Friday, November 06, 2015

Hispanic reading discussions via virtual reality

"Without thinking about it, he had made them discover this thing that he discovered with them: that all sentences, and consequently all the intelligences that produce them, are of the same nature." (Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster)
"They ['cultures of anyone'] avoid creating divisions between those 'in the know' and 'those in the dark,' asserting that we all know something, nobody knows everything, and our abilities are developed better when we learn together than when we live in hierarchical relationships. [. . . ] 'cultures of anyone' as forms of cultural democratization [. . . ] opening the construction of knowledge and of values to participation by anyone." (Moreno Caballud, Cultures of Anyone)
Led by Malcolm Compitello, I experienced an exciting discussion format last week with posthumans across the U.S. via Second Life's virtual reality interface. As a person who relies on technology to hear and who has always wished that meetings and conferences came with subtitles, this was uplifting--it felt very inclusive and easy to participate (although I wouldn't suggest it as a replacement for face-to-face!). Participants were able to speak and be heard over the computer, but, unlike a video conference, we were also were also able to type in a chat box (and many did since there were some audio problems). I found the chat box feature really helpful; I think it encouraged more quiet folks to participate. Also, the hierarchy of the academic who's-who, so common at conferences, did not exist. In Second Life everyone chooses a username and an avatar (strangely limited to a male-gaze character, a punk rock singer, or a dragon). And with a semi-anonymous username and a silly avatar, everyone was leveled to the same 2D plane and social status was set aside. Another plus, due to the audio difficulties and unfamiliar set-up, those who spoke made an effort to speak slowly. 
Like the innovative work that ALCES is doing and other 'cultures of anyone,' this Second Life initiative is truly open to the public, making an effort to poke holes in our academic bubbles. ANYONE with an internet connection can participate in Second Life.
On November 19, 2015 the group will be discussing "Podemos and its Critics" by Seguín. See below.
More soon!
Instructions for participation, first time users, please give yourself 30-45 minutes to set-up:  

1. Download and install Firestorm: 
http://www.firestormviewer.org/downloads/

2. Go to this URL address: (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/cibola/26/180/28). 

If you need help, please contact any of us.

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