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Hello Avatar: Rise of the Networked Generation

by Beth Coleman; forward by Clay Shirky
The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2011
320 pp., illus. 47 b/w. Trade, $29.95
ISBN: 978-0-262-01571-4.

Reviewed by Dr. Ornella Corazza
University of Hertfordshire

In this fascinating book, Hello Avatar: Rise of the Networked Generation, Beth Coleman invites us to stretch beyond the boundaries of conventional forms of communication and explore the role of Avatars. The concept, known among the Hindu as the physical manifestation of Gods, has been borrowed to indicate the role of a physical person in the digital world, or cyberspace. It provides a general introduction on the current media environment and the rise of a networked generation. It explores in an original way the complex relation between humans and virtual reality, with a particular interest for Second Life and the variety of its landscapes.

By reflecting on her own experience, Coleman offers a fresh reflection on how our personal identities are represented in the virtual world.

In many ways, the rapid technological development has forced us to give up the idea of ‘connection’ as a travel, and to embrace the concept of ‘online’ as a place where we can go. In her words: ‘ Over the last decades of Internet use, terms such as “virtual reality”, “cyberspace” and “online” represent a form of engagement that stands outside of the geographically and corporally bounded world we occupy.”

Ultimately, this book provides new insight on the role of embodiment. It shows how these disembodied forms of entertainment as alternative choices to enjoy and communicate with each other by building up digital relationships.

This is a well-researched, engaging book that will amplify your curiosity for the virtual landscapes.

Last Updated 1 October 2012

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