Saturday, November 29, 2014

A flatlander's song sung in Plato's cave (part 1)

To be or not to be 
That is the question
Whether t'is nobler to be more inclined to be inclined on the incline
Or must we decline to be declined too declined?

Whether t'is nobler to consolidate the solution to the problem
By taking up arms against the enemy.?
Or must we always suffer to understand the consequences?
These then are the questions
And the sight of victory has no end
Because we can see no end of victory in the fight.
Victory becomes the mere sign of victory
So in our timidity we reframe the question and ask
Whether tis nobler in the mind to slow the descent of time to a halt?
Or to resolutely quicken our pace so as to hasten the arrival of the inevitable?
Leaning into, or against the shoulder of another incline or decline,
I see the silhouette of humankind endlessly striving or diving
Always between the curves of an endless sine wave, 
always oscillating between zenith and nadir In the unceasing push and pull of life. 
We are Sisyphus without the rock.
It’s bullshit basically!

Yet in this state of 'no thingness',
The completion of the task we have set for ourselves
Is postponed rather than abandoned, or deferred.
And I find that even in the depths of my timidity, 
I still have the temerity to ask, 
'To be or not to be?'
For only then do I see in the same light of immaculate perfection that Hamlet saw
To be or not to be
The root of his own musings and his own dilemma.
The choice was always as hard for him as it was for me.
This is the case now, as it was then, as it forever will be.
Yet when we turn away from the present,
What forms of fantasies or nightmares will come in that undiscovered country
That we are always sailing to.
Will we  face the same problems there as we do here. 
But this time with either more ornament and less brutality than before? 
Or more control and less brutality and ornament?
They are the same problems in other words (always)
A thousand times amplified but equals in the same measure
An endless cycle of endless taking and giving;
The stuff of both nightmares and dreams, dreamt almost at the same time.

But for now I grow tired
Aye and there’s the rub; because in spite of all the respect that understanding can bestow, 
It is, in the final analysis, is the very same disrespect.
That through our interest or obedience makes fools of us all.
And yet it is also in the disrespect that life shows itself to itself
As death shows itself to itself in the contempt for everyday things and human sized problems
Every time a victory is won in one arena, 
a defeat is registered in another.
And thus the net reduction in suffering in any scenario is reduced to zero.
‘we were made to suffer, it’s our lot in life’
But tor whom or for what would I want to bear the whips and scorns outrageous fortune, endlessly and outrageously?
I may just prefer lose myself in the jungle gym of some narcotic oblivion
Or chase down the endless shock corridors of madness in some asylum.
‘bashing in veins or brains for some kind of peace'.
(for the good of humankind and all that)
The endless search for an inevitably elusive destination is the very definition of seeming. 
And I am still won’t to mistake the mirror for the horizon; the map for the territory; the unified theory of everything for the truth and walk determinedly backwards into every future imaginable.
So then the inquiry must once again turns again inward.
To be or not to be.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Art of Second Living A communication-theory approach to the virtual world of Second Life

The Art of Second Living
A communication-theory approach
to the virtual world of Second Life

This is an ethnographic study of ‘Second Life’ and of the interaction of ‘avatars’ within this 3D online environment from the perspective of communication theory. Participant observation was conducted between 2007 and 2012, focusing on a particular online community and on a small number of its members. It explores the affordances of the medium for online lives and relationships. Research into virtual environments has been dominated by experimental approaches, the goal of which has been to measure the ‘effects’ of the medium. Such approaches have been organised around the concept of presence—the experience of being in a place other than that in which one is physically situated. While researchers have considered how people adapt their communication practices to accommodate the affordances of the medium, the dominant assumption has been that the medium has a shaping influence over those practices. However, such researchers do not concern themselves with the actual experiences of people who spend time in virtual worlds and insufficient emphasis has been placed on the role that social codes and situational rules play in organising the social construction of virtual existences. As a contribution to communication theory this study argues that the realism of such online worlds is derived not from the adequacy with which the ‘delivery mechanism’ is perceived to create a realistic computer-mediated environment but rather from the ongoing communicative achievements of the participants.

Key words: communication theory, ethnography, participant observation, virtual worlds, Second Life, computer-mediated communication, communication practices, avatars, affordances, social constructionism.