Thursday, April 24, 2008

Different hats or, I meta on and on about online identity

had a lecture yesterday in my "electronic cultures" class about identity online, and it triggered some interesting ideas in my wee little brain. i have been reading a wide variety of books about online communities and such as of late for my lit review, and i have been enthralled by how much emphasis academics put on the individual's ability to adopt different personas in cyberspace that they wouldn't be able to IRL. for example, in MUD or MMORPGs or even metaverses like second life, you are able to play in different genders, racial or ethnic identities, ages, or whatever. i think i give a different answer to the question "where are you from?" in SL every time someone asks it. why do i have to be a canadian every time? i enjoy how people react to and conceptualize you differently depending on how you answer the question.

some examples:

australian: something about the weather being amazing, or how lucky i am
british: i've gotten a type of referral almost, like a sense of being more "cultured" or whatever
new zealander: usually just a question about what it's like to live there. most people say they've never met a new zealander before.
canadian: many people profess to love canada, or make a remark about the cold weather. americans tend to give us a kind of kid-brother high-five, because we have so much shared history and whatnot.

note, however, that i always pick western, european, and english-speaking countries that have a kind of shared heritage. i wonder what would happen if i said japanese or mexican or south african or french... perhaps i should try it, and see what sort of reaction i get. i would feel like i was "masquerading" or something, i think. what would happen if i played a male, even?

i've started using the word "mate" when i talk to people, or "bloody" or something, which leads people to automatically assume i'm british. i get that a lot, actually - people assuming i'm from the UK because of the slang words i choose to use. "no worries", "i reckon", or ending a sentence with "hey" (the same way canadians use "eh") hints at an aussie... i find these things really fascinating. i don't really plan them. but out they come, and people make their subconscious evaluation of my country of origin. i think it's fascinating, really. i wish sometimes that i was doing my MA on second life, because i think there's so much going on there that is begging to be studied.

but the point of this post was actually to discuss how these things happen IRL just as often as they do online or in SL. i wear different hats, as it were, every day. code-switching, i believe is the term in anthropology. some examples: i speak different to women than men, to groups than individuals, to people here than people back home, to native english speakers than to non-english speakers, to other canadians or americans than to aussies, to my friends than to my professors, to strangers than to close friends, to office staff differently depending on their rank... the list goes on and on and one. and differently again in SL versus telephone versus internet phone versus email versus IMS versus face-to-face. i write differently for my LJ than i do for my blog, even. it's amazing how our brains automatically evaluate the situation and all the factors relating to it and make the mostly unconscious decision on how to act in each case.

social context, medium of communication, intended audience, etc. etc. - all these things influence every word we say and how we say it.

god, i love language.... i'm wondering now what kinds of implications this might have for my own research into vidding and vidders, actually. self-presentation of people in LJ? how the community may conceptualize themselves individually or as a group as "vidders", in relation or opposition to other types of fans. i think my brain works laterally, for some reason, and not logically, which can be confusing for anyone outside my own head. please forgive me if this makes no sense to you. it sounds more like a stream-of-consciousness every time i look it over.

what hats do you wear?

(also, i just found out from one of my books (crystal's "language and the internet") that the term "spam" in regards to junk-mail originated from a 1970s monty python sketch. who knew?)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

If only

I really, really, really, really want to attend VividCon. Oh man, do I. Partially because it would give me an excuse to see my family in Toronto, and partially because my inner fangirlish side also demands it from me. I would love to be able to meet and interact with all those vidders, watch the vids in the screening room, and essentially fangirl--- I mean, research. Yeah.

But unfortunately, the registration sold out in 15 minutes! I couldn't believe it when I heard it, let me tell you. But I still really want to go. *hangs head* I will try to go to VidUKon in the UK instead, and I am getting really excited about that one as well. But I am worried that my uni won't fork out the necessary funding to get me to the UK. It's a pickle.

