What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been
How appropriate I should be updating my blog on Mother’s Day. As someone who had made the study of identity and psychosocial development part of her life’s work, I realize that after all the dust has settled and I look back on my career and accomplishments, my role and identity as a mother is the role of which I am most proud. I have been honored to have a front-row seat to the life performances of three of the most amazing women on the planet, and consider myself truly blessed to be counted among their friends, now that they are adults.
My journey as a PhD student has had many detours and near misses. There were personal hurdles, financial hurdles, and stress the likes of which I have never experienced before. By far the most difficult obstacle was the passing of Monte Wise, my children’s father, and the person to whom my dissertation is dedicated. His passing left a both a void and a challenge, to live “Life as Art” in everything I do.
My dissertation defense is May 20th, 2011. It will be the culmination of five years of study, and many months of data collection and writing. My manuscript is entitled, Life as Art: The Interplay of Real and Crafted Identities Among Virtually Performing Musicians in Second Life. It looks at amazing people who share who they are and their musical gifts across the Metaverse, and how that experience has changed their lives outside of the virtual space. To collect data for this study, I drove 2500 miles, much of it in bitter temperatures, snow, and wind. I then flew another 2000 miles, to interview and film subjects and collect data, that resulting in the manuscript that the rest of my career will be founded on.
Now that there is a light at the end of this academic tunnel and there may actually be a day on the horizon when I am not consumed with study, I am at a loss: What follows a study like this? I had assumed I would teach, but I have found that using the words “virtual world” in a cover letter or CV seems to send potential employers running. When I presented the results of my virtual world course in entrepreneurship at an international conference last fall, the general consensus was, “That is very innovative; just not at my university.” Apparently, being on the leading edge of what will become commonplace in just a few years is a little too unsettling for “conventional” academics.
My research crossed several academic disciplines. First, it addressed issues of identity formation and how interactions in a virtual space can have affect change in how the persona behind the avatar sees him or her self. Second, the study addressed the idea that interaction and feedback, which is inherent in game design, can actually help people learn, using an experiential simulation. The subjects in this study learned to perform virtually, as there was no such thing as virtual performance (in 3D) prior to Second Life. Lastly, this was a study in entrepreneurship, as these musicians realize actual income as a result of their performance. They build a fan base, release music for sale, market themselves, and have a global audience. Where else can that be accomplished without leaving one’s own home?
For all you search committee chairs in Communications, Entrepreneurship, or Innovative Technologies: Newly-minted PhD, looking for a place to be innovative, dedicated, and passionate about social media, virtual worlds, and what will come after them, as a way to change human behavior. All serious inquiries welcome.
This entry was posted on May 8, 2011 at 7:16 am and is filed under digital, ethnography, identity, media, music, research, Social Media, streaming, Uncategorized, virtual, visual with tags digital, ethnography, identity, media, music, research, Social Media, streaming, virtual, visual. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.