some point he was ready to connect socially in the 3-d world of richer connections around him, and to develop real relationships that were not mediated by computers. Most of the time, at least. I was stunned and delighted to hear that. I do think a lot of experimentation goes on. I think a lot of the appeal of the classic idea of "cyberspace" is that you the "driver" are in control. The more social the platform, the less you are king of the world, seems to me. iBeach or WorldOfBeach is more appealing if you want to control things more, and less once you realize that the dance of voluntary interaction and the presense of natural forces not programmed by humans is infinitely richer and more satisfying to the soul. My take on it, anyway.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 3 May 06 12:50
What a rich conversation this has been! These past two weeks have gone by so quickly. We've turned out virtual spotlight to a new discussion, but that doesn't mean this one has to stop. The topic will remain open indefinitely, so if you are able to stick around, you're more than welcome to do so. Thanks so much for joining us, Adam. And thank you, Jon, for leading the conversation. It's been great!
Adam Greenfield (adamgreenfield) Wed 3 May 06 14:54
No, thank *you*, Cynthia, and Jon. I'm glad you're pleased with the way things have turned out. And, of course, my thanks to everyone who participated. I'm actually just a little disappointed that there wasn't more argument, controversy, disputation and tension...but that's just me. ; . ) I'm happy to hang out here and talk everyware with anyone who wants to do so until my complementary Well membership runs out. (Maybe I'll get my dose of argument that way?)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 4 May 06 02:10
We've just had time to draw things out; this is a pretty rich vein we're mining. I'd be happy to continue, as well. I haven't found points to oppose or argue in our discussion so far, but others might. *8^)
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Thu 4 May 06 05:30
Going back to davadam's <76>: Can we say that it's an empirical question whether the real trumps the virtual, depending on things like whether strollin gbeats iBeach? Or is that circular?
Adam Greenfield (adamgreenfield) Thu 4 May 06 08:57
My answer to that has a great deal to do with the larger political, economic and environmental situation in which all virtualities are embedded. And my gut take on that question is that this civilization, this wondrous fabulation of matter and energy and information, is at this point held together with the equivalent of baling wire and chewing gum. I find myself assuming that we only have a few years left of thoughtlessly easy access to power. In this context, *you bet* reality trumps the virtual. I hate to think what becomes of all those people whose livelihood or sense of self depends on virtuality when the lights go out.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 4 May 06 20:12
So we might not have to worry about the down side of ubicomp for long, since we won't have the power to drive it? I've been at the World Congress on Information Technology this week, and concern about sustained power seems absent from the conversation. What they're talking about is how we get more technology to more people, how we bring digital access to developing nations.
Adam Greenfield (adamgreenfield) Fri 5 May 06 07:15
I find it fascinating how viscerally a lot of tech folks react when someone drops the "s" word. It's like farting in church or something: there's a lot of shifting in seats and embarrassed-for-you, sidelong glances, a painful silence, and then conversation resumes again, with false heartiness, along different lines. This doesn't speak well for our capacity to accept new empirical information, incorporate it into our worldview and adjust our plans accordingly. I mean, these are some of the smartest and most plugged-in people I know, with a huge blindspot where the sustainability of networked systems is concerned. I know this is something you've been addressing for years on Worldchanging, and Bruce Sterling has too, with his Viridian stuff, but outside those circles...very little. And I'm not even sure folks like Bruce have really wrapped their heads around how things are likely to play out. It's interesting, in his book "Shaping Things," Bruce proposes a technosocial milieu almost identical with the everyware world I talk about as a response to long-term ecological issues. I just wonder where the energy to build all those spimes is going to come from...
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 5 May 06 10:15
Great point. Especially when the waste inherent in batteries adds to the waste inherrent in electricity production and distribution.
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