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 got Cyberkulture (dot) com. OK? Update: Its ready. Has a video of this page for lazy scrollers
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:
Latest Motto: Live Fast Ride Hard, Die Laughing.. I’m English we tend to make fun of things we love. I met a Valkyrie she is my gf. she sometimes appears as an Angel. Shes called Catty
I live by the four Brahma Viharas, (Dwelling Places of God) : Friendliness, Compassion, Equanimity and Sympathetic Joy.
“The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”
“The moving finger…etc” Is from the Rubaiyat, Omar Khayyam.It is so appropriate for chat. Once you have pressed the enter key ….”…nor all your tears wash out a word of it”
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)
Interests: This is where you tick various elements in second life, building, scripting, textures, whether you want work or hiring and more. There is also space to list languages spoken and skills.
Picks: Here you can list those places or people who are special to you in second life. There is a picture with text underneath. This tells a lot about a person.
Classifieds: You can put an ad here
1st Life: There is space for a real life picture. It is very very rare to see a real picture of the person. Underneath is a box for text. The text ranges from “Don’t Ask” to “Ask”.. It is very very rare to find real life information.
Notes: This is your space to put what you like e.g. likes long skirts eats chocolates very funny bit stupid etc etc. This is not visible to the avatar.
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.
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.
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.
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
[02:34 AM] dudestarship2: thats why i’m introspective. this is a game?
[02:34 AM] dudestarship2: feels pretty goddam real to me
[02:34 AM] aaa: it can be a game that hurts
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
I would like to tell you all that you are all actually cyborgs, but not the cyborgs that you think. You’re not RoboCop, and you’re not Terminator, but you’re cyborgs every time you look at a computer screen or use one of your cell phone devices. So what’s a good definition for cyborg? Well, traditional definition is “an organism to which exogenous components have been added for the purpose of adapting to new environments.” That came from a 1960 paper on space travel, because, if you think about it, space is pretty awkward. People aren’t supposed to be there. But humans are curious, and they like to add things to their bodies so they can go to the Alps one day and then become a fish in the sea the next.
So let’s look at the concept of traditional anthropology. Somebody goes to another country, says, “How fascinating these people are, how interesting their tools are, how curious their culture is.” And then they write a paper, and maybe a few other anthropologists read it, and we think it’s very exotic. Well, what’s happening is that we’ve suddenly found a new species. I, as a cyborg anthropologist, have suddenly said, “Oh, wow. Now suddenly we’re a new form of Homo sapiens, and look at these fascinating cultures, and look at these curious rituals that everybody’s doing around this technology. They’re clicking on things and staring at screens.”
Now there’s a reason why I study this, versus traditional anthropology. And the reason is that tool use, in the beginning — for thousands and thousands of years, everything has been a physical modification of self. It has helped us to extend our physical selves, go faster, hit things harder, and there’s been a limit on that. But now what we’re looking at is not an extension of the physical self, but an extension of the mental self, and because of that, we’re able to travel faster, communicate differently. And the other thing that happens is that we’re all carrying around little Mary Poppins technology. We can put anything we want into it, and it doesn’t get heavier, and then we can take anything out. What does the inside of your computer actually look like? Well, if you print it out, it looks like a thousand pounds of material that you’re carrying around all the time. And if you actually lose that information, it means that you suddenly have this loss in your mind, that you suddenly feel like something’s missing, except you aren’t able to see it, so it feels like a very strange emotion.
The other thing that happens is that you have a second self. Whether you like it or not, you’re starting to show up online, and people are interacting with your second self when you’re not there. And so you have to be careful about leaving your front lawn open, which is basically your Facebook wall, so that people don’t write on it in the middle of the night — because it’s very much the equivalent. And suddenly we have to start to maintain our second self. You have to present yourself in digital life in a similar way that you would in your analog life. So, in the same way that you wake up, take a shower and get dressed, you have to learn to do that for your digital self. And the problem is that a lot of people now, especially adolescents, have to go through two adolescences. They have to go through their primary one, that’s already awkward, and then they go through their second self’s adolescence, and that’s even more awkward because there’s an actual history of what they’ve gone through online. And anybody coming in new to technology is an adolescent online right now, and so it’s very awkward, and it’s very difficult for them to do those things.
