“Going Safely Into the Night”

Technology & Learning Magazine’s Editor and Chief, Susan McLester, has joined the T&L Blogerati with a piece about a virtual night club in San Francisco.

Techlearning blog: When the Virtual Overlaps With the Real:

The San Francisco Chronicle headline “Going Safely Into the Night” described a new virtual space where teenagers can go to dance, listen to music, meet new friends, chat, take photos and generally just hang out. Yes, it is another one of those social networking environments like MySpace currently under fire— but I’m not heading in the “right or wrong” direction here. Instead, I’m more interested in the phenomenon from the perspective of a “digital immigrant” adult. When I visited the site (www.pcdmusiclounge.com), I saw kid-created avatars (characters that represent them) lounging in groups or out on the dance floor. The chat was mostly wise-cracking, comments about favorite music, and other regular kid stuff. Though the scene was a familiar club setup and not exotic in any way, the environment was immersive like those of the more richly-rendered videogames. In the article, Doppelganger CEO Andrew Littlefield was quoted as saying, “You’re stuck at home. Your parents won’t let you out… You can text your friends or you can hang out in a glamorous nightclub.”

Here is the text of my comment to her blog entry:

…as for your blog, I certainly identify with it.  As fascinated as I am with video games and the video game experience, I personally don’t get it.  I lost interest after Pong.  My son goes off to college this year, and I am curious as to which game system he’ll be leaving behind 😉

All that said, from an older than 50 perspective, I suspect that this is just another instance where the kids will ask, “Why are you obsessing over this?”  I think that they see no divider at all between the virtual and the real.  It’s all their experience.  Separating the two has no meaning and serves no purpose.

My son walks out of his room and announces that he’s going to a movie and then out for fried chicken afterward.  “Who’s picking you up?”  “Alex!”  “Who’s going with you?”  An asundry of names of band-geek friends.  “When will you be back…”   (you know the drill.)

But it is clear and understood that he’s been with his friends already today, that plans have been made, changed, adapted, through on-going online conversations.  They operate in group mode, in a way that few people do, because the group is always around.  My son turns 18 this Summer, and he has not yet gotten his drivers license.  He simply hasn’t needed one, because he lives in group mode.  Enough of his friends are driving.

I suspect that we do obsess about it too much, because we’re from the old country, and speak with an accent.  It will always be that way.

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