FUTURE, DAY 1                                    

                      Conference in Second Life, June 4-5,                      



        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Welcome everyone, to The Future of

                              Religions/Religions of the Future, and to


                              Delia Lake will introduce the event, and our

                              co-organizers, The Al-Andalus Project

                              Then I'll be back for a few words about Extropia,

                              and some logistical details for the day,

                              and we'll begin with our keynote speaker promptly

                              at 9.

                              Thank you all for coming, and, please welcome


                 DELIA LAKE:  Thank you, Sophrosyne

                              In the spirit of the community of Al Andalus,

                              welcome to all. Michel Manen had planned to be

                              giving this introduction. Unexpectedly, he is

                              unable to do so today. So I would like to share

                              with you some of his thoughts about the future of

                              religion and this conference.

               ZEN ZEDDMORE:  Thanks for coming Dalia.

                 Delia Lake:  To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The death of

                              religions has been greatly exaggerated”.

                              Not so long ago, it was quite usual to hear in

                              certain academic and intellectual circles, in

                              Europe particularly, that religion was nothing

                              more than a teenage malady of mankind

                              …one from which we were in the process of being

                              cured as we were maturing and reaping the

                              benefits bestowed on us by the Age of

                              Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, and the

                              Technological Revolution.

                              As we were gaining increased understanding and

                              even mastery over our social and natural

                              environments, religion, that “opium of the

                              people” in Karl Marx’s words, seemed to

                              retreat away from the public sphere,

                              and become more and more of a personal, private,

                              intimate, almost esoterical preoccupation.

                              It is therefore not surprising that, just over a

                              century ago, Nietzche proclaimed that “God is


                              and, in his wake, the greatest sociologist of his

                              time, Max Webber, claimed to general approval

                              that “The fate of our times is characterized by

                              rationalization and intellectualization and, above

                              all, by the “disenchantment of the world.”

                              Yet facts are stubborn things. Despite all such

                              epitaphs and predictions, religion seems not only

                              to have made an unexpected comeback in the 20th

                              century, but has appears to have largely

                              supplanted, at the dawn of the Third Millennium,

                              ideological and nationalist markers as the key

                              determinant of identity and belonging of the

                              majority of mankind.

                              d belonging of the majority of mankind. Already in

                              1993 Samuel Huntington’s seminal “The Clash of

                              Civilizations” identifies Western Christianity,

                              Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and

                              Buddhism as the key indicators of each

                              civilization along whose fault lines the

                              conflicts of the future would be fought: “In

                              Eurasia the great historic fault lines between

                              civilizations are once more aflame.

                              This is particularly true along the boundaries of

                              the crescent-shaped Islamic bloc of nations, from

                              the bulge of Africa to central Asia.

                              Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one

                              hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in

                              Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and

                              Catholics in the Philippines. Islam has bloody


                              And so we swing from one extreme to another –

                              from denial to demonisation, as religion seems to

                              move from impending irrelevance to determinant

                              explanatory factor of the “New World” we have

                              stepped into,

                              through a Gate of Fire –as former UN General

                              Secretary Kofi Annan explained in his December

                              2001 Nobel Peace Price Lecture.

                              What are lost between these wild swings of the

                              historical pendulum of public and academic

                              opinion are the facts –those pesky, stubborn


                              God, of course, never died; nor did the world ever

                              become truly “disenchanted”, although in some

                              areas secularism gained a greater foothold than

                              in others; nor do monolithic, solely

                              religion-based civilizations exist, between which

                              the great clashes of the 21st century are taking


                              One would be tempted to say that the truth lies

                              somewhere in between – but that would also be


                              The true value and importance of religion today

                              and its prospects for the future lie not

                              somewhere in between Webber’s irrelevance and

                              Huntington’s near-determinism, but rather –

                              quite appropriately, perhaps – above and below:

                              Below, in the cultural and historical roots which

                              make religion one of the key markers of group

                              identity and belonging of billions of people in

                              our rapidly globalizing world; and above, in our

                              ever-increasing individual need for meaning,

                              value, and hope in a global society where

                              everything seems to be relative except the power

                              of the new advertisement media.

                              Our Conference – The Future of Religions /

                              Religions of the Future does not claim to resolve

                              these complex and diverse issues. It is meant as a

                              small step in a larger process of exploration and

                              understanding of a critical phenomenon which,

                              whether we like it or not, remains as important

                              today, in our private and public lives, as it has

                              been over the past five millennia.

                              Religion’s presence and continuity, however,

                              does not imply rigid uniformity and static

                              immobility. Change and transformation affect

                              religion as much, if not more, as other areas of

                              our lives. The very fact that this conference is

                              taking place in SecondLife –an entirely new

                              medium of interaction, communication, education,

                              learning and understanding – is proof of this.

                              Over the next few days, we will hear different

                              voices – each with their own perspectives and

                              insights into the meaning and evolution of

                              religion – past, present and future – in all

                              our worlds – both real and virtual.

                              Our task, as participants, is to keep an open,

                              inquisitive mind: to understand –yes; but also

                              to question and challenge. Above all, to create

                              new bonds of friendship, cooperation, and

                              tolerance towards the Other – towards

                              Difference and the Unknown, without abandoning

                              our basic beliefs and values.

                              If our conference manages to generate some

                              creative tension between these two poles – Self

                              and Other, Unity and Diversity, Faith and

                              Tolerance, it will without doubt be a fascinating

                              and productive event.

                              Thank you for coming and enjoy our events!

                              And now, back to Sophrosyne :)

            ROSE SPRINGVALE:  applause

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Delia -

            ESCHATOON MAGIC:  applauds

              LENORE LEMMON:  /applauds

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  I'll be very brief, to keep us on track -

                              Welcome to Extropia!

                              We are a community dedicated to a vision of a

                              better future, made possible through technology -

                              We espouse no ideologies, impose no beliefs - but

                              welcome all and will work with all who are acting

                              in good faith to improve the human (and nonhuman,

                              and posthuman!) condition

                              We do a great number of events, and if you'd like

                              to be added to our notice list, please click on

                              one of the square signs along the back wall

                              We're proud to partner with The Al-Andalus Project

                              for this conference - we believe in collaboration

                              to share views, expereicnes and best practices as

                              broadly as possible

                              On behalf of the whole Extropia community, thank

                              you, citizens of Al-Andalus, for helping make

                              this event possible!

                              A few words about the event -

                              please turn your media players on, in order to see

                              the presenters' slides -

                              that's the button immediately to the left of the

                              volume slider on the standard viewer

                              And, for those of you accustomed to our Salon

                              events, which tend to be very democratic in

                              participation -

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  this is a more traditional conference, and we ask

                              that you not interrupt the presenters

                              Each presentation slot has Q&A time at the end,

                              and we have Q&A open sessions built into the


                              Also, please respect the environment here, and

                              each other's views

                              We want this to be a safe place for dialog, and

                              will be ejecting people who cannot comply with

                              the Linden Lab community standards.

                              Thank you all, and if you have any questions,

                              please IM me or one of the Extropia Managers.

                              And, back to Delia to introduce our keynote

                              speaker. Thank you!

                 Delia Lake:  Our Keynote Speaker today is William Sims


                              Bainbridge is co-director of Human-Centered

                              Computing at the National Science Foundation

                              (NSF) and also teaches sociology as a part-time

                              professor at George Mason University. He is the

                              first Senior Fellow to be appointed by the

                              Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

                              Bainbridge is most well known for his work on the

                              sociology of religion; recently, however, he has

                              published work studying the sociology of video


                              Bainbridge received his Ph.D. in sociology at

                              Harvard University and went on to study the

                              sociology of religious cults. In 1976, he

                              published his first book, The Spaceflight

                              Revolution, which examined the push for space

                              exploration in the 1960s. In 1978, he published

                              his second and most popular book, entitled

                              Satan's Power, which described several years in

                              which Bainbridge infiltrated and observed the

                              Process Church, a religious cult related to

                              Scientology.[1] During the late 1970s and 1980s,

                              Bainbridge worked with Rodney Stark on the

                              Stark-Bainbridge theory of religion, and co-wrote

                              the books The Future of Religion (1985) and A

                              Theory of Religion (1987) with Stark. From this

                              period until the 2000s, Bainbridge published

                              eleven more books dealing with space, religion,

                              and psychology.


                              These publications included a text entitled

                              Experiments in Psychology (1986) which included

                              psychology experimentation software coded by

                              Bainbridge. He also studied the religious cult

                              The Children of God, also known as the Family

                              International, in his 2002 book The Endtime

                              Family: Children of God.

                              Please give a warm welcome to William Bainbridge

         Interviewer Wilber:  Maxrohn, a priest of the Holy Light, is named

                              after my deceased uncle, Max Rohn, an Episcopal


                              Max Rohn believed in God, but Maxrohn does not,

                              because the Holy Light is a non-supernatural


                              The dominant religion in World of Warcraft, it

                              promotes three cardinal virtues: tenacity,

                              respect, and compassion.

                              Maxrohn can resurrect the dead in WoW without need

                              of divine aid: magic is simply different


                              Later you will see Lunette, priestess of Elune,

                              and Donate, priestess of Selene, both devoted to

                              the Moon Goddess.

                              Lunette is one of my World of Warcraft characters;

                              Donate is my real cousin.

                              The word "avatar" comes from Hindu religion, and

                              Second Life avatars have spiritual potential.

                              Humans today lack wisdom about transcendence, so

                              my talk will reflect chaos, indeterminacy, and


                              Sentences spoken through my hat are edited from

                              these two books, I published last year.

                        HAT:  Cognitive science casts doubt on the notion that

                              each individual has a soul.

                              One sole individual cannot create the necessary

                              technology and systems required for immortality.

                              It is not a foregone conclusion that religion

                              actually provides meaning.

                              Religious beliefs may guide people away from

                              choices that would be dangerous to them


                              Cognitive theory is already eroding the

                              plausibility of religious beliefs.

                              One sole individual cannot create the necessary

                              technology and systems required for immortality.

                              We must experiment with new forms of family and


                              We must experiment with new forms of family and


                              People may come to conceptualize themselves as

                              dynamic patterns of information.

                              Cognitive theory is already eroding the

                              plausibility of religious beliefs.

                              Science-based technologies are preparing to invade

                              the province of faith.

                              The New Age is a diffuse subculture that partially

                              serves religious motives.

                              To become immortals, we must escape the Earth.

         Interviewer Wilber:  Sentences spoken through my belt, are Enigmas from

                              Babylon 5.

                       BELT:  Something is terribly wrong.

                              A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

                              the bristles.

                              You are the key.

                              This is not science fiction; this is real.

                              This is one moment of perfect beauty.

                              This is a dream.

                              We are victims of mathematics.

                              Inside something beautiful there often is

                              something ugly.

                              One should listen to the music, not the song.

                              If you answer the fundamental questions in the

                              wrong order, they can destroy you.

                              We don't get nearly enough mysteries.

                        Hat:  The unification of science and technology could

                              produce a global scientific-technical culture.

                       Belt:  To all things there is a time.

                        Hat:  Religion has lost much of its ability to deter


                       Belt:  The story is never over.

                        Hat:  The religious notion of spirit is a primitive way

                              of thinking about aspects of humans that we call


                       Belt:  A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

                              the bristles.

                        Hat:  The potential for a future collision between

                              science and religion is great.

                       Belt:  Thoughts have mass, inertia, and motion.

                        Hat:  Religious organizations typically enmesh

                              communicants in a congregation.

                       Belt:  First you set out the bait, then you go around and

                              check your trapline to see what picked it up.

                        Hat:  The human condition is one of extreme absurdity

                              unless fixed in a cosmic context.

                       Belt:  Fear is a mirror.

                        Hat:  We need several really aggressive, attractive

                              space religions.

                       Belt:  If you are waiting for the universe to make sense,

                              you will have a long wait ahead of you.

                        Hat:  Religion seems to have some ability to deter

                              larceny, but none to deter homicide.

                       Belt:  Not denying something does not make it true, any

                              more than not confirming it makes it false.

                        Hat:  People may come to conceptualize themselves as

                              dynamic patterns of information.

                       Belt:  We are victims of mathematics.

                        Hat:  If organized religion is anachronistic, and

                              science too emotionally cold, the New Age could

                              invade both.

                       Belt:  We are victims of mathematics.

                        Hat:  Why should we believe the faith of ancient


                       Belt:  You can learn much from silence.

                        Hat:  The need for religion may decline in parallel with

                              the decline of faith itself.

                       Belt:  The story is never over.

                        Hat:  Most science deals with very limited questions of

                              no philosophical significance.

                       Belt:  You can't create language without thought, and you

                              can't conceive of thought without language.

                        Hat:  Most science deals with very limited questions of

                              no philosophical significance.

                       Belt:  One should listen to the music, not the song.

                        Hat:  Religious organizations typically enmesh

                              communicants in a congregation.

                       Belt:  Not denying something does not make it true, any

                              more than not confirming it makes it false.

                        Hat:  Most novel religions are likely to retard rather

                              than promote space exploration.

                       Belt:  You have always been here.

                        Hat:  Social science could answer many questions about

                              the role of religion in society.

                       Belt:  Your soul is a doorway of hope.

                        Hat:  The most serious examples in which religion causes

                              crime are cases of inter-group conflict.

                       Belt:  When the long night comes, you should return to

                              the end of the beginning.

                        Hat:  Science-based technologies are preparing to invade

                              the province of faith.

                       Belt:  The ultimate perfection is to be killed.

                        Hat:  Each of us would like to believe he or she is an

                              unfathomable mystery.

                       Belt:  Thoughts have mass, inertia, and motion.

                        Hat:  Cognitive scientists have sought to explain

                              religion as the natural result of human


                       Belt:  Essence will out.

                        Hat:  Increased Atheism reduces religious support for


                       Belt:  You must surrender yourself to your greatest fear.

                        Hat:  Many intelligent species probably end progress in

                              a stew of mysticism.

                       Belt:  Later is too late.

                        Hat:  Increased Atheism reduces religious support for


                       Belt:  There is nothing in the dark: no fear, no pain,

                              only the light.

                        Hat:  It is in the interests of scientists to preserve

                              the decades-long 'truce' with religion.

                       Belt:  Thoughts have mass, inertia, and motion.

                        Hat:  Creation of a galactic civilization may depend

                              upon the emergence of a galactic religion.

                       Belt:  And so it begins.

                        Hat:  To energize the great cultural shift that is

                              required, a social movement must arise.

                       Belt:  A possible future will become the true future.

                        Hat:  Cognitive science offers research methods for

                              testing religious claims scientifically.

                       Belt:  From laughter comes wisdom.

                        Hat:  Science is again invading the territory of


                       Belt:  The universe gives us puzzles with no answers.

                        Hat:  Increased Atheism reduces religious support for


                       Belt:  Our thoughts form the universe.

                        Hat:  Religion is a key factor that prevents our society

                              from investing in the social and behavioral


                       Belt:  This is one moment of perfect beauty.

                        Hat:  Once a species will develop a technological

                              civilization too quickly for it to evolve


                       Belt:  Entropy consumes everything.

                        Hat:  The human condition is one of extreme absurdity

                              unless fixed in a cosmic context.

                       Belt:  History will attend to itself.

                        Hat:  Fundamental changes in our very natures have

                              become both possible and desirable.

                       Belt:  The story is never over.

                        Hat:  Science is again invading the territory of


                       Belt:  This is not science fiction; this is real.

                        Hat:  Cognitive science casts doubt on the notion that

                              each individual has a soul.

                       Belt:  This is a new age.

                        Hat:  Religious organizations typically enmesh

                              communicants in a congregation.

                       Belt:  You should become one with the machine.

                        Hat:  Fundamental changes in our very natures have

                              become both possible and desirable.

                       Belt:  Under the thorn is the softest fruit.

                        Hat:  Science can ask whether religion contributes to

                              human well-being, or exploits misery.

                       Belt:  The heart does not sing with its parts.

                        Hat:  Secularization makes the world more religious,

                              because irreligious adults have few children.

                       Belt:  We all have our keepers.

                        Hat:  The proper method for human travel to other worlds

                              is in the form of dynamic information.

                       Belt:  You have always been here.

                        Hat:  The religious notion of spirit is a primitive way

                              of thinking about aspects of humans that we call


                       Belt:  The shadows have come for us all.

                        Hat:  Computers will erode people’s feeling that the

                              human mind has supernatural qualities.

                       Belt:  History will attend to itself.

                        Hat:  The idea that human personalities could be ported

                              to information systems is realistic.

                       Belt:  Everything is illusion; nothing is real.

                        Hat:  Science can ask whether religion contributes to

                              human well-being, or exploits misery.

                       Belt:  Everything is fraying at the edges.

                        Hat:  The idea that religion is the basis for morality

                              is certainly false.

                       Belt:  Something is terribly wrong.

                        Hat:  Science-based technologies are preparing to invade

                              the province of faith.

                       Belt:  We are a shadow of a shadow.

                        Hat:  A number of new religions claimed a scientific

                              basis for their beliefs.

                       Belt:  Everything is illusion; nothing is real.

                        Hat:  Superstitions can be useful, guiding the

                              individual safely along a well-worn path.

                       Belt:  Scratch the fabric of space, and you find eyes

                              looking at you.

                        Hat:  In our still-so-primitive cuture, it is difficult

                              to marshal the energies needed to sustain

                              scientific progress.

                       Belt:  There is power in a poem.

                        Hat:  The poor showing of religion in preventing serious

                              crime suggests secularization will not unleash a

                              crime wave.

                       Belt:  In your mind, you are the machine.

                        Hat:  The fact that artificial intelligence can simulate

                              religious faith raises profound issues.

                       Belt:  Anger is a blue sea.

                        Hat:  Belief in gods may result from false

                              overgeneralizations by cognitive modules that

                              evolved to serve practical functions.

                       Belt:  This is a new age.

                        Hat:  If humans lose traditional faiths they will

                              struggle to discover new faiths.

                       Belt:  A possible future will become the true future.

                        Hat:  The modern attempt to cultivate universal morality

                              is very difficult.

                       Belt:  The truth is fluid.

                        Hat:  The technical ability to transfer a human

                              personality to an information system may not come

                              for a century.

                       Belt:  The spirit of darkness moved upon the land.

                        Hat:  The need for religion may decline in parallel with

                              the decline of faith itself.

                       Belt:  Reality is no defense.

                        Hat:  It is scientifically valid to extrapolate from

                              modern innovative religions to past faiths.

                       Belt:  Through confusion comes clarity.

                        Hat:  Most science deals with very limited questions of

                              no philosophical significance.

                       Belt:  The impossible is possible.

                        Hat:  Religion will triumph initially, driving

                              significant portions of science underground.

                       Belt:  In your mind, you are the machine.

                        Hat:  Science can ask whether religion contributes to

                              human well-being, or exploits misery.

                       Belt:  Everything is illusion; nothing is real.

                        Hat:  Superstitions can be useful, guiding the

                              individual safely along a well-worn path.

                       Belt:  A stroke of the brush does not guarantee art from

                              the bristles.

                        Hat:  Cognitive science has the power to give us new

                              conceptions of ourselves.

                       Belt:  The universe is insane.

                        Hat:  Does not a scientific age require a scientistic


                       Belt:  The shadows have come for us all.

                        Hat:  By claiming to be scientific, scientistic

                              religions become vulnerable.

                       Belt:  The truth is subjective.

                        Hat:  Over the long run either religion will triumph

                              over science, or science will triumph over


                       Belt:  The truth is subjective.

