Friday, November 03, 2006

Social Sim Research Lab library catalogue updated

My Second Life home, the Social Simulation Research Lab, houses a Library with links to over 100 cyber research references (articles, homepages, resources, research institutions, journals). You can access them by clicking on the books on the shelves, which will take you to links on the interweb.

I've updated the catalogue with new articles, reference materials and homepages using suggestions made by members of the community, and have created this handy index (no links there yet, I'm afraid), so you can see what's available. I intend to develop a search facility in-world soon.

So if you don't know your Bartle from your Turkle, your AoIR from your Terra Nova, or your Bargh from your Bruckman and are interested in what the academy has to say about communities, relationships and identity in cyberspace, you should come to the Library, grab a seat and read all about it.

I also welcome suggestions! If there's something you don't see in the library, but think it deserves to sit on the shelves, please email me at

I've also created a new category: Current Research Projects in SL, which includes overviews of social science research projects that are currently underway in the virtual world.

The lecture series schedule is currently in development and will start in the New Year. Already there are some fantastic speakers lined up! Expect to see virtual world luminaries at the SSRL offering their insight and delivering seminars to the Second Life population very soon!


Blogger Vincent said...

Thanks for the great resource.

Sun Nov 19, 11:30:00 PM  
Blogger Aleks said...

Hiya Vincent - you're welcome :) Really glad you enjoy it!


Mon Nov 20, 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger 5mallc4ps said...

wonderful how you have created a virtual research lab in SL. I would be interested to hear your insight regarding the affects it generates in regards to your research techniques. I don't know where you physically play SL, but I resume it is sometimes in an office or some other type of workspace, thus becoming a workspace in a workspace, so to speak. just goes to show that the virtual and real world are one and the same.

Thu Nov 23, 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger Aleks said...

5malc4ps, i don't know if it does change my techniques much; it was built both as a resource for residents and a hub of information for people whom i've asked to participate in the research. So indeed, it is like an office inside of an office - where i hold office hours (well, i don't do that really, but am around at random times to chat to people interested in chatting).

But it's interesting you comment that the virtual and real are so similar; I often think of my in-world library like a links page you'd get on a webpage. it just so happens that it's in 3D space, which means that you can navigate it like a space which has a sense of place. I remember writing a paper for an Environmental Psychology class once describing online environments (webpages, virtual worlds) as "places", and I'd like to think that my home in Second Life conveys a bit about me offline, much like the decorations on the walls of a teenager's room do the same.

in fact, here's a link to something I wrote about that on The Guardian (specifically about the Nintendo game "animal crossing"): ("A Sense of Place"), and a link to the post which inspired it, on Terra Nova: ("A place by any other name")

Let me know what you think,


Thu Nov 23, 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger 5mallc4ps said...

thank you for the links, Aleks. both articles are interesting reads, and touch upon the psychogeography that we as a cultural community generates through the blurring of real and virtual worlds. after reading your article on the Guardian web site, i can't help but think "what would Kevin A. Lynch say about SL, Animal Crossing and other virtual environments?" if you aren't familiar with his writing, he wrote a book called The Image of the City (MIT Press) back in the 60's, and essentially attempted to define how we visually perceive an urban geography and build mental maps using elements that characterise the city. the course of study i am currently in often asks the question "what makes a space into a place?" computer screens, which physically are non-places have the potential to become real places for people to interact, to communicate,create narratives, and even facilitate research facilities..

Thu Nov 23, 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger Aleks said...

I completely agree - the computer provides an fascinating window into places, offering reification of people's imaginations.

I'm not familiar with Lynch but will look up the resource you mentioned; EP still fascinates me. I assume with your research interests you're looking at Proshanky's work on sense of place?


Fri Nov 24, 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger johnie1 said...

"I'd like to think that my home in Second Life conveys a bit about me offline"

i believe how we represent ourselves online is a purer insight into our "self". i suppose there are less perceptions. i mean, i'm a big ugly looking brute, but, i'm dead nice. See me walking down the street, you wouldn't see that.

"Please ignore my flesh, it does not represent the mind contained therein."

P.S. thanks for the coffee (:

Thu Nov 30, 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger Aleks said...

Hey Johnie1, you're very welcome.

I think you're arguing for what Bargh, McKenna and Fitzsimmons call the True Self, and what they discuss in "Can You See the Real Me? Activation and expression of the "True Self" on the Internet". I can't assume that everyone experiences the liberation or freedom that you may feel, but I certainly agree it happens!

I read recently in a paper by Baym & Postmes ("Social Dimensions of Internet") that people's online selves are extensions of their offline selves, and actually closer to their offline selves than most of us expect. Though, there's something to say for the "strangers on a train" effect described in the 60s by Rubin, in which the anonymity of a situation allows people to be more open with strangers they never anticipate seeing again. There's a lot of interesting research into anonymity.

But actually, I think that the nature of SL and other pervasive online worlds (including online games, social networking sites, chatrooms, IRC, MOOs, forums etc) undermines the assumption of anonymity. In world, I am Mynci Gorky, and that is who I am all the time. And people may know me over time because of my research, because of interactions we've had or because of what they may have heard other people saying about me. Therefore, I'm no longer anonymous. I'm what my friend Ren calls "pseudonoymous".

So while my pretty orange skirt, horn-rimmed glasses and blue hair in-world mean that some people would more readily come up to me there than if they saw me in my jeans and pink hair offline (hee hee, who says reality doesn't reflect virtuality?), they may already have impressions of me that mean they may or may not wish to speak with me.

So I think therefore I'm subjected to the same kind of social pressures online as offline, with regards to my self. If we could be truly anonymous, I bet we would be like an inner idealised person. I don't think that's ever possible.

Fri Dec 01, 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger 5mallc4ps said...

hihi Aleks - sorry for the late reply to your reply to my comment...

yes, i have now read a'lil Proshanky; good stuff indeed. maybe you would be interested in speaking at my school? is this the right place to ask this? i think you could shed some insight regarding this topic to my "virtual-places" challenged colleagues.. anyways, i look forward to hearing more about your research.


Tue Dec 05, 08:16:00 PM  

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