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The Virtual Muser
Is this world any different,
or have we walked through the looking glass
and cannot find our way back?"

Identity & Body in Cyberspace

  • Is the Mind Real?
    by H. F. J. Muller
    The mind as a whole escapes objective studies because belief in mind-independent reality is self-contradictory and by definition excludes subjective experience (awareness, 'consciousness') from reality. The mind's center therefore vanishes in studies which imply exclusive objectivism or empiricism. This conceptual difficulty can be counteracted by acknowledging that all mental and world structures arise within an unstructured origin-and-matrix for knowledge-structures and beliefs. The mind's experience is thus at the center of reality. Use of such a zero-structure reference can also help to clarify some related conceptual difficulties and to bridge the Cartesian gap between the 'two cultures'.

  • Coming Apart at the Seams: Sex, Text and the Virtual Body
    by Shannon McRae
    Being required to constantly verbalize bodily experience and emotion requires an enormous range of sensory and emotive means of experiencing which are simply not expressible in language. Nevertheless, sex, love, pleasure in any form may well afford some measure of resistance against social and technological forces that would divide us from lived experience. Eroticizing our machines might give in to the pleasures of corporeality that simultaneously exists within and outside the physical and the organic.

  • Not Without a Body? Bodily Functions in Cyberspace
    by Ute Hoffmann
    It has become common knowledge that the technologies of cyberspace - electronic networks, computer-mediated communication and virtual reality systems - remove us from our body and the embodied world. Yet, in a somewhat ironic turn of history, the very same technologies have fuelled an expanding interest in the nature of embodiment.

  • Inhabiting the Virtual City
    by Judith S. Donath
    The net is more than a source for information. It is also a social network, where people are looking for affiliations. To a large extent, the future success of virtual communities depends on how well the tools for social interaction are designed.

  • The physical body in Cyberspace: at the edge of extinction?
    by Kerstin Dautenhahn
    An investigation into how autonomous agents (hardware agents, robots, as well as simulated or virtual agents) explore their environment and interact with the world, including interaction of agents of the same "matter" as well as "multi-species" interactions.

  • Being Real
    by Judith S. Donath
    Addressing the problem of teleidentity: how do we "know" another person whom we have encountered in a mediated environment? One of the most interesting and significant is the issue of credibility: how do we know whether or not to believe what we are told by someone?

  • Will the Real Body Please Stand Up?
    Allucquere Rosanne Stone
    Cyberspace is primarily about communities and how they work. Far from the idea that one can forget about the body, Cyberspace is, in fact, where one discovers that bodies and communities constitute each other, so suggesting a set of questions and debates for the burgeoning virtual electronic community.

    by Moses A. Boudourides and Evangelia Drakou
    The belief or hope was that because bodily features are not obviously discernible in cyberspace, they would cease to be a primary means of structuring interaction. Floating free of corporeal experience, the mind would generate new forms for rendering self and other and for organizing interpersonal communication. That, however, did not happen. Cyberspace, has not managed to neutralize gender: on the contrary, it appears to be organized by the patriarchal forms, which exist in Real Life (RL), as one can ascertain by examining online chat rooms and cyber-games.

  • Body language without the body: situating social cues in the virtual world
    by Judith S. Donath
    An investigation into how the social cues that are embodied in the physical world are emerging in today's virtual world.

  • Flying Through Walls and Virtual Drunkenness: Disembodiment in Cyberspace?
    by Gloria Mark
    An examination of issues concerning how people are represented, and how these representations through the electronic medium affect people's social relationships and own identities. What is the social function of the body, and what does the absence of body mean for social relationships?

