Synthesis

In the Comments to my last entry, Grace McDunnough suggested I take another look at Henrik Bennetsen/Lys Ware’s seminal work which founded the “Immersionist/Augmentationist” paradigm — specifically, his discussion of Archetypes. Bennetsen’s thesis is clear from his introduction:

During the course of my conversations I got an insight into how residents live their second lives. Standing on the relatively generic SL platform residents gets up to an amazing amount of interesting things. I started to think about categories to put these activities in and after a while four emerged. Residents like to:

1. Create interesting new things
2. Think about what SL is and where it is going next
3. Socializing with other residents
4. Do business to earn L$

Based on these four categories of activities I identified four resident archetypes:

* Creators
* Philosophers
* Socializers
* Businesspeople

He proceeds to describe the activities and attitudes of each type, and to observe how each might get along with the other three. It is a long and detailed analysis — as well as revealing about the state of Second Life 3 years ago — and I recommend it.


Between the definitions and the speculations on interaction between types, Bennetsen summarizes with a graph, which I reproduce here. One axis is his Immersion/Augmentation paradigm; the other introduces an Action/Interaction orientation (which I tend to interpret as “self-directed” and “other-directed”).

As always — and as is proper — Bennetsen cautions: “Please still bear in mind that very few residents will fit only one of these archetypes.” The same applies to all that follows.

In the days since I posted “There is no wall”, and sororNishi published “Pseudonymity AKA privacy” and “Integrity”, Botgirl Questi has done some elegant and clarifying graphic analysis of issues raised in all three posts — which in turn were prompted by her post “Are Multiple Identities Contrary to a Life of Integrity”. (To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton, we all stand on each other’s shoulders). Inspired by Botgirl’s use of Venn diagrams, I decided to make a second look at Bennetsen’s graph, including regions where archetypes overlap.

Labeling the intersections was easy for three of the four. Creators who sell their virtual wares are also Businesspeople; hence, Vendors. “Philosophers” — people with a predominantly “meta” viewpoint about Second Life while in it — who are also Socializers tend to pass their knowledge along as Teachers and Mentors (whether in an official capacity or as an act of altruism). Socializers also become Businesspeople when they open a club or performance venue. This Business/Social intersection equally applies to charitable fund-raising; i.e., not all “business” is for profit. The fourth intersection, between Creators and Philosphers, was not as easy to label… but I took a clue from Bennetsen’s paper, and decided that’s where the roleplaying communities (among others) had their place.

In the last few days, I’ve come to realize two important points: first, that Bennetsen’s work pertained to thoughts and behaviors within Second Life (and, by extension, to other virtual worlds that may arise); second, that my proposal for a new paradigm — Separation/Integration — took Bennetsen’s outside the enclosed psychological space of SL. Thus, it needed new words… and now, it also gets a new picture. Lo and behold, Botgirl’s Transworld theme and sororNishi’s important points about “pseudonymity vs disclosure” also reveal themselves.

The only thing omitted (for clarity) is the economic “backchannel” between virtual businesses and their human owners fortunate enough to profit from their in-world activities — and, of course, between the in-world charitable funds raised and their real-world recipients.

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2 responses to “Synthesis

  1. Bennetsen has used a simple Jungian diagram and its rather philosophical, yours is starting to get interesting.
    Botgirl did some work on sub groups too, but this approaches the subject differently. I will be thinking about this for a while, thank you.

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