Random Notes from “Out of the Cave or Further In”

What follows are really random thoughts/scribblings from the session “Out of the Cave or Further In? The Realities of Second Life” led by Greg Reihman (Lehigh Univ.) at NMC 2007.

* What does the word ‘real’ mean? (what follows are notes from others’ responses) Connections b/w reality and certainty. Notions of norms vs. variability. Tangible. Measurable. Real is about shared experience, intersubjectivity.

* Does it make sense to say that one thing is more real than another? (Probably, but I’m not sure my idea of *how* real something is means anything to anyone other than me. . .)

In the process of defining what is real, we often first must define what we believe is unreal (dreams, illusions, for example).

Read “Circular Ruins” by Borges.

Each of us carries with us a hierarchy of “realness.” Depending on who we are, that heirarchy could be entirely flipped.

Which of these is “more real”:
* A caffeine molecule?
* A cup of coffee?
* The taste of coffee?
* Your memory of this morning’s coffee?
* The cup of coffee unperceived back in your office?
* A cup of coffee in Second Life?

Interesting comment from one audience member (my paraphrase): There is a way in which we can’t distinguish more or less realness in Second Life, the ontology is flat.

Another comment/thought: The verisimilitude of something in SL is what dictates how real it is.

That’s interesting because there’s a way in which this just seems like another kind of flatness. We are no longer debating the realness of the object according to the same difficult questions we deal with in the “real world.” All we care about is the issue of reflection. It’s like we’re not really engaging with the question anymore because of this perceived separateness/otherness/artificiality. . .

Education is about the “ascent into sunlight.” (Plato)

Really interesting slide about the creation of avatars in SL — are we getting further from Plato’s idea of how we should be engaging with our world, or closer. In creating an avatar, we are forced to study form in deeply reflective ways. This really resonates with something I’ve always felt about SL — it fascinates me how people are forced to engage with themselves in creating their own avatars. There is a “confrontation of self” that I find fascinating.

Reihman: SL as a “summoning.”


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