                        Hat:  Science is again invading the territory of


                       Belt:  Cognitive dissonance is our friend.

                        Hat:  The fact that artificial intelligence can simulate

                              religious faith raises profound issues.

                       Belt:  Since space and time are curved, the infinite

                              sooner or later curves back on itself and ends up

                              where it began.

                        Hat:  Individual religiousness has the power to deter

                              property-crime delinquency only in religious


                       Belt:  We are a race of lunatics and cowards.

                        Hat:  We might as well do the best we can to give our

                              personal thoughts, feelings, commitments, and

                              memories a future beyond our deaths.

                       Belt:  Through confusion comes clarity.

                        Hat:  Religion has lost much of its ability to deter


                       Belt:  Thoughts have mass, inertia, and motion.

                        Hat:  Religion has lost much of its ability to deter


                       Belt:  We all have our keepers.

                        Hat:  Religion is resisting emerging technologies that

                              could transform human nature.

                       Belt:  We all have our keepers.

                        Hat:  Cognitive theory is already eroding the

                              plausibility of religious beliefs.

                       Belt:  This is a new age.

                        Hat:  The fact that artificial intelligence can simulate

                              religious faith raises profound issues.

                       Belt:  Since space and time are curved, the infinite

                              sooner or later curves back on itself and ends up

                              where it began.

                        Hat:  The idea that religion is the basis for morality

                              is certainly false.

                       Belt:  In space it's always dark.

                        Hat:  The technical ability to transfer a human

                              personality to an information system may not come

                              for a century.

                       Belt:  A possible future will become the true future.

                        Hat:  The proper method for human travel to other worlds

                              is in the form of dynamic information.

                       Belt:  Anger is a blue sea.

                        Hat:  Religion shapes science and technology, and is

                              shaped by them in return.

                       Belt:  You are a closed circle, returning to the


                        Hat:  In our still-so-primitive cuture, it is difficult

                              to marshal the energies needed to sustain

                              scientific progress.

                       Belt:  This is not science fiction; this is real.

                        Hat:  Religion will triumph initially, driving

                              significant portions of science underground.

                       Belt:  The shadows have come for us all.

                        Hat:  Belief in gods may result from false

                              overgeneralizations by cognitive modules that

                              evolved to serve practical functions.

                       Belt:  History will attend to itself.

                        Hat:  Creation of a galactic civilization may depend

                              upon the emergence of a galactic religion.

                       Belt:  The story is never over.

                        Hat:  As humans use ever more sophisticated information

                              systems, their personalities expand into


                       Belt:  We are victims of mathematics.

                        Hat:  We need several really aggressive, attractive

                              space religions.

                       Belt:  And so it begins.

                        Hat:  The decline of religion could be harmful for

                              individual human beings.

                       Belt:  All you experience is an unreal simulation.

                        Hat:  Each of us would like to believe he or she is an

                              unfathomable mystery.

                       Belt:  We have to open the door.

                        Hat:  A very important factor is the convergence of the

                              separate sciences into a single explanation of

                              the world.

                       Belt:  Through confusion comes clarity.

                        Hat:  From 1972 to 2004, the percent of American adults

                              who say they have no religion increased


                       Belt:  You must surrender yourself to your greatest fear.

                        Hat:  The unification of science and technology could

                              produce a global scientific-technical culture.

                       Belt:  Our thoughts form the universe.

                        Hat:  We must experiment with new forms of family and


                       Belt:  Debts can be very profitable.

                        Hat:  Perhaps an era of scientistic religions is also an

                              unstable one.

                       Belt:  Our thoughts form the universe.

                        Hat:  In our still-so-primitive cuture, it is difficult

                              to marshal the energies needed to sustain

                              scientific progress.

                       Belt:  The spirit of darkness moved upon the land.

                        Hat:  As science-based technology plays ever greater

                              roles in our daily lives, it gives scientistic

                              religions greater familiarity.

                       Belt:  This is a new age.

         Interviewer Wilber:  If you wish, you may take copies of the cubes on

                              the floor, which say the 200 sentences.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Interviewer!

                              Are you taking questions now?

         Interviewer Wilber:  Or comments; I may not have answers...

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Please feel free - I won't moderate questions

                              unless the volume becomes unmanageable

         Interviewer Wilber:  Or, we could dance... or meditate

              EUREKA DEJAVU:  That was a spectacular presentation!!!

             MUSLIMA QUESTI:  May I ask for clarifitcation?

              Lenore Lemmon:  The comment that immediately comes to my mind is -

                              do you truly think of religion and science as


                              It seems like that was a huge theme, but I'm not

                              certain we'd all agree on it!

         Interviewer Wilber:  Current religions are opposed, and the

                              evangelical-fundamentalist movement in the US has

                              done huge harm to science.

              Lenore Lemmon:  /nod

                MAGGIE HAAS:  how?

             Muslima Questi:  What do the Hat and Belt symbolize?

         Interviewer Wilber:  The story is little know about how the

                              Reagan...Bush administrations have tried to

                              squash science, especialls social and cognitive

                              science - althrough religion is just part of the


                              Head and heart perhaps

             BOTGIRL QUESTI:  Perhaps science should stick to the domain of

                              facts and religion to the domain of reason?

            MOZ BARTHELMESS:  Interviewer: Do you not think that your claims

                              about the opposition of religion and science

                              needed some, well, support? Rather than bare


             Botgirl Questi:  oops, not reason, "meaining"

         Interviewer Wilber:  Or religion to the domain of exploiting people's

                              hopes and fears for gain by religious


            Moz Barthelmess:  Of course, the format of the paper didnt lend

                              itself to extensive agrument :)

                              so perhaps its unfair to ask for some

         Interviewer Wilber:  perhaps not, but John Cage would consider this an

                              extensive arguement, because any idea can be

                              connected to any other.

              JOHN ZHAOYING:  Grin.

            Moz Barthelmess:  perhaps so, but no one asked john cage for

                              evidence ;)

         Interviewer Wilber:  Anyway, Cage is dead.... perhaps....

         SOREN FERLINGHETTI:  could you please clarify what you mean by the

                              increasing number of "nonreligious people" in

                              america? that is, what percentages do you mean

                              and, much more importantly, how many of those are

                              non-religious in the sense of being unaffiliated

                              with religious groups but still considering

                              themselves to be "spiritual" or to believe in god

                              or something else.

         Interviewer Wilber:  Or is Cage to be found in every random sound?

              Lenore Lemmon:  Soren, I was just about to ask that - what do you

                              mean by "religious,' Interviewer?

         Interviewer Wilber:  General social survey, from 1972 from 5% not

                              religious to 15% - BUT offsetting increase in the

                              very relgioons, so the nation is splitting, not


              John Zhaoying:  Yes. Atheists are coming out of the closet, too.

               ZOE CONNOLLY:  You seem to lump all belief into the category of


         Interviewer Wilber:  Many definitions of religion, and some derive it

                              from a Latin word to bind. I don't want to be

                              bound, personally.

            Moz Barthelmess:  yes - the format of this paper didnt' permit any

                              nuanced explanation or defence of what was

                              actually said

               Alaya Kumaki:  do you mean by that , not belongning officially in

                              a already known religion?

            Eschatoon Magic:  Great presentation!!! My favorite quote "Cage is

                              dead.... perhaps....". An immortal statement

         Interviewer Wilber:  The very name, Cage, belies the man.

                  AHMAN HAX:  according to the latest pew survey (2007), the

                              majority of the non-religious still report


         Interviewer Wilber:  Paradox: Marx and Freud, two "docs"

            Moz Barthelmess:  (of course, boldness could be a strength if it

                              serves to spark ideas and thoughts for future


               Zoe Connolly:  An individual can choose many "Cages" not just

                              religious ones

         Interviewer Wilber:  Spiritual may mean hopes and unidentified

                              feelings, rather than the loyalty to faith

                              required by the Judeo-Christian-Islamic


                  Ahman Hax:

              John Zhaoying:  Fence-sitters. We haven't made the world safe for

                              people who volubly and forthrightly declare


              Lenore Lemmon:  OK, so "religion" for you refers to organized


                Maggie Haas:  some people are bound by religion whether in a

                              group or not

             Botgirl Questi:  Cages aren't alway chosen

         Interviewer Wilber:  Certainly legally incorporated religion fit the

                              definition, how much further to do is a matter of


               Zoe Connolly:  that's true, Botgirl.....but many indeed are

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Two minutes for discussion, then we'll be

                              introducing our next presenter

         Interviewer Wilber:  Nor are Johns always chosen.... sory for the


              John Zhaoying:  Laugh!

                 GNE GREENE:  Isn't atheism a statement of belief?

              John Zhaoying:  No.

         Interviewer Wilber:  Humility and questioning may be themes of my talk,

                              at the same time I express strong views.

          dandellion Kimban:  it is

               Alaya Kumaki:  safety and ethicqs are related maby

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  OK, over to Delia to introduce our second


         Interviewer Wilber:  There is SO much evidence against particular

                              scientific beliefs, but we are not allowed to

                              discuss it in civil society.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you for a spirited start to the conference!

                Maggie Haas:  they become so sggestable that religions coerce

                              them in to refusing medical treatments and

                              signing over property and estates and commiting

                              suicide as a way to show true faith

         Interviewer Wilber:  Welcome and best wishes, all.

               GARETH JANUS:  ty

        CHARLANNA BERESFORD:  thanks, Interviewer

                 Delia Lake:  Thank you. Our next presenter is Helen

                              Farley/Rupert Uriza

              Lenore Lemmon:  applaud

             Muslima Questi:  thanks

                 Delia Lake:  Farley is a Lecturer in Esoteric Studies at the

                              University of Queensland’s School of History,

                              Philosophy, Religion, and Classics. She is the

                              director of the Esoteric Studies Research and

                              Teaching Group (ESRTG).

                              Her research interests include: tarot history,

                              history of secret societies, including

                              Freemasonry, history of occultism/Western

                              esotericism,history and practice of

                              divination/fortune telling, Hermetic Order of the

                              Golden Dawn, astrology. Helen is also interested

                              in the use of technology in tertiary education.

                              For more information on Helen, visit her page on

                              the UQ reSEARCHers site:


                      ABYSS:  From 1972 to 2004, the percent of American adults

                              who say they have no religion increased


               RUPERT URIZA:  Hi!

                              You'll have to get yourselves into a totally new

                              headspace now.

                              What I'm discussing is much more familiar.

                              stand before you as Rupert Uriza, all 7 foot 2

                              inches of him,

                              but in real life my name is Helen Farley

                              I’m a lecturer in studies in religion at the

                              University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia

                              Because I am in Brisbane, it’s 2:45 on a cold

                              winter’s morning so I ask you all to forgive my

                              bleariness 

                              (probably why I ended up on the roof!)

                              Today, the title of my presentation is ‘Studies

                              in Religion in Second Life: Creating Immersion

                              and Engagement’

                              I’m not going to talk so much about The Future

                              of Religions’ but the future of Studies in

                              Religion in this fascinating and complex


                              But first, some about where I come from …

                              and what we do in the Antipodes

                              Studies in Religion is a small discipline at the

                              University of Queensland

                              We cohabitate in a School with history,

                              philosophy, classics and ancient history, nestled

                              in the Faculty of Arts (check us out at


                              We have about 1000 students through our doors each

                              year, over three semesters.

                              We offer a range of undergraduate and postgraduate

                              courses but also offer research higher degrees in

                              studies in religion but also in Islamic studies.

                              In recent years we’ve moved away from courses

                              about the major world religions (and even ones

                              about more marginalized religions)

                              and our offerings tend to be more thematic

                              For example I teach about the history of


                              and I teach about that in a variety of religions

                              and religious contexts

                              Similarly, I teach about secret societies and

                              esotericism, again in a wide variety of contexts.

                              We do have the generic ‘Introduction to World

                              Religions’ course which every good science

                              student feels they need to really round out their


                              We do offer a major in religion as part of the BA

                              or Bachelor of Arts degree, and even a double


                              but most of our students are from other faculties

                              looking to do an elective (and an easy elective I


                              As you can imagine, religionists can be a fairly

                              conservative lot (though the very existence of

                              this conference demonstrates that this isn’t

                              always the case!)

                              But guess what?

                              Our students aren’t

                              Our students are regularly checking their Facebook

                              and MySpace accounts (in one of my classes of 50,

                              only 2 didn’t have a Facebook account!)

                              They’re blogging, editing Wikipedia (for

                              generations of other university students to

                              inappropriately reference)

            RISSA MAIDSTONE:  laugh

               Rupert Uriza:  and spinning the latest tunes on their iPod Touch

                              (how I want one of those!)

                              Then we ask those students to come to class,

                              forget the excitement of their multimedia lives,

                              watch a lecturer talk to a PowerPoint presentation

                              and magically develop higher order thinking

                              skills, as well as social and ethical

                              responsibility, empathy and so on.

                              Well, it worked for us didn’t it?

                              We’re still here to tell the tale …

                              but we forget that was 20 years ago (at least) and

                              we were already top of the heap.

                              Do we know what happened to those students who

                              weren’t top of the class?

                              It’s time we thought about how we teach studies

                              in religion.

                              And it’s time we thought about who we are


                              Could Second Life be the answer?

                              Second Life provides an unparalleled opportunity

                              for people to interact with each other and their

                              environment in unfamiliar and innovative ways.

                              Though educators have been quick to spot the


                              many have merely created replicas of conventional

                              learning spaces that exist on real-life campuses

                              Indeed, this approach reduces the cognitive

                              dissonance commonly experienced by both educators

                              and students in unfamiliar environments

                              but it also fails to fully leverage the unique

                              qualities of this infinitely modifiable setting

                              to provide truly immersive learning experiences

                              I was intrigued by the immersive learning

                              possibilities afforded us by Second Life

                              And in fact, I think studies in religion can lay

                              special claim to this environment

                              The motional avatars that populate Second Life

                              take their name from a Sanskrit word, which in

                              Hindu mythology means ‘the descent of a deity

                              to earth in a visible form’


                              The choice of avatars can reflect a player’s

                              gender, ethnicity, and personality – or allow a

                              student to assume a completely different identity,

                              in itself a unique learning experience.

                              So what can this environment offer us?

                              First and foremost it provides immersion: that

                              feeling of really being there.

                              Of not being aware that you’re watching a

                              computer screen.

                              Instead you are in that scene: walking, talking,

                              and taking communion.

                              Though we originally talked about immersion in

                              relation to the acquisition of language skills

                              it has been found to be equally useful in other


                              Through work done by Ross McKerlich and Terry

                              Anderson we know that immersive environments

                              (we’re talking MUVEs here) offer enhanced


                              and that the ‘physical’ presence of students

                              and teacher as avatars added to the immersive

                              environment educational experience

                              As a result of this immersion, engagement is

                              enhanced, flow is supported,

                              collaboration becomes both possible and supported

                              and new identity development and exploration

                              affords positive effects.

                              And the downsides?

                              Well, we’re all familiar with the technological

                              glitches that can make a thorough nuisance of

                              themselves when one would rather be cavorting

                              around Second Life

              John Zhaoying:  Grin. Heresy, for one.

               Rupert Uriza:  For some, the inconvenience and frustration is

                              just too much.


                              But I hope (and pray) that those issues will

                              become less frequent for everyone, (not just


                              Blah, blah, blah …

                              I’ve given you good, sound reasons for taking

                              students to Second Life,

                              but I suspect you’re most interested in what

                              we’re going to do.

                              And what we have already been doing. Well …

               Rupert Uriza:  I can stand in front of a class and tell them

                              about the Hajj.

                              They’ll get some idea about it. I can show the

                              students photos and maybe some news footage (what

                              isn’t available on YouTube?)

                              They’ll find out more.

                              We might be able to have someone come and talk

                              about their own experiences

                              Wow, that would be great but how does it compare

                              to being there?

                              Well, that’s rather an extreme example,

                              Mecca is a long, long way from Brisbane.

                              At the moment we send our students out to various

                              religious spaces.

                              Students are told to be respectful, stay out of

                              the way and document all they see.

                              But there’s transport and insurance and timing.

                              And I’ve already told you Mecca is a long way

                              from Brisbane.

                              Well, Hindu temples aren’t plentiful either in

                              this relatively conservative, mostly white


                              So how under these circumstances am I going to

                              counter the images of Apu of the Simpsons and

                              show my students the wondrous complexity that is


                              Or even Orthodox Christianity among a Protestant


                              Or how is a woman ever going to see what happens

                              within a Freemasonic temple (assuming that she

                              wants to of course)?

                              In Second Life this all becomes possible.

              John Zhaoying:  How?

               Rupert Uriza:  There are already so many beautiful religious

                              spaces here. The peace and tranquility of the

                              Buddhist Shrine of Varosha or the gothic awe of

                              the cathedral on Epiphany Island.

                              Head down there on any Sunday and hear Arkin

                              Ariantho deliver a sermon to a church full of


                              many whose real life counterparts can’t

                              comfortably or safely leave their homes.

                              Here they are engaging with their religious

                              community. Who am I to say that this isn’t a

                              genuine expression of devotion?

                              So, I can send my students to those religious

                              places already extant in Second Life. Can’t I?

                              Yes, and I do.

                              So they can go and listen and learn, ever

                              documenting their experiences (maybe through a


                              I’m still uneasy about this and the problem I

                              have with this is that students are going along

                              and observing genuine religious worship and

                              watching participants like zoo animals.

                              Most don’t mind for sure but I’m still not

                              easy with it.

                              I’m certainly not at ease with them

                              participating more fully in religious rituals as

                              outsiders, even in Second Life.

                              The solution that we’ve come up with is to

                              create a UQ Studies in Religion island, which

                              we’ve affectionately called ‘Religion


                              My colleague (and Discipline Convenor) Dr Rick

                              Strelan and I successfully applied for a pot of

                              money set aside for strategic teaching and

                              learning initiatives.

                              We’ve tried to represent as many traditions as

                              we can squeeze onto one small space.

                              We’re creating a church, a synagogue, a mosque

                              but also a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple, a

                              Freemasons Lodge (to satisfy my urge to know what

                              goes on!)

               Alaya Kumaki:  mmm thats huge progect

               Rupert Uriza:  and some natural spaces too.

                              One of our staff members is involved in

                              researching spirituality and the environment

                ZOBEID ZUMA:  Freemasonry is a religion?

               Alaya Kumaki:  yes zob

               Rupert Uriza:  For her we have a rocky outcrop overlooking a sea

                              full of brightly coloured fish.

                              One of my postgraduates is investigating the

                              ritual in ritual magic so we have some spaces to

                              accommodate that intriguing and important


                Zobeid Zuma:  I've never heard it described that way before.

               Rupert Uriza:  Did I mention our very distinguished and

                              ancient-looking Greek temple?

                              So beyond attending an existing service, students

                              will be able to adopt an identity (an avatar

                              we’ve already created)

                              and enter into one of our religious spaces to

                              participate in a ritual or a re-creation

                Zobeid Zuma:  BTW, I understand someone is building an authentic

                              Kemetic temple.

               Rupert Uriza:  Students can swap roles; walk a mile in someone

                              else’s moccasins (or however that saying goes!)

                              They must observe the traditions of that religion:

                              shoes off, wash before entering, appropriate

                              clothing only – male and female.

                              Respectful, always respectful.

                              And unlike real life spaces, there will be plenty

                              of notecards to give students the information

                              they need.

