Bentham in the MUD

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"pneumatique was the favored medium for love letters, significant apologies, or requests for an important meeting. ...the handwritten pneumantique bore the trace of the physical body of the person who sent it; it was physically taken from that person's hand and put into the hand of the person to whom it was sent" (480-481) WM Turkle

This exactly the stuff I am going to Paris this summer to observe for my capstone. Do Parisians value the personal over the efficient? It appears that in America, it is the other way around. Many only seem to care that the message is delivered, not how. Information has to be communicated; it doesn't matter how. My stdu will consists of observations and a study of architecture and what it says about Europe versus America. Does America care more about effieciency than aesthetic beauty?-this is my research question.

"one can only guess at the effect upon viewers of these hyperactive images, aside from fixating attention on the television set...they must surely...contribute to the...inability to absorb information that comes muddling along at natural, real-life speed" (481)

I never thought of it that way. I always though parents were concerned about their kids spending too much time in front of the television because that was time that could be spent on homework. I never thought that TV could affect a child's ability to take in information. An interesting study could be done where kids who spent too much time in front of the TV were given electronic hypertexts to study with. Could the fact that the information was much faster and readily availible than a paper textbook solve the learning problem?

"down here [in the MUD] I see friends, I have something to offer, I see safe sex" (482)

Does anyone see the irony in this statement. In the MUD makes me think of the phrase "in the gutter", a slum where 'safe sex' is highly unlikely. True, there is no physical harm here, but it makes you think. Back then, the myspace world did not exist. Many girls have encountered predators through myspace; I have even heard of some being murdered. Risk and danger evolved with technology I guess.

"enabled a prison guard to see all prisoners without being seen...prisoners would have to assume they were being observed and would therefore behave according to the norms that the guard would impose" (490)

Bentham proposed the Pan Opticon because of the disaterous results of the industrial revolution. The factory workers had been driven out of their jobs because they were obsolete. The people, with no discernable skills, were thrown into big cities. Temptation proved to be powerful and many people turned to drugs and alcohol to escape. Did these MUD's become 'demon gin' for the people described in the text, the people who found themselves unable to survive that way that they dreamed?


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Your study of Parisians sounds interesting. I wonder what you'll find! Part of the difference may be due to the fact that all Parisians live in a big city, but all Americans don't.

Would rural French architecture have more or less in common with rural American? Just curious... lately there has been a lot of interest in 3D versions of MUDs, where virtual architecture and virtual citizenship is important. (The most influential of these online 3D communities is Second Life. I wouldn't be surprised if someone has already simulated a virtual Paris... maybe you could use the 3D space to help you plan your real trip? Just a thought...)

I'm fairly certain that fears about MySpace and Facebook predators are overblown... if more and more teens are on a social networking site, and since some teens are victims of crimes, we're going to see more and more teens who are victims of crimes, and who also happen to spend a lot of time on social networking. The vast number of sexual assault crimes against children are committed by members of the child's family, not by strangers they meet in the gutter (online or off).

Having said that, I agree that heavily mediated children see the world differently -- that's something I face as an educator and as a parent.

As always, Dani, you pose some fascinating questions.

ChrisU said:

I could be wrong, but I think Aarseth was referring more directly to "cyber sex" than kids who are lured into sexual assault via the Internet. "Safe" in the sense that it doesn't put people at risk for disease or unwanted pregnancy.

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