Monday, October 29, 2007

Rural, urban and gargoyles

Danah Boyd makes an interesting comment on page 4, noting that Friendster quickly became popular amongst urban dwellers. Also, in the article The Social Affordances of the Internet, the case studies focus on suburbs and 'exurbs.' I am curious to see how the networking changes in rural settings. Although the global is reaching the local through networked communications technologies, as the authors of The Social Affordances make clear, "the Internet supplements existing face-to-face and telephone contact" (11). Because of the different structure of rural areas (longer commutes to visit friends, fewer local gathering spots, etc.), it would make sense that the rules of Internet usage are different. Just as Internet usage differs between countries (as the authors of The Social Affordances state), since rural versus urban culture within a country, it would follow that Internet usage differs too.

I also found Boyd's discussion of teens learning to "write themselves into being" (12) very interesting. Just like the different levels of avatar expression in Snow Crash, teens can control their online persona and, the better they are with code, the more descriptive a representation they can create. Instead of copying and pasting code from ready made websites like the Brandy's of Snow Crash, teens who can write their own code can control their backgrounds and create a page that more accurately reflects what they want. The authors of The Social Affordances also note on that Catalans "put a premium on the multidimensional communication of face-to-face, high touch personal encounters" (15). Perhaps if we could create a virtual environment that mimics reality more closely, even people from cultures of contact will wish to move online. I suppose then the new danger would be losing yourself in these imagined worlds (like the Star Trek episode...) or becoming a gargoyle. Maybe we're already part way there. As the authors of S.A note, "The person has become the portal" (17).

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