Real hope in a virtual world, Online identities leave limitations behind

An extract from the washington post. The whole article is worth a read.

“After suffering a devastating stroke four years ago, Susan Brown was left in a wheelchair with little hope of walking again. Today, the 57-year-old Richmond woman has regained use of her legs and has begun to reclaim her life, thanks in part to encouragement she says she gets from an online “virtual world” where she can walk, run and even dance.

Roberto Salvatierra, long imprisoned in his home by his terror over going outdoors, has started venturing outside more after gaining confidence by first tentatively exploring the three-dimensional, interactive world on the Internet.

John Dawley III, who has a form of autism that makes it hard to read social cues, learned how to talk with people more easily by using his computer-generated alter ego to practice with other cyber-personas.

Brown, Salvatierra and Dawley are just a few examples of an increasing number of sick, disabled and troubled people who say virtual worlds are helping them fight their diseases, live with their disabilities and sometimes even begin to recover. Researchers say they are only starting to appreciate the impact of this phenomenon.

“We’re at a major technical and social transition with this technology. It has very recently started to become a very big deal, and we haven’t by any means digested what the implications are,” said William Sims Bainbridge, a social scientist at the National Science Foundation.”

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Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism

 Here’s an extract from a great post from The new Atlantis     via George

“Although social networking sites are in their infancy, we are seeing their impact culturally: in language (where to friend is now a verb), in politics (where it is de rigueur for presidential aspirants to catalogue their virtues on MySpace), and on college campuses (where not using Facebook can be a social handicap). But we are only beginning to come to grips with the consequences of our use of these sites: for friendship, and for our notions of privacy, authenticity, community, and identity. As with any new technological advance, we must consider what type of behavior online social networking encourages. Does this technology, with its constant demands to collect (friends and status), and perform (by marketing ourselves), in some ways undermine our ability to attain what it promises—a surer sense of who we are and where we belong? The Delphic oracle’s guidance was know thyself. Today, in the world of online social networks, the oracle’s advice might be show thyself.”

Top 10 Tools

Jane Hart invited me to contribute to the top ten tools  feature. My full thoughts are here;

In summary my top 10 are;

WordPress, Google Search, Google personalised home page, Explode, Facebook, Technorati, Elluminate, Blackberry, You Tube and My ears, fingers, eyes & voice.

I guess I’d struggle with many of these without the last one on the list!

MySpace & Facebook research

 I’m not sure about the  validity or underlying assumptions that have been made in this research reported on the BBC news site http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6236628.stm What do you think?

“Fans of MySpace and Facebook are divided by much more than which music they like, suggests a study.

A six-month research project has revealed a sharp division along class lines among the American teenagers flocking to the social network sites.

The research suggests those using Facebook come from wealthier homes and are more likely to attend college.

By contrast, MySpace users tend to get a job after finishing high school rather than continue their education. This division is just another way in which technology is mirroring societal values.”