Immersionism and Augmentationism Revisited

Where is Gwyneth Llewelyn?

Thanks to Jade Lily, there was an event on “Immersionism vs. Augmentism” on SL’s Orange Island, moderated by Tom Bukowski, our “resident anthropologist”. The discussion was lively — even if necessarily “short”, a lot remained to be said about the subject, as always 🙂 But several bloggers (many of which attended the event) talked about the issue all over again; it’s clear that Henrik Bennetsen’s essay on the subject is still being read and discussed and that there is still a lot to be said about the two philosophies.

I used to be an “Immersionist” way before I knew what that meant. There were good reasons for me not to reveal my real identity back in 2004 (I had been stalked in RL through the Internet before, as people looked me up on blogs and forums I participated). I wished to continue the joy of participating on a vibrant online community that allowed me both to elude eventual stalkers, and a place where I could have some freedom of expression without fear. Second Life allowed all that — nay, back in 2004, it was even mandatory to keep quiet about your RL! — so I was immediately attracted to it. More to the point, I found out several hundreds (or thousands perhaps) of residents that had the same view. These were collectively labeled “Immersionists” later on.

“Immersionism” was a “tag” that we used like, say, “Americans” might use that tag to describe their personal relationship with the USA. People were individually different in their relationship to SL — like obviously no two Americans think the same way about their country and culture. When Philip made his bold statement of “I’m not building a game; I’m building a country”, this hit the mark completely. Thus I like Rheta Shan‘s definition: “Immersionists” are “citizens of the metaverse”, which is the place/country where they spend (part) of their lives; the rest — people who don’t feel any ties/bonds to SL like we do — are “tourists”. In some extreme cases, a tourist that spends a lot of time in SL, even using it as part of their work (and certainly as part of their leisure), might become “immigrants” — tourists that love the place they’re in, spending a lot of time thinking about it and living in it, but still not feeling that special bond that we “metaverse citizens” feel.

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