Fake Avatars and the Duplicates Paradox: An Essay by Extropia DaSilva

In ‘A Tale Of Two Avatars’, Wagner James Au reports on the discovery that there are two ‘Hamlet Aus’ on the social networking site ‘Avatars United’. Like many things to do with life on the screen, a superficial consideration of this discovery leads to a clear-cut and simple conclusion: There is the real Hamlet Au, and then there is a fake Hamlet Au. However, again like so many things to do with life on the screen, this clear-cut and simple conclusion may not hold true in all cases.


Why not? Well, it all centres on what is meant by ‘Fake Avatar’. The purpose of Hamlet Au is simply to provide one more means of getting in touch with Wagner James Au. It is like his telephone number or his email address. Just as a person hopes and expects to speak to Wagner when they ring his number, they also expect to talk to Wagner when they encounter his avatar in SL or any other social networking situation. In fact, it is probably fair to say that hardly anyone communicates TO Hamlet Au, anymore than a person speaks to their mobile phone. No, you speak to the person on the other end of the line THROUGH the phone. Similarly, Wagner James Au is spoken to THROUGH the Hamlet avatar.

Clearly, then, there is a big difference between speaking to Wagner James Au and speaking to some person pretending to be Hamlet Au. That is why it makes sense to talk about ‘real’ and ‘fake’ Hamlet Aus.

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