The Original Hub Page is here
Links to the other sites of interest:
Networks are here
Cyberculture (this is now all subsumed here) by Philip Finlay Bryan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Cyberculture (updated 21st November 2013)
[all links open in a new window]
Note: I have added a section on Hyperconnectivity
Yes I know it is spelt with a c. I spelt it with a k for two reasons. 1. There is a revolutionary in me [example : Amerika] 2. All the cyberculture (dot) whatever had already been registered. And squatted, none were being used that I could find. I did some research on cyberculture.com (waybackmachine Archive.org) and in 14 years, since 1998, not one word had been said about cyberculture. I therefore registered cyberkulture.com. Since writing this initial briefing cyberculture.co has become available.
I will be weaving strands of ideas and hopefully we will have a nice comfortable sweater at the end.
Background: I did quite extensive research and could not find a definitive work on Cyberculture that was not younger than 8 years! It seems it was an idea waiting to become real. In my view, with the advent of high speed broadband; live streaming of high quality 3D animation; the streaming of sound (music / voice); the ability to create a credible online identity; to belong to mutual interest groups and sub groups and to develop both private and public relationships have brought cyberculture to age. Below is an illustration of such a cyberculture. The wiki quotes are from 2012.
Wiki says :
Cyberculture is the culture that has emerged, or is emerging, from the use of computer networks for communication, entertainment and / or business It is also the study of various social phenomena associated with the Internet and other new forms of network communication, such as online communities,
.......online multi-player gaming, social gaming, social media, and texting and includes issues related to identity, privacy, and network formation.
I am a member of such a community. It is called Second Life. It is in 3d. There is a continuing debate as to whether it is real. Let me give you some idea what second life is like. Then we will see if it is real or not. Firstly let us look at Identity a key feature of any culture.
I have been asked why I have gone into so much detail further on about second life. A definition of culture from The Center Of Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) has this definition:
.......culture is defined as the shared patterns of behaviors and interactions, cognitive constructs, and affective understanding that are learned through a process of socialization.
A key word is pattern because in culture we see patterns of behaviour but we also see cognitive patterns, ways of thinking. Further on that link we see a term "Cognitive Programming". "Honour" may be seen as a cultural cognitive construct, in some cultures it is worth killing for and dying for. However there may be a more base level in that of perception. A couple of studies comparing Japanese and Americans showed differences in perception summed up in the phrase "Why do Easterners remember the forest while Westerners remember the trees?" See Psychology Today May 2012 . From my own experience of living in Japan for four years and studying the language and culture, I noticed that a gaijin (non Japanese ) would view a room containing just an alcove with a vase and scroll (tokonoma) as empty; space is seen as a negative construct, an absence, whereas the Japanese would see space as being a positive construct, an entity in its own right. This is cultural bias.This occurs through a process of cultural socialization..
Therefore the detail I have gone into is an attempt to show a process of cultural socialization occurs within second life. However, in the general sense this may appear somewhat weak. Undoubtedly many people treat second life as just a game. Therefore I have gone to lengths showing the construction and dressing of the avatar. Socialization occurs here but really it is through language and interaction. As you will see, the example I give within second life is that of the blues culture. This in itself is a culture. The blues is a powerful expression of life's vagaries, its joys and heartbreak, that is shared with everyone through blues music. In my view this adds great strength to the argument that a cyberculture / cybercommunity exists within second life.
Firstly you have an avatar. The free ones are noticeably free. The first thing people do is buy a shape. There is a currency called lindens and you can buy lindens with your credit card. Secondly you will need clothes, you buy these too. Here is a picture of me, I mean my avatar (hm interesting slip a ). You have the option to chose a name. I am Dude Starship. Above my head it just says Dude. (Yes It was a courageous move to chose "Dude". I suffered a tad but now I am Dude and sometimes The Dude. Yes I still get "Dude, where's my car?" I answer with a remark like "Its in the swimming pool"). You are now fit to mingle with other avatars as an equal.If you do not do this you will be seen as a noob or newbie and, tho welcomed, will not be taken seriously. You have not made a commitment to the ...I hesitate because to call it a community would be presumptuous at this stage. You understand.