                              These are not genuine religious services

                              – that’s not the point -

                              but through them students can learn what they are


                              Kim Anubis (Kimberley Rufer-Bach) is the genius

                              behind the behind the design

                              And while our island is still being born in the

                              massive womb of NMC,

                              she and her team (aptly called ‘Magicians’)

                              are building in the stratosphere above


                              I’ve brought along just a few photos to show


                              I know how tedious proud parents can be.

                              We hope to have the island up and running by

                              semester II, which is July for us.

              John Zhaoying:  Who staffs the facilities and provides the

                              simulated rituals?

               Rupert Uriza:  The creation of the buildings is just the first


                              Then comes the endless scripting, poses, clothes.

                              Thank goodness you can pay someone to do that!

                              I haven’t mentioned that in the centre of our

                              island will be the recreation of the University

                              of Queensland’s Great Court;

                              it’s sandstone and iconic.

               Rupert Uriza:  But there will also be some other spaces such as

                              an amphitheatre for lectures and concerts, and

                              some general gathering spaces

                              We’re planning on keeping the spaces closed

                              while UQ students are doing something specific

                              for a class

                              but it will be open at all other times.

                              I hope you come and visit us

                              Well, I have plenty more to say.

                              seem to have found my stride; but for now I’ll

                              quit typing (very difficult with just two


                              And at 3am

               Alaya Kumaki:  ; 0

               Rupert Uriza:  If you want to be kept in touch with what we’re

                              up to, join the UQ Studies in Religion group.

                              It’s free!

                              It’s been an absolute pleasure being here.


            Moz Barthelmess:  Thanks so much! :)

               Rupert Uriza:  My pleasure

             Muslima Questi:  Wonderful idea, cant wait to visit, thanks so


               Rupert Uriza:  I can't wait for it to be built!

                  GINO YUYA:  I have a question...

            Moz Barthelmess:  immediate thought - your island is a great project

                              but very time-consuming and expensive to design.

                              will other universities be able to use it

                              (perhaps for a fee)?

               Rupert Uriza:  Sure, I don't think the discipline is big enough

                              to be greedy with resources

            Moz Barthelmess:  if projects and programs and ideas are not shared,

                              it seems to me that sl will have limited use for


         Interviewer Wilber:  Rupert: Do you think Second Life is a good

                              environment for creating entirely new religions?

                              Real religions, not just fictional depictions of

                              fantasy faiths.

               Rupert Uriza:  Exactly

                              Yes, absolutely

                              We saw it with the internet

          dandellion Kimban:  how do one create a new religion?

               Rupert Uriza:  Why would SL be any different?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  thanks for this nice presentation. as a teacher of

                              religion, i have a couple of questions. 1) will

                              students from other universities be allowed

                              access? 2) are you at all concerned with how

                              visiting a religious environment and engaging in

                              another way of life might be watered down by

                              online access? for example, i give my intro to

                              religion students the assignment of visiting a

                              couple of religious places (here in NYC,

                              everything is available) but i think part of the

                              value of the assignment is really having to _be

                              there_ surrounded by different people of a

                              different way of life. is there a way to

                              incorporate this into SL religious visits?

                  Gino Yuya:  With online games and graphics maturing (e.g.,

                              GTA4), is there a market for dedicated spaces for

                              religious discussion and modeling environments,


               Rupert Uriza:  Wow, that all happened at once!

                              Yes to access

                              Yes to watering down of religions but in some

                              cases acccess is just not available

                              but also in RL students couldn't effectively try

                              on those religions, so no too

                              Yes to dedicated spaces too

                              Just look at SL now. Religion is just about every

                              form is flourishing

            Moz Barthelmess:  is there a danger that students will only see what

                              you want them to see (because you have to program

                              in all the details)? religious spaces seem so

                              complex and multi-vocal to me that recreating one

                              would be a real challenge

                              students won't be able to see something you

                              missed, to surprise you with new insights of

                              their own

               Rupert Uriza:  Absolutely, but knowledge is constructed

                              I'm hoping this will just be a beginning for them

                  Gino Yuya:  I just came back from two weeks in Israel visiting

                              many of the sites IRL.

               Rupert Uriza:  They will also see things they couldn't have seen

                              because they were standing up the back

            Moz Barthelmess:  :)

               Rupert Uriza:  or my Freemaons example again ... because they

                              were women

              Lenore Lemmon:  To add to Moz's question, if you hope that some of

                              your students will continue in religious studies,

                              isn't it important that they learn to interact

                              with people at real religious sites? after all,

                              eventually they will presumably end up

                              interacting with "subjects" (though i don't like

                              that term)

            Moz Barthelmess:  thats true - they need field skills too

               Rupert Uriza:  Sure

                              it's not a complete replacement but one more tool

                              in the arsenal

               Alaya Kumaki:  as a woman ,in the freemasson temple in sl ,it was

                              very courteous

               Rupert Uriza:  I could imagine that

              Lenore Lemmon:  (I do see the benefit, I'm just curious and

                              playing devil's advocate)

               Rupert Uriza:  Devil's advocate is good

                              I need the practice ... always need more funding

            GRAYSON REDSTAR:  Rupert - I agree with you about the need to

                              increase the tech and information richness in

                              education delivery -

               Rupert Uriza:  It's a big issue

            Grayson Redstar:  but, how do your students take to SL? Is it fairly

                              natural for them?

               Rupert Uriza:  Look at the typical Blackboard site and compare it

                              to the MySpace site of the average 19 year old

               Zen Zeddmore:  I like the idea that students will not feel as

                              personally intimidated by any religious front in

                              SL as opposed to RL where their body must be


            Grayson Redstar:  oh yeah!

               Rupert Uriza:  (Ok I know there's not a typical 19 year old)

                              Yeah absolutely

             Muslima Questi:  lol i agree rupert, i hardly check my BB :P

               Rupert Uriza:  And I don't want to exclude practitioners from

                              having contact with students though

                              I want them involved


            Moz Barthelmess:  would students actually role-play rituals in this


               Rupert Uriza:  That's the plan ... at least parts of rituals

            Moz Barthelmess:  i can imagine some (particularly the religious

                              believers) finding that very hard?

               Rupert Uriza:  My PhD student is currently working on scripting

                              for the Banishing Ritual in GD system

                              I hope they do find it hard ... that;'s the point

                              Confronting the unknown ... immersion

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  have you had a chance to discuss with religious

                              folks as to whether they would take umbrage at

                              outsiders acting out the rituals in SL? for

                              example, will the catholic church object to an

                              online eucharist?

            Moz Barthelmess:  they absolutely would!

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  for non-catholics especially?

               Rupert Uriza:  That's variable

            Moz Barthelmess:  hence my question :)

               Rupert Uriza:  Some do and some don't

                              generally the response has been good

                 GNE Greene:  Do you draw any parallels with the treatment of

                              religion in Science Fiction, such is in Frank

                              Herber's "The Godmakers"?

               Rupert Uriza:  Lag is a curse

               Alaya Kumaki:  the intern wether

                              part of vw

               Rupert Uriza:  Technology is a problem

                              People are happy that students are being taught

                              about their faith

               Alaya Kumaki:  lol

             Botgirl Questi:  Lag is the goddess that teaches patience

               Rupert Uriza:  I haven't but I'm sure I could

               Alaya Kumaki:  i rl we have wetehr lowering too


               Rupert Uriza:  Yeah true

          dandellion Kimban:  LOL botgirl

               Rupert Uriza:  I find students cope with the tech difficulties


                              I do what I can to minimise them

                              Just learning to walk in SL can be a challenge

                              (hence the roof incident again)

                Maggie Haas:  ha!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Two more minutes for discussion with Rupert -

                Maggie Haas:  i said sorry...

               Rupert Uriza:  I carry my students around on a Pied Piper at

                              first so they can see the sites, get a taste and

                              move on

                 GNE Greene:  Walking in SL takes a couple of days to learn -

                              how long did it take in RL? :)

               Rupert Uriza:  I know but there was a pram and I was warm and

                              comfy and didn't know I was marked as a newb

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  And on that note....!

                 KIM ANUBIS:  haha

               Rupert Uriza:  Thanks!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Rupert! Delia?

               Alaya Kumaki:  noob is a newcommers , be welcome ruppert!

                 Delia Lake:  Thank you, Rupert. In this event-filled day,

                              please welcome our third speaker, Lincoln Cannon

                              Cannon is a founding member, director and

                              president of the Mormon Transhumanist

                              Association. He has thirteen years of

                              professional experience in information

                              technology, working primarily for companies in

                              the systems management industry, such as Symantec

                              and Novell.

                              He holds a masters degree in business

                              administration and a bachelors degree in

                              philosophy from Brigham Young University. Lincoln

                              served a mission to France for the Church of Jesus

                              Christ of Latter-day Saints, is married with

                              Dorothée Vankrieckenge, a French national, and

                              is father to three bilingual children.

                  Ahman Hax:  Good morning, everyone. My first life name is

                              Lincoln Cannon, and I’m president of the Mormon

                              Transhumanist Association. I’m also a proud

                              member of the World Transhumanist Association, as

                              are all voting members of the Mormon Transhumanist


                              Before proceeding with my presentation, I’d like

                              to thank Sophrosyne for inviting me to participate

                              in this conference. I’d also like to thank

                              Giulio (now Eschatoon Magic) for kindly

                              recommending my participation to Sophrosyne. I

                              feel honored to share your time with so many

                              interesting presenters, whose experience and

                              views I admire and value.

                              My presentation, today, is on Mormonism as a

                              religion of the future. I’ll begin by

                              providing, briefly, some background information

                              on Mormon origins and denominations.

                              Subsequently, I’ll reference currents in Mormon

                              demographics, culture and theology to explain why

                              we should expect Mormonism to thrive amidst

                              accelerating technological change in coming

                              decades. Finally, to illustrate what the future

                              of Mormonism may look like, I’ll provide a

                              profile of Mormon Transhumanists.

                  Ahman Hax:  Mormonism originates with early nineteenth-century

                              American, Joseph Smith. Joseph, as he liked to be

                              called, claimed to communicate with God through

                              visions and other experiences, beginning in his

                              adolescence and continuing throughout his life.

                              In 1830, Joseph published the Book of Mormon,

                              which tells of interactions between God and

                              ancient inhabitants of the American continent,

                              including a visit from the resurrected Jesus

                              Christ. Soon after publishing the book, Joseph

                              founded the Church of Christ as a restoration of

                              the original Christian church. Following years of

                              violent persecution, Joseph was killed by a mob in

                              1844, and the already-strained church fractured.

                              In time, Brigham Young emerged as the recognized

                              leader of the majority of Mormons, who he led

                              across the plains and mountains of the American

                              west to settle in the valleys of what has become

                              the State of Utah. The Church of Jesus Christ of

                              Latter-day Saints was incorporated in 1851, and

                              now consists of over 13 million members around

                              the world.

                              Simultaneously, most Mormons that did not follow

                              Brigham eventually coalesced around the

                              leadership of Joseph Smith III, the oldest

                              surviving son of Joseph Smith. The Reorganized

                              Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was

                              established in 1860, changed its name in 2001 to

                              Community of Christ, and today consists of over

                              200,000 members worldwide.

                              In addition to these major Mormon denominations,

                              there are numerous small denominations, such as

                              the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of

                              Latter-day Saints, which continues to practice

                              polygamy, unlike most other Mormon denominations.

                              Mormons may number as high as fourteen million

                              worldwide and six million in the United States,

                              making them approximately as numerous as Jews,

                              both worldwide and in the United States. In the

                              United States, only Catholics and Protestants

                              outnumber Mormons.

                              While overall birth rates in developed nations

                              continue to drop, Mormons in those nations

                              continue to reproduce above replacement levels.

                              For example, 21% of adult Mormons in the United

                              States currently have three or more children in

                              the home – more than any other faith tradition

                              in the United States.

                              Of those children, 70% are likely to identify as

                              Mormons into adulthood, compared to 80% of Hindu

                              children at the high end and 37% of Jehovah’s

                              Witnesses at the low end. As a consequence of

                              their fecundity, Mormons have a relatively

                              youthful age distribution, with 66% of adults

                              below age fifty, surpassed in the United States

                              only by Hindus, Muslims and the religiously


                              Although the number of Mormons worldwide continues

                              to rise, the number of Mormons in developed

                              nations is slightly declining, perhaps reflecting

                              the broader trend of overall declining religious

                              affiliation in these nations. For example, in the

                              United States, 1.8% of the adult population

                              identified as Mormons in childhood, whereas now

                              1.7% identify as Mormons.

                              Protestantism has declined similarly, with a

                              notable trend shift in the mid 1990s away from a

                              stable to a decreasing percentage of the

                              population of the United States; and only a high

                              rate of immigration has prevented the number of

                              Catholics in the United States from declining

                              during this period of time.

                              However, Mormonism’s average annual rate of

                              growth, at 2.97% since 1995, remains above

                              sustained historical lows – from 1918 to 1945,

                              the number of Mormons grew at an average annual

                              rate of 2.53%. The religion will most likely

                              continue to grow steadily and diversify

                              geographically, and its adherents will probably

                              maintain their fecundity and relatively youthful

                              age distribution.

                              Also, as I will explain in more detail, Mormon

                              culture and theology contain within them the

                              seeds from which renewed growth in developed

                              nations may arise, if recognized and nourished.

                              The same cultural changes that are challenging

                              more traditional religious views have produced an

                              environment amenable to resurgence of unique

                              aspects of Mormon culture and theology.

                              The Book of Mormon contains an intriguing story

                              about a man named Lehi, who in ancient times

                              sought guidance from God while journeying in the

                              desert with his family to find a new home. One

                              morning, upon opening the door of his tent, he

                              discovered on the ground a fine brass ball of

                              “curious workmanship”.

                              On inspecting the ball, Lehi saw that it contained

                              two spindles, and soon learned that one of the

                              spindles would move to guide him through the more

                              fertile parts of the desert. From time to time,

                              messages also appeared on the ball, providing

                              additional assistance during the journey.

                              When Lehi and his family arrived at the sea, his

                              son, Nephi, climbed a nearby mountain to seek

                              further guidance from God. He was inspired to

                              make tools and build an unusual ship, the likes

                              of which he had never before seen. When

                              completed, the ship served to carry them across

                              the sea to their new home.

                              For me, this story epitomizes the importance of

                              education and technology in the Mormon worldview.

                              Mormons do expect inspiration from God, but we do

                              not expect God to do what we can do for

                              ourselves. We can learn and we can build, and so

                              we do.

                              Mormonism has long emphasized education, both

                              religious and secular. Joseph Smith taught early

                              Mormons that “the glory of God is

                              intelligence”, which later became the motto of

                              Brigham Young University (BYU). Founded by

                              Brigham Young in 1875, BYU now has campuses in

                              Utah, Hawaii, Idaho and Israel, servicing upwards

                              of 50,000 students.

                              The Wall Street Journal ranks BYU #1 among

                              regional graduate business schools, and US News

                              ranks BYU #3 among undergraduate accounting

                              programs. In the United States, BYU is the #1

                              producer of dental school-bound students, the #6

                              producer of law school-bound students, a top 10

                              producer of medical school-bound students, and

                              the #10 producer of graduates who go on to earn


                              The LDS Church also operates a “Perpetual

                              Education Fund” that provides student loans to

                              members of the Church, generally in

                              less-developed countries. Students are expected

                              to repay the loans according to their abilities.

                              Since its initiation in 2001, the fund has

                              provided loans to 27,000 students in 39


                              Some may wonder whether the Mormon emphasis on

                              education is counter-productive to activity and

                              retention in the LDS Church. As it turns out,

                              there is a strong positive correlation between

                              years of formal education and active

                              participation among members of the LDS Church.

                              Mormons also tend to be more highly educated than

                              average among persons in their respective nations.

                              For example, in the United States where 14% of the

                              general population has less than a high school

                              education, only 9% of Mormons have less than a

                              high school education; and where 50% of the

                              general population has some college education or

                              more, 61% of Mormons have some college education

                              or more.

                              Mormons are avid technological innovators and

                              adopters. My own father, Layne Cannon, was one of

                              the inventors of the word processor.

                              Mormons invented the television, hearing aids, the

                              transistor radio, video games, CD/DVD technology,

                              the electric guitar, department stores, repeating

                              rifles and automatic shotguns, the artificial

                              heart and various bionic body parts, synthetic

                              diamonds, and (for you full-body tanners) the

                              photopermeable swimsuit. The creator of

                              Battlestar Galactica, Glen Larson, and the author

                              of Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card, are both


                              You’ll find Mormons all over the Internet. The

                              Mormon blogging community, known as the

                              Bloggernacle, consists of thousands of sites, of

                              which one of the most popular is run by a group

                              of women that call themselves the “Feminist

                              Mormon Housewives”.

                              Mormons in Second Life are running a thriving

                              community, consisting of at least 600 members and

                              six islands with residences, gardens, chapels,

                              temples, shopping centers and recreation areas.

                              The Mormon Transhumanist Association recently

                              established a conference center in the dome of a

                              space station orbiting above the “Inspired

                              Technologies” office tower on the main Mormon

                              island of “Adam ondi Ahman”.

                              In addition, the LDS Church has a world-class

                              online presence at and Behind

                              that, the Church leverages technology all

                              throughout its operations. For several decades,

                              the Church has outfitted its chapels with

                              satellite dishes, enabling members to participate

                              in Church-wide conferences. Computers can be found

                              throughout chapels and temples.

                              The Church even uses technology as an enabler for

                              some of its rituals. Massive genealogical

                              databases store information regarding members’

                              ancestors, for whom they perform religious

                              ordinances by proxy. Consequently, the LDS Church

                              is the largest provider of genealogical

                              information on the Internet at

                              Mormons also tend to maintain moderate stances in

                              bioethics. For example, while the LDS Church

                              explicitly takes no position on stem cell

                              research, one of the political champions for stem

                              cell research in the United States has been the

                              Utah senator, Orrin Hatch, who is a Mormon.

                              The LDS Church’s position on abortion is

                              somewhat unusual for a Christian church in the

                              United States, in that it opposes abortion for

                              personal or social convenience, but it explicitly

                              recognizes the practical benefit of abortion in

                              some cases and so implicitly supports its


                              The LDS Church explicitly takes no position on

                              capital punishment, endorses reasonable means for

                              extending human life, and opposes euthanasia

                              except as the result of removing artificial life

                              support. These and other LDS Church public policy

                              statements can be viewed at

                              Mormon metaphysics (a description of the basis of

                              reality) does not rely on the immaterial or

                              supernatural. Spirit is fine matter or light.

                              Miracles do not contravene law. God organized the

                              world from matter according to law.

                              Mormon metaphysics is fundamentally consistent

                              with that of modern science. Like Mormons,

                              although explicitly in deference to the

                              scientific method, scientists generally reject or

                              ignore appeals to the immaterial or supernatural.

                              Even so, some computer scientists share Mormons’

                              faith in a material spirit, although described in

                              different terms as experimentation on the

                              hypothesis of substrate independent

                              consciousness, which they recognize as a basis

                              for the feasibility of futures including mind

                              uploading and computed worlds.

                              Mormon theodicy (an explanation for the mutual

                              existence of God and evil) separates from

                              theologies that postulate a monolithic God of

                              absolute omnipotence. While God is powerful, the

                              possible is limited. God did not create matter or

                              law, but emerged within and sought to reorganize

                              them to exalt other intelligences to godhood.

