Monday, April 23, 2007

Writing blitz, and conferences

For the next few weeks, I'll be constructing paragraphs, rather than amusement (though, they might be amusing in the end).

My stint on Terra Nova (especially the last entry) has been vastly educational. Watching the comments take on their own life, independent of my post was a social study in itself. Reminds me of the 'telephone' game I used to play where one kid would whisper something, and to the next kid, next, and so on.... and by the time it reached the end everyone laughed as the last kid said something completely unrelated. Well... as anyone who has lived on listservs knows, when anything reaches 50+ comments, it's usually a flame war. :P The choice was ultimately mine to 'moderate' (read: delete offensive comments), but really... if it wasn't spam I didn't feel right in deleting because I felt it was important to see where people were headed with it sans my interference (censorship). And, because the discussion was taking on its own life, I wasn't really sure where I -could- interject in any case. Kind of like going to a conference to present your work, and then being asked 'questions' where the person asking just talks about themselves anyway and then maybe ends with "I guess that was more of a comment than a question." (me thud on ground).

The important thing arising from all of that was the dialogue I suppose. I suppose that even though TN didn't have a thread directly addressing the Virginia Tech massacre (and what we now know as a BUNK link to video games), people needed a venue to discuss it. I got that. My entry just happened to be there and conveniently used as a point of entry. For the record, I'm ok with that, even if the link at that time was in poor taste. Such is the state of the internetz, and I think there was an adequate balance in realism versus "ok, where the heck are you going with this?"

In any case, I was glad to have the opportunity to contribute. Very glad. Most of the feedback actually pertinent to my entry was very positive, and some dare I say it found it helpful. I'm an ethnographer because I write ethnographies, I'm an anthropologist because I look at the world through those eyes with the training I have received and continue to pursue (and the resultant products from that worldview don't necessarily imply an ethnography as my last entry illustrates but it does permeate everything I do, say, make, write... etc). Through training in both anthropology and communication (both as my professor once said are "dog's breakfast disciplines anyway") I inform design, I employ a multitude of methods, I help people question their epistemologies and see technology as inextricably linked to culture. Eh, you do what you can.

I just finished digesting Silverstone's "Television and Everyday Life." He cites an interesting study from Winnicott's psychoanalysis of a child who used string (yes, string) in a pathological manner. With the string, the boy was tying everything including the legs of tables and chairs together. Winnicott interpreted this as the child's need to feel secure, and when he counseled the mother to have a talk with the boy and ease his anxieties the string, after a while, was let go. Silverstone goes on to compare the use of a relatively innocuous medium like string, to television as something people use to feel secure. The boy later on in life went to drugs and other forms of unsavoury behaviour. An interesting read. What I got from this, having read on, is that people can use anything in a pathological way.

Well, life doesn't stop for the blogging, and I must continue to work through my repetitive mouseing injury (totally pathetic) and crank out those paragraphs.
On a happy note, I've been invited to attend the Online Game Development Conference in Seattle, May 10-11th.
The Online Game Development Conference is the first conference with a razor-sharp focus on the technology, art, design, production, and business of games delivered over the internet....
OGDC offers over 50 unique sessions during two information-packed days given by some of the most influential speakers in the industry.
They've got academic game researchers speaking in sessions as well, which is really cool. At the last DiGRA 2005, I remember lack of cross-pollination between academia and industry being brought up as something to improve. I look forward to contributing to exactly that improvement. Well, I'll be buzzing down there in May so ping me if you'll be around.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Blogger Sara M. Grimes said...

Winnicott's theory of transitional objects and transitional phenomena is a pretty interesting way to think about play - I've just read his book Playing and Reality for comps. It's coming from a psychoanalysis p.o.v., which isn't quite my "bag", but it might give you some cool refs for talking about so-called "healthy" use of transitional objects and experiences, like toys and play, vs. so-called "unhealthy," pathological uses like the string example you've cited here. Anyway, "Playing and Reality" is a pretty quick read, especially if you skip through to just read the parts relevant to play ;)

3:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home