Sunday, October 6, 2013

Midterm 1: Looking Back and Zooming Forward

This is an index of the blog posts that I've completed to date on Team Ahab:

Pleasta Meecha! (An introductory blog post)
The Sea and Solitude (Isolation and connectivity in the Digital Age)
Avatars and Anonymity: Who are We? (Anonymity and online personae)
Bionic Us (Bionic implants and prosthetic technology)
God in the Whale (Melville's use of Moby Dick as a symbol for deity)
Devil in the Man: A "Hell-Bent" Captain (Capt. Ahab as Milton's Satan remade) 
Don Yer Blubber, Land Lubber (The virtue of blubber/thick skin in the Digital Age)
My Research, Your Voice (Exploration of research topics and requests for social proof)
"Another and still stranger world..." (Selection of research topic as "digital worlds unseen" and a brief look at EVE Online)

In class, we've talked about various social platforms that have allowed people to meet others with similar interests and connect in meaningful ways--in many cases, in ways that would be impossible except for the Internet. Whether it's collaborative music sites like Kompoz or expansive, fantastical worlds as in EVE Online and other video games, the Internet is creating digital spaces wherein people are able to share ideas and interact in meaningful ways.

Apparently even the most complex of problems
can be sorted out in the sandbox.
These spaces, in many cases, are serving as crucibles for civilization. They are worlds within worlds, often boasting their own complex governmental systems, economies, cultures, lexicons, and creative movements. In these new 'forums,' people are engaging ideas in new and exciting ways and grappling with real-life issues. Various blog posts have mentioned turning Moby Dick into a video game, and I think there's something to that idea, because in the end, video games and other 'digital worlds' allow us to investigate ideas and themes on an intimate level while still maintaining the distance necessary to allow us to face the struggles of our own lives. We get to first sort out all of the problems of humanity in a virtual sandbox of sorts and then take the lessons that we've learned into the real world. This idea, in combination with almost constant talk of digital identities and isolation/separation, got me thinking that it would be useful to investigate the idea of community within the digital world. In my last blog post, I announced that I would be looking specifically into the unseen digital worlds--the ones that go beneath the mainstream radar--but as a sub-facet of that topic, I want to address the connection between our physical and digital lives. 

How do we shape and define our realities through the digital worlds that we inhabit?