                              Evil is not absolute, but arises from conflict

                              between wills, desires and laws. To overcome

                              evil, God calls us to be saviors, of whom Jesus

                              Christ is the example, reconciling in atonement

                              our wills, desires and laws. Similarly,

                              evolutionary science holds that our pain and

                              misery reflect limited fitness in relation to our

                              environment, and may be overcome in time through


                              Moreover, an increasingly common evolutionary

                              view, that technological adaptation eventually

                              supersedes biological adaptation, corresponds

                              with the Mormon view that each of us, including

                              God, first passively emerges within an

                              environment before actively working to reorganize


                              Mormon eschatology (a vision of the future) begins

                              by identifying our time as one of wonderful

                              progress and extraordinary challenges, and

                              proceeds rapidly to a millennial paradise and

                              beyond to yet greater challenges.

                              Through ordinances, mortals will be transfigured

                              and the dead resurrected to physical immortal

                              bodies, differing among themselves as do the

                              stars. Immortals inhabit worlds without end of

                              diverse kinds and degrees, and some of their

                              inhabitants become gods, with power to organize

                              new worlds.

                              Mormon eschatology clearly parallels a common a

                              view of the future espoused by futurists

                              examining trends in technological change. Both

                              expect our acquisition of knowledge and power to

                              continue accelerating, and that a time of

                              dramatic change is imminent, with unprecedented

                              risks, as well as opportunities for material

                              abundance and indefinite life extension leading

                              to transformative change.

                              Some futurists argue that if we ever use advanced

                              computing power to simulate a significant number

                              of worlds indistinguishable from our own, we are

                              almost certainly already living in a computed

                              world, as are the neohumans computing our world,

                              and so on in possibly infinite regression. Anyone

                              trusting in the feasibility of such computing is,

                              in different words, sharing the Mormon faith in

                              eventual godhood in worlds without end.

                              Mormon soteriology (a description of salvation)

                              focuses on happiness, individual and communal,

                              spiritual and physical, attained through both

                              grace and works, according to our wills, desires

                              and laws.

                              The grace of God provides opportunity, without

                              which we would be less than dust. In this context

                              of grace, we are saved through faith, not

                              passively, but rather through action and power.

                              Faith in Christ manifests as will to truth and

                              friendship in eternal reconciliation with each

                              other, extending love not only to the living, but

                              also to persons past and future.

                              In worlds without end, all enjoy that which they

                              are willing to discover and create, with full

                              happiness in eternal progression of physical and

                              spiritual exaltation. Such pursuits will be

                              increasingly facilitated by our emerging

                              technological capacity for shaping better minds

                              and bodies through mental and physical


                              Although surprising to many who are unacquainted

                              with one or both, Mormonism and Transhumanism

                              parallel and complement each other quite

                              satisfactorily. I’ve mentioned some of the

                              reasons for this, and there are many others that

                              time will not permit me to share now.

                              Suffice it to say that, in my estimation,

                              Mormonism was a religious Transhumanism a century

                              before the term “Transhumanism” was used by

                              Julian Huxley, and the ideological origins of

                              Transhumanism are far more ancient than and not

                              entirely so secular as Enlightenment philosophy.

                              The Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA) today

                              consists of 74 members. Approximately 80% live in

                              the United States, and half of those (or

                              approximately 40% of the total) live in the state

                              of Utah. There are also members living in

                              Australia, Germany, the Philippines, Poland,

                              Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and Taiwan.

                              Most of us are comfortable identifying as

                              “Mormons”, “Transhumanists”, “Mormon

                              Transhumanists” or even “Transfigurists”,

                              at least some of the time. Rather unique among

                              Transhumanist groups, we are generally theists

                              and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of

                              Latter-day Saints.

                              We also have a few members with other or no

                              religious affiliations, and some that are

                              agnostic and atheist – for some of whom god

                              doesn’t exist . . . yet! Politically, we are

                              diverse, with members identifying across the

                              political spectrum, including a healthy

                              conservative representation, which is also rather

                              unique among Transhumanist groups.

                              In 2007, the World Transhumanist Association (WTA)

                              surveyed its members for their responses to ten

                              “Are You a Transhumanist?” questions.

                              Recently, we surveyed MTA members for their

                              responses to the same questions. 51 members


                              96% think people have a right to use technology to

                              extend their mental and physical (including

                              reproductive) capacities and to improve their

                              control over their own lives. 89% do not think

                              human genetic engineering is wrong because it is

                              "playing God". 98% think that by being generally

                              open and embracing of new technology we have a

                              better chance of turning it to our advantage than

                              if we try to ban or prohibit it.

                              87% think human progress will result from human

                              accomplishment in addition to (or rather than)

                              divine intervention, grace, or redemption. 91%

                              think it would be a good thing if people could

                              become many times more intelligent than they

                              currently are. 70% think it would be a good thing

                              if people could live (in good health) for hundreds

                              of years or longer. 63% think women should have

                              the right to terminate their pregnancies.

                              78% claim an ethical code that advocates the

                              wellbeing of all sentient beings, whether in

                              artificial intellects, humans, neohumans, or

                              non-human animals. 61% would consider having

                              their minds uploaded to computers if it was the

                              only way they could continue as a conscious

                              person. 57% think parents should be able to have

                              children through cloning once the technology is


                              A couple of the results from the MTA survey are

                              higher than the results from the WTA survey, but

                              most are lower, reflecting both differences in

                              ideological emphasis and substantial indecision.

                              In most cases, twice as many MTA members are

                              undecided than are in disagreement regarding the

                              “Are You a Transhumanist?” questions from the


                              Reflecting Mormon compatibility with

                              Transhumanism, the Mormon Transhumanist

                              Association affirms, in its own words, the

                              Transhumanist Declaration:

                              1) We seek the spiritual and physical exaltation

                              of individuals and their anatomies, as well as

                              communities and their environments, according to

                              their wills, desires and laws, to the extent they

                              are not oppressive.

                              2) We believe that scientific knowledge and

                              technological power are among the means ordained

                              of God to enable such exaltation, including

                              realization of diverse prophetic visions of

                              transfiguration, immortality, resurrection,

                              renewal of this world, and the discovery and

                              creation of worlds without end.

                              3) We feel a duty to use science and technology

                              according to wisdom and inspiration, to identify

                              and prepare for risks and responsibilities

                              associated with future advances, and to persuade

                              others to do likewise.

                              I’m a Transhumanist, today, principally because

                              my Mormon faith led me to it, and continues to

                              provide deeply moving reasons to engage actively

                              in the Transhumanist endeavor.

                              Before encountering Transhumanism, my associates

                              and I were already persuaded that our faith

                              mandated the application of technology to the

                              work of human exaltation, and we nearly organized

                              an advocacy group to be named, “Foundation for

                              Immortality and Resurrection Science and


                              Fortunately, however, we discovered Transhumanism

                              at the right time, and chose to align ourselves

                              accordingly. We founded the Mormon Transhumanist

                              Association on 3 March 2006 and affiliated with

                              the World Transhumanist Association on 6 July


                              Some have criticized Transhumanism as a

                              quasi-religious cult, to which many

                              Transhumanists have responded with stern denial

                              – too stern, and revealing. I don’t share the

                              denial. In the Mormon tradition, we seek to

                              recognize God in all that is good, by definition

                              – not just hypothetically. I don’t hesitate

                              to say that I see God at work in Transhumanism.

                              Indeed, if Transhumanism substantially affects the

                              world for the better, it will do so only

                              subsequent to our trust in the power of its meme

                              and our faith in the strength of its spirit. The

                              risks before us are too great and the

                              opportunities too wonderful to confront with

                              anything less than the best we can muster, both

                              sharply rational and sublimely emotional.

                              In the words of Pragmatist philosopher William

                              James: “The capacity of the strenuous mood lies

                              so deep down among our natural human possibilities

                              that even if there were no metaphysical or

                              traditional grounds for believing in a God, men

                              would postulate one simply as a pretext for

                              living hard, and getting out of the game of

                              existence its keenest possibilities of zest.

                              “Our attitude towards concrete evils is entirely

                              different in a world where we believe there are

                              none but finite demanders, from what it is in one

                              where we joyously face tragedy for an infinite

                              demanders' sake.

                              “Every sort of energy and endurance, of courage

                              and capacity for handling life's evils, is set

                              free in those who have religious faith. For this

                              reason the strenuous type of character will on

                              the battle-field of human history always outwear

                              the easy-going type, and religion will drive

                              irreligion to the wall.”

                              The future needs religion, and Mormonism is a

                              religion of the future. Its relatively young and

                              reproductive demographics, high cultural

                              retention, emphasis on education, theological

                              compatibility with science, moderate stances in

                              bioethics, and persistent adoption of new

                              technologies will be drivers.

                              I expect Mormonism to thrive amidst accelerating

                              technological change in coming decades, and

                              consider Mormon Transhumanism to be a window

                              through which to look at that future. Thank you

                              for your time and interest. Are there any


             Muslima Questi:  Thanks Ahman :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Ahman!

               Rupert Uriza:  So interesting!

                  Ahman Hax:  you're welcome, of course; thank you for the


              Eureka Dejavu:  thanks for taking the time to be here

            Grayson Redstar:  Ahman - this is a bit far afield, but something

                              I've been wanting to ask for a while -

                  Ahman Hax:  shoot

            Grayson Redstar:  The Mormons have a record of avidly manipulating

                              the environment - you've been terraformers of the

                              Southwest -

                  Ahman Hax:  indeed

            Grayson Redstar:  has there been any Mormon work in terraforming

                              studies applied to other environments?

                  Ahman Hax:  i know some Mormons who work for nasa that have

                              investigated such ideas

                              i don't know much of the details

                Maggie Haas:  can everyone afford to persue that level or

                              personal enlightenment it all sounds great but

                              education at a basic level is expensive and many

                              do not qualify for loans how call all your people

                              reach that level?

            Grayson Redstar:  thanks though - I''ll track down references!

                  Ahman Hax:  certainly, however, there is theological place in

                              mormonism for terraforming

                              maggie, we do our best to help educate each other

                              certainly it's a challenge

             Muslima Questi:  I have a question - Mormons value education and

                              science greatly, do u think the religions that do

                              so have a better chance in surviving in the future

                              than others?

                  Ahman Hax:  but we are a rather integrated and giving

                              community, generally speaking

                Maggie Haas:  perhaps

                  Ahman Hax:  i do think that religions that value science and

                              education have a better chance of surviving and

                              even thriving

                Maggie Haas:  if they mirror the world too much people may think

                              why bother im already living that life

                  Ahman Hax:  mormonism certainly is about improving this life

                              brigham young, whom i mentioned as one of the

                              early mormon leaders, taught that heaven is what

                              we make it and we'll attain to no other than that

                              which we work to create

                              and that if we don't do such work, our professions

                              of religion will amount to nothing

                Maggie Haas:  do you offer to help anyone all humans who are not

                              mormons reach that level of education?

                  Ahman Hax:  mormons are nearly universalist in their

                              perspective on salvation

                              all should attain to that which they desire and

                              work to create

                              only those who desire no salvation are excepted --

                              but our moral duty is to assume there are none


                  Gino Yuya:  They have a fun polynesian cultural center in


                  Ahman Hax:  so, yes, we should be seeking to offer assistance

                              beyond the borders of our religion

             KHANNEA SUNTZU:  Stop dragging cargo cults into it

                  Ahman Hax:  and we do -- the lds church is a major

                              humanitarian contributor

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  ahman, in your opinion, are there other religious

                              groups that have a strong trend toward

                              transhumanism like mormonism has in your


                  Ahman Hax:  not as strong, in my observation

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  other groups that could forge an equally effective

                              bond between the two?

                  Ahman Hax:  there are unique aspects of mormonism that

                              resonate strongly with transhumanism

                              however, that doesn't mean i've observed them all

                Maggie Haas:  so people would have to join you or allow you to

                              religiously instruct them in order to get

                              educated in one of your centers?

                  Ahman Hax:  certainly mormonism has more in common with

                              transhumanism than other large groups within


         Interviewer Wilber:  What about Scientology? They don't cooperte with

                              anybody, but they do seek to transcend current

                              human limits through what they regard as

                              religious technology.

                  Ahman Hax:  maggie, no; there are many non-mormons at byu, for


             Khannea Suntzu:  Inshazathoth

            Grayson Redstar:  and more Mormons at Arizona State than at BYU! :)

                  Ahman Hax:  from my extent of familiarity with scientology and

                              islam, neither has a theology so close to

                              transhumanist perspectives related to neohumans

             Khannea Suntzu:  Yah they call them houri I hear

                  Ahman Hax:  mormons explicitly believe that we should become

                              like god, in knowledge, power and benevolence

                              that we may create worlds without end

         Interviewer Wilber:  Transhumanists tend to be liberatarian, whereas

                              Scientology is self-addmittedly authoritarian.

                  Ahman Hax:  and that god emerged naturally to such a station

                              before us

                              some mormons are quite authoritarian, too

                              however, many are not

         Interviewer Wilber:  But Scientology has no god - except in the hope

                              that your yourself can become god, which sounds

                              like many Transhumanists.

                  Ahman Hax:  the political perspectives of mormon

                              transhumanists are about 25% libertarian

                              it is highly improbable that we will become gods

                              and create many worlds unless we are already

                              living in a world created by a god

                Maggie Haas:  as opposed to christians always saying its

                              impossible to know what god knows even after adam

                              and eve ate from the tree of knowledge as the

                              story goes...

                  Gino Yuya:  I thought it was all about inner experience....

                  Ahman Hax:  inner experience is important to the mormon

                              religious view

            Moz Barthelmess:  whats opposed to that, maggie? sorry

                  Ahman Hax:  we advocate meditation and prayer in pursuit of

                              wisdom and insight, inspiration on spiritual


                              we also claim that the insight can extend beyond

                              spiritual matters

                              as in the ancient jewish tradition, we posit the

                              existenceof prophets

                              current and fresh with the word of god

                              no end of revelation

                Maggie Haas:  moz the devine level where they aspire to take


                 GNE Greene:  So, there will be more prophets in future?

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Three more minutes for discussion with Ahman!

                  Ahman Hax:  greene, we believe we are all called to be


                              that prophets live now

          dandellion Kimban:  is the prophet "god-given" or one can achieve that


                  Ahman Hax:  it is a relation with god

                              grace and works

                              most mormons also believe some prophets are called

                              to unique positions of authority

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Ahman!

                  Ahman Hax:  thank you

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Back to Delia to introduce our next presenter -

                 Delia Lake:  Thank you very much, Lincoln. This morning is

                              proving to be a most stimulating discussion. Our

                              fourth distinguished speaker today is Robert


                              Geraci is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

                              at Manhattan College. He studies the power of

                              religion in contemporary culture, particularly

                              with regard to the interaction between religion

                              and science.

                              Other interests include the history of science,

                              anthropology of science, contemporary art,

                              literature, Christian history, and economics.

                              Current research focuses upon the relationship

                              between artificial intelligence (AI), robotics,

                              online gaming, and religion (primarily Jewish and

                              Christian apocalypticism but also Japanese

                              Buddhism and Shinto).

                              Please welcome our next speaker

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  hi all.

                              thanks for coming. and an extra thanks to soph and

                              michel and delia and all others involved in the


                              my apologies if this presentation is a bit short

                              or disjointed ... i wan'st really quite sure how

                              to put it all together given that it's coming

                              more or less from my next book.

                              i'm also typing on the fly, so forgive the delays.

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i recently finished up a book on what i call

                              "apocalyptic AI" (more on this later) and have

                              begun a book on religion and online games.

                              a lot of nice people have already consented to

                              chat with me for the book and i'm grateful for

                              their help. i'm going to talk about one of them


                              as a thesis: centuries of disenchantment have left

                              western culture with a search for transcendence

                              and online games have become a major arena for

                              that quest's fulfillment.

             Khannea Suntzu:  :)

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  in order to clarify, i'll do a little

                              historicizing and then a little description of

                              what i've been up to.

                              i see myself as an anthropologist, not an arbiter

                              of truth so i want to be very clear that i have

                              no idea whether any of these groups are right in

                              what they say or do. i'm just interested in what

                              they're doing and why

                              i think that online games, as a place of religious

                              activity, are more interesting than they're given


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  when people incline to referring to them as

                              escapism. i don't think people are "just" trying

                              to escape from least not in any sense

                              that everyone else isn't.

                              the particular ways in which cyberspace plays into

                              the search for transcendence have a long history

                              in western culture

                              following the historans of technology david noble

                              and david nye, we can see that technology has

                              been tied to

                              theological reasoning throughout the medieval


                              and after

                              Noble argues that technology emerged in a

                              christian culture that sought a return to the

                              perfection of adam and expected that the kingdom

                              of god would arrive in something of a short order

                              technology was presumed implicated in both of

                              these things.

                              for example, roger bacon expected we'd need

                              advanced technology to aid jesus in his battle

                              against hte antichrist.

                              more interestingly,

                              early modern "scientists," or natural philosophers

                              felt that science and technology restored

                              humankind to the grace of adam.

                              in their minds, adam's fall was not just a moral

                              fall but a scientific and philosophical one as


                  Gino Yuya:  ?Phusikoi?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  they presumed that adam, prior to the fall, had

                              complete mastery over teh natural world (as

                              implicated in him naming the animals)

                              and that he knew all scientific matters.

                              science and technology, then, had a distinctly

                              christian soteriological (that is, about

                              salvation) aim

                              science and technology -- the mechanical arts and

                              philosophy combined -- could lead humankind back

                              to its prelapsarian grace, could restore the

                              original purity of humankind.

                              armed with this theological justification, they

                              set about improving microscopes so as to see what

                              adam could see and studying the cosmos so that

                              they could know what adam knew.

                              all of this while expecting that science and

                              technology could also bring about an earthly

                              kingdom of god, a period of peace and prosperity

                              these attitudes were, of course, profoundly

                              affected by the transition into full modernity.

                              the early modern equation of technoscientific

                              progress and christian theology took on an

                              entirely new cast after the "death of god," as

                              proclaimed by nietzsche

                              the reality of god became something more easily


                              in spite of this, the basic christian expectations


                              in the 19th century, christian theology retained

                              much of its force. americans, for example, tied

                              their belief in manifest destiny and in their

                              nation as the ultimate expression of god's plan

                              to technologies such as transportation

                              improvements and superior communication

             Khannea Suntzu:  Alas now it is super sized god

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  in the 20th century, some of continued. for

                              example, engineers in rocketry often spoke of the

                              need to use space travel as a means of


                              but despite this, the 20th century has experienced

                              a certain amount of secularization.

                              the world has been, in max weber's word,


                              margaret wertheim has traced this disenchantment

                              through our conception of space.

                              she argues that at one time, we had a conception

                              of how the sacred fit into our spatial world

                              we "knew" where heaven was.

                              up, of course.

                              and hell was down.

                              god and his angels actually lived somewhere

                              physical, as portrayed in rennaisance art or in

                              dante's divine comedy, for example.

                              that has been hard to maintain.

                              the copernican revolution interfered with the


                              and subsequent mechanization of the world seemed

                              to provide god with less and less room for


                              as science progressed, the sacred disappeared from

                              its physical location. it just didn't have

                              anywhere to _be_.

                              many people have no particular problem with this.

                              after all, the kingdom of god is supposed to be

                              spiritual, right?

                  Gino Yuya:  Quantum!

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  but even for those who are comfortable with the

                              progressive disenchantment of space, there

                              remains a desire for somewhere for the sacred to


                 GNE Greene:  Extra dimensions, and the multiverse...

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  as it turns out, virtual reality offers

                              contemporary people a clear and easy location for


                              virtual worlds are, in the most obvious sense,


                              they are set apart from the everyday, the mundane,

                              the profane.

