COMING OF AGE IN SECOND LIFE BOELLSTORFF PDF
I’ve just finished reading anthropologist Boellstorff’s account of two years of fieldwork within Second Life ‘Coming of Age in Second Life. Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human [ Tom Boellstorff] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Millions. Coming of Age in Second Life has ratings and 25 reviews. Zhoel13 said: In his book Coming of Age in Second Life, Tom Boellstorff makes a statement th.
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Overall, Coming of Age in Second Life CASL represents cutting edge anthropology at its co,ing — hip, smart, theoretically sophisticated, and with its head screwed on straight.
As far as I am concerned it establishes a new standard for students of virtual worlds in all disciplines, and clears a path for anyone wanting to understand how anthropologists can study virtual worlds.
Summary of Boellstorff (), Coming of Age in Second Life | media/anthropology
Second Life SL has attracted tons of press in recent years as the virtual world that challenges our notions of what virtual worlds are and how they operate and TB, a mid-career anthropologist with an established and growing track record, was exactly the person to study it. Additionally, TB did not publish a lot of his work on SL before the book came out, so I really did not have a sense of what it was like.
All of this added up to a spectacular opportunity to fail, but TB rose to the challenge and wrote a book that is worthy of the conjuncture of events in which it was written. One of the things that is so appealing about CASL is the way that it gets so many things right about virtual worlds. It insists that interaction in virtual worlds is interaction with other people, not life in some addictive solipsistic fantasy world as some would argue.
And above all the book emphasizes the way that plain old participant observation can get us very far in terms of what happens in such a world. Just as Mead discovered Samoa for generations of Americans, so TB hopes to discover and validate SL, and just as Malinowksi demonstrated the importance of participant observation, so too does TB want to re validate its relevance in studying virtual worlds.
I think most Pacific scholars would now argue that Mead was importantly wrong in her description of Samoa, although we would also hasten to add that she was not as wrong about Samoa as Freeman was wrong about her.
But these are quibbles which do not offset the value of the book. This kind of thing is not popular with publishers, but I am glad that TB features the extensive and exhaustive literature review that he does. It lets him locate himself in scholarly space, it provides a genealogy of research for other scholars to build on, and it allows him to specify his terms of art and what they mean. This chapter alone is incredibly impressive and is almost worth the price of admission.
Personally, I have no gae with such an approach — in my experience people learning to trust self-accounts in virtual worlds is no more or less tricky than learning to trust them in rela life. However, his justification for staying strictly in-game strikes me as fishy. His attempt to demonstrate the validity of such an approach relies on the claim hat Xoming is a valid and unique world which is not derivative of or secondary to the real world.
This seems wrong to me. First, I would argue that virtual worlds are both discrete realms of social action and predicated on the real world this is why we stop playing SL when we die, but not vice versa. TB seems to recognize this point implicitly since the real world seeps constantly into his description of SL.
When people describe meeting SL friends in real life; when they describe leaving sealed envelopes for their real life spouse with instructions on what to tell their SL spouse is something happened to them; when they describe the way handicapped people can experience liberation in virtual spaces; when they talk about play SL drunk.
Understanding these things boelllstorff understanding boellsotrff SL is just one of the many, connected worlds in which people create meaning. The book really succeeds as ethnography agr the classic sense — it gives you a sense of what people in SL are like, what they are doing there, and the mechanics of the world, including things like working with prims.
For anyone who wants to get a sense of what life in SL is like, the book will actually tell you. Pointing out the cultural background of these beliefs, rather than assuming that technology enables some biologically hard-wired drive for all human beings to be Romantic Artists is important. I would have liked to have seen more of a focus on the scond history of American responses to consumerism and notions of authenticity, since this would have agw a more precise understanding of the specific milieu TB is working on… if, that is, we knew for certain that his research subjects were American.
Again, its a serviceable idea, although his road to Aristotle appears to be cominv Foucault, which obviously is ok but strikes me as a bit eccentric given how many authors have taken up Aristotle in one way or another Secind, for instance, would be interesting here.
And what of gnosis and phronesis? In fact I think that his focus on SL as a valid, self-enclosed world can also be traced back to the fact that the native point of view has seeped into his analysis.
Since my natives have a different point of view, I would take issue with this particular seepage!
Second Life/Boellstorff (2008)/Coming of age in Second Life and coming of age in First Live
Present a positive model that can be revised as more data comes in, and frankly it is a sign of his success as a fieldworker that he has been changed by the field in this way. This also means, for me, that it shares the drawbacks of much cutting edge anthropology. It apologizes constantly for its ambition to know and describe the world. It constantly points out that it does not do enough to describe power and gender relations. In his conclusion he writes that. Within the static pages of a book there is no way I can do justice to my adventures within Second Life, or the experiences of the residents who so generously shared their activities boelstorff thoughts with me.
A book cannot capture the beauty and joy of a virtual world, nor its anger and heartbreak. What can I say, except that I pity TB that he has lived a life devoid of the pleasures that reading can bring? For not only can seocnd capture the joy and heartbreak of virtual worlds read My Tiny Life to discover thisthey have even managed to capture the beauty and anger of the actual world.
Ultimately, one of the great tragedies of CASL is that the book wants so hard to emphasize the human power to use technology to liff worlds boelldtorff mater, while simultaneously underestimating the power demonstrated again and again by one of the most tried and true narrative forms of all — the one the author himself uses.
The work is not perfect, but even in its imperfections it will spark conversations that will prove fruitful. Inn you are an anthropologist who is interested in important recent work, or simply someone interested in keeping up with what anthropologists are thinking about lately, then I would strongly recommend the volume for summer reading. Tom Boellstorff has produced an important new book on an important new topic. Rumor has it that not tracking them down in RL was due to a fight with the IRB, which at Irvine is filled with totally unreasonable luddites.
Thanks so much for your careful review. They were actually very easy and supportive. Where do these rumors originate?
If anyone is planning on doing research on a virtual world kind of space, feel free to email me and I can share with you my IRB form. Several people have done so in the past couple years and have found it helpful. To be clear and I say this in the book: I could imagine a project in Second Life or Facebook or elsewhere where it might not make sense, depending on the research questions at hand.
It represents an unhelpful straightjacket if imposed dogmatically as the only valid comingg.
His attempt to demonstrate the validity of such an approach relies on the claim [t]hat SL ckming a valid and unique world which is not derivative of or secondary to the real world.
The Mead link is obvious from the title, but if you look around sdcond the book I have fun with Malinowski and Evans-Pritchard, among others. Historical sensibilities can be productive in these technologically mediated times. I owe both of you a drink at the AAAs! Coming of Age in Second Life was a joy to research and a joy to write. I simply disagree and would argue that books have been doing this for conservatively hundreds of years.
In his conclusion he writes that Within the static pages of a book there is no way I can do justice to my lifee within Second Life, or the experiences of the residents who so generously shared their activities and thoughts with me. A book cannot capture the beauty and joy of a virtual world, nor its anger and heartbreak What can I say, except that I pity TB that he has lived a life devoid of the pleasures that reading can bring?
Book review Virtual Worlds. Dear Rex, Thanks so much for your seclnd review. Web Gleanings 3 Somatosphere.