Virtual Anthropology - being virtually human
Tom Boellstorff, author of "Coming of Age in Second Life", writes deeply and accessibly into the experiences of being virtually human in Second Life (SL) - and in 'real life'. Since Valentine's Day 2007, when I first discovered SL (via an article in the Wall Street Journal), I've been doing essentially the same sort of research. I've called it research on identity but Boellstorff calls it virtual anthropology, a much more apt description of the entire enterprise. I highly recommend this book if you've not already enjoyed it - or if you are, like me, deeply fascinated by the non-local identity, the virtual identity, of being human.
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of this book. The full first chapter is available online at http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/s8647.html
The idea of “virtually human” appearing in this book’s subtitle can be interpreted in two ways, indexing two lines of analysis I develop throughout. First, although some insightful research has claimed that online culture heralds the arrival of the “posthuman,” I show that Second Life culture is profoundly human. It is not only that virtual worlds borrow assumptions from real life; virtual worlds show us how, under our very noses, our “real” lives have been “virtual” all along. It is in being virtual that we are human: since it is human “nature” to experience life through the prism of culture, human being has always been virtual being. Cutlure is our “killer app”: we are virtually human.