Avatar: Building a “Digital Virtual Self”

Avatar: Building a “Digital Virtual Self”

Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6351-0.ch004
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This chapter presents and discusses the avatar. The authors approach the breakthrough of the technologicized body, under the perspective of creating a digital virtual identity, the avatar, which appears linked to the metaverse technology in the construction of 3D Digital Virtual Worlds. They present and discuss subtopics like: “Avatar: A Technologicized Body,” “The Construction of a Digital Virtual Identity,” and “Avatar: The Representation/Action of the ‘Digital Virtual Self' through the Technologicized Body.” In a brief conclusion about the chapter, the authors highlight the multiple identities that constitute us, through the self-consciousness of “self,” the body to perform actions, and reflections to assign meaning, and the technologicized body through the avatar. Therefore, the authors have shown the co-existence and the multiple and different dimensions.
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In his book, “The Digital Life” (1st edition, 1995), Negroponte reflected in the 90s on this “new way” of life that basically implies the interaction of man and machine. In this context, the concern about developing a digital technology relied on creating friendly systems, perfecting the man-machine interface, making it more familiar and being able to reproduce the physical space reality as Digital Virtual spaces. However, in this work he calls our attention to something that goes beyond this interaction, for he argues that, “we eagerly talk about man-machine interactions and dialogic systems, whilst we are able to leave one of the participants of this dialogue in complete darkness” (2006, p.124).

After 16 years and since the dawn of metaverse technology that enables the construction of 3D Digital Virtual Worlds, we return to the reflections of Negroponte (2006), broadening them to discuss the interaction process between human beings, who at this time begin to be represented by their avatars and who are in congruence with the environment (relations established in a Digital Virtual space), and in this case, it being a Digital Virtual World in 3D. We can see that increasingly, metaverse technology is being used to its full potential, and not only with the “intention” of merely substituting the physical space or promoting only a man-machine interaction. Human beings can establish interaction processes through telepresence and a Digital Virtual presence with other human beings who are in conditions that would not otherwise be geographically possible.

Another significant aspect is that of the representation of human perception. In this case it is broadened with the possibility of a metaphorical representation in graphic 3D construction that we do not normally use in geographically based interactions. The 3D Digital Virtual Worlds are then tridimensional graphical representations, constructed with metaverse technology through the action of avatars. The avatars are also 3D graphic representations of human beings e-inhabiting these 3D Digital Virtual Worlds. This e-inhabiting, or e-living, consists of being, living, inhabiting, and moreover of living and sharing a 3D Digital Virtual World with other e-inhabitants who are also represented by avatars, and enabling a kind of “Digital Virtual” life. This new way of living and sharing significantly increases the understanding of the relationship and the interaction between human beings and digital technologies as they are in congruence with each other. In this way, when interacting in the 3D Digital Virtual World, human beings establish another relationship with information, metaphorically enabling new ways of constructing knowledge by representing theoretical concepts in graphs. The concepts are usually represented in an oral or textual way, so we are familiarized to maintain a dialogue or to write about a particular theoretical referential using the same words the author refers to: we think in synonyms and/or reproduce their ideas. When we metaphorically represent a concept, however, we need to understand it in order to establish relationships with objects or schemes and we also need someone’s validation, through their interpretation, to validate the metaphor. The metaphor only makes sense when it can be interpreted.

The point from which the object of knowledge is viewed can also be considered significant. The possibilities are broadened by the angle of vision upon the object, which itself can be approached from different angles when we move the avatar, when we change the way we look at the object, when we fly, teleport or even when we are in other dimensions in the 3D Digital Virtual World.

Therefore, the avatars’ “Digital Virtual lives” are being built symbiotically with human beings’ “physical life”, through the similarities, differences, contradictions, synergies and triumphs the human establishes when using his avatar representation. The human has a “Digital Virtual life” when he establishes living and sharing relationships or develops interaction processes with other e-inhabitants of the 3D Digital Virtual Worlds through a “Digital Virtual self” represented by a “technologicized body” (Lévy, 1999). In this way, it is through living and sharing that he establishes friendship, organizes communities in cyberspace and builds up Digital Virtual social networks, forming and being formed by this culture that emerges from living and sharing within a Digital Virtual environment.

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