                  Gino Yuya:  Thought vs. presence!

               Zen Zeddmore:  god is in Ahern?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  in religious studies, we call that which is

                              different the sacred

                              it is the arena for meaning, purpose, value, among

                              other things

                              it is principally demarcated by being specifically

                              not economic according to emile durkheim

                              the everyday world is economic

                              it involves making food and shelter

                              when communies gather for other reasons (even if

                              those issues remain, just so long as they are

                              subservient to larger social concerns)

                              then the times and places become sacred

                              for durkheim, this occurred in a process of

                              "collective effervescence."

                              collective because lots of people are involved,

                              effervescence because it was full of bubbling, or

                              better, energy.

                              "an electricity is in the air" say the

                              commentators at a texas longhorns football game.

                              that because texas football is a religion!

                              for durkheim, though, his subjects were aboriginal


                  Gino Yuya:  Go Bears!

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  and in his analysis, aboriginals gathering for the

                              corroboree go through an unusual set of motions

                              just as football fans chant, wave, shout de-fense,

                              and so on, the aboriginal australians in

                              corroboree chant, clap, sing, dance

                              they also fight, break sexual taboos and more

                              i believe that virtual reality is now the place

                              for much of this behavior.

                              in a 1967 art experiment glowflow (a very

                              primitive virtual reality environment occupied by


                              the visitors did, indeed, chant, clap, whisper,

                              etc. in unison for no apparent reason.

                              one woman even broke taboos by kissing every male

                              who entered the darkened room.

                              nowadays, participants in online worlds develop

                              very serious experiences of the energy of the


                              they form meaningful groups of people who really

                              know them and/or like them for who they are; they

                              participate in meaningful activity with those

                              people, arguing they are at least as important as

                              their so-called "real life" friends

                              and, indeed, they experience the sacred.

                              one of my interview subjects is part of an SL

                              role-play fantasy group.

                              she is the high priestess of her invented goddess

                              whom she recognizes to have been invented

                              while seeing that the religion is "invented" she

                              still claims

                              that in participating in her festivals and

                              healings and so forth that she experiences a

                              heirophany-- an experience of the sacred

             Khannea Suntzu:  We should sell software, simreligion, with slider

                              bars an d wisywyg buttons.

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  she believes that the sacred reality of earthly

                              life (she is essentially a pantheist who believes

                              that the natural world is a spiritual totality)

                              can be truly experienced through SL activities

                              when it works, she says, you can glimpse that

                              natural sacred even in the artificial world of SL

                              "like some sort of blurred mirror"

                              for her, activity in SL -- the role play within

                              the community -- provides this sense of sacred.

                              i look forward to finding out how closely others

                              in her community share this experience.

                              one other example.

                              it is important, i think, that people often refer

                              to their avatars (which is, itself, a religious

                              term) as angelic, godlike and so forth.

                              that language is shared by participants and

                              creators alike

                              one person shares his "transcendental experience

                              of living as embedded avatar in SL"

                              sorry...lost in my notes

                              mark pesce, co-creator of vrml, describes the

                              virtual world of osmose as

               Alaya Kumaki:  :)

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  "virtual kundalini, an expression of philosophy

                              without any words, a state of holy being which

                              reminds that, indeed, we are all angesl"

                              and in similar language, nicole stengers, a VR

                              artist has argued that

                              "on the other side of our data gloves we become

                              creatures of colored light in motion, pulsing

                              with gold particles...we will all become angesl,

                              and for eternity"

                              summing up two such disparate positions is awkward

                              but it can be seen in both the role-play and in

                              the angelic avatar examples that

                              if nothing else,

                              users recognize a kind of sacred potential ... a

                              place for transcending the human condition.

                              on that note, i'll stop talking and be happy to

                              try to respond to any questions or comments

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Soren!

                 GNE Greene:  "Through both game and Work we become larger


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Since we have open Q&A/discussion starting at


                              we can just open things up now

                              Please forgive me - I'm overheating badly, and

                              need to log for a bit for cooldown

               Alaya Kumaki:  and eat athe buffet... for a pose

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Rose Springvale will be coordinating in my


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  wonderful. i'm going to sit.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  and I expect to be back in time for Delia to

                              introduce our next speaker at 12:30

                              so, thank you, and open discussion/ Q&A until


SOREN FERLINGHETTI:  botgirl, can you clarify archetype?

               ALAYA KUMAKI:  in edit and preferences

                 DELIA LAKE:  yes, Botgirl. Ludo Merit is doing some of that

                              with the Prism hero walk

                  GINO YUYA:  I usually pick Thales as a good starting point...

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  GNE. i hadn't even thought of it. interesting


                  AHMAN HAX:  virtual worlds are more complex organizations of

                              information -- but still organizations of

                              information, like books

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  one major difference, GNE: a book can be

                              infinitely interpreted but usualy has defined

                              form. a virtual space is infinite in both form

                              and interpretation (nearly so, anyway)

             BOTGIRL QUESTI:  Soren, universal personas such ass goddess, whore,

                              mother, treckster, etc.

                              Thanks Delia

               Alaya Kumaki:  it uses more images... like symbols than

                  Gino Yuya:  Where do you go (consciously) when you are engaged

                              in a video game all night?

                 GNE GREENE:  " Respect the Land owner, or they will get divine

                              on you " :)

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  that would be pretty fascinating, botgirl. maybe a

                              collaborative paper some time? :)

                  Gino Yuya:  vs. sitting in front of a computer that is turned


               Alaya Kumaki:  gne /me giggles

             Botgirl Questi:  I posted an archetype of the month club idea, but

                              haven't had time to get it started :)

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  let me know when you do!

                 GNE Greene:  Is a gne/genie an archetype?

             Botgirl Questi:  GNE, I dunno, but David Bowie may be ;)

               Alaya Kumaki:  god'n e_world

            MOZ BARTHELMESS:  method question - how do you interview? voice,

                              text, phone?

                              inworld or out?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  the interviews i've held were in SL but i've also

                              hosted discussions where multiple people came.

               Alaya Kumaki:  u need a god mic, and sometimes a stream

            Moz Barthelmess:  and do you use voice?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  for example, when i first came to SL, i would host

                              discussions on matters of religion.

                              more recently, i've done everything by text

               Alaya Kumaki:  that can be on the web

            Moz Barthelmess:  oh, really? why so?

               Alaya Kumaki:  fund*

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  always ask for the right to quote and never use

                              earthly names unless the person has an earthly

                              persona makign the same arguments

            Moz Barthelmess:  well, of course :)

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  so far, everyone has been willing to let me use SL

                              names but if i need to, i can start making more

                              anonymous claims

            Moz Barthelmess:  does using text help preserve anonymity, then?

                              or is there another reason?

               Alaya Kumaki:  some peopel wth phd do quote themself witout

                              letting know their real name also

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i suppose it does, given the augmentation v.

                              immersion debate but it also makes it easy for me

                              to keep a transcript and then check back with a


            Moz Barthelmess:  ah, ok

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  as i have with soph -- who kindly set me straight

                              on a misunderstanding i'd had from one of our


                              text is slow but that also gives people a chance

                              to think

              LENORE LEMMON:  Text also has a major benefit if the people you're

                              studying prefer text

                              Namely, you don't take them outside of their

                              comfort area, or see them out of the context

                              they're familiar with...

            Moz Barthelmess:  i've found text interviews (eg by instant

                              messenger) less useful than phone, but i've only

                              interviewed on websites where identity is

                              generally known

            Rose Springvale:  Also helps when not all speakers are native

                              english speakers

               Alaya Kumaki:  sometimes a break of reading is good, and voice is


            Moz Barthelmess:  in sl it could easily be more complex - for

                              example, if a person is using an avatar of

                              another gender or age and doesn't want to reveal

                              that fact

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i tend to space out interviews and occupy no more

                              than an hour, so people don't wear down. people

                              have been very gracious with me, which i


            Moz Barthelmess:  of course, you'd want to think about whether that

                              detail would be useful for the researcher to know


              Lenore Lemmon:  One person I interviewed was deaf

               Alaya Kumaki:  there is no gender discrimination

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  moz, i hate phones so i sometimes give but never

                              hold interviews on them. :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  For her, text was the only way she could

                              communicate on SL - in fact it was why she began

                              using SL (so she wouldn't always have that


               Alaya Kumaki:  as lonng as ethic is there

            Moz Barthelmess:  ah, interesting soren - i dont use phones much

                              either, but interviewing with them has felt quite

                              natural. each to his own!

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i definitely think that doing anthropology (and

                              i've been reinventing myself as one lately)

                              demands that i try very hard to be fair with the

                              people i'm dealing with. if i'm not fair, they

                              won't want to come back. nor will they be

                              forthcomign with others.

               Alaya Kumaki:  yes once we were ( in a group) redirected to a

                              phone line long distance witout fees ,, and

                              screen to

                              very difernt concept

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i used to be more of an historian but i like

                              tlaking to people now. it's fascinating to hear

                              someone tell me she feels the sacred through a

                              religoin she invented online!

            Moz Barthelmess:  and word gets around, too - if people find the

                              experience unpleasant, the rest of the community

                              is likely to close up

               Alaya Kumaki:  maybe there is difernt manner to adore...

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  other people have told me they expect to find a

                              religion online and in my survey, a solid 30% +

                              believe that a new religion in SL would be as

                              legitimate as those of earthly life

                              another 26% say maybe it would be

               Alaya Kumaki:  in rl it exist also

            Moz Barthelmess:  i did find in text that it was difficult to ask

                              enough follow-up questions - typing took so long

                              that it quickly became embarrassing to pursue

                              lines any further

              Lenore Lemmon:  I think that there is also a question of peole

                              having grown up with the medium

                              For example, my parents don't think of social

                              interaction online as 'real'

             Botgirl Questi:  What about spiritual practice in SL vs. religious


              Lenore Lemmon:  whereas almost everyone in my generation seems to

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  there is that problem, moz, but i just try to take

                              that as a warning that i should slow myself down


            Moz Barthelmess:  for example, if someone says "i feel the presence

                              of the sacred online" you've got three

                              definitions to pursue right away, and that could

                              take the whole interview to do properly

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  and take good notes. :)

                              if it takes 4 follow-up interivews, that's what it


              Lenore Lemmon:  I wouldn't be surprised if people begin to think

                              of SL religion as more possible as SL and similar

                              media become more common and people begin to have

                              grown up with them.

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  takes

            Moz Barthelmess:  oddly, lenore, i find people who are extremely

                              comfortable online still refuse to accept online


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i don't find that many people say things like "i

                              feel the sacred online," though

            Moz Barthelmess:  and many online religionists go online for that

                              one sole purpose

            GRAYSON REDSTAR:  Lenore - how much usage of SL and other

                              non-Facebook social media do you see? I'm trying

                              to guage where my university falls

            Rose Springvale:  not so different from tv evangelism then?

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  by and large, people don't really talk that way in

                              earth or in SL

              Lenore Lemmon:  At my university, people frequently use

                              non-facebook social media - for example,


                  PIP TOROK:  yes but you can find the numinous in most ordinary

                              humdrum things .. eg "laborare est orare"

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  which raises another ethical and intellectual

                              problem -- interpreting what the person said and

                              seeking clarification without leading the subject

                              to saying what you want him or her to say

            Moz Barthelmess:  lol - i was just paraphrasing the quote you gave,


              Lenore Lemmon:  SL is much rarer, but there are significant

                              portions of students who use MMORPGs

                              Then again, I also think that I am particularly

                              aware of students who use many social media,

                              because I use so much myself

             Botgirl Questi:  I think maybe transcendent experience happen in

                              one's consciousness and real world or virtual

                              it's going in through your senses, not any

                              different to your brain

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  lenore what do you think the percentage of

                              students is that "plays" in immersive virtual

                              worlds (SL, WOW, etc.)?

            Moz Barthelmess:  personally i think the issue may be more about how

                              you use the internet and what yo think its for -

                              many students (most?) use it just to get

                              information and to keep in touch with RL friends,

                              and they have no time at all for online


            Rose Springvale:  The phenomenon of sacred places within the grid is

                              fascinating to me

            Moz Barthelmess:  whereas some of the people i've interviewed are

                              elderly and/or housebound, and even though they

                              are unfamiliar with the web they immediately see

                              it as a place to make new social contacts

              Lenore Lemmon:  H'm - I'm not sure. As high as 20%, maybe - or as

                              low as 5%, but no lower than 5%. I think it

                              depends how immersive you mean

                              If you include things like XBOX Live, it's at

                              least 20% and maybe more

                              Also, if you include "have tried but not a regular

                              user," it spikes I think

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  sure, i think the online shoot-em-ups and so forth

                              count. most studies of those indicate a high level

                              of social activity in them (see borland and king,

                              for example)

            Grayson Redstar:  That sounds about right from stats I've seen - I

                              think my university is at the late-adopter end of

                              the curve overall

              Lenore Lemmon:  I agree with Moz about most people not using it

                              for communitymaking

                              but, sometimes communities spring up from offline

                              communities. For instance, my college has a

                              LiveJournal community that lots of students are a

                              part of, and frequently flamewars that occur there

                              spill over into the "live" community

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  but will they start as they age? to be frank, when

                              people aren't in college any more they have a

                              tendency to see social circles shrinking. if

                              they're used to online worlds that would be a

                              natural place for acquaintances to become


                 LUDO MERIT:  Do you think the percentage who use SL for

                              community making would be higher than the other


              Lenore Lemmon:  furthermore, people not at the college interact in

                              that community (alumni, prospective students, etc)

                              who would not normally be involved in community


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  i think it has to be, ludo. i mean, if you're not

                              making friends here, what are you doing exactly?

                              it's not as though you can slay the dragon of

                              zorg and get the latest flaming sword to quench

                              your acquisitive human nature. :)

            Moz Barthelmess:  you can explore and build, i suppose

                 Ludo Merit:  Oh, I quench my aquisitive nature quite a bit


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  good point. i don't shop here. :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  I was going to say, I think a lot of people quench

                              their acquisitive nature on SL

                  Your Name:  smile, me too :)

             Botgirl Questi:  Leisa Reichelt, I think, coined the term "ambient

                              intimacy" to describe social network


              Lenore Lemmon:  And, I'd say that games like WOW actually

                              encourage community more than SL

            Rose Springvale:  oh, great term

                 Ludo Merit:  Interesting term.

            Moz Barthelmess:  interesting, botgirl - where does she say that?

            Grayson Redstar:  Lenore, I think you're right about that -

              Lenore Lemmon:  In WOW, if you get past about level 20, you pretty

                              much have to be in community in order to progress.

                              That isn't 100% true, I know, but largely.

             Botgirl Questi:  let me look it up

            Grayson Redstar:  WOW is structured to develop community - -

            Grayson Redstar:  and SL is best for natural extroverts, as it lacks

                              those shaping forces

            Moz Barthelmess:  i think so, lenore - in WoW people actually create

                              community as a by-product of doing something,

                              whereas here its easy to get lost, bored and quit

             Botgirl Questi:

            Moz Barthelmess:  most people i talk to about sl say "oh - i tried

                              that once, there was no one there so i quit"

            Rose Springvale:  it does explain why the "community"sims are so


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  is the shopping in SL stand alone, though? if you

                              don't take your new acquisitions out to show them

                              off are they really valuable? all the EQ and WOW

                              sociologists agree that sociality is an enormous

                              part of it (i was just trying to convince my

                              students of this this morning) my only intent was

                              to indicate that SL will get boring even quicker

                              than WOW if you don't make or have friends there

              Lenore Lemmon:  But is it really community building to show it


            Rose Springvale:  depends on what you shop for

              Lenore Lemmon:  There's a lot more emphasis in SL on dance clubs,

                              etc. that don't necessarily require any


            Grayson Redstar:  Soren - as an introvert in both of those worlds, I

                              think you're right -

              Lenore Lemmon:  whereas in WOW things like guilds involve

                              teamwork, etc.

         Soren Ferlinghetti:  sure, lenore. showing off is critical to community


                              for example, marcel mauss's description of giving

                              in his classic work, _the gift_ illustrates ways

                              in which showing that you are influential through

                              gifts or even through the ability to destroy

                              valuable things is a way of bringing people


            Moz Barthelmess:  thanks for the link, botgirl

            Grayson Redstar:  and the attention economy has a lot of parallels

                              with the gift economy as concepts in general

                  Your Name:  i'm not sure i understand that concept

              Lenore Lemmon:  Well, I see the idea, Soren

            Grayson Redstar:  I'm just in the early stages of thinking about

                              this, so please forgive me -

              Lenore Lemmon:  and I believe that it sometimes happens, but I

                              haven't noticed it in my own experience

            Grayson Redstar:  but in a situation where the only real scarcity is

                              attention -

             Botgirl Questi:  np Moz

              Lenore Lemmon:  (which is highly subjective and small)

            Grayson Redstar:  requesting it and giving it are key economic

                              activities -

                              so, showing off, and paying attention, are

                              reciprocal gifts and economic transactions of a


         Soren Ferlinghetti:  something along the lines of a big party. come

                              watch me burn all these valuable objects .... see

                              how wealthy i am? enjoy the splendors of my

                              wealth. have punch and pie. eating together =

                              quintessential community building so wrapping it

                              up in the rest iillustrates the general way in

                              which the individual and the community tie

                              together. is that at all clear?

              Digiseq Miles:  why ?

             KHANNEA SUNTZU:  We should create a VR that is so completely at

                              odds with a scarcity oriented reality - it may

                              teach us a few mechanics.

                  Your Name:  i understand how it creates a social experience,

                              but community from destruction?

                 Delia Lake:  related to the precepts of many religions, it

                              seems to me that sl is also a place where people

                              can develop self organized communities that offer

                              opportunities to live your values

            Moz Barthelmess:  hmm. i've seen some examples - a friend will

                              invite me over to her pad to show off her new

                              view, a church invites its members to come see

                              the new art designs. acquiring and showing off

                              helps show who these people are (see how

                              fashionable and creative we are!), creates an

                              expectation that associating with them will bring

                              pleasant rewards, encourages reciprocity etc

                  Gino Yuya:

              Lenore Lemmon:  Khannea, I wonder how we could do that

            Grayson Redstar:  I'm not an expert on the potlatch (my wife is, and

                              I've pick ed up a bit osmotically

              Lenore Lemmon:  SL is pretty close - but you still have the

                              problem of skill at creating beautiful things

            Grayson Redstar:  in part it acted as a tax -

                              as well as a demonstration of wealth

                              economic levelling

              Lenore Lemmon:  Even just basic good taste can be a scarce

                              resource ;)

               ZEN ZEDDMORE:  simple lenore, just eliminate the money here.

              Lenore Lemmon:  OK, I guess that would be closer. But it would

                              still have skill a a premium

        SOPHROSYNE STENVAAG:  OK, we'll be starting back up in five minutes,

                              everyone -

                              so get those last questions and comments out!

                 Delia Lake:  one of the inhibitions to potlach in sl would be

                              that you can't choose to transfer objects that

                              the maker sets as non-transferable

            Moz Barthelmess:  you dont need to transfer

                              to you?

                              isnt potlach about destroying?

                 Delia Lake:  yes, potlach is a redistribution

                 LUDO MERIT:  Potlach - who gives the best freebies.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  We held an inventory-cleaning party here at the

                              end of the year - there might be some parallel :P

                              Ludo, that's good!

