Jesters Get Serious: Joint Rant

One feature of a MOO, the thing that make a lot of new people query, "What is this place?", is that which provides for totally new experiences. Instead of transfering existing paradigms to the MOO, we have a chance to construct new ones, our own. In some cases that might be a theoretical paradigm which never quite got expressed to its fuller potential, being grounded in an offline "reality."

Some people might even want to have the old structure, the known surroundings, the places they already know. In a MOO, we can do that. We can have different areas, different structures, all in one place. These we can spin out, allowing our different, and differing, visions to play themselves out into different MOOs, where anyone can define themselves and this space as they like. And, if this is not enough, people can even start their own MOO, defining the structure of their vision, the enactment of their work and play, exactly as they like.

As Buddha points out, the places we visit are pretty much like the places we come from. This is the same with MOO communities; even though the "look" of the particular MOO might be different, on most MOOs one can find the variety of people and ideas that one will find anywhere else.

Our journeys then, might not be so much the about the places we visit, or the people we meet, but rather our journeys can be the examination of the metaphors we use to define our "realities," both online and offline, those biases we bring to the experience. In our work, introducing folks to MOOs, we have carefully observed how MOObies compare their experience of MOOing to their offline experience of the world. In addition it is important to note, as they make a particular MOO their home, their workspace, their online social arena, this MOO then becomes the paradigm for other MOOs.

This feature of MOOs, this ability it offers to construct our metaphoric spatial structures, is at one and the same time, out abilty to enact a wide variety of visions. Folks can can find a place they like, either because its environment is something they have never seen before, where hanging upside down and walking on ceilings is de riguer, or because the place looks familiar, a university, one's own house, your bathtub...

Kenneth Burke maintained that we name ourselves into existence.

Whether or not there is a realm of the `supernatural,' there are words for it. And in this state of linguistic affairs there is a paradox. For whereas the words for supernatural realm are are necessarily borrowed from from the realm of our everyday experiences, out of which our familiarity with language arises, once a terminology has been been developed for special theological purposes the order can become reversed. We can borrow back the terms from the borrower, again secularizing to varying degrees the originally secular terms that had been given `supernatural' connotations (Rhetoric of Religion 7).

That naming is a fundamental process we share as humans. Such is a fundamental promise of MOO as we attempt to define and re-define ourselves in MOO space.

What has this to do with hiring, tenure, and promotion? Everything. As we do this work, an open ended process, we risk stultifying the process itself if we rush to a standarization of work done onMOO. MOO, then, is NOT about the end product (although we publish our work on the MOO by very definition of how the MOO server works); MOO is about the ongoing converstion about the process itself; MOO is about meta realities, and the end products, our "publications" are contingent, situational, reflections on that ongoing process, re-visioning, reflection.

Such is the play of MOO.

Table of Contents

Janet Cross

Kristian Fuglevik