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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Integration

It's not just enough to answer a newbie's questions, and help them learn their way around the UI/HUD and give them freebies and be their friend. They need to feel something of a sense of opportunity too, I'm thinking. Otherwise they still feel disadvantaged.

I'm not just talking about economic opportunity. I've talked about that a lot elsewhere. I'm talking about things that people don't seem to normally notice. Here's one:

LANGUAGE

Prim, Rez (three separate meanings), Newbie, Oldbie, Linden (two meanings), sim, server, av/avatar, agent, script, object, linkset, gesture, sim-border, lag, texture, mesh, asset-server.


“In all major socializing forces you will find an underlying movement to gain and maintain power through the use of words. From witch doctor to priest to bureaucrat it is all the same. A governed populace must be conditioned to accepts power-words as actual things, to confuse the symbolized system with the tangible universe. In the maintenance of such a power structure, certain symbols are kept out of reach of common understanding–symbols such as those dealing with economic manipulation of those which define the local interpretation of sanity. Symbol-secrecy of this form leads to the development of fragmented sub-languages, each being a signal that its users are accumulating some form of power.”
—Lecture to the Arrakeen War College

No, I'm not suggesting that there's any conspiracy or power-grabbing going on by the use of specialised descriptive nouns. SL's fragmented sublanguage does indeed indicate the accumulation of some power. The power to understand and discuss SL's underlying framework, apparent behaviour without unneccessary confusion or complication. These are words with power, and we bandy them about as we do because they are the useful tools that allow us to understand how what we are experiencing is occuring, and that knowledge gives us leverage over the experience, allowing us to better enjoy, create and experience.

"Some of their rules can be bent, Others can be broken"
(Morpheus, in the movie "The Matrix")

Problem is, we are all used to the sublanguage that we use within SL. A newbie arrives, and doesn't know what ^^ means, or XD. Sim, Rez, Server, Av. If they don't know the meaning of the words they feel excluded. While we have the experience in common with them, we have the words and definitions that demystify it for us...and they don't. If they don't get lucky enough to have the terms explained to them unambiguously, then the sub-language fractures again, terms are learned or misunderstood by context and experience, and some percentage become a linguistically/socially impoverished subclass within SL. Have-nots, who lack the basic terms to communicate their experience of the SL reality with those around them.

"It's all about the words." - Bob Dylan

Thus, in order to integrate new players more effectively, into our culture (or to allow them to create their own viable subcultures within SL) we have to make sure they know the words, rather than just humming awkwardly along to the anthem. If all you can do is hum or mumble in tune while everyone else is belting out the words, you feel excluded, disadvantaged, and not a part of things.



1 comment:

  1. This was a wordy post about words. How aptlicious, I enjoyed it. It's amazing what power is given to people by way of written, or even spoken language.

    I like a lot of hip-hop culture and it's amazing how many deep insights and references are crafted, weaved into a linguistic tapestry by the likes of, say, Rza of the Wu-Tang Clan.

    I find the same to be true in SL, when the language can be very dense. A lot of it is just BEING... and continuing to BE. If someone gets scared and logs off, they don't learn anything.

    Be amongst avatars, live like one!

    Whole unique culture we've got here.

    ReplyDelete

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