Friday, April 16, 2010
From an ontological lens, the objective, subjective, and social realms that Habermas elaborates on are not very different in the two worlds, except from the type of participation that takes place in each context (virtual and physical participation). Like in the physical world, norms are being established within virtual spaces that support the use of symbols for effective communication. Symbols in both physical and virtual groups are associated with implicit meanings, which are usually the same in both kinds of contexts. Therefore, for example, the handshake is a symbol of salutation (an introduction) in the physical world; when we meet new people, salute people that we know, etc, we tend to shake hands. Similarly, when a person joins a guild in World of Warcraft (WoW), the virtual handshake is a symbol that serves the exact same purpose, with the same legitimate way. It is implied by the cultural norms that people in a group can use the handshake to salute. In virtual worlds, this is implied only when the design allows it. If the designer does not create the affordance of a virtual handshake, then the gesture does not exist and the virtual participants create a new norm for salutation to serve their purposes.