Posts in Category: community building

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Sexual Fantasies

Masturbation used to be called the great taboo for women because it was sexual satisfaction outside of a relationship.  Masturbation meant a measure of autonomy, and nobody wanted women to have that much control over themselves.

[…]

The hand on the genitals isn’t the culprit.  The hand may be doing something forbidden, but the hand is obvious, external.  It is the mind that carries the genesis of sexual life, inhibits us from orgasm or releases us.  Masturbation gets its fire, its life from what is sparked in the mind.  The fingers might move across the clitoris indefinitely without orgasm, only when the mind structures the correct image, a scenario meaningful and powerful to us alone because it carries us up and past all fears of reprisals and into that forbidden, interior world that is our own sexual psyche–only then do we come.

[…]

I remember a woman who painted huge canvases of vaginas and conducted classes in masturbation.  While women sitting in a group discovering their clitorises may sound as far out and remote as naked hippies dancing in the rain at Woodstock, from this extremism came the small piece of ground that supports the women in this book.  It was a different time–a lifetime ago, it seems to me now.

What a cramped, guilt-ridden world we once lived in.  And it wasn’t all that long ago, not so distant that we can’t return, indeed haven’t already started slipping back.

[…]

To the contemporary Western mind it sounds mad, a sadistic piece of science fiction.  But clitoridectomies were performed in this country in the early part of the century.  That was your grandmother’s or great-grandmother’s time, when some of the most eminent, celebrated surgeons in the land routinely took knife in hand and skillfully removed various parts of a woman’s genitalia for reasons of insanity, hysteria, and oh yes, hygiene.

Masturbation was considered to be at the core of these female disorders; the removal of the clitoris got to the heart of the problem.  Records show that clitoridectomies were still being performed in certain mental hospitals as late as the 1930s.

In time, clitoridectomies were no longer necessary in this country.  Men found they didn’t have to do anything.  Women had so totally taken in men’s attitudes toward female sexuality that we had come to judge ourselves by their needs.  No Nice Woman would think of touching herself, exploring her sexuality.  The less sexual the woman, the nicer.  Mothers raised their daughters dutifully in the art of sexual avoidance.  Women learned to loathe their genitals.  Sex was not a pleasure but a duty.  That was in your mother’s or grandmother’s time.  Not long ago.  Not long ago at all.

[…]

When we lose interest in sex and will not tolerate in others what we once enjoyed ourselves, we are reacting to more than the cautionary voices of our parents;  there is a cultural voice, our heritage that has never been comfortable with sex and has abhorred masturbation in particular.  Whatever popular support for sexual freedom the women in this book knew growing up, the very real, deep-down “feel” of this country, the fiber and character of the people, is modeled on a Calvinist work ethic and an inherent puritanical attitude toward sex.  It would be foolish to think that a few decades of sexual celebration and tolerance could significantly alter our antisexual nature.

–Nancy Friday

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Sexual Fantasies

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/women-on-top-nancy-friday/1112365717

There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda. . . . You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . .

And that, I think, was the handle—that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting—on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. . . .

So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark—that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

— Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fear-and-loathing-in-las-vegas-hunter-s-thompson/1002088488

 

Brown saved my life

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

— Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:

How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?

Read the TED Blog’s Q&A with Brené Brown >>

“Brené Brown is an absolute legend. This is groundbreaking – not in terms of peoples awareness of these subjects and what they mean… But in these messages enhanced communication made accessible to a wider audience on this level. I have a jumbled up jigsaw in front of me with pieces I’ve been putting together my whole life- and Brene Brown has just connected so many pieces. This makes so much sense on so many levels. Really awesome stuff. I will watch this a few times and recommend it to people!”

-jakesandersonaudio on YouTube

 

 

 

daring_greatly

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

 

Editorial Reviews


From Barnes & Noble

In film, television, and battle sagas, we crave stories of fearless superheroes, but the heroes we value most are those who grapple not only with their enemies, but with their own vulnerability. This welcome new book explains why honestly accepting our limitations can enhance every aspect of our lives.
Publishers Weekly
Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection) examines vulnerability and imperfection in her latest, which takes its title from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic.” Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, is the first to admit that vulnerability makes her uncomfortable, but posits that daring to fail is the only true way to be wholeheartedly engaged in any aspect of life. “Experiencing vulnerability isn’t a choice—the only choice we have is how we’re going to respond when we are confronted with uncertainty, risk and emotional disclosure,” she says. Laying out a roadmap for change, the author includes chapters on eliminating blame and shame from work and education, and daring to be the adults we want our children to be. At the same time, she explores what drives people to feel vulnerable and how to address common coping mechanisms in what she calls the “Vulnerability Armory.” But the core of her message is understanding the difference between guilt and shame, and developing “shame resistance.” Brown’s theories—complete with personal and not always flattering examples from her own life—will draw readers in and have them considering what steps they would dare to take if shame and fear were not present. Agent: Jo-Lynne Worley, Worley Shoemaker Literary Management. (Sept.)
Kirkus Reviews
Brown (Univ. of Houston Graduate College of Social Work; The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, 2010, etc.) exposes and challenges some of the common myths surrounding vulnerability. After more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, the author presents her findings on the concepts of shame, weakness and vulnerability. Defining vulnerability “as exposure, uncertainty, and emotional risk,” the author maintains that this feeling is the crux of most of our meaningful experiences. Ultimately, she writes, it is not a weakness; everyone is vulnerable, we all need support via friends and family. Trust and vulnerability go hand in hand. Brown believes it is essential to expose oneself to a wide range of feelings in order to combat shame, break down the walls of perfectionism and stop the act of disengagement that separates many from themselves and others. By accepting her directives, readers will be engaged, gain a sense of courage and learn how to create meaningful connections with their children or fellow workers. “Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice,” she writes, “we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.” When we choose to dare greatly, the rewards are vast: We feel more loved and are more loving, we feel worthy of that love, we choose our path and commit to it with daily practice, and we live with courage, engagement and a clear sense of purpose. A straightforward approach to revamping one’s life from an expert on vulnerability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781592407330
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 9/11/2012
Pages: 256