            Moz Barthelmess:  you could certainly have a party where someone

                              designs an amazing building and then publicly

                              deletes it :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Like Tibetan sand mandalas -

              Lenore Lemmon:  That would be intense, Moz

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  tha't a terrific idea

            Moz Barthelmess:  no kidding

                  Gino Yuya:  Would a dedicated world for

                              religion/sprituality/consciousness vs. 2nd life


              Lenore Lemmon:  It would honestly be an honor to be there in a way

                              that it isn't always an honor to be at parties!

             Botgirl Questi:  That's a great idea, virtual sand mandala

              Lenore Lemmon:  To be one of the only people who will ever get to

                              have that experience

            Moz Barthelmess:  yes

                              could you find a way to prevent any videos being

                              taken, i wonder... make it truly a one-off

       BREATHE SWINDLEHURST:  imo Gino the interesting thing about SL is that it

                              is not all about one thing

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Breathe, come on up - it's almost time!

              Lenore Lemmon:  If you had a limited guest list, you could

                              probably do it

                 Delia Lake:  for those who have been with us throughout the

                              morning and into the afternoon, if you haven't

                              taken the opportunity to stand up and shake

                              out---in rl at least---you might want to do that

                              for a minute as we will be starting with our next

                              speaker in just a few minutes

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  a world for only only religion etc would be kinda

                              limited eventually

                  Gino Yuya:  But there seems to be a lot of griefing, etc.

                              And if I can make a more compelling experience...

            Moz Barthelmess:  should i admit to going and making my tea and

                              using the log to catch up on what i missed? :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Yes, that's a concern I have about OpenSim - is

                              that it'll foster isolation, groupthink and

                              extremism, as everyone goes off into their own


              Lenore Lemmon:  It's okay, Moz - i've been doing that too. ;)

            Moz Barthelmess:  if religion is essentially connected into real

                              life, a religion-only sim would seem... well, it

                              wouldnt be a second life, just a part-of-a-life

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  thats exactly my point Moz

                 Delia Lake:  Our next speaker is Mohammed Yahia

                              Breathe Swindhurst of and the Hajj

                              Training Simulations in SL will be talking with us

                              about The Hajj Training Simulations

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us


                              My name is Mohammed Yahia, and I'm owner of the

                     (IOL) islands and English

                              coordinator of IOL's activities in virtual


                              First of all, I'd like to thank all the people who

                              made this conference possible. I'ts gret to be

                              here with you all

                              Today I am here to talk to you about our

                              experiences in bringing religion into Second Life


                              IOL is primarily a media organization. In a series

                              of meetings we had last year, we started exploring

                              the concept of New Media.

                              We wanted to know what options we had and when the

                              name Second Life came up, we were met by an equal

                              amount of support and disdain.

                              I must say, there are more than a few people at

                              work these days who won't talk to me because I'm

                              "encouraging isolation and increasing social


                              Regardless of that, we started right away. I would

                              like to share with you today the experience we

                              have had so far.

                              These are the things that I will be talking about

                              here today.

                              First, the vision we had. Why were we exploring

                              the concept of New Media? What did we want to

                              achieve through it?

                              Secondly, why did we consider SL? What did we see

                              in it? What are its advantages for what we had in


                              Next I'll start talking about the first of our

                              projects – that was the Ramadan Tent, built and

                              operated during the 30 days of Ramadan, a holy

                              month for Muslims.

                              After the Ramadan Tent, our next project was much

                              more ambitious and much bigger. We started work

                              on an educational project to teach Muslims how to

                              perform Hajj, and to help non-Muslims who are

                              curious about the Muslim faith to learn more

                              about it.

                              Finally, I would like to discuss the opportunities

                              that SL – and other virtual worlds and games –

                              can offer us or other religious organizations.

                              Ok so what is the vision that we had?

                              To understand this, we first have to answer the

                              question what IS New Media?

                              I have been doing extensive research on this and

                              there are many answers to that question. But the

                              two main answers are:

                              1) Instead of a one-to-many approach, New Media

                              adopts a many-to-many approach built on


                              2) New Media encompasses using all the different

                              types of media to deliver your message. So it's

                              not just text, but there's also sound, pics,

                              videos etc.

                              While we are here I need to stress that Media is

                              not just nes, Media is an all encompassing world

                              that can encompass any transfer of ideas or


                              With the 3D capabilities of SL, we knew that we

                              could take New Media to a completely new level.

                              We could tell our stories and deliver our messages

                              in completely new ways. Instead of our audience

                              reading our stories, they could now interact with

                              them, they could LIVE them.

                              We also knew that, in SL, we could reach a

                              completely new audience. That audience was going

                              to pave the way for the future of New Media on

                              the internet.

                              At the same time, we would be taking our current

                              audience base to - what we believed - is the next

                              level in interaction and communication.

                              The first thing to look at is the special and

                              delicate nature of SL.

                              It offers a safe environment for people to explore

                              things they have not seen before. Environments

                              that, in RL, they would have been afraid to

                              explore due to cultural differences and


                              At the same time, it was an exciting way to

                              explore other cultures. It was not traditional or

                              boring. It was not a classroom where I'm being

                              taught about anthropology.

                              And in this special atmosphere, people had the

                              highest level of interactivity possible. People

                              could interact with their atmosphere as well as

                              with others.

                              They could LIVE the different culture instead of

                              hearing about it or seeing pictures and videos of


                              Finally, SL is a decentralized world. People from

                              all over the world could meet and interact like

                              next door neighbors. For the first time, it

                              didn't cost thousands of dollars to interact with

                              a culture, you could do it right from your

                              computer and get the nearest possible experience

                              to the real thing.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  welcome back, Breathe!

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  sorry for the crash everyone!

                              ok so lets go back to where we were :)

                              Our first project was the Ramadan Tent. This took

                              place during the Arabian month of Ramadan, a holy

                              month for Muslims.

                      Abyss:  True human freedom would violate the divine right

                              of kings, or the rites of divine kings.

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  We had several aims with the tent.

                      Abyss:  Fundamental changes in our very natures have

                              become both possible and desirable.

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  We wanted to create an atmosphere where people

                              from different faiths could understand more about

                              the month of Ramadan and why it is so special to


                              We created something that was distinctly Arabian

                              in style and archetecture to attract people in a

                              fun and interesting atmosphere.

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Another of our targets was to offer Muslims inside

                              SL a way to live this month inside Ramadan. This

                              was especially directed at Muslims in the West.

                              We wanted to offer them the kind of spiritual

                              fulfillment that they were seeking in the month

                              of Ramadan. The kind of thing they can only

                              experience if living in the Middle East for


                              So just to give you an idea of the kind of

                              activities that were taking place in the tent.

                              We had daily lectures taking place, some of them

                              directed at Muslims who wanted to ask questions

                              about Islam. Others were directed at non-Muslims

                              who wanted to learn more about Islam. It was an

                              atmosphere where they could ask their questions

                              and have professionals answer them.

                              Each night we also had a discussion ring. This was

                              moderated by the visitors themselves who picked a

                              topic everyday. This gave the visitors a feeling

                              of ownership and belonging.

                              These events also offered a chance to discuss

                              controversial issues including interreligious

                              dialogue while educating people about a culture

                              that is generally very misunderstood.

                              To keep in touch with the fun atmosphere we wanted

                              to create, we had several concerts of Arabic music

                              etc in the tent. And we finally celebrated the

                              feast, which is the end of Ramadan, inside the

                              tent with balloons and fireworks and music.

                              We generally wanted to create a festive atmosphere

                              for Muslims who could not celebrate the feast, or

                              Eid as it is called, in their resident countries.

                              We wanted to use SL to offer them an experience

                              they could not get in RL.

             Khannea Suntzu:  Imagine that Second Life instigation a new

                              openminded Islam, certain wahhabi stark raving


       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Then came the very popular and very ambitious

                              project, the Hajj Training Simulation.

                              This is probably how the people amongst you who

                              know of IOL's work in SL came to know about us.

                              This was a complete simulation of all the steps of

                              the Muslim pilgrimage, called Hajj. This included

                              construction of the holiest Muslim site in the

                              world, the Kabba and the Harram Mosque.

                              So why did we build this sim?

                              First and foremost, this was an educational

                              project. We know that over 5 million Muslims

                              flock to Mecca each year to perform the rituals

                              of Hajj.

                              However, many of them don't know what they are

                              supposed to do. What is right and what is wrong?

                              We wanted to teach them that.

                              We had certified professionals take our visitors

                              on tours, according to a timetable we had inside

                              the sim, that took them step by step through the

                              Hajj rituals.

                              On the other hand, this was built with non-Muslims

                              in mind as well.

                              Every year, all the major newspapers around the

                              world print pictures from the crowded Hajj

                              rituals on their front pages but non-Muslims have

                              no idea just what are all those people crowding

                              there for. To make it even harder for them to

                              understand, non-Muslims are not allowed into


                              The can never see these rituals in RL – well,

                              unless they convert ofcourse!

                              We wanted to offer them an atmosphere where they

                              can see and interact with all these steps, so

                              bringing people of interfaith even closer through


                              We only asked all of our visitors to respect each

                              other and respect the differences and embrace the

                              many many areas of common ground.

                              The Hajj Training Sim also became a place where

                              religion researchers can come learn about the

                              Hajj. That included people who are preparing

                              papers or even journalists who were writing about

                              it. Tens of people would come up and ask us all

                              kind of things about the different steps and the

                              information provided in them.

                              The island also became a place of religious

                              discussions. People were actually curious to

                              understand and learn of others and this offered a

                              wonderful opportunity to bring people together.

                              Many of our visitors lived in places where they

                              encountered 1 or 2 different religions in their

                              everyday lives, but in our sim, they could meet

                              people from tens of different religious and

                              ethnic backgrounds.

                              The sim proved to be a great success, quickly

                              jumping on top of any search for the word "Islam"

                              or "Religion" in SL search.

                              This popularity – and large demand – also led

                              us to translate all the educational stands in the

                              island into 6 languages to satisfy the needs of

                              people from all over the world.

             Khannea Suntzu:  No curious infiltrants asking odd questions?

                              Dressed somewhat noobish?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  there were many of these Khannea but we learned

                              how to cope :)

                              This brings us to the kind of possibilities that

                              SL and other virtual worlds can offer in the area

                              of religions.

             Khannea Suntzu:  I would imagine some real world officials keeping

                              an eye on you in SL

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  First and foremost, like mentioned before, it is a

                              great interactive medium. People can interact with

                              their environment as well as with people who could

                              be on the other side of the world with a click of

                              a mouse.

                              And due to the nature of SL, this could be done in

                              a fun, adventurous atmosphere that would appeal to

                              a wider audience.

                              And again due to the nature of SL, visitors could

                              surpass all kinds of geographical, ethical or

                              legal limitations. Non-Muslims can't see Mecca in

                              RL, but they can do just that in SL.

                              They can talk to Middle Easter Muslims without

                              having to spend thousands to travel to the Middle

                              East. They could ask all the embarrassing

                              questions they had about other religions without

                              fear of offending someone in their worship place.

                              To many people, SL could be used to offer

                              spiritual fulfillment. This happened especially

                              often in our Hajj Training Simulation. There are

                              millions of Muslims around the world who would

                              love to go on the pilgrimage but cannot afford it

                              for several reasons.

                              Yet their hearts yearn to go there. While our sim

                              is in NO WAY a substitute to the real world

                              pilgrimage, it could offer spiritual fulfillment.

                              Finally, SL offers nearly endless opportunities to

                              express yourself. In many places in RL, it will be

                              shunned about to preach your beliefs or talk to

                              them. But here you could talk about it freely.

                              And that opens ample chance for interreligious

                              and intercultural dialogue – 2 things that we

                              at IOL strongly believe can help improve

                              relationships across the world drastically.

                              I know I have went on too long, so to wrap things

                              up, here are a few things that I leave you with

                              to ponder.

                              What can SL offer religions? It can offer a chance

                              for dialogue between people of different faiths.

                              It can present a chance to bring religion into

                              realm of technical savvy people. It can also be a

                              tool for the different religions to express their

                              beliefs and broadcast them to people all over the

                              world with little expense.

                              It can offer spiritual fulfillment to people who

                              cannot practice their faith in real life – for

                              any reason that may be.

                              But what can religions offer SL? I believe that

                              religions attract a lot of people to SL. Many

                              people come to SL to seek more than the

                              nightclubs and strip clubs. It can create strong

                              communities who come together and create new

                              things in this ever expanding world. It brings SL

                              closer to the image of a real virtual world by

                              offering diversity.

                              And finally, the important question to think of,

                              how can the relationship between religion and

                              technology proceed? Are they conflicting and

                              cannot come to terms? Or is there an area where

                              they can meet and have a synergetic effect where

                              each empowers the other? Here's a thought now you


                              I would be must happy to hear your opinion on the

                              last 3 points that are on the screen right now.

                              Thank you and now the floor is open for any

                              questions you have.

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Breathe!

                              Breathe, what do you see IOL doing in its next


       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Well Sophrosyne, our next phase has actually

                              started by getting a second sim. This one will be

                              directed at offering many of the servics currently

                              on IOL's websites to SL residents

                              and at the same time, we want to tap into the

                              powerful training system that SL can offer.

                 Ludo Merit:  Pardon my ignorance, but is the Haji sim still up?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  And for the third phase, we are planning on

                              another major recreation of something Islamic

                              that people can experience and interact with -

                              though this one will be something that no one in

                              RL can do currently at all :)

            DAFFODIL FARGIS:  Now I'm curious :)

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Ludo, yes it is still on. I can give you a

                              landmark for it if you would like to visit

            Daffodil Fargis:  During Ramadan, was it difficult to find staff to

                              do the activities / events in SL?

                 Ludo Merit:  Thank you.

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  We are also doing some enhancements on it to make

                              it closer to the real thing

                              Daffodil oh yes it was!

                              But we had a robust community

            Rose Springvale:  In Al Andalus, we often find some conflicts

                              between "real world" traditions and virtual world


       Breathe Swindlehurst:  and like I said, we tapped into that by having

                              community managed and monitored activities

                              these proves must popular

            Rose Springvale:  How do you address that in your sims?

            Daffodil Fargis:  I see. Good.

            Rose Springvale:  (sorry, chat lag, didn't mean to interrupt!)

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  it's alright Rose.

                              Well, we ran into that often as well

                              But we wanted to recreate something that is in RL

                              while keeping VR concepts and ideas

                              It may not be the most accurate representation of

                              the RL sites, but it offered the highest

                              functionality in a VR world

              HORIZON MILES:  Do you consult scholars regarding the concept of

                              SL in relation to the Islamic believes?

            Rose Springvale:  if one of your goals is to provide an opportunity

                              for non muslims to "see".. do you ask them to

                              take off shoes for example?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  and that is why we opted to do this way to keep

                              things interesting and "normal" to SL residents

                              very nice question Rose and one that highlightes

                              one of our major issues

                              the hajj sim is by nature very sensitive to


            Rose Springvale:  we have the same issue with our Mezquita

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  They want people to respect their sites after all.

                              However, we made it clear to everyone that others

                              may not be familiar with how things work here

                              We would nicely and simply explain how things work

                              in regards to our faith and in regards to these

                              monuments. Interesting, most of them were very

                              happy to follow the traditions

            Moz Barthelmess:  would visitors to the hajj sites online take off

                              their shoes in real life, i wonder?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  apart from the occasional griefers

                              But there were bigger issues such as nudity for

                              example near the Mecca area

            Rose Springvale:  they wouldn't be allowed to visit Moz

            Moz Barthelmess:  no, rose - i mean people visiting online, not

                              visiting in real life

                              some of the people i speak to perform real-world

                              actions appropriate to the virtual-world spaces

                              they are visiting

            Rose Springvale:  that's the question i think... because we have to

                              go a long way in our immersion to take off

                              prims... as opposed to shoes... and if we want to

                              educate, it is important to be sensitive to both

                              sides, don't you agree?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  I would think that, by learning how things are in

                              a virtual atmosphere, that is how they would

                              behave in a real life situation

               Zen Zeddmore:  most furry avatars are alreaady shoeless so they

                              are OK right?

                 Delia Lake:  never thought of that, Moz.....when i would go to

                              the mosque in AA, should i take off my rl shoes

                              and clean my feet as i would do in sl?

              Eureka Dejavu:  interesting question!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Two minutes for final discussion with Breathe!

            Moz Barthelmess:  exactly, delia :) is it disrespectful to behave

                              IRL as if you were not "really" in a mosque?

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  To answer it accurately, you'd have think how

                              deeply our VR lives affect RL

              Horizon Miles:  sorry,I asked about the opinion of trusted

                              scholars regarding SL concepts??

            Rose Springvale:  yes, i agree. but we have many different levels of

                              interest in SL

                 GNE Greene:  I guess the issue is shoe=wing respect.

          dandellion Kimban:  what I never understood about the islam in SL....

                              islam prohibits making of any depicting images...

                              how then you deal with creating and having


            Rose Springvale:  mild curiosity to total immersion

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  OK, one short announcement before Delia introduces

                              our next speaker:

            Moz Barthelmess:  sorry,. horizon, yours was a good question

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Our 2pm presenter is unable to attend, so we've

                              moved the Conversation With Tom Boellstorff up to


                              and we'll start our party at 3!

                              Thank you, and over to Delia -

            Moz Barthelmess:  oh no, thats a shame

                 Delia Lake:  Thank you, Breathe.

                              i for one am looking forward to visiting your sims

              Eureka Dejavu:  thanks breathe!

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  @Horizon Miles we have talked to many rl scholars

                              and experts before we embarked on our work here.

                              And they all agreed that it's about the things

                              being done, if we're doing the right htings, then

                              VR are ok with them

                              Thanks everyone , I gotta leave now :)

                 Delia Lake:  Our next presenter is Medeline Klink

            Daffodil Fargis:  Thanks, Breathe!

                              Very informative!

                 Delia Lake:  Lenore Lemmon/Madeline Klink completed her

                              undergraduate degree in religion at Reed College

                              in 2008. Her undergraduate thesis, which she is

                              presenting here, was titled "'I Type the Amens

                              and Think the Rest': An Ethnographic Look at

                              Religion in Virtual Reality.'

                              She is now pursuing a Masters of Science from the

                              department of Comparative Media Studies at the

                              Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her

                              current research interests center around the

                              conjunction of fandom and religious expression.

                              Welcome, Lenore

              Lenore Lemmon:  Thank you, Delia

                              And thanks to everyone for having me :)

                              First, I'm going to say a few words about my

                              research project; then, I want to talk a little

                              more about the theory and method behind doing

                              research in Second Life

                              I have been having some computer troubles, so

                              please bear with me if I crash

              Horizon Miles:  Thanks Breathe, Still I think u ned to provide a

                              written one wih the name of the scholar(s0 andbut

                              first you need to explain to them the concept of

                              graphics in SL.. so they give proper fatwa.. Just

                              a thought

                              need to estart

              Lenore Lemmon:  I initially conceived of my project as serving

                              several ends - a hands-on exploration of research

                              techniques, a way to truly explore the question of

                              how offline and online religious practice mesh,

                              and a first-person record of one religious group

                              on SL

                              It was (is?) a three-month ethnographic study of

                              the bible study at the Campivallensis Catholic

                              Meditation Center

                              I used interviews (text only, in SL), group

                              discussions, and participant observation to

                              gather information

                              Then, I went to Catholic authorities offline -

                              several priests, and various documents issued by

                              the Catholic church - to try and understand the

                              historical Catholic perspective on new media, and

                              discuss the current attitude towards SL and

                              similar virtual realities.

