Critical Approaches to Culture + Communications

A Weblog by Ron Burnett (Founded in 1994 and now celebrating 23 Years!!)

This site began as one of the first academic sites in Canada when the World Wide Web was in its early phase of development. I have maintained it through many iterations since 1994.

Second Life

In the labyrinth of Cyberspace, an invisible design is at the heart of the system. Cyberspace reproduces itself at so many different levels at once and in so many different ways, that the effects are like an evolutionary explosion, where all of the trace elements of weakness and strength coexist. The architecture of this space is unlike any that has preceded it and we are consequently grappling with discursive strategies to try and describe the experiences of being inside it. The implication is that there is no vantage point from which you can watch either your progress or the progress of others as travelers, surfers or even participants. There isn’t a platform upon which you can stand to view your experience or the experience of your neighbours. In other words, the entire system doesn’t come into view — how can you create a picture of the Internet?

Yet, you can imagine the vast web-like structures, imagine, that is, through any number of different images, a world of microelectronic switches buzzing at high speed with the thoughts and reflections of millions of people.

The more important question is what does this imagining do to our bodies, since to some degree Cyberspace is a fiction where we are narrator and character at one and the same time? What are the implications of never knowing the shape and architecture of this technological sphere which you both use and come to depend on? What changes in the communicative process when you type a feeling onto a computer screen, as opposed to speaking about it? What does that feeling look like when it is given life electronically?

These observations were provoked in large measure because of the gathering strength of Second Life, the multiverse that is quickly growing into an alternative social and economic space. Second Life has the byline, "Your World, Your Imagination" — which is a way of linking the artifice of two-dimensional images to the rather more complex world that we all inhabit.

To be continued.....