While reading the article about ethnography in virtual worlds I found myself thinking about a couple of things: first, how do you account for people who cultivate alternate identities online? Like Donna discussed in class, you have the nerdy teenager who gets picked on in school, but when he logs into the World of Warcraft, he’s a level 95 warlock who exacts his revenge on bullies in the virtual world. How do you study something that is, in effect, complete fantasy?
My thinking is that you need to look into the reasons why people decide to join online communities in the first place. Is it out of boredom? A desire to escape from their mundane day-to-day lives? Loneliness? There are, for sure, myriad reasons why people log in, and these reasons probably predicate how they interact with people in the virtual world.
Another thought I had was about the vast future potential for virtual communities. They really haven’t been around for very long in the grand scheme of human existence. Second Life was launched in 2003 and World of Warcraft in 2004. That’s just around 10 years ago, folks. Ten or 20 years from now, what will these communities look like? Will we be able to strap on a pair of goggles and enter a Matrix-esque virtual world that’s better than the real one? How will future ethnographers study that kind of space?