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There Is No Second Life

Or, that is to say, everything that happens in Second Life, the Linden Lab online virtual world, is by definition restricted from being real, end of story.  But get this: In the spring 2007 issue of the Indiana Law Journal, … Read More

By / September 10, 2007

Or, that is to say, everything that happens in Second Life, the Linden Lab online virtual world, is by definition restricted from being real, end of story.  But get this:

In the spring 2007 issue of the Indiana Law Journal, Erez Reuveni cites a case of assault in a text-based environment, acknowledging that female avatars who experience virtual sexual harassment (and even rape) report suffering real-world anger and grief.

Not long ago a segment of evening news depicted a man whose marriage had been compromised because of his devotion to his Second Life wife.  These issues belong in the journals of psychology, not law; specifically a debate amongst mental health professionals as to a possible DSM classification for the disorder of mistaking an avatar for a valid representation of one's subjectivity.

The University of South Florida is way into this, and I've just recently found out that they are encouraging their students to get Second Life accounts so they can move more classrooms online.  In The Chronicle of Higher Education, where the above case was cited, Michael J. Bugeja notes:

When it comes to technology, we in academe usually only see the positives, often without assessment data to justify our expenditures. Now many of us are exchanging taxpayer dollars for "Linden" ones, extending the boundaries of residential campuses and with it, our liabilities.

If a rival university recruits prospective students on Second Life or hosts seminars, then we must, too. If a foundation supports philanthropy on Second Life, then our fund raisers must get into the game — literally and metaphorically.

Anyone who advises caution, as I am here, can be dismissed as a Luddite while new-media neophytes come off as cutting edge. But the true motive of technological interfaces and applications is often money.

Proof that neither Marx nor Freud are dead, they just should be putting their heads together contemplating the Internet, education and the future of humanism, not planned economies, dictatorships, or Oedipal complexes.  

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