Monday, June 7, 2010
So, I've been looking a little bit lately about the current online discourse on my subject regarding online identity. Here is an event that is coming up that I think relates nicely to my thesis:
Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game: Internet Games, Social Inequality, and Racist Talk as Griefing
This lecture on Tuesday, June 15, is a part of the Berkman Center Luncheon Series. There will be a webcast that you can see through the Berkman Center site at 12:30 pm ET. The lecture will be given by Lisa Nakamura, who is the Director of Asian American studies at the University of Illinois. Professor Nakamura has done some writing focused on how the digital age affects racism, and vice versa. Tuesday's lecture will center around how social networking games, like Second Life, include "griefing" or pranking that has become increasingly racial. I'm really interested in a Second Life group that Professor Nakamura will speak about that is called the Patriotic Niggas, (I apologize for the slur...that's the name of the group and I want to be as specific as possible). The group, which is NOT comprised of African Americans, basically works to shut down Second Life by filling public space with garbage.
So what does this mean? A group of people are changing their identity drastically online in order to be destructive. This, definitely, does not add up with my thesis. How are these people different than mainstream bloggers and others connected to social networking sites? How are they (gulp) the same? How common are groups of this nature? What makes groups of this nature act this way? Are there people who engage in similar stupid activities who utilize identities more closely tied to their offline identity?
Something else I thought was interesting was that the information about this event on the Berkman site stated that "internet gameplay is becoming more socially and culturally diverse." Well, that's cool. This is possible because people are briging their online cultures with them to their internet games. There probably is cultural experimentation and reinvention taking place, as is sadly demonstrated by the example above. But, nevertheless, the online world is culturally diverse because people like to bring their culture with them into the online space. Then, they can emphasize and experiment with elements of that culture online, with leads to a multiplicity of identity, which then leads to a more whole overall identity.
I'm still hunting around for other events, but I really wanted to discuss the implications of the gaming lecture above. To see a more broad list of events having to do with the internet as a social and political sphere, see the Events page at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.