Teaching Technology through MUVE

Following the MUVEnation project (MUVE: Multi-User Virtual Environments)

Module 1, Section 2, Activity 4 – Reflecting on Identities

Posted by slandete on Friday, November 28, 2008

samu_evolution

Evolution of my avatar in Second Life – from beauty to the beast

My avatar’s looks

The old Samu Lorefield is on the left hand side, the most recent one on the right. I tried to make it (him?) as close to me as possible, which involved a long and complex process of uglification. It’s hard to say if I succeeded but it’s close enough for me anyway. I would not feel comfortable with an avatar that did not look like me because I think that presenting your digital self as a perfect specimen only because you can is some sort of deceiving, at least in a professional environment. However I consider it’s ok for people that use SL as a recreational leisure space to adopt the form and shape they want, and do as much role-play as they feel like. It is a matter of distinguishing when an avatar is supposed to be representing a real person doing serious stuff and when the person is merely trying to amuse himself, and the avatar’s appearance should ideally match each situation.

My avatar’s clothes

As for the clothes, one of the first clothes for free that I found was a tuxedo, so I was walking around all suited up. I dressed down and wear informal clothes now, very much like the ones I use for teaching. The same goes for the shoes.

Degree of identification

Interestingly enough, in the first paragraph I referred to my avatar as an object – notice the sentence “I tried to make it…” which I corrected later by adding a “(him?)” -, but in the second paragraph I am talking about the clothes of my avatar as if I was him – “I was walking around…”. I probably began writing the post being over-conscious of the task at hand, distanced myself as much as possible and saw my avatar as an object; as I got more relaxed, the identification with my avatar surfaced. The only thing missing for a 100% match are my glasses, but I’ll fix that buying in RL shades like the ones Samu Lorefield wears since it’ll probably be easier. Or else I’ll build my RL glasses in SL as soon as I get crafty enough. Any time soon. Or maybe I’ll go for laser eye surgery, whatever.

Update: I got my glasses as a gift from Viki Silvansky. She crafted them out of nowhere in front of my very eyes! She’s probably a witch, but one of the good ones.

Importance of appearance in Second Life’s interactions

There is no difference between RL and SL when it comes to personal interactions. We know that looks can be deceiving and in Second Life there’s a lot of crazy avatars but, as much as in Real Life, one must treat everybody with the utmost respect regardless of how they look like – there’s always a real person behind. I try not to form prejudices against a person based solely on the way its avatar looks, but it is inevitable if you don’t know the person. Talking with the person for a while helps: you can then form an idea of his/her personality based on an exchange of opinions, not just an image (whether that idea is influenced anyway by the first impression the person gave you with its image is debatable). Since you don’t know a priori if the people you are going to meet will be as open-minded and will bother trying to know you, it is better to be on the safe side and take care of the image you project to others.

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3 Responses to “Module 1, Section 2, Activity 4 – Reflecting on Identities”

  1. jstanigar said

    You make some good points about treating others with respect first, regardless of appearances. Sometimes unusual avatars are there to inspire a reaction, so I practice acceptance and let the charge out of it, knowing that there is a real person behind the image! it is only over time of exchanging ideas and opinions and shared learning that a certain trust begins to build. I admit that I feel “safer” chatting with our MUVEnation group participants, because of the shared bond of this experience, however even that is a tenuous balance. Let me explain: sometimes you go and join in a group discussion, everyone is adding to the conversation and it gets crazy trying to keep up with all that is being said – let alone get to know someone individually. Group text chatting is difficult, so many ideas and some of them are overlooked if they are not in line with the main conversation. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve learned a lot this way!! And being present to see what comes up is a great way to learn. But there are times when I switch to the “private chat” which takes you out of the group, but perhaps allows for a more personal interaction. Especially for newer arrivals, there are so many questions and sometimes I just take the “newbie” by the hand to go shopping, unpack boxes at a sandbox and help answer some basic questions. Not that I know that much, for I am only a “newbie” too, but already I have made fast friends in MVN by practicing an “each one, teach one” methodology. What do you think?

  2. slandete said

    Hi Jennifer,

    I’ve seen you 3 times or so in the MUVEnation island and you were always helping other people so yes, I reckon you prefer a one-by-one approach and you’re undoubtedly very kind.

    Regarding groups versus individual approach, groups are great for brainstorming, you get exposed to a lot of different ideas fast, but just because of the speed inherent to having a lot of people talking at the same time it’s difficult to elaborate on the ideas, in your own words “some of them are overlooked” and “it gets crazy trying to keep up with all that is being said – let alone get to know someone individually“. In order to reflect and work on the most interesting ideas you have to take your time and reduce the group size. And to truly begin knowing a person, you have to spend some time observing his acts, not just his looks or words, and ideally the way you do that is by practicing your “each one, teach one” methodology.

    Really knowing a person is a very complicated situation: there is the real person, the image that person wants to give and the image that you want to see according to your interests. But that’s not particular of Second Life: it happens in real life all the time, every time.

  3. vw4reallearning said

    wow… thanks for the update…. 🙂 soon i will be in SL new as worse SL glass maker ;))

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