January 2008

So, today in class we often used the term ‘in real life’ and I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts about this term. For me, unless I am reading an i/m conversation or posts on a message board, I often feel compelled to take issue with how common this term has come to be in our culture. In real life? Really? Is that to suggest that the events and experiences (and values and meanings) that take place virtually/online/computer-mediately aren’t ‘real’? Sherry Turkle makes the distinction of RL (real life) verses ROL (rest of life) as a way to alleviate the contestation she has with virtual happenings being held against ‘real.’ I’m quite interested in this because in my writing I find it hard to justify considering some things ‘IRL’ (and some things not), so, I tend to stick with “online” and “offline” as a way to differentiate the two.

I would be interested to hear (read) any opinions about this…

-Sara W.


I Googled “Second Life suicide” after class and came up with the following blog post on the Computer World site: In Second Life, there is even talk of suicide.

This comment in response to the post is especially interesting and disturbing.
— Lane

Welcome to the blog for Smith College’s Spring 2008 course, Digital Ecology: American Life in the Age of the Computer (AMS 221). We’ll maintain this blog collectively in an attempt to delve more deeply into the questions we’ll be posing throughout the course of our studies — and, at the same time, in order to learn more about this particular platform for collaborative effort.


Lane Hall-Witt