  • Decolonizing Identity in Cyberspace
    by Carrie Gates is a relatively new chapter in the unfolding of the history of art, and it responds to, and is made possible by, technologies that are also relatively new to us, namely, the Internet and its introduction of the concept of virtual space.
  • hello, and what are we today?
    by Mike Jones
    When we log on to a computer network we are given the opportunity of putting our 'self' on line. The identity of that 'self' is as flexible as the users imagination, scanning electrons of crystallised thought, which can be as transient as thought. This essay will briefly discuss some of the debates surrounding the impact of technology on notions of the body and identity, with particular focus on the use of the Internet to create different personae and communities.

  • Cyborgasms
    Cybersex Amongst Multiple-Selves and Cyborgs in the Narrow-Bandwidth Space of America Online Chat Rooms
    by Robin B. Hamman
    Cybersex in online chat rooms is defined here as having two forms: 1) computer mediated interactive masturbation in real time and, 2) computer mediated telling of interactive sexual stories (in real time) with the intent of arousal. Computer-mediated-communication is narrow-bandwidth, where face to face interaction from body language and other physical cues are not transmitted, making misinterpretations frequent. This has led to the emergence of a new language which helps users to avoid misinterpretations. The anonymity of chat rooms allows users to safely and freely experiment with their multiplicity of selves. The multiple selves that users of online chat rooms experiment with online are part of a whole self. People become cyborgs when two boundaries become problematic, 1) the boundary between animal and human and, 2) the boundary between human and machine.

  • The Body Problem
    by Barbara Montero
    Is the mind physical? Are mental properties, such as the property of being in pain or thinking about the higher orders of infinity, actually physical properties? Certainly many philosophers think that they are. For no matter how strange and remarkable consciousness and cognition may be, many hold that they are, nevertheless, entirely physical. While some take this view as a starting point in their discussions about the mind, others, well aware that there are dissenters among the ranks, argue for it strenuously. One wonders, however, just what is being assumed, argued for, or denied. In other words, one wonders, Just what does it mean to be physical? This is the question I call, "the body problem."

  • The Body is Back: Communication in Cyberspace
    by Samantha Longoni
    In an investigation of the mind-body problem, the focus of Longoni's thesis is that the body cannot be ignored in communication in cyberspace. Contrary to points of view that life has left our body and has been transposed onto the screen, Longoni maintains that the body "is an active participant of the location we now commonly call Cyberspace."

  • Exploring the Influence of a Virtual Body on Spatial Awareness
    by Mark Draper
    Three virtual reality (VR) studies were conducted to explore the potential for a virtual body (VB) to enhance a participant's spatial awareness of a new virtual environment by providing an invariant, subtle point of reference for object positioning and scaling.

  • The Future of the Dream Body in Virtual Reality
    by Scott Kaper
    What is virtual reality? As technical considerations have dampened much of the free fancy that the term originally engendered and washed away from the bedrock many wild speculations, we are now in a position to answer this question more soberly. One surprising idea remains: Virtual reality will become a technology "not just of the brain and mind, but of the soul."1 This doubtless seems like more wild speculation. I will argue that, on the contrary, it is a natural outgrowth of a particular cultural perspective, one that is very familiar to us.

  • Interaction, Interface, and Desire
    by Allucquere Rosanne Stone
    Examining the development of virtual communities. The area devoted to sex is of particular interest because of the relationship that sex has to the body.

  • Disembodiment and Cyberspace:
    A Phenomenological Approach
    by Btihaj Ajana
    The aim of this paper is to examine the entangled relationship between the technology of cyberspace and the rhetoric of disembodiment by using Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological approach. I start with an overview of the Enlightenment’s epistemology regarding the body and precisely that of the Cartesian split, then go on to argue how the body still subsists in the symbolic world created by virtual reality, focusing on materiality, speciality and bodily experiences within the realm of cyberspace. This in an attempt to negate the idea that digital environment is the location par excellence for fulfilling the dream of Cartesian dualism.

  • A Rape in Cyberspace
    by Julian Dibbell
    How an Evil Clown, a Haitian Trickster Spirit, Two Wizards, and a Cast of Dozens Turned a Database Into a Society

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