Saturday, December 11, 2010

Avoiding Boredom and Needing Solitude: Why We Build?

Mr. Roman Nose Does the Roof
Location: Fixing a Virtual Roof

When I am social, in either my physical or virtual lives, it tends to be with folks as smart and, believe it or not, broadly learned as my colleagues in the sciences. I'll party with those wild-men from our Physics Department this weekend. Woo hoo! Pass the tortilla chips and don't ask me to do any integrals!

I eat lunch daily with them, and a sampling of mathematicians and chemists, every day.  Otherwise, I don't "hang out" too much, go to virtual or brick-and-mortar clubs, or get too involved in in-person or virtual forums beyond the handful of blogs I follow and the events at my UU Church.

So Robert Hooker's post about identity in Second Life and his feelings that it does not capture one tenet of Postmoderism, Donna Haraway's "Cyborg" from her famous manifesto, got me thinking about what virtual worlds do mean for me.  Sometimes I'm happiest when there's not another avatar in sight, as has been the case for my SL road-trips (I'm considering continuing that little series, since I rather miss it).

I discovered a connection that I've been trying to articulate for a while in two articles, one in press and one about to go to the editors, about collaboration. Here's what I said in reply to Robert at his blog, as Hiro Pendragon and I both sought clarity about some of Robert's claims:
I'm not in Hiro's league as a builder, and I cannot script, but whenever I get bored with virtual worlds, I build. If you want social-constructivist epistemology that's at the core of Postmodern pedagogy in my field, writing, do a collaborative build with others and then make an immersive simulation.

That's a pretty Postmodern move, appropriating the tools a corporation provides to make something new, even subversive, and ephemeral, one of Hakim Bey's TAZs.

So I've begun to focus less on the avatar and more what avatars (and the users driving them) create.
I had been bored in SL for a long time before I moved my educational activities to Jokaydia Grid, where I'm building everything almost from scratch.

At the Virtual House of Usher, I've done little with the avatar of Roderick Usher, other than making his hair messy and giving him a nicely "Roman" nose. He is bone-stock. Instead, the build has been the identity I'm crafting. Poe's House appeared to be sentient, and its "leaden" presence influences the fate of all three characters in the tale.

I've never been bored, even once, while making things. Next week I'll be helping to build a cedar closet in the physical world and sticking the final bits on the exterior of Usher. Both will be nearly solitary pursuits and, like writing itself, rewarding only insofar as they lead to more creations.

1 comment:

Mera Kranfel said...

I have the same story. I was also bored in SL for a long time before I found inWorldz. And iv never been bored since i moved. SL was just endless partys with spamming chats.

In inWorldz there are dialogues, conversation and discussions instead. And creating. SL became too superficial.... maybee you can find nicer places in SL but it was sure not easy...