Monday, February 21, 2011

Creating Social Space in Virtual Worlds - Megan Paxton Wuebker - Guest Blogger

Victor Friedman (right) and audience (correct date: 2.16.11)

Having Victor Friedman in class last week to discuss AR, and more specifically his concepts of space, was quite a treat. I’ve always found it fascinating to meet the authors of the ideas we are using to develop our own knowledge and opinions as we move through graduate school.  During our talk, Victor discussed the social construction of space and the differences between social and physical space.  He asked if the advent of social networking is creating a new type of space based on changes in the formation of social relationships.  This really got me thinking about social space, relationships, and the influence that social networks have had on my experience. 

Like many people, I have accounts on social networking sites, including Twitter and Facebook.  Twitter is my social website of choice, where I can interact with others who have common interests, seek answers to questions, and provide support and motivation to my virtual and “real life” friends.  Within our online community, we have created a social space that exits within a virtual space.  But what is a virtual space?  How would Victor Friedman define a virtual space?  I think it would be more than a social space, but perhaps it’s not. 

Social space allows us to develop relationships.  According to Victor, social space is an individual’s generation of feelings and emotion, the externalization of which permits interactions with other individuals’ feelings and emotions.  This interaction amongst individuals allows for the development of relationships.  However, these relationships are typically formed in physical space.  Can virtual space be considered a physical space where individuals come together and form relationships?  While we all construct our Twitterverse social space, there is no aspect of physical space beyond a website or a phone application.  Is this enough to constitute a virtual space?  Or do our virtual relationships not move beyond social space?

The answers to all of these questions are something that I am still working on.  The concept of a virtual space is something that, as a social networker, I am very curious about.  Victor Friedman’s discussion of space poses more questions than answers.  I look forward to examining these questions as my inquiry into space evolves.


  1. Hi megan

    Great inquiry. I feel like I know where you are coming from. I recently completed an ar dissertation where a number of groups constructed identity, knowledge, actions using a combination of virtual and embodied spaces. Space became a key concept and consideration in the ar. The conclusion I came to was the importance of co-presence. You can find the thesis here.

    Great questions and I'm really enjoying the arj blog.

    Jose ramos

  2. Megan and Jose - I am excited by this on-going discussion. Jose, I looked for your disseration on the website but couldn't locate it. I'd be very interested in reading it.

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