If you right click on an avatar you get a menu , on it, is profile. Clicking on it brings up the full profile in a box on the screen.. There is a lot of information on the first page. There is artwork, your profile picture. There are varying degrees of image skills portrayed varying from a simple head and shoulders to a complex Photoshop enhanced image. This picture speaks volumes. Your screen name (Dude) and your login name (dudestarship2); your date of second life birth plus number of days and whether you have payment info. Under this is a box which says if you have a partner. a partner is someone you have made a commitment to, some call it marriage. Then there is a box listing the groups you belong to. Great indicator of what you do in second life. You can belong to 42. Below this you can write anything you like (500). Perhaps the most common is a summing up of your attitude to life (first and second), the universe and everything (apologies to Douglas Adams). Mine says:
Motto: Live Fast Ride Hard, Die Laughing. I'm English we tend to make fun of things we love. i get pissed off at times. Slowness! DudeStarship.com refers. I Host in JYB n Sideroads.
At the top are tabs. There are :
Web : Often left blank but some put in a video, their
blog or a website. (I have my own irishsecure (dot)
com, designed for this space)
N.B. One of the things that you can do is "friend" someone. They become your friends and can see when you come online or offline. They appear in your friends list which means you can contact them no matter where they are in second life. You can also give them the ability to see you on their map and give them the ability to modify objects owned by you.
So we have a well dressed pleasing shape, with a name, dressed in nice clothes. We have a profile and we can view others.
Identity is pretty well established however it cannot be complete until you interact.
[Insert Aside: Identity > Hyperconnectivity. I have added this as it is relevant to the understanding of online identity: Full details can be found at Hyperconnectivity.me There are two important PDFs.
There are two systems of communication : a chat box and using voice (microphone). In public areas voice is often disabled. The chat is a resizeable box where you can place anywhere on the screen and it is divided . On the left is the name of the person or group who is speaking, next to it is the text itself. There are three types of messaging: Local where everyone chats, this is public and instant messaging which is avatar to avatar and is private. There is also group messaging where members of the same group chat. This can get quite hectic as you may be having several private chats while following the thread of public chat and group chat. Its called multitasking and women are better at it than men. However it is a skill that can be mastered. By the way the ratio of women to men is 5 to 1. Yippee its a great pick up joint.
You are interacting with fellow members.
The Chat Room
Oh My God! You can find loads of videos on my blog.sl (dot) irishsecure (dot) com. However let me describe one I know well. In second life there are clubs, just like in real life. On my second day I found a blues club called The Junkyard. This "chat room" comfortably holds 50 avatars. By the way avatars are the same size or a tad bigger than real life. Dude is 7ft 6 ins. The Junkyard has blue tiles and is open air with the theme based in the Gulf of Mexico, Florida. In the centre is a stage where the DJ is situated. The DJ has a microphone and controls the music stream so plays his / her choice and introduces the tunes. They are real DJs. AND they take requests and dedications. A session lasts two hours. The DJs cover about 18 hours a day seven days a week. There is also a host assisting the DJ. The host meets and greets new arrivals, keeps local chat alive, can give out group memberships and offers help to anyone who might send an instant message. He or she has a close relationship with their DJ. The host also has the power to eject a person from the dance floor into the near by sea if they annoy other avatars. They can also ban the person permanently from the club. I am a host in The Junkyard 12 hours a week. The club is open 24/7 and a blues channel radio is put on when there are no DJ.
You have a space to interact in.
The Junkyard Blues Club
Your avatar is animated however the animations that are free look free. It is the general rule that you buy something called an AO. For example Dude will stroll casually with his hands in his pockets, when stationary he (oh dear > "he") will assume a pose, looking cool. The animations in second life are superb, the dance animations more so. The best dance animations are made by filming real dancers and using stop motion techniques create animations. Many couples go to The Junkyard. In two corners are dance balls. One for couples, one for males and one for females. All the balls have a menu of about 15 dance styles. These range from jive to extremely sensual dances. There are many clubs in second life catering to every musical taste.
Imagine then a 3D chat room where you, an entity, chat with friends , dancing as a beautiful avatar, while listening to a live DJ playing your favourite tunes. Here is a video to illustrate the experience
Junkyard Blues Web Site
The Blues Culture of Second Life
A woman's baby died and she could not give it up. After a week went by her friends pressed her to go and see The Buddha. He said to her "Yes I can make your child alive but first you must collect 3 grains of rice from a household that has not known sorrow" Of course the story is clear, she was unable to do this and in the process discovered that life was concomitant with sorrow. A western way to realise this is through the blues. In second life all nationalities are represented but in my view the national boundaries, cultural socializations are subsumed under a greater rubric that of human suffering and also there is an expression of human awareness, triumph over adversity and joy. Not all blues is sad by any means. However the point to be made is that it provides a very powerful cultural medium.
