August 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

Mia Consalvo, “A Mage’s Chronicle: Cheating and Life and Vana’Diel” (2007)

Ethnographic slippage. Significance of persistent social identity. Borderline cheating, but where’s the border? PK/MPK? Power leveling? Bots? Chinese gil sellers? Gaming capital. Some degree of deception. Notorious Monsters. Shaming and blacklisting. Ephemerality of “moral” codes online.

Julian Dibbel, “A Rape in Cyberspace” (1993)

Mr. Bungle, the Bisquick-faced harlequin clown. Rape by voodoo-doll, a community coalescing under CYBERTRAGEDY. Techno-utopian fantasies. KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH. The forced virtual consumption of virtual pubic hair. Where meat-puppet and word-puppet collide. A psychological device that is called thought-polorization. A new voting scheme, binding on the wizards. Dr. Jest rising from the ashes. A symbolic punishment for a symbolic crime. Words as action? Afterward: Bungle the communal property of an entire dorm room. “lol,” they say collectively.

Charles J. Stivale, “Spam: Heteroglossia and Harassment in Cyberspace” (1997)

Uses term “compu-sex,” plus this is not what “spam” means now. But! Spam! Qualities of humor and tedium! Unnecessary data transmission! Harassment! But not flaming. Phatic dialogic function. Diologized heteroglossia. Bakhtin. LambdaMOO. Sposed to be a spam-free zone! But WAAAT, some forms of spam built into social fabric??? Spam as liminal play??? Sure, three kinds: playful spam (call-response cybergoofin), ambiguous spam (cybergoofin with an abusive flair) and pernicious spam (call the hate and harassment team). Words as acts? Yeah prolly! Ref to Bungle. “Virtual rape consequences.” Fun!!!

William B. Millard, “I Flamed Freud: A Case Study in Teletextual Incendiarism” (1997)

Good lord, it’s not like talking shit is some new thing. Why ppl get their panties in a twist when it happens online is a mystery (ed. note: no it’s not). Funnily, screaming about how horrible flaming is tends not to have the intended effect. Just more flames, douchebag! Also flaming may be technologically dependent you guys! Except it’s also a form of cheating? Maybe! But that makes it an even more teachable moment. The reasons for all this constant flaming are overdetermined, oh well. Either way I call people on the inter cyber webby web homo incinerans. Because everyone is such assholes!  Haha especially academics, they’re the worst. Like this one time, on this listserv called H-AMSTDY? Which has something to do with history but HAM, lol. Anyway I was saying how psychoanalysis is the second-worst idea in history (ed. note: this guy is awesome), and holy shit! Everyone freaked out, it was pretty funny. In conclusion, maybe flaming isn’t so bad.

Ok, I’ve reached my limit for today — note my natural progression from mostly just the fax ma’am to giggle-bear madness. This whole process, it’s just so boring. Or maybe not boring, just tedious. Tomorrow I’ll be rereading Tom Boellstorff’s dumb thing about dumb Second Life (aw I’m just joshing, it’s not a bad book, but Second Life is very stupid) and also Judith Donath’s SUPER SEMINAL essay on identity deception/trolling. I’ll be lumping these selections together & will consider transgression generally in/and/verses/as community expectations. Should be a thing.


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  • Karen says:

    Ahh, Dibbell. I enjoyed My Tiny Life quite a lot, actually – it’s got a sort of gossipy quality to it (same reason I enjoyed The Age of Innocence – d’you think there’s a comparative article in that?) Also the prose is easy to read, which helps. Clarifying which version you’re referring to is a complete pain in the ass, though – for some reason he (rather pointlessly) double-pseudonymises the characters in the book version of the article that was originally published. Wouldn’t be a problem, only I’m also referencing a Wired article with an interview of the character legba/exu in it, so have to have a very long, ugly and boring footnote on the subject.

    Interested in your thoughts on Donath! (I liked the article but am not quite up on the rigors of ethnography, so… possible difficulties with the application. Also, dated, but what isn’t.)

    My theory on Second Life is that it is populated entirely by researchers studying social interactions on Second Life. So far I have yet to encounter anything that contradicts this. Remind me to tell you the hilarious anecdote about the transfer students in my second-year linguistics class becoming Second Life prostitutes for a class project. (I liked linguistics, but apparently not as much as this pair did.)

    • Yeah, Dibbel is great — the tinysex stuff though, buh. Just across the board. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF PEOPLE.

      Donath coming up, I have…..well let’s say many things to say. The article is serious business, but her framing of trollstuff has become something of a bugbear for those of us in the trolling industry. And by “those of us” I just mostly mean “me.”

      And yes, I will indeed remind you to tell your sordid Second Life tale. Case in point: tell me your sordid Second Life tale. And lol yeah, Second Life wasn’t a thing even when Second Life was a thing. Or was said to be a thing, but I’m not convinced the whole place wasn’t just fifteen graduate students creating as many alts as they could to better understand the dynamics of cyber space. Then having autoerotic compu-sex.

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