October 23, 2007

Environmental Health Clinic presented in Secondlife; FUSE + Ars Virtua

Originally given at San Jose City Hall, Council Chambers, as part of FUSE the presentation was streamed live to Ars Virtua in Second Life [ http://slurl.com/secondlife/Seventh%20Eye/6/77/48] and is available as a podcast. The talk was entitled “The Environmental Health Clinic: on structuring participation in the environmental movement, or more specifically, in re-imagining, refiguring and rebuilding our relationships to natural systems”—intro below. However the presentation in 2nd life, its second life, underscores the questions about participation–what actions are available to your avatar? does it matter who you are? or that you are an avatar in the material and bodily questions involved in environmental health?


Does anyone know what to do about global warming? I am guessing that everyone has a few ideas, no? But how does anyone one of us go about developing these ideas, trying them out, testing, developing, and learning more? And how many people are interested in doing something about climate change and other environmental issues? I don’t know anyone who is not. But somehow the bombastic “what you can do” guides in every green issue of a magazine do not foster a social movement; signing petitions, writing letters to political representatives doesn’t make me feel like I have made a vital contribution; using less gas, less paper, less energy doesn’t make me feel more effective, doesn’t draw on my specific situation/expertise/constraints—it all makes me feel impatient. But I get most impatient with the certainty (and morally superior tone) with which I am ordered to change to compact fluorescents, ride a bike, recycle, use bamboo flooring (substitute in 100 other ineffectual and symbolic actions). Haven’t looked into recycling the compact fluorescents and the neurotoxicant effects of the mercury released from this product; haven’t had their students arrested for participation in a bike ride; nor been hit by car; or colleagues arrested and prosecuted as “terrorists” for environmental activism; haven’t they tried to use the recycled glass, or plastics and delved into the strange and complex waste industry; haven’t they measured the formaldehyde and other emissions of the green materials….the point is there is not much certainty in complex socio-ecological systems,mobile officeally persuasive?

5 Comments on “Environmental Health Clinic presented in Secondlife; FUSE + Ars Virtua

October 23, 2007 at 4:30 am


Jenn H.
October 28, 2007 at 7:04 pm

Personally, I have a hard time when it comes to envisioning environmental activism/ participation within an online “social networking” structure because I have not used these sites before to the same degree that many of their subscribers do. But as far as a medium, I think that websites like myspace, artcloud, etc could be just as succesful, and bound to the same restrictions, as blogs, which continue to transform the modes in which we share information, ideas, etc. I think the success of fostering environmental participation through such sites is dependent in part on elements that are unique to the online format, such as aesthetics that inspire intrigue and participation or the comparatively easy access they provide to other resources, people, and means of further communicating. The online medium is also limiting as it is isolated from the real world in which the topics of discussion are actually occurring, an especially troublesome aspect when the subject demands real world action, which environmentalism of course does.

Jenn H.
October 28, 2007 at 7:23 pm

I still cannot figure out how to watch the lecture in Second life! However, I don’t think it is necessary to ever even have used Second life (which I have been though…) to discuss the idea of having a lecture/ class in that online structure. Although there are some specific elements that I think would be additional factors in the students experience, such as the simulated sense of fellow students and teacher in the form of “avatars”, in general it is a discussion of the ways in which the medium transforms the message. The first thing that came to mind for me when I tried to picture being “in” a lecture that was in Second life was the disadvantage students with certain learning disabilities would have. This could be as simple as being a visual learner vs. an auditory one, because I cant help but assume that something is lost in the simulated translation of human voice and gesture. This could of course be solved with the video conferencing style of online communication, but even then there is still the question of the importance of physical presence and surroundings. The classroom would be a pretty lonely place if it only required one person and an outlet for their laptop.

Jen G
October 28, 2007 at 10:46 pm

I feel like I’ve read alot on how our generation today isn’t as politically active (which may carry over when talking about environmental activism) as past generations. Why is this? What was that thing in the 60’s and 70’s that made people form these amazing communities.


This is pretty interesting site for forming groups however it is problematic because someone who isn’t neccessarily interested in activism isn’t going to ever see the site. How can something like this become more public?

Mookyung S
October 29, 2007 at 12:20 pm

I think that the fact that I am represented by an avatar in a virtual space further distances me from my connection to material and bodily questions involved in environment health . As virtual interaction is a relatively new experience for us, it is difficult for me to consider it a more effective experience to see the lecture in a virtual space rather than in real life ( I couldn’t see the lecture by the way but presuming that I did ). I do think that social networking sites and internet platforms are effective platforms for disseminating information about the issues at hand but the more significant contributions that these platforms will make for envisioning environmental activism are the way that they will create fractures in the way that we typically process information and media.


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