Apparently, I am now using this blog to complain about problems and snags in my research. Sorry, audience!

In an attempt to change the general tenor of this post around, I will say that I love my topic, even if it does increase my general stress level by 5000%. But that's okay - VidUKon, I will try and attend you!

As they say here in Oz, no worries mate. No worries. We'll figure this out. (Besides, I can't actually do any fieldwork until I get my ethics approval, but that's in progress.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

An ethical quagmire

I had a meeting with another professor in my Faculty today, who took a look at my ethics application and helped me through it. She helped me quite a bit, I must say - pointing out things I never would have thought of, because I've never technically done internet-based research before.

But I must say I think I've gotten myself in a bit of a pickle with this whole thesis topic, just because of the things you never think of, you know? I'm specially referring to the issues of copyright infringement in regards to vidding. I'm worried now that my ethics form will scare away any potential vidders whose vids I'd like to use as examples, because of the consent form they'll have to sign. Of course, this could be said of any consent form - they do detail worst-case scenarios, and the potential risks are minimal at best, but the fact that they could potentially happen is what scares me, because the last thing I want to do is bring down the law-man on my participants.

Perhaps the sky just seems black right now; this is what the professor told me. And she's studying sex tourism online, so she would know about ethics approvals from hell to be sure. I must say, I'm going to do my damndest to make sure this whole thing works out for all of us. These are our people, as my friends and I say all the time. These are our people.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A work in progress... all over the place

Well, I'm finally underway and now knee-deep in the preparation for my research. It's quite difficult, actually, because vidding has never really been documented in any in-depth manner in the past (barring a few instances, such as a chapter in Jenkins 1992), there's so much leg-work to be done it's extremely daunting. The part that is both fascinating and very frustrating is that vidding stands at the intersection of different media forms, and also in-between theoretical frameworks and disciplines. It's amazing because I'm kind of treading new territory here and no matter what I come up with it should be pretty unique, but so demoralizing because there's just so many avenues that need to be explored and I think I'm starting to drown in it all.

But that's okay! I can do this, right?

I'm going to share a few more vid recs for all y'all:

- "Ritual Habitual", by Alcoholic Pixie - LINK!. I watched this vid and my mouth hit the floor with how unique it was. I am definitely going to use this vid in my thesis if I can (after I ask the vidder for permission, of course). It's an extremely well-composed Supernatural AU that makes Sam a violent serial killer, who escapes from prison after being convicted of killing Jessica. (How cool is that?) In a way, the show makes this vid almost too easy to create because of its constant scenes of women in danger, as victims, and such. And SPN does share a lot in common aesthetically (mostly in how it's shot) with serial killer and slasher horror films. I would love to use this vid to talk about how vidders reinvent and subvert the original narrative, context, and intention of television series, sometimes completely tossing the original story out the window and crafting their own.

- Another great AU is "Papa Don't Preach", by Eunice and Greensilver - LINK! First of all, I laughed so hard watching this vid that my housemates came to see if I was okay. Yeah. I first thought, "That's so wrong, mpregs are scary, I can't watch this". But of course I also couldn't resist, and I have to admit this vid is a perfect example of a crack AU going ever so RIGHT. If you think about it, this vid's all in the lyrics. It's completely and utterly dependent on the lyrics to lay out the narrative of the vid, and if you don't pay attention to every line you might not get it at all. But if you do follow it, it's a fantabulous example of taking source footage WAAAYYYYY out of context and using that to make the footage say whatever you want it to. I hope to use this vid in my thesis as well, as an example of a fan/vidder exerting control over the characters and narrative and altering it to suit fannish desires.

I really have to get back to my ethics form now (joy), but I did just want to put a call out there (if anyone actually reads this thing) that if anyone is interested in being interviewed as a part of my thesis, I would love to hear from you. You don't have to be a vidder, even - just a watcher of vids, a fan, or even anyone at all. Drop me a comment!

Also - tell me your favourite AU vid and why!