Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can the Avatar Speak?

This week we are presenting the ethnography Coming of Age in Second Life by Tom Boellstorff and I found a very interesting article which raises questions of linguistics and power in the book.
Paul Manning from Trent University explores the way that the book uses empirical methods such as ethnography and participant observation to an exploration of an online community, Second Life. Manning poses technology as a "shifter" , a novel technology requiring novel methodology. This "seeks to explore the technologically mediated 'gap' between actual and virtual life precisely by approaching these novel communities using the most traditional, time-honored method of anthropology, participant observation" (311).
He later examines the way that the "avatar embodiment is not meant to erase the gap between the actual and the virtual, but to create it" a fascinating idea which in a way contradicts Boellstorff's point in the book.
You can read the full article:

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