2nd Life Causes Cancer [DIGC335]

meme SL Player done copy

Now that the headline has your attention 😉

Coming from someone that considers the Internet as a source of connectivity and communication, the notion that there is this wider, deeper and limitless version of the Internet (Cyberspace) really caught my attention. Some people would consider this ignorance; honestly I had no idea that the Internet was more than just something you can access through a web browser.

Until my recent class the words second and lives have never been connected. Lawrence Lessig a key advocate of technology and the limits of cyber culture describes Second Life as a section of cyberspace where “people create both things and communities” (2006). For those who you who were blissfully unaware of such a world, yes it does exist. Again, this may be naïve of me but I am still struggling to come to terms with how people consider this apart of their reality.

On the other side of the coin, from a creative perspective, to think that there are these alternate ‘worlds’ whereby users embellish their imaginations by creating their personal views of society and construct their own sets of values and laws is actually pretty inspiring. As you can tell I am very much sitting on the fence with this one.

Further more it was interesting to learn that Second Life isn’t the first time that humans have tried to ‘play God’ per say.

Again in the reading Lessig talks about the text based virtual world of MUD’S & MOO’s. He draws on the example of Martha & Dank and the scenario of the dog and the flower petals, which illustrates the endless boundaries that can be created when humans essentially become God. Religious preference aside, this example highlights the positive and negative effects in regards to power and mortality.

The issue of wrong or right is further questioned by society when confronted by the mysterious and horrific acts committed by Mr Bungle within the realm of LambdaMOO. This alternate space created an alternate world whereby there were essentially, no rules.

If ‘worlds’ like Second Life and LambdaMOO are in-fact spaces where people go to live their alternate life, who is in charge of regulating these spaces? What regulations are in place to prevent “cyber crimes”? Again this question is almost impossible to answer. As technologies have improved Lessig states “the architecture of the space (Cyberspace) has rendered life in this space less regulable” (2006). Ultimately Lessig states that he believes that regulation of the Internet is achievable and stipulates that this may only be achievable when governments learn “how the digital age works” (2006). I agree wholeheartedly. The Internet and in particularly Cyberspace does need regulation. Users must be accountable for their actions regardless of whether it is in a physical or digital space. The virtual faces behind the Mr Bungle character knew full well the heinous speech they were typing, yet due to the medium they chose, were completely free from any form of reprimand under the premise that nobody could verifying who was writing the text.

Again, many would argue that a world without such strict regulation might create a utopian society. Maybe we should all have a Second Life avatar and explore a world without restrictions of mortality and influence.

For me I am happy living my life without creating a second version of myself. Although if given the chance you could easily sign me up as a crime fighting superhero who runs around in a bat mask.

If anyone has played or is currently apart of this Second Life experience please feel free to comment or tweet me at @fluke_aus.

Luke Macdonald

3rd Year Media & Communications & Commerce Student
University of Wollongong


References

Dibbell, J. (2009). A Rape In Cyberspace. Available: http://www.juliandibbell.com/articles/a-rape-in-cyberspace/. Last accessed 28 March 2014.

Lessig L, 2006. Four Puzzles From Cyberspace. In: Lessig Code Version 2, accessed 7/08/13, UOW DIGC202 Moodle site.

White, M. (2014). Representations or People. Available: http://www.nyu.edu/projects/nissenbaum/ethics_whi_full.html. Last accessed 28 March 2014.

 

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Music: The Forgotten Sphere [BCM310]

Over the past two and a half years you may have begun to recognise a trend into the concepts and main art form that captures my imagination throughout this blog. If you haven’t already guessed I’ll tell you. It’s music. Jimi Hendrix once said, “Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music”.
For many, music is an art form that not only entertains us, it teaches us the ways of the world through deconstructing the hard truths of our generation.

Music has always, in one-way or another, been an integral part of the public sphere. However, during the 20th century music’s impact on the public sphere grew considerably. With new technology in the 20th century, music has been able to reach definitively larger audiences. Prior to these technologies, musicians and artists often had very minor influence outside of their own communities. Issues of limited exposure and high costs of transportation made it almost impossible for artists to voice their message to a global audience.

Throughout the 20th Century music has been the catalyst for shaping cultural values, inciting protest, demanding democratic change and most importantly, giving a voice to the once voiceless.

No longer is theoretical depiction of Jurgen Habermas’s coffee house scenario a true representation of the public sphere.

 

Good Game / Bad Game [DIGC335]

My history with video games and various consoles is a very short and brief story. As a child I engaged with classic video game heroes such as Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog, completely obsessed with the car racing simulation game Gran Tourismo and madly fanatical about the FIFA franchise. Any other type of gaming genre and my attention fell away faster than the career trajectory of Wesley Snipes.
Throughout high school my friends had always asked me to join their team in the latest first-person shooter game but to no avail. I simply had no interest.

Fast forward 12 years to the present day and my interest in gaming still remains the same, however my interest into the psychological control of gaming and the theories surrounding gaming culture still continue to be a mystery to me. Over the last ten years the connection to both physical and mental acts of violence and gaming culture have become the key points of discussion throughout the public sphere, with experts on both sides of the ledger arguing their agenda and creating new theories surrounding the horrific details of real-life tragic events.

With headlines and news content created in order to associate blame for the actions of these cold-hearted killers. As a society we like to place blame on elements of fiction that we don’t know, but are willing to consider as fact.

The result. Moral panic amongst the masses.

As an outsider looking in on this topic I feel that both sides of the argument have very fair and valid opinions. Video games are becoming graphic in nature but does this link to a direct correlation to physical and mental violence? Can playing violent video games change your perception of moral values and increase your chance of violent behaviours? One thing that is for certain is that this debate will continue to surface throughout the media landscape for decades to come. For the news wouldn’t be news without the help of technological scapegoats.