                              While my project was much too small to truly come

                              up with any statements about what "religious

                              people on SL" as a whole think - if one could

                              even begin to make those generalizations - I did

                              reach a few conclusions

                              That is, I noticed that throughout my time at

                              Campivallensis and elsewhere (for instance, at

                              the Koinonia Congregational Church) there were

                              certain thological themes.


                              1. People seemed to have a heightened awareness of

                              the physical vs. virtual. Bodies were actually

                              more important to people who were participating

                              in SL religion than they seemed to be to people

                              participating offline.

                              2. People seemed to be "entirely religious." That

                              is, offline authorities are often afraid that

                              people will use new media to create fragmentary

                              selves, some of which will be non-religious. But

                              everyone participating in Campivallensis was

                              religious in every aspect of their life- they

                              went to church both on and off SL.

                              3. There was a focus on individuality and

                              individual idea systems within greater


                              4. Campivallensis was not actually a Catholic

                              community; rather, it was a group of people who

                              got along and had some basic interests in common.

                              This seemed true across all the religious groups I

                              looked at (though I have a limited scope): people

                              were not necessarily Unitarian at the Unitarian

                              Church, for instance, but they still attended

                              there because their interests connected with the

                              others' there.

                              These four themes led me to compare Second Life to

                              the printing press.

                              While the comparison is not perfect, I could see a

                              real similarity between the modern situation of

                              the Catholic church and the historic situation

                              surrounding the Reformation.

                              The printing press and Second Life are both

                              technologies that bring people together across

                              distance and encourage individual thought about


                              This is not necessarily a bad thing for highly

                              organized religion, but it can present a


                              If there is resistance to moving officially

                              sanctioned religious practice into Second Life, I

                              think it will relate to fear of this challenge.

                              And this is where I want to begin talking about

                              methods. In a traditional fieldwork project, I

                              would have very little dialogue about this kind

                              of thing with the "subjects" (I hate that word!)

               Alaya Kumaki:  its already there

              Lenore Lemmon:  But that attitude seems to be entirely opposed to

                              the spirit of the Internet, the spirit of Second


                              Anyone who does anthropology will have had to

                              think about this already - the relationship

                              between scholar and "subject

                              But the problem is emphasized in Second Life,

                              because we are all commentators on our own lives

                              here. Just by having an avatar, you are, in some

                              ways, participating in a "meta-discourse"

                              Unlike in "real life," where you might find

                              someone who hasn't thought about the meaning of

                              their practice, most people engaged in religious

                              practice in SL have had to put serious thought

                              into what they are doing.

              Lenore Lemmon:  Essentially, what I'm trying to argue is that none

                              of us can be easily classified as "scholar" or

                              "subject" when we are on Second Life

                              There is, of course, a significant question of

                              bias - a question that everyone in religious

                              studies has to address

                              If I send my paper around to the people it's

                              about, and they respond and shape my views of

                              them, then am I really able to have any kind of

                              scholarly distance?

                              But "scholarly distance" is an illusion in First

                              Life, just as much as it is in Second Life.

                              At this point, I think that I'd really like to

                              have a discussion about this - although I do want

                              to add that if you are interested, you can find

                              the full paper at


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Thank you, Lenore!

              Lenore Lemmon:  Thanks, Sophrosyne :)

                 GNE Greene:  You might want to ask about the functionality of

                              "scholarly distance"?

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Lenore, I think you're right about the

                              democratizing nature of SL and the analogy to the

                              printing press -

              Lenore Lemmon:  In what sense, GNE?

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  have you seen an open backlash on the part of

                              religious authorities?

              Lenore Lemmon:  Some. The Catholic church has been in some ways

                              very open to the idea of having a Catholic

                              presence in Second Life, but there is obviously a

                              major concern about the fact that you can't do the

                              sacraments in VR

                              One solution would be to turn to the "base church"

                              model - that is

                 GNE Greene:  Is "scholarly distance" about trying to make the

                              study meta information, rather than imbedded

                              info, for example.

              Lenore Lemmon:  a model in which you have groups of non-ordained

                              people meeting most of the time, and a priest

                              only comes in every once in a while to administer

                              sacraments. It's becoming more common as there is

                              a shortage of Catholic priests.

            Grayson Redstar:  Lenore - I'm going to be starting a

                              participant-observation project in the fall. Is

                              there anything you wish you'd known at the start,

                              or done differently?

              Lenore Lemmon:  H'm. I definitely wish that I had thought out how

                              much I wanted to self-disclose ahead of time

            Grayson Redstar:  about your own beliefs?

              Lenore Lemmon:  I had thought about the fact that I wanted

                              everyone to know I was doing research (hence the

                              "researcher" title) but yeah - about my own


                              It was pretty much expected that everyone would

                              contribute to the discussion of the bible

                              passages, including me. But it made me nervous,

                              afraid that I would guide the conversation


                              And, I was concerned about revealing my own

                              beliefs and thereby changing the way that people

                              responded to me. But I also didn't want to lie.

                              Ultimately, it was a much bigger problem than I

                              had expected it would be.

            Grayson Redstar:  Oh,, yeah, I can see that. Thank you!

              Lenore Lemmon:  Back to GNE - that is a good pint

                              Also a good point. ;P

                              I guess that I am questioning whether everything

                              is actually "meta information" in SL, if you know

                              what I mean

                 GNE Greene:  To have "meta info", you must have info for it to

                              be meta to. :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  I guess - but, I don't know what the base info is

                 GNE Greene:  I can bore on the subject of meta data for

                              extended periods. :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  It seems like people's SL is usually a commentary

                              on their First Life, but that First Life's

                              actions also are essentially meta-info about (for

                              instance) their past, and so on - it's turtles all

                              the way down

                              And if someone is already aware that their

                              behavior is commentary on another part of their

                              life... it becomes a lot harder to talk about

                              anything in a concrete way!

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  intersting concept Lenore!

                 GNE Greene:  Usually you choose some data and point to it, aand

                              the pointing is meta data. :)

               Zen Zeddmore:  no, it's not turtles all the way down. The great

                              A'tuin is the bottom most turtle.

                 GNE Greene:  Nesting your metas can get very, very, messy. :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  I am still wondering if the people here who run

                              religious sites on SL have any thoughts on the

                              way that they would like to interact with


               Zen Zeddmore:  though we still don't know what HE is walking


              Lenore Lemmon:  Zen - and GNE!


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Oh, Lenore, good question!

                 GNE Greene:  The Great A'tuin is walking on anything he/she

                              likes. :)

               Zen Zeddmore:  turles nest quite well don't they?

              Lenore Lemmon:  ...or not... :p

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Breathe, would you like to take that one?

                              Have you worked with researchers,

                              and/or what would you like in your relations with


       Breathe Swindlehurst:  what kind of researchers exactly do you refer to


                 GNE Greene:  I guess the answer to scholar mixing with the

                              religios depends on how the religious think that

                              the scholars will interact with their religion.

                              If inquiry is acceptable, presumably no


       Breathe Swindlehurst:  but generally, we have had good scholar and

                              researchers interactions

                              for starters, we needed them to give our sims more


              Lenore Lemmon:  Breathe, I'm mostly thinking about non-theologian


                              I think that there are special challenges involved

                              in forging a respectful, useful working

                              relationship between secular scholars studying

                              religion and religious adherents!

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  in my experience we have had a bit of both

                              but it all comes down to respect - and that is

                              thankfully something we have more of in SL than

                              in RL in my experience

              Lenore Lemmon:  /nod

            Moz Barthelmess:  the relation of site to scholar can be a complex

                              one - i know of some sites in sl that

                              specifically solicit scholarly attention to give

                              them credibility

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  but I usually find the problem arising more from

                              the relgious adherents than the scholars

              Lenore Lemmon:  In what ways?

            Moz Barthelmess:  and in that situation the site can seek to

                              influence the scholar, and rubbish their work if

                              it doesn't flatter them

                 GNE Greene:  I uess it is the scholars who treat their study as

                              an ants nest to be poked with a stick who might be

                              a problem.

              Lenore Lemmon:  Good point, Moz

            Moz Barthelmess:  that doesnt make the work impossible, just

                              requires more attention

            Moz Barthelmess:  i'm basing this on some recent emails and

                              convrsations with site leaders, its not

                              speculation :)

              Lenore Lemmon:  Oh, I believeyou!

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  well, many of the religious people feel very

                              passionatly about their faith and want to speak

                              about it, however, they don't possess the ability

                              to enter into a discussion with the scholars who

                              are much better at holding a discussion or


            Moz Barthelmess:  i dont know any scholars who behave like that, GNE

                              - you'd have a job getting a project like that

                              past the ethics board!

              Lenore Lemmon:  /nod

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  But that is where the owners of the sims should

                              step in

            Moz Barthelmess:  i think christian and muslim communities might

                              have different relations with their scholars,


                              often, anyway

                 GNE Greene:  I've encountered some very rude people who call

                              themselves 'scholars', and I'm unsure if their

                              ethics board got a clear report of their actions

                              in SL.

              Lenore Lemmon:  Yeah, I think GNE has a point

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  They need to put a mechanism in that makes these

                              discussions more fruitful

              Lenore Lemmon:  It's easy to get carried away in SL, I think

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  I'v encountered those too GNE - and that's tricky

                              part, where do you draw the lines of "scholar"

                 GNE Greene:  I did wonder about the 'scholar' who was

                              investigating 'cybering'...

            Moz Barthelmess:  well, you do find people who write a two-page

                              article and then go about forevermore talking

                              about themselves as researchers

              Lenore Lemmon:  My ethics board had me always include their

                              contact information so that people could lodge a

                              complaint if they wanted to

            Moz Barthelmess:  i always wonder about those too, GNE :)

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  and how far should a religious oriented sim

                              tolerate an unethical scholar for the sake of not

                              being seen as religious zealots

            Moz Barthelmess:  good idea, lenore - mine gets me to include

                              supervisors' names

              Lenore Lemmon:  Yes, that too

            Grayson Redstar:  Lenore - me too, and my IRB is looking very

                              closely at me, since it's the first time they've

                              seen this kind of work

              Lenore Lemmon:  Same!

                              I had to jump through about twenty billion hoops,

                              define all my terms (doesn't everyone know what

                              an "avatar" is?) and so on - but I think in

                              retrospect I'm grateful for it

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  well, so mainly as a general rule, we can consider

                              that - for a scholar to 'talk' they should provdie

                              some kind of reference>

              Lenore Lemmon:  /nod

            Grayson Redstar:  Absolutely

            Moz Barthelmess:  sorry, what do you mean?

                 GNE Greene:  I saw a number of people investaging SL in early

                              2007, and often couldn't tell if they were real

                              scholars, of people role-playing scholars, for

                              some reason.

            Moz Barthelmess:  interesting

            Grayson Redstar:  If I can't provide you with my supervisor's info

                              and verifiable detials, I'm not for real, I'd say

              Lenore Lemmon:  Providing a proven academic affiliation, and a

                              real name

            Moz Barthelmess:  /nods

              Lenore Lemmon:  As much as I like having privacy sometimes, as a

                              scholar, I think it's really important to be

                              totally transparent

               Alaya Kumaki:  and autodidact...

       Breathe Swindlehurst:  Moz, for example I run a religious sim and I have

                              people coming up to me all the time as scholars.

                              Now how do you define a scholar? So one way

                              should be to ask about rl references. If someone

                              is going to be quoting me or getting info of me

                              for publication then I should know who they are

                 GNE Greene:  Maybe you need a research alt, and a "having fun

                              in SL" alt. :)

            Moz Barthelmess:  my group name is my real name, which is perhaps


              Lenore Lemmon:  Yeah - but most of my fun in SL is related to my

                              research ;)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Tom, come on up!

              Lenore Lemmon:  I noticed that and considered adopting it, Moz!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Delia, would you like to deliver Tom's intro-

                              and then I'll explain a bit about what we're doing


            Moz Barthelmess:  possibly, GNE, but you would get into difficulty

                              if members of the groups you research realised

                              that you were sometimes going undercover - that

                              would get accusations of spying

                              sorry! didnt mean to interrupt

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  np!

               Alaya Kumaki:  phillip rosedale in thech museum ,just sau=id that

                              good exibition and also sharing of intelectual

                              material isnt to be in sl only by those with a hi

                              degree, and that very good exybition are done by

                              students ...

                 Delia Lake:  We have one more speaker today, Tom Bukowski, Tom

                              Boellstorff in rl

                              Tom's Digital Cultures group was the first

                              discussion group i attended in sl

                              and one of the reasons sl intrigued me

                 GNE Greene:  Firewalling alts...

               Alaya Kumaki:  sorry to adding it that way but he is live on

                              video now

               TOM BUKOWSKI:  Aww - Thank you Delia! It's great to see you

                 Delia Lake:  so i'm very pleased to introduce Tom

                              Boellstorff is Associate Professor in the

                              Department of Anthropology at the University of

                              California, Irvine, and Editor-in-Chief of

                              American Anthropologist, the flagship journal of

                              the American Anthropological Association. His

                              research projects have focused on questions of

                              sexuality, globalization, nationalism, HIV/AIDS,

                              and cybersociality. He is the author of The Gay

                              Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia

                              (Princeton University Press, 2005),

                              winner of the 2005 Ruth Benedict Award from the

                              Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists; A

                              Coincidence of Desires: Anthropology, Queer

                              Studies, Indonesia (Duke University Press, 2007);

                              and Coming of Age in Second Life: An

                              Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

                              (Princeton University Press, 2008). He is also

                              co-editor of Speaking in Queer Tongues:

                              Globalization and Gay Language (University of

                              Illinois Press, 2004), and author of publications

                              in American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist,

                              Cultural Anthropology, Annual Review of

                              Anthropology, Journal of Asian Studies, Journal

                              of Linguistic Anthropology, Games and Culture,

                              Ethnos, and GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay


                 Delia Lake:  Let the discussion begin :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  OK, what we're going to do now is something much

                              more like what usually happens at events here -

                              and what will happen on Monday at noon, when Tom

                              comes back for a discussion with Wagner James Au,

                              author of "The Making of Second Life" -

                              I've got a bunch of questions for Tom - I always


              Lenore Lemmon:  Oh wow, that will be interesting - thank you for

                              announcing it, Soph :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  but we're going to encourage everyone to join in

                              and discuss -

                              Tom, could you tell us a bit about your latest


            Moz Barthelmess:  is that meeting here, soph?


               Tom Bukowski:  Yes, I'm happy to do that!


                              let me thank Soph for inviting me - and all those

                              who made this event happen

                              I'll keep the intro short so this can be a lot of


                              I don't have prewritten text so forgive the typos

                              I got to listen in a bit this morning, great


                              and before I forget

                              when I came in

                              people were talkinga bout reserach

                 GNE Greene:  Typos are the yeast of creativity. :)

               Tom Bukowski:  On Anteater Islan


                              I run the American Anthropologist Virtual Campus

                              and I've made one building there

                              specifically for people doing research in sl

                              that's in any way ethnographic

                              broadly construed

                              you can have free space

                              for a kiosk, streaming video, whatever

              Lenore Lemmon:  Really?! Dang, after I finished my project too!

               Tom Bukowski:  to show off your work

              Lenore Lemmon:  !! :D :D :D

               Tom Bukowski:  It's just getting started

                              if you are interested

                              im Rhoulette Kips

              Lenore Lemmon:  Very, thank you for telling me .

               Tom Bukowski:  she's one of my grad students helping me out

              Lenore Lemmon:  will do

               Tom Bukowski:  This is an experiment, but I'd like to create a

                              space for people to share their work


                              now I'll talk a bit about my book

                 GNE Greene:  Do robots cont as ethnographic? :)

               Tom Bukowski:  and then we can just Q&A

                              with a focus on religion if people want, that's


                              so as you can see from my profile, I am OLD

                              I came to sl back in 2004

                              to try doing ethnographic research in a virtual


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  our tribal elder!

               Tom Bukowski:  what if I treated sl like a culture, like what I

                              do in Indonesia?

                              would it work?

                              how would the methods change?

                              what's different about culture online?

                              all that kind of thing

                              and I've been doing reserach now for 4 years

                              and there are several good friends in the room

                              people I've gotten to know doing the research

                              and also just hanging out in sl

                              because obviously I like it here!

                              and finally after all that work

                              my book just got publisehd

                              by princeton university press

                              do you have an image, soph?

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  right next to you on your left!

               Tom Bukowski:  oh there it is

                              hold on a sec


                              that's the amazon website for it

                              so I'm very happy it's out,

                              and recoving now from all that work and also still

                              doing all of this work as Editor-in-Chief of

                              American Anthropologist

                              which is good because I can try to get reserachers

                              to take vws seriously

                              and hoping to do more reserach in sl into the


                              the book is a general exploration of culture in sl

                              not focused on religion per se

                              but I do talk about religion in the book and think

                              it's a fascinating topic

                              so why don't we just have some q&a no


                              and Soph you can start if you want

                              and maybe people can im questions to sorph?

                              GNE - I can talk about that

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Tom, Botgirl Questi said something this morning

                              that made me think of you -

                              she talked about lag as "holy" - as a chance to

                              learn grace -

               Tom Bukowski:  Botgirl is wonderful


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  You treat lag in a really interesting way -

                              she is!

               Tom Bukowski:  yes I do!

                              well I can talk about that and then answer the

                              addicioton question too

                              as for lag

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  sure!

               Tom Bukowski:  one thing that anthropologists like to do is look

                              at the little stuff

                              everyday life

                 GNE Greene:  Learn the "lag dance", so you can still walk in

                              lag. :)

               Tom Bukowski:  so for instance, anthropoogists studying religion

                              might study holy leaders or sacred texts

                              but are usually really interested in everyday

                              religious practice too

                              and how that might differ from the official line

                              so for me, in sl I got very interested in the

                              little things

                              not just the controversies that dominate the blogs

                              so lag became very interesting to me

                              because it's about time

                              the way that virtual worlds can shrink space

                              but time resists being virtualized in in teresting


                              we all in the room

                              are probably all over the owlrd right now

                              but we have to be here at the same TIME

                              no technology will make it possible

                              for someone in California and someone in New York

                              to both be in sl at 1pm

                              that's itneresting

                              and lag happens when actual-world time intrudes on

                              virtual life

                              effects presence, immersion

                              I talk a lot more about it in my book

                              but it's really very interesting! what Heidegger

                              might call a "breakdown" in temporality

              Lenore Lemmon:  crashing is an equally interesting problem, I


               Tom Bukowski:  so perhaps holy in a certain way - I like that

                              yes creashing is intersting too

                              so as for addicitoin

                              in the book I cite everything i could find about

                              the addiciton debates

                              is tehre such a thing

                              what counts as addiciton


                              what I found interesting is that when I've done my


                              in sl

                              it seems addiciton revolves around 2 things

                              #1:: time (interseting link to lag)

                              people say they are "addicited" if sl is taking up

                              too much time

                              so that things in the actual world are not being

                              tended to

                              #2: relationships, esp love

                              saying one is addicted becuase one has fallen in

                              love and the emotions are so strong

                              when you think of other kinds of "addiciton"

                              there are all kinds of other negative possible


                              but in my experience time and emotion are the big

                              things that people mean when they say "I'm

                              addicted to sl"

                              which is fascinating to me

                              there are other answers too

                              those just seem to be the most common

                              okay, soph ro someone else?

                              have a question or comment? let's keep chatting!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  anybody have a question?

                              If not -

               Tom Bukowski:  my hands haven't fallen off yet from the typing


              Lenore Lemmon:  Have you looked into the interaction between SL

                              and other types of online interaction


            Moz Barthelmess:  is it fair to say that lag is actual time

                              intruding on virtual time?