N.B. My avatar is 7ft 6ins 228 cms
Culture and Reality
We have firmly established the presence of a network; a representative of yourself that you have tailor made to express your identity and the ability to interact at varying degrees of privacy and intimacy.
"Cyberculture, like culture in general, relies on establishing identity and credibility." We have seen how with the creation of an avatar an identity is created that is credible. "However, in the absence of direct physical interaction, it could be argued that the process for such establishment is more difficult." Not in Second Life. Sure it takes some skill but through observation of your peers and those that have been "in world" for some years, an identity that is appealing and "fits" is not difficult. Your avatar represents you.
Wiki : Specifically, the term "culture" in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively. Distinctions are currently made between the physical artifacts created by a society its so-called material culture and everything else, the intangibles such as language, customs, etc. that are the main referent of the term "culture".
Looking at second life we can see a commonalty that gives second life its culture. A society if you will. Firstly there are avatars in many and varied shapes but still avatars collectively with profiles. The 3D space has global characteristics that are present everywhere. Chat everywhere is the same. Viewers to view and interact any scene are broadly the same. There is a market place that anyone can access containing thousands and thousands of items that can be bought with lindens. There is a multiplicity of nations yet all conform broadly to standards. There are TOS which are adhered to. There are mutual interest groups. There are friends. In second life there are ratings which have their own regulations. These are general, mature and adult. You cannot for example be naked in a general area. In a 24 hour period there are between 30k and 50k people in second life. Avatars (people?) fall in love, fight and have sex.
An important feature of second life is the ability to own your own space. This may be a house, an island or land. i have a small tropical island. When I got it it had a few palm trees. It has taken me weeks to create what is now my second life home. Others I have visited are unique to that person. adjusting arranging can take hours as well as shopping for that perfect vase. Just as your home in real life reflects your personality so does your home that you have created in second life.
Second Life is a cyberculture but is it real?
We would say the mind body complex existing in a physical space, is us experiencing reality. However if I am communicating with another person, whether or not we occupy the same physical space this is also real. This communication can be via a keyboard and is in real time therefore it is real. In second life the chat is real. I may be a 63 year old male yet wear a female avatar and giggle when boys make jokes. My avatar my representation may be completely false i am treating second life as something real only to my avatar. Some say that second life is not real because the avatar is merely a construct. But it is the physical me who is manipulating the avatar, just as a puppeteer pulls the puppets strings. The puppet isn't real, the puppeteer is.
Human beings have an incredible ability to adopt a persona. Just look at actors who do it with consummate skill. They are not surrounded by the environment we see on screen but are surrounded by lights scenery cameras and lots of other people. Still they are able to act an intimate love scene as tho they were the only two people in the world.
What if on your computer screen I put a life like "person" and when I typed the "person" said the words? What if the scene was that of a club and out of the speakers a DJ spoke your name? What if others there would greet you as a friend? What if you were flattered and felt at home? What if you danced with an attractive partner, danced with grace and skill?
What if you fell in love?
Undoubtedly real relationships are formed.Friendships last years and through private messaging the real person shares their real life. Their real name, family details, work, where they live (Yes this has resulted in real life stalking). Photographs, real life, are shared... Partnerships formed in second life have led to the two people getting together in the real world. Great emotionality is generated in second life. Avatars do not experience emotion. In my opinion those that say second life is just a "game" are wrong. There is confusion. Read this :
[02:33 AM] aaa: OMG stop
thinking real ,,, this is a game but unlike other games it connects to peoples emotions , I cried when dumped ,I cried when walked
in on my wife dancing with a man , I cried when my husband in IW asked me to
marry him .I cried when John decided to return to SL ,,, X has a SL wife no
place for me but I wont cry this time because I have
learnt to play the game
A friend sent me this:
[4:21 AM] Sxxx: Interesting case study for you, 2 people have been together in SL, very close relationship, contact through email and chat outside SL, know quite a bit about each other's real lives, have shared lots of good times and bad times, had rows and love, split up, got back together, know each other's deepest darkest secrets, are incredibly loyal to each other, gotten totally under each others skin, and expect to stay in contact of some kind till the internet collapses, but have no likelihood of meeting in rl, and although he knows her real name, she has no idea what his is, even after 3 years.
Another friend said:
[07:30 AM] Mxxx: I always ask people who think SL is a game what the rules are and how do you "win"
Those that say second life and real life are distinct separate entities are wrong in my view, but some treat it so it seems. We have a debate here I think. Please comment.
