Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The End is Just the Beginning

I was going to summarize our readings into categories of textual, sensory and issues of sociopolitical importance that still may be a better option however, then I might be re-writing chapters of our bible. Instead, I would like to draw upon our online social interaction and apply those reading which aim to discuss cyberspace, virtual reality, textual de-linearity through hypertext, and time among other topics.

Throughout the past few months we have submerged ourselves into social networks such as Twitter, Myspace, and Youtube. Sure we have asked what types of spaces are being created here but what are we actually submerging out ourselves into? We have discussed that virtual reality is simulation of reality. Youtube is one site that I think we might use to test this statement. Digital videos capture the visual and audio experiences of reality and encode that information, allowing us to view a reality known to us in a digital space. Do we still call this a virtual reality or not? Is it a simulation? A virtual space does not need to capture all sensory experiences experienced in physical reality to be virtual. Virtual reality simulations often only encompass visual and audio senses however, the more senses involved in the virtual experience, the more similar to physical reality it becomes. Jay David Bolter believed that there is a different sense of self, of placement and interaction when mediated. Who are you in a virtual space ad where are you? So when your videos are published to the web and played repeatedly by viewers like a menacing episode, is that an accurate simulation of yourself? What rules apply?

[Side thought: With the beginning of hypertext, all rules of linear thought are broken, unorganized movement throughout a text introduced, forecasting the future of the internet as a network. ]

Gibson coined the term Parasocial interaction and defined it as talking to someone through a mediated form in a personal context. This is an everyday occurrence for many people. Parasocial interaction is made possible through iChatting and vlogging amongst other emerging technologies. How are we affected by conversations that imply geo-relativity while there is no physicality at all? Unfortunately, the term parasocial communication rings of abnormality. It sounds like an irregular form of communication. It is different in comparison to the forms of communication we grew up with (interpersonal, broadcast, non-verbal, etc). But today, mediated communication is no longer parasocial interaction, it is a step closer to true virtual interaction. As it become second nature use mediated communication, we inch closer to a more virtual world where very little human interaction will occur. Constant connectivity to out social networks will allow for more fluid and constant communication that actual social interaction in the physical world will become almost unnecessary. We will then begin to live in a virtual world, a simulation of reality, a place where meetings occur in virtual spaces and parental visitation is a two hour online interactive gaming session.

With time avatars will fade and we will replace online profile with and actual virtual presence. No longer “getting rid of the meat” (Sue Barns) but including the most accurate representation of self possible.

In regards to ownership of the internet and the direction it takes by way of ownership, I would hope to see it remain in the hands of the cyber-junkies and digital geniuses which reminisce on ARPnet, the cyber-cowboys and renegades that explored the dungeons of MOOs and MUDs. I see no option but to continually undermine the wish for governmental control. The internet can only flourish is the same way it was rooted, from a democratic and independent community because the public will overthrow any regulation.

With that said, knowing the power of the user. It is also in the hands of the online community to close the digital divide. Access and computer literacy are two growing issues. As mentioned by Frank E.X Dance, it is going to have to be a “trickle up” effect. This responsibility should be a communal one. Starting small and blossoming outward. Contributions to communities throughout the world will enable access, increase literacy, and start a true global nation. If we want to keep the internet from governmental regulation is is a necessity that the community acts on the gaping digital divide so that they may maintain the democratic community that it was founded on.

Well I’m not sure how much more I could write (definitely a bit) but I feel like I’ll be monopolizing our blog. To all my Interactive Rams… it was fun exploring the unknown, pioneering a new course here at Fordham University and getting know all of you in the process. I’ll see you all in (our final:( ) class and online!

1 comment:

Lance Strate said...

Great wrap up, Teri. Just a small correction, it wasn't Gibson who coined the term parasocial interaction, and parasocial relationship, it was Horton and Wohl back in the 50s. I like your focus here--one of the primary questions we can ask is who are we when we engage in these new forms of communication, who are we in relation to others when our relationships are mediated in these new ways?