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Identity Workshop: Emergent Social and Psychological Phenomena inText-Based Virtual Reality
Amy Bruckman

Founder of the MediaMOO, and doctoral student in the Epistemology and Learning Group at MIT's Media Lab, Bruckman wrote this 1992 study to examine the social interaction on TrekMUSE. It is available via ftp and is worth downloading as a relatively early yet through examination of the potential for identity alteration within a MUSE environment.

A Rape in Cyberspace
Julian Dibbell

"A Rape in Cyberspace: How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society" by Julian Dibbell, was first published in _The Village Voice_ at the end of 1993. As the title indicates, Dibbell's piece analyzes the effects that a virtual rape had on the LambdaMOO community. The piece delves in to specific and well-written detail about the particulars of the actions that were construed as rape, and the community's subsequent reaction. In so doing, he teases out some of the more subtle challenges that a virtual community faces, such as the need for government and decision-making, the problems that are when people use terms that mean a distinct thing (i.e. rape) and apply them to the cyberspace realm and, ultimately, the necessary task of delineating the self (where does the mind stop and the body begin?)

Dibbell eloquently points out how the reality of a MOO exists in the gap between "real life" and cyberspace; "A Rape in Cyberspace" is a good read and a useful case study in managing virtual community conflict. As an interesting follow-up, check out Dibbell's "My Dinner With Catherine MacKinnon And Other Hazards of Theorizing Virtual Rape".




hduggan said:

One thing about the power divide is that it is created from both sides at once--powerfulness is created by powerlessness is created by powerfulness. You can tear down the divide from either side by simply failing to assume the role. Not fighting it against, but seeing your way around it. Seeing your own power in the larger scheme of things. Seeing this place as a piece of your context, rather then the other way round.

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