So when I was little, my dad would sit me down at night and he would say, “I’m going to teach you about time and space in the future.” And I said, “Great.” And he said one day, “What’s the shortest distance between two points?” And I said, “Well, that’s a straight line. You told me that yesterday.” I thought I was very clever. He said, “No, no, no. Here’s a better way.” He took a piece of paper, drew A and B on one side and the other and folded them together so where A and B touched. And he said, “That is the shortest distance between two points.” And I said, “Dad, dad, dad, how do you do that?” He said, “Well, you just bend time and space, it takes an awful lot of energy, and that’s just how you do it.” And I said, “I want to do that.” And he said, “Well, okay.” And so, when I went to sleep for the next 10 or 20 years, I was thinking at night, “I want to be the first person to create a wormhole, to make things accelerate faster. And I want to make a time machine.” I was always sending messages to my future self using tape recorders.
But then what I realized when I went to college is that technology doesn’t just get adopted because it works. It gets adopted because people use it and it’s made for humans. So I started studying anthropology. And when I was writing my thesis on cell phones, I realized that everyone was carrying around wormholes in their pockets. They weren’t physically transporting themselves; they were mentally transporting themselves. They would click on a button, and they would be connected as A to B immediately. And I thought, “Oh, wow. I found it. This is great.”
So over time, time and space have compressed because of this. You can stand on one side of the world, whisper something and be heard on the other. One of the other ideas that comes around is that you have a different type of time on every single device that you use. Every single browser tab gives you a different type of time. And because of that, you start to dig around for your external memories — where did you leave them? So now we’re all these paleontologists that are digging for things that we’ve lost on our external brains that we’re carrying around in our pockets. And that incites a sort of panic architecture — “Oh no, where’s this thing?” We’re all “I Love Lucy” on a great assembly line of information, and we can’t keep up.
And so what happens is, when we bring all that into the social space, we end up checking our phones all the time. So we have this thing called ambient intimacy. It’s not that we’re always connected to everybody, but at anytime we can connect to anyone we want. And if you were able to print out everybody in your cell phone, the room would be very crowded. These are the people that you have access to right now, in general — all of these people, all of your friends and family that you can connect to.
And so there are some psychological effects that happen with this. One I’m really worried about is that people aren’t taking time for mental reflection anymore, and that they aren’t slowing down and stopping, being around all those people in the room all the time that are trying to compete for their attention on the simultaneous time interfaces, paleontology and panic architecture. They’re not just sitting there. And really, when you have no external input, that is a time when there is a creation of self, when you can do long-term planning, when you can try and figure out who you really are. And then, once you do that, you can figure out how to present your second self in a legitimate way, instead of just dealing with everything as it comes in — and oh, I have to do this, and I have to do this, and I have to do this. And so this is very important. I’m really worried that, especially kids today, they’re not going to be dealing with this down-time, that they have an instantaneous button-clicking culture, and that everything comes to them, and that they become very excited about it and very addicted to it.
So if you think about it, the world hasn’t stopped either. It has its own external prosthetic devices, and these devices are helping us all to communicate and interact with each other. But when you actually visualize it, all the connections that we’re doing right now — this is an image of the mapping of the Internet — it doesn’t look technological. It actually looks very organic. This is the first time in the entire history of humanity that we’ve connected in this way. And it’s not that machines are taking over. It’s that they’re helping us to be more human, helping us to connect with each other.
The most successful technology gets out of the way and helps us live our lives. And really, it ends up being more human than technology, because we’re co-creating each other all the time. And so this is the important point that I like to study: that things are beautiful, that it’s still a human connection — it’s just done in a different way. We’re just increasing our humanness and our ability to connect with each other, regardless of geography. So that’s why I study cyborg anthropology.
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.