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Notes on Boellstorff’s (2008) Coming of Age in Second Life

July 7, 2009

Boellstorff, T. 2008. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


Chapter 1: The Subject and Scope of this Inquiry, 3-31

1 Malinowskian tale of entry

7 book is ‘ethnographic portrait of the culture of Second Life’ from June 2004 to Jan 2007

8-16 everyday SL

16-24 terms of discussion: 17 book explores virtual worlds phenomenon

18 book aims at rehabilitating and refining keyword ‘virtual’; virtual worlds can be researched in own terms

21 gaming sociality

22 … vs residential sociality of SL: definitely not a game

23 we are overly interested in connections that cut across ‘real’ vs ‘virtual’ worlds

24 anthropology can help chart emergent forms of cybersociality

25 theoretical aim: what’s new and what isn’t about this virtual world? Thesis: virtual worldview as techne, with person that emerges not homo faber or homo ludens but rather homo cyber (55 techne = ‘human action that engages with the world and thereby results in a different world…intentional action that constitutes a gap between the world as it was before the action, and the new world it calls into being’; techne extends natural processes, e.g. underwater breathing technology; it is about practice not knowledge (episteme)) .

28 posthuman is central to book, but a misleading term…

29 in fact, thesis: ‘it is in being virtual that we are human’

31 book’s obsolescence is fine, no worries; written in past tense

31 book outline

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