We are starting to get into a routine for our Minerva meetings. We used text chat, as one of us had a microphone problem. I think that’s the way we’ll probably continue, people seem to be comfortable with that. If someone has a long story to tell, they can use voice, and others can transcribe, for those who can’t hear. I’ve also provided a virtual tool for people who would like to prepare something in advance. You just enter your text, and it reads it line by line. It’s easy to use, and I’ve provided instructions. Find it free in the classroom, just click the box for a copy: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Minerva%20OSU/196/64/40
I put up my notes on the Wilding/Russo video, and we used them to structure the conversation. These are still available in the classroom, and they’re cumulative. Once again, we took off on a few tangents –personally, I’m a big fan of tangents –but I think we made some interesting connections.
The first slide provoked a lot of discussion. Faith Wilding posed the question, “what is a machine?” She then read a clipping from the Boston Daily Herald in March of this year:
Egg donor needed: we are an Ivy League couple seeking the help of a special woman who is a healthy Caucasian with highest percentile ACT/SAT scores. Tall, slender, dark to light blonde hair, blue eyes and under the age of 28. Please contact our representative. ($20,000-plus compensation, all expenses paid)
We talked about the unsettling racial and economic undertones of the quote. This reminded me of a video that I find useful in teaching these points, and I should have posted the link before I got carried away with the discussion, so here it is:
Some of us found the generation gap brought out by the dialogue a little hard to reconcile. Wilding talked most about reproductive technologies, and Russo is more interested in sexuality and virtual communities. However, just before coming to the group, I had seen this story, which I think brings the two together.
The news story tells us that the big cheese at Google wants to invest in the informatization of reproductive technologies. Can this be good? Repeat the mantra: technology doesn’t hurt people, people hurt people.
So that brought up the point that although there is a male culture of technology, thinking of technology as “male” is both dangerous and incorrect. One member of the group said that there’s a lot of hysteria around technology these days, we should look at things calmly. Another pointed out that technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it’s pretty difficult not to start hyperventilating about it. I think this will be an underlying theme for all our discussions.
I also notice that the group is beginning to discuss as avatars. Avatars see things differently. This was particularly evident when we talked about Wilding and Russo’s ideas on play and the erotic. We avatars are very playful, and erotic behavior is just part of our landscape. Does that make us more aware of the erotic, or does it desensitize us? I mean, there are just so many hypersexualized squirrels in g-strings that you can bump into before you begin to find the whole thing ridiculous.
There are so many feminist papers waiting to be written in here that it makes my head spin.