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Notes on Boellstorff (2008), Chapter 5

July 8, 2009

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

Chapter 5. Personhood, pp. 118-150

119 Aim not to come up with SL typology of residents but ‘to investigate everyday senses of virtual personhood’. What does it mean when residents say they can be themselves, or find it easy to be several selves, or can ‘wear our souls in here’?

120 key issue since early studies cybersociality is techne gaps and how allow various identities in virtual worlds

120 celebs in SL

120 opposite of double life, no conflict perceived

122 the life course [see Amit] is one way in which cultures make selves; 122 Giddens, personalised life course presumed in modern society; so what is a SL course?

123 because many residents more than one account, actual and SL selves not necessarily coterminous

123 unlike game worlds, here no skill levels as residents get to know the world better [cf. practice theory and embodied skills]

124 how to tell a newbie: not very skilled, e.g. accidentally wearing a prim box

125 [Alan Warde’s practice theory relevant here] newbies, residents, players, midbies… some loners as well, wanted to be left alone

126 investment in SL [cf. Bourdieu’s investment in game’s illusio]

126 some experienced residents became community leaders for advice, guidance

126 changed RL circumstances impact on SL (e.g. ill relative)

126 time resists virtualisation better than space [!!], eg. SL could interfere with actual-world lives, or vice versa

127 governance issues with Linden Lab, incl. too laissez faire, some residents left for this reason – for oldies could be painful decision ‘charted on blogs and commemorated with farewell parties’

133 temporal constraints for alts; hard to keep busy lives for them

134 embodiment not just simulation of actual world; for many residents, SL ‘had a corporeal immediacy that could not be reduced to a simulation of actual-world embodiment’.

138 virtual embodiment, contrasted to cyborgs (Haraway 1991) which assume ‘a prosthetic continuity between human and machine’; whereas virtual embodiment ‘is predicated on a discontinuity, the gap between virtual and actual’

144 race: white was default avatar race unless otherwise specified

149 actor-network theory – is avatar acting like some kind of person in some contexts?; 150 dividual selfhood (Strathern) and fractal subjectivity – gap virtual-actual is precondition for homo cyber

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