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(8) VR: Self and Society

Aims and objectives

The aim of this section is to explore the issues surrounding the concept of self and identity raised by the development of 'Virtual Environments' such as MUDs.


This lecture will begin by reviewing the modernist notions of community at the beginning of the course and how Descartes separation of the soul (mind) from physical existence (body) has lead to judgments about the nature of a person's identity being based on an appeal to external evidence or actions. We will then go on to consider how applicable these ideas are to 'Virtual Environments' such as MUDs.

In particular we will look at the phenomenon of gender swapping and the problems raised by how people represent themselves in Virtual Environments. You might also wish to look at some course notes from a previous version of the HI2 course.




  1. SIC - Chap 16 in Social Issues in Computing, Huff. C and Finholt. T, McGraw Hill, 1994, pp 637 - 690.

Some Additional Reading (in library)

  1. Kevin Robins, Cyberspace and the world we live Body and Society - Cyberspace/cyberbodies/cyberpunk: cultures of technological embodiment - Vol 1, No 3-4, pp 135 - 155.
  2. Steven Jones, Cybersociety: computer-mediated communication and community. Sage, 1995.

Web Links

The following may also be of interest:

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