               Tom Bukowski:  two good questions

                              In reverse order:

                              Moz - I can't remember now how I say it in the

                              book LOL

            Moz Barthelmess:  it feels more like the other way around - a

                              virtual form of time intruding on what we

                              perceiving as real time, and breaking our sense

                              of SL as a real world

               Tom Bukowski:  but I think I say almost those exact worlds

            Moz Barthelmess:  i should probably go read the book :)

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  buy a copy! :)

               Tom Bukowski:  but it can go in both ways I think


                              I have a section in the book called "between

                              virtual worlds"

                              where I talk about things like people moving

                              together between sl and WoW or other online


                              or websites like Facebook


                              those aren't the same thing as sl, and not

                              everyone does them

                              but many do and for many they are important

              Lenore Lemmon:  /nod

               Tom Bukowski:  I even had people talking about how when sl

                              crashes, they will go to a blog or slExchange or


                              so that they "feel like they are still in sl"

              Lenore Lemmon:  I am particularly thinking about how a lot of the

                              big islands, like Extropia or (say) Koinionia or

                              whatever, have their own sites

                              yes, exactly!

               Tom Bukowski:  and this links up to what some call metaguilding

                              a colleague of mine, Celia Pearce

                              I'm proud to say she was one of my first phd


                              she's now at Georgia Teach

                              she will have a book coming out in about a year

                              I will be writing a preface for it

                              her study is on the "uru diaspora"

                              Uru was a Myst virtual world

                              based on the Myst games, but a virutal world

                              after a couple years, the company that ran it shut

                              it down

                              and the community - hundread of people


                              scattered across the metaverse

                              and REBUILT parts of Uru in sl (Teledor Isle, for

                              instance),, and other places

                              a virtual diaspora

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  wow -

               Tom Bukowski:  that's a really interesting example of moving

                              btween virtual worlds

              Lenore Lemmon:  Geez, that's uge

            Grayson Redstar:  Tom: a lot of your book seems addressed to the

                              anthropological community, to claim a place for

                              virtual worlds studies. What kind of a response

                              has the book gotten from your colleagues?

              Lenore Lemmon:  *huge

               Tom Bukowski:  the crazy thing is that they so impressed the


                              that Cyan reopened Uru

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Really!

               Tom Bukowski:  then shut it down AGAIN about a year later!

                              that poor community

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  great story!

               Tom Bukowski:  but now that Sims Online has gone under, etc.

                              there will be other examples I'm sure

                              okay, there was another question, lemme check my


                              Grayson Redstar: Tom: a lot of your book seems

                              addressed to the anthropological community, to

                              claim a place for virtual worlds studies. What

                              kind of a response has the book gotten from your


            Grayson Redstar:  (sorry about the timing of that!)

               Tom Bukowski:  Great question

                              Part of the joy and the challenge of writing this


                              and I think I pulled it off (crossed virtual


                              but it was hard

                              is that it's written for 2 audiences

                              people who care about and know about virtual

                              worlds, MMOGs, etc

                              and anthropologists

                              many of whom, I kid you not

                              take it as a point of pride that they don't know

                              how to use powerpoint

                              and use pine for email, etc

                              anthropology has become very rich and broad

              Lenore Lemmon:  I totally believe it - like I said, I had to

                              explain what an "avatar" is to my ethics board :P

               Tom Bukowski:  and there are lots of great anths now in science


            Grayson Redstar:  Right there with you, Lenore!

               Tom Bukowski:  like Stephan Helmreich at MIT

                              but many still think of what they do as studying

                              "isolated" rural communities

                              a lot less than 20-40 years ago

                              but still around

                              so one big goal of the book is to get anths to

                              take vws seriously

                              if you saw from my intro that delia did for me,

                              very kindly

                              I have written two books on gay Indonesians

                              and in my career I have encountered homophobia

                              but what blows me away

                              is that I've gotten MUCH more flak for doing sl

                              than ever with gay people

                              "aren't they just rich elites?":

                              "they must be people who are failures in the "real


            Moz Barthelmess:  will your book change anth attitudes, if previous

                              anthropologies of cyberspace didnt?

               Tom Bukowski:  "loners without a life"

                              Well Moz, we'll see

                              but what makes my book different is that it's a

                              full, book-length anthropological study inside a

                              virtual world

                              there's nothing quite like that yet

                              and because I have the other two books on

                              Indonesia, that are fairly well know

                              and am Editor-in-Chief of American Anthropologist


                              it will be harder for anths to dismiss it

                              that's my hope


              Lenore Lemmon:  It will also be good for everyone in the field, I


               Tom Bukowski:  I've really tried to craft the book to anticiapte

                              the questions and concerns anthropologists with

                              no clue about vws might have

                              AND to antidicate the kind of questions and

                              concerns people in vws who might not have read

                              that much anthropology might have

                              that was a real challenge

              Lenore Lemmon:  I had a pretty hard time trying to plan my own

                              work because there was almost nothing out there

                              like it - which is extremely intimidating to an

                              undergrad ;)

               Tom Bukowski:  but I *think* I pulled it off

                              I hope so!!!

                              Yes Lenore

                              so many people tell me that

                              I basically got no funding to do this reserach

            Moz Barthelmess:  i did find some very useful books, like christine

                              hine's 'virtual ethnography'

               Tom Bukowski:  and I did it after getting tenure

                              Yes, Hine's work is some of the best out there

                              also Miller and Slater

            Moz Barthelmess:  my memory is wobbling on the titles now

               Tom Bukowski:  The INternet: an Ethnographic APproach

            Moz Barthelmess:  yes, that was another good one

               Tom Bukowski:  Hine's is VIrutal Ethnography

              Lenore Lemmon:  Yeah, Hine is super useful

            Grayson Redstar:  (I've gotten terrific support - *after* changing

                              departments) :P

               Tom Bukowski:  but none of those are about vws

              Lenore Lemmon:  I also used the MIller and Slater...

               Tom Bukowski:  because those weren't really there yet

                              but both of those works and others too are very


              Lenore Lemmon:  Hine was pretty cross-applicable, though

               Tom Bukowski:  and I cite them all the time in my book


                              Hine raises many basic poitns that are broadly


            Moz Barthelmess:  so did you feel they were dismissed?

              Lenore Lemmon:  I need to write her a fan letter or something ;)

               Tom Bukowski:  it's a great book


                              Not dismissed completely

            Moz Barthelmess:  (sorry - i'm not an anthropologist, so i dont

                              really know how anthropology views vws)

               Tom Bukowski:  in some departments and discplines, like media

                              studies, not such a problem

            Moz Barthelmess:  (i just read the stuff from the outside :) )

               Tom Bukowski:  and in anthropology, anths know this is an

                              important topic

                              it's sexy in a way

                              but frightening

                              because unfamiliar

                              but NOT with graduate studnets and undergrads

                              for the most part they get it much more quickly

                              because raised more on this stuff

               Alaya Kumaki:  as an antropologist u can do a research insie to

                              see it yourself

               Tom Bukowski:  so already interested

                              ALaya, you mean inside sl? Yes, that's what I did!

                              okay, other questions?

               Alaya Kumaki:  yes

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  We had a lot of discussion this morning on the

                              tensions between study and practice -

               Tom Bukowski:  mmm

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  and a number of different approaches -

               Alaya Kumaki:  and now maybe the efect outside sl, from those who

                              where inside

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  you have some strong thoughts on how to study a

                              community -

               Tom Bukowski:  is that the question?

                              sure, I can talk about that

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  yes -

              Lenore Lemmon:  I'd love to hear your perspective, too

               Tom Bukowski:  that tension between study and practice

                              the #1 method that anthropologists use is called

                              "participant observation"

                              and right there you have that tension

                              between those two words

                              but the tension is productive

                              let's step away from vw for a minute

                              I study gay Indonesias


                              so what do I go?

                              I spend years learning about Indonesia

                              I get fluent in the Indonesian langauge

                              and then I spend several years in Indonesia

                              hanging out in parks where gay men hang out

                              their homes, shopping malls, whatever

                              and I interview them, but more importantly just

                              hang out

                              becuase what people SAY they do and what they

                              REALLY do isn't always the same

                              and when I"m hanging out, I"m not a fly on the


                              I'm participating

                              some of those people become my ffriends

               Alaya Kumaki:  sure, its about beleif sometimes or goal,

               Tom Bukowski:  but they also know I'm doing reserach


                              a key issue is that any reseracher

                              including anthropologists

                              sometime study communities of which they are not a


                              like me and gay Indonesians

                              and sometimes communities of which they are a


                              like sl for me

                              and sometimes in between

                              what one anth called being a "halfie"

                              like an Asian-American anthropologist doing work

                              in Thailands, etc.

                              all of those possibilities are ok

                              but all have their own special challenges

               Alaya Kumaki:  and experiencing what u study while experiencing


               Tom Bukowski:  the paradox of participant observation is always


                              yes alaya

                              you are the research instuyrment

                              and you make yourself vulnerable

               Alaya Kumaki:  sorry i made it the wrong way french syntax...i


               Tom Bukowski:  to being changed by the thing you study

                              it's not a perfect method

                              no method is perfect

                              but done correctly it can be very powerful

                              differnt methods answer different kinds of


                              participant observation is good for shared


               Alaya Kumaki:  its still give on point of wiew from within that

                              can be connected with others

               Tom Bukowski:  not so good for the distribution of elements or


                              the example I give in the book

                              say I want to study Japanese

                              I do a survey

                              10,000 respondents

                              I learn about dialects, many words, etc.

                              but I can't speak Japanese from that data

                              another method, ethnographic

                              I hang out with some Japanese folks

                              for arguments sake

                              let's say it's only 5 people

                              but for a year, intensive


               Alaya Kumaki:  ahah, the immersion isnt there...and the

                              transmission of collective image(mind image)


               Tom Bukowski:  after that year, I can speak Japanese

                              and from that dataset of 5 people

                              I have data that I can use to communicate with

                              millions of Japanese speakers

                              would I learn every dialect? no

                              would I learn all of the vocabulrary? no

                              but I would learn something

                              so different methods give different kinds of data,

                              shed a different light on the issue in question

                              okay, another question?

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Along that analogy - one of your core questions

                              is, is there an SL culture?

                              And you answer yes -

                              but I'd ask - how do you see religion fitting into

                              an overaarching SL culture?

               Tom Bukowski:  hmmm!

                              this is the question of culture and spatial scale

               Alaya Kumaki:  buwhat prevent u to do what u wanted

               Tom Bukowski:  there's often a tendency to equate culture with

                              the local

                              but culture is about shared meanings and practies

                              which can be local, global, national, etc.

                              Example: right now, not counting sl for the moment

                              I'm in Long Beach

                              I'm in Los Angeles County

                              I'm in California

                              I'm in the USA

                              I'm in North America


                              Different spatial scales

                              and then there are distributed cultural logics

                              religion is a great example

                              we were talking about Mormons earlier today

                              that's translocal,

                              a translocal culture

                              but say, Balinese Hinduism isn't in the same way

                              so in terms of sl

                              there are some shared meanings and practices taht

                              are sl-wide

                              from avatars and alts to lag and afk, shopping,


                              and then also many many subcultures

                              and there are some cultural elemetns shared

                              between sl and other virtual worlds

                              like when I say lol


                              I'll be right back


                              Thank you

                              those kinds of things go all the way back to MUDs



                              and so on

                              or the idea of ims versus chat

                              the key thing is that cultures don't have hard


                              that used to be the idea

                              "Thai culture"

                              "German culture"

                              equating cultures with nation-states

                              or ethnicities

                              and assuming there were firm boudaries

                              cultures are there, but the borders are more


                              with ideas, practices, people moving between all

                              the time

                              and that's certianly the case with sl!

               Alaya Kumaki:  sure as u merging between all of them now

            Moz Barthelmess:  question?

               Tom Bukowski:  okay, we still have time for 3-4 more questions...


            Moz Barthelmess:  we were talking earlier today about how

                              interviewing is best done

                              text, voice, etc

               Tom Bukowski:  mm

            Moz Barthelmess:  can you share what you learned about this?

               Tom Bukowski:  great question

                              #1, I find that interviewing works best together

                              with participant observation

                              so you get to know people before you interivew


            Moz Barthelmess:  in particular, what differences are worth noting

                              between sl and face-to-face interviewing (which

                              is of course the standard assumption in textbooks

                              and how-to guides)?

               Tom Bukowski:  and you learn what kinds of questions are best to


                              instead of having preset questions

                              now 2 gerat questions there Moz

               Alaya Kumaki:  do u think it make a central kernel, and an

                              intersection on the side... as two sims in sl

                              cooperate but have aslo a center

               Tom Bukowski:  in terms of sl and face to face

                              in my view, interviewing in sl IS "face--to-face"

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  (woot!)

               Tom Bukowski:  so I think interviewing can work just as well here

                              as in the actual world

                              in terms of chat versus voice

                              sl got voice in August 2007

                              after I'd finished the research for this book

                              but I"ll be doing more reserach in the future

                              the nice thing about chat

                              is easy to cut and paste!

              TAMMY NOWOTNY:  but it's still not the standard means of


               Tom Bukowski:  I have spend HUNDREDS of hours transcribing all

                              the interviews I do in Indoneisa

                              and translating them

                              but of course with voice

                              you get all kinds of cues

                              paralinguistic cues so to speak

                              tone of voice, pausing, etc.

                              you can do that a bit with chat, but it's hard


                              that kind of thing

                              I think that both can work

                              the key thing is being a good listener

                              and finding the right questions

                              being flexible

               Alaya Kumaki:  this is an art iin chat, but 3d base is adding on


               Tom Bukowski:  learning what matters to the people you are


                              chat versus voice so far hasn't been a huge huge

                              difference for me, and I've done both

                              with all my stuff in Indonesia

            Grayson Redstar:  I asked Lenore this as well - what did you learn

                              along the way, that you wish you'd known to


               Tom Bukowski:  oh wow


                              /thinks fast

                 MILK PLATE:  Enjoy your Cookies and Milk, Tammy Nowotny!

               Tom Bukowski:  oh here's something

                 GNE Greene:  Voice needs a lot more support before it

                              approaches the flexibility of Chat, I guess.

               Tom Bukowski:  one thing I was doing with this book project

                              was to try and replicate the most "old school"

                              anthro methods

                              to see if they would work

                              that's why the title of the book

                              it's playing off of Margaret Mead's classic

                              "Coming of Age in Samoa"

                              her first book

                              and what really shocked me

                              was how little I had to change

                              that really blew me away

                              I decided not to use alts, because I wanted people

                              to know I was a reseracher

                              just a couple little things like that

                              but what I realzied was that at the end of the day

                              sl is a place

                              a place iwth people in it

                              and that means you can study it

                              and like any place

                              you have to be flexible

                              In many ways I had to change more doing reserach

                              in Indonnesa

                              learn about Islam, learn the Indonesian language

                              learn how to use a squat toilet lol

                              all reserach requires being flexbiel


                              and as long as you're flexible

                              it is compeltely possible to do research in sl


                              and I have to say

                              one thing that helps

                              is that while griefing is real

                              most people in sl are so kind

                              I was worried about geting the reserach to work

                              but I soon learned

                              people were *lining up* to be interviewed

                              "why won't you interview me yet?"

                              people love to talk about their sl expeirences

                              and have amazing things to say

            Grayson Redstar:  Interesting! And, helpful. Thanks!

               Tom Bukowski:  we're all learning about this new world together

                              so actually the research has been incredibly


                              np Tammy

                              okay, we got time for a couple more questions...

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  OK, it looks like we're all chock full of

                              knowlege! :P

               Tom Bukowski:  LOL

                 GNE Greene:  What was the most difficult thing about the

                              research? (Yes, I know, a bit of a stinker of a


        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Again, we'll have Tom back for a terrific event

                              right here, Monday noon SLT

               Tom Bukowski:  time, finding the time

            Moz Barthelmess:  going back a bit, what makes you say that sl IS


               Tom Bukowski:  to really hang out with poeple

                              when I go to Indonesia, research is all I'm going

                              with sl, I'm still at home, which is great

                              but then it's the time

            Moz Barthelmess:  sorry! lost in the log, didnt see another question

                              had been asked

               Tom Bukowski:  if something interesting is going on in sl, I need

                              to be able to set aside 2 hours to check it out

                              that was hard lol, because of being a professor,

                              teaching, home life, blah blah blah

                              okay, Moz

                              the face-to-face

                              In my book, after the intro and history and method


                              the *first* thing I talk about is place

                              not avatars, sex, money, etc.

                              because I think that's really key to what makes

                              vws different from other Internet forms

            Moz Barthelmess:  mkay

               Tom Bukowski:  they are place


                              that are persistent in the sense that you can shut

                              down your comptuer and we will still be here

                              and they allow synchronic sociality - we can hang

                              out together at the same time

                              not just asychronic, like email, tho there is

                              asychronic stuff in sl too

                              so it's as face-to-face as hanging out in a

                              physical space

                 GNE Greene:  Places existed from the days of using a teletype

                              to talk to computer?

               Tom Bukowski:  where in some cases you might be in a different

                              room anyway, shouting


                              great question

                              I have a chapter on the history of vws

                              and if I'm going to place a bet

                              what is the first virtual world?

                              in the sense that sl is a vritual world

                              I follow Bruce Sterling

                              who's really smart about these kinds of things

                              and would say it is the telephone

                              so in the book I say

                              the first moment of afk in human history

                              was that unrecoreded moment

                              maybe in 1904 or whatever

                 GNE Greene:  I would claim it is the shared fireside story. :)

               Tom Bukowski:  when 2 people were on the phone

                              and one person put down the phone without hanging

                              it up

                              to get the door or fix tea

                              GNE - the shared fireside st\ory

                              there's another history of vws I tell (I do 5 of


                              that goes back 40,000 years

                              to cave paintings

                              that's another understanding of vw

                              but it does effect the contemporary ones like sl

          SKYERANGER PINION:  Party Lines were common in the past ... warnt

                              always two people ;o)

               Tom Bukowski:  so your point is well taken

                              yep! lol

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  OK, I'm going to have to call time -

               Tom Bukowski:  thanks Soph

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  because our DJ is set up and ready to go live!

               Tom Bukowski:  I will be back soon, with HAMLET!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  Tom, thanks as always!

               Tom Bukowski:  I've always wanted to to an event with him

                              a 2-book event

                 Ludo Merit:  Yea Hamlet

               Tom Bukowski:  it will be really fun

                 Delia Lake:  thanks, Tom!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  And thank you all for sticking through a very full


                              I'm really looking forward to it, Tom!

                 GNE Greene:  Hamlet != small bacon. :)

               Tom Bukowski:  yw Delia, Soph, and hello Ludo, and everyone!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  We've got a real treat now -

               Tom Bukowski:  It was great to see all of you!

                              I'm sorry I have to go but I'll see you on Monday!

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  DJ Nicki Petrichor of Reactor Radio has assembled

                              a special live set for us


                              So, please join us for discussion *and* dancing

                              to some of SL's best music!

            Rose Springvale:  thanks Tom, very intersting!!

               Tom Bukowski:  I'll try to come back later if I can , but gotta

                              go to a meeting right now

                              yw Rose

        Sophrosyne Stenvaag:  We'll head right out the back, down to the end of

                              the ramp, take a left and down to the end

               Tom Bukowski:  Thank you for coming!

                 GNE Greene:  Thanks, Tom.

            NICKI PETRICHOR:  electroshamanism.... *winks*