I cannot sign this Dude nor can I sign it Philip its
Dude / Philip
A Bloggers View
Italics my comments:
If there’s one thing we can be sure of, people are very different from their real world selves when they are in sl. Many that i’ve spoken to will say that they are less reserved, more outgoing, and less inhibited in sl than in their real lives; for many, sl is an opportunity to explore ideas, pathways and leanings that are either impossible or untenable in rl. Indeed there are a large number of people who will say that the representation of the person you’ll meet in the virtual world is far more ‘themself’ than the person you will meet in the flesh – possibly the most absurd contradiction of all, but then again, perhaps also the most revealing of insights.
That is not something with which i have a problem, but i can’t help wondering sometimes just how much my perception of the person, gathered from my interaction with them inworld, may be very different from the reality – and, if people really are very different when they’re logged in to the person who goes about their daily life outside sl, then how much is my perception of them coloured by their virtual behaviour?
Comment: This happens to me with women I have met. They have acted and looked in sl like 20 somethings. They have acted in speech like 30 somethings. I have reacted to them as such as I have been a 30 something. We have exchanged rl photographs. My perception of them has changed. The avatar "looks" become a mere cypher. However the behaviour mine and theirs remains the same. In rl I act like a 30 something with physical limitations.
If we’re talking practicalities, then the answer to those questions is quite possibly, ‘it doesn’t matter’ – if i’m only ever going to spend time with you inworld, does it really make any odds whether the avatar bears any resemblance, in any way, to the person behind it? Probably not – ignorance, as they say, is bliss and in many ways it’s a lot easier to get to know and socialise with someone on a virtual level, that it can be to reconcile two very different, yet the very same, personalities that form the two sides of the sl/rl coin. That’s not to say it can’t be done – many inhabitants of sl have no problem with this sort of dilemma: within my own circle of sl friends and acquaintances there a quite a few who socialise with each other in both worlds, indeed, i can think of at least three couples i know who met in sl and have successfully, and very happily, developed that relationship into one that spans both worlds.
Comment: Are there different personalities inhabiting the same rl/ sl complex? Seren would say yes. Quiet, unassuming, shy rl + outgoing, chirpy, vociferous in sl . We have :
Is this what we are seeing? Two enduring personalities but without memory impairment and do the two identities cross over at all? I am reminded of Superman, mild mannered Clark Kent until he becomes the avatar Superman. His were integrated and Clark would lift his glasses to see through walls.
Long-time adherents of this blog and close friends will know that i am not one of those people. When it comes to the division between real and second lives, i tend to see either/or and that dividing line is, for me at least, a difficult one to cross. You might imagine that there’s a simple explanation for this – but it’s actually quite a complex set of factors that result in the stratification of worlds in my mind, and much of it boils down to the point i made at the head of this post: the person behind the avatar, through design or ‘accident’ is highly likely to differ from their inworld persona in, often very fundamental, ways. Anyone who has ever corresponded with me outside of sl will attest to the fact that this is entirely true when it comes to myself.
Inworld, i am gregarious, fun, sociable and utterly bonkers – sometimes i have to consciously make an effort to shut myself up and let somebody else get a word in edgeways, and yes – i am one of those who would say that this is more representative of the ‘real me’ than you would ever see in the real world. Take me even a small step distant from sl and my personal changes dramatically – there are few people indeed, even close friends from sl with whom i’ve made connections outside the virtual environment, who will ever have received a chatty, amusing or sociable e-mail, or for that matter any correspondence that is more than a couple of lines of bare facts and information. Gone is the gregarious, risk-taking, typo-monster – instead you’ll find a person for whom normal conversation and social interaction is insanely difficult. (So if you ever do get an e-mail from me along the lines of “Hi, here’s that thing i promised to send you. Bye!”, it’s not that i’m being rude, i simply clammed up beyond any hope of recovery after the “Hi”!)
Sad, isn’t it?
Comment: Yes it is sad. I would love to take you down the pub and a circle
would develop around you. You would be the life and soul of the party
as you are in sl. i am reminded of the movie :Nim's Island where
a writer of a popular adventure story is an agoraphobic recluse. Living
her life vicariously through her books. When faced with a reality
dilemma she rises to the occasion magnificently. She becomes her avatar.
What are you frightened of Seren? What have you got to lose?
Sometimes i do have a crazy moment and think it would be amazing to meet up with someone from sl in the real world, maybe go for a drink or play tennis, or whatever it is that normal people do… but then sanity asserts itself and i safely rationalise myself out of trouble.
The way i see it, sl is sl – rl is rl and, until i can be convinced otherwise, never the twain shall meet. You see, i really enjoy the illusion that sl weaves – the happy, crazy, clever, chatty people that i surround myself with and count myself to be fortunate to know – but the point is that it is only their sl persona that i really know, and it that illusion was to be tarnished or shattered, things could never be the same again. What if that incredibly talented, funny guy that i know so well in sl turned out to be an insufferable bore, with bad breath and an irritating manner in rl? What if that daft girl, with the ridiculously tall avatar and the terribly inappropriate topics of conversation inworld turned out to be ridiculously short, terribly staid and awfully sensible when away from her laptop? Just as bad… what if i turned out to be a massive disappointment to you?
Comment. Why the dichotomy? When I see you in sl I see the
blogger Seren I do not see an avatar. I find you intimidating both blog
and avatar wise. Its why I haven't spoken to you these past two weeks.
And dear lady I reached this space through your sl profile. physical
characteristics play little part to the discerning mind. as do physical
avatar characteristics. Avatar character however DOES play a part. All
of us do not belong in a psychoanalytical box. Humans / avatars are part
of the same being labelled ME. I am including this in my briefing on
How could we retain the rosy-hued picture we’d built up of each other, if we knew the reality would make us feel nauseous if we had to spend more than ten minutes in each other’s company? Bitter experience has taught us that, in so many things, the reality is never as palatable as the imagined reality… so, to avoid disappointment, maybe i’ll just stick to my imaginary friends. Will you be my imaginary friend too?
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
I'll be your friend. Fancy a pint?
Philip / Dude
Coming of age in second life
Millions of people around the world today spend portions of their lives in online virtual worlds. Second Life is one of the largest of these virtual worlds. The residents of Second Life create communities, buy property and build homes, go to concerts, meet in bars, attend weddings and religious services, buy and sell virtual goods and services, find friendship, fall in love--the possibilities are endless, and all encountered through a computer screen. Coming of Age in Second Life is the first book of anthropology to examine this thriving alternate universe.
Tom Boellstorff conducted more than two years of fieldwork in Second Life, living among and observing its residents in exactly the same way anthropologists traditionally have done to learn about cultures and social groups in the so-called real world. He conducted his research as the avatar "Tom Bukowski," and applied the rigorous methods of anthropology to study many facets of this new frontier of human life, including issues of gender, race, sex, money, conflict and antisocial behavior, the construction of place and time, and the interplay of self and group.
Coming of Age in Second Life shows how virtual worlds can change ideas about identity and society. Bringing anthropology into territory never before studied, this book demonstrates that in some ways humans have always been virtual, and that virtual worlds in all their rich complexity build upon a human capacity for culture that is as old as humanity itself.
Tom Boellstorff is professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.
You can read it here ...I'm not an anthropologist. I'm an educated user. I am biased. Dude Starship and I are aspects of the same entity. He even has his own domain DudeStarship.com This hub is an intellectual exercise that has and will evolve into a synthesis of identity. We are all cyborgs now.
We Are All Cyborgs Now
A Transcript of the video (Italics and pictures mine):
Of course I am a cyborg and with my avatar I am one hell of a cyborg. The blurring of the lines between "Man and Machine" has never been so self evident. As machines get more intelligent more skilled these lines will disappear. The above I believe supports my premise that second life is a cybercommunity.. My Avatar is an extension of myself. It is an artifact a tool that has been molded by me through and with, a process of cultural socialization.
An interesting aside: When I was creating my post on hyperconnectivity
I was also creating my Japanese page Subarashii.org It means wonderful.
I saw the picture the haiku followed as expected.
Cyberculture Main Stream cyberrealism
Gorillaz are a main stream band who use avatars in their videos, In this video we see a wonderful mixture of the real and the cyber to tell a story. (Stylo 13 million views) I include it here as an example of what I call cyberrealism. Another neologism but one that has been coined before. The cyber is main stream.
The story is a dual between avatars (Gorillaz) and Bruce Willis.The avatars win. Take note of the ending. Avatars are malleable and can adapt to any environment.
So, perhaps that is a little tongue-in-cheek. Watch the video please.
Are cybercultures real?
is a cyber community as real as a physical community?
at the time of putting up this site 8 people have voted in this poll.
My Second Life Blog
A PDF of this HUB is available here
Philip Finlay Bryan January 2013
PDF IS HERE, please download it for your library. Please Share, Please criticize. If you wish to get in touch leave a comment or just support please use the contact form below. Thanks for your time
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