 

Table of Contents

What it Means to Dare Greatly xii

Introduction: My Adventures in the Arena 4

Chapter 1 Scarcity: Looking Inside our Culture of “Never Enough” 18

Chapter 2 Debunking the Vulnerability Myths 32

Chapter 3 Understanding and Combating Shame 58

Chapter 4 The Vulnerability Armory 112

Chapter 5 Mind the Gap: Cultivating Change and Closing the Disengagement Divide 172

Chapter 6 Disruptive Engagement: Daring to Rehumanize Education and Work 184

Chapter 7 Wholehearted Parenting: Daring to be the Adults we Want Our Children to Be 214

Final Thoughts 247

Appendix-Trust in Emergence: Grounded Theory and My Research Process 251

Practicing Gratitude 261

Notes And References 265

Index 277

About the Author 289

The Inner Ring By C. S. Lewis

The Inner Ring

By C. S. Lewis*

May I read you a few lines from Tolstoy’s War and Peace?

    When Boris entered the room, Prince Andrey was listening to an old general, wearing his decorations, who was reporting something to Prince Andrey, with an expression of soldierly servility on his purple face. “Alright. Please wait!” he said to the general, speaking in Russian with the French accent which he used when he spoke with contempt. The moment he noticed Boris he stopped listening to the general who trotted imploringly after him and begged to be heard, while Prince Andrey turned to Boris with a cheerful smile and a nod of the head. Boris now clearly understood—what he had already guessed—that side by side with the system of discipline and subordination which were laid down in the Army Regulations, there existed a different and more real system—the system which compelled a tightly laced general with a purple face to wait respectfully for his turn while a mere captain like Prince Andrey chatted with a mere second lieutenant like Boris. Boris decided at once that he would be guided not by the official system but by this other unwritten system.

When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude, however unlikely the conclusion seems, that you have a taste for middle-aged moralising. I shall do my best to gratify it. I shall in fact, give you advice about the world in which you are going to live. I do not mean by this that I am going to talk on what are called current affairs. You probably know quite as much about them as I do. I am not going to tell you—except in a form so general that you will hardly recognise it—what part you ought to play in post-war reconstruction.

It is not, in fact, very likely that any of you will be able, in the next ten years, to make any direct contribution to the peace or prosperity of Europe. You will be busy finding jobs, getting married, acquiring facts. I am going to do something more old-fashioned than you perhaps expected. I am going to give advice. I am going to issue warnings. Advice and warnings about things which are so perennial that no one calls them “current affairs.”

And of course everyone knows what a middle-aged moralist of my type warns his juniors against. He warns them against the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. But one of this trio will be enough to deal with today. The Devil, I shall leave strictly alone. The association between him and me in the public mind has already gone quite as deep as I wish: in some quarters it has already reached the level of confusion, if not of identification. I begin to realise the truth of the old proverb that he who sups with that formidable host needs a long spoon. As for the Flesh, you must be very abnormal young people if you do not know quite as much about it as I do. But on the World I think I have something to say.

In the passage I have just read from Tolstoy, the young second lieutenant Boris Dubretskoi discovers that there exist in the army two different systems or hierarchies. The one is printed in some little red book and anyone can easily read it up. It also remains constant. A general is always superior to a colonel, and a colonel to a captain. The other is not printed anywhere. Nor is it even a formally organised secret society with officers and rules which you would be told after you had been admitted. You are never formally and explicitly admitted by anyone. You discover gradually, in almost indefinable ways, that it exists and that you are outside it; and then later, perhaps, that you are inside it.

There are what correspond to passwords, but they are too spontaneous and informal. A particular slang, the use of particular nicknames, an allusive manner of conversation, are the marks. But it is not so constant. It is not easy, even at a given moment, to say who is inside and who is outside. Some people are obviously in and some are obviously out, but there are always several on the borderline. And if you come back to the same Divisional Headquarters, or Brigade Headquarters, or the same regiment or even the same company, after six weeks’ absence, you may find this secondary hierarchy quite altered.

There are no formal admissions or expulsions. People think they are in it after they have in fact been pushed out of it, or before they have been allowed in: this provides great amusement for those who are really inside. It has no fixed name. The only certain rule is that the insiders and outsiders call it by different names. From inside it may be designated, in simple cases, by mere enumeration: it may be called “You and Tony and me.” When it is very secure and comparatively stable in membership it calls itself “we.” When it has to be expanded to meet a particular emergency it calls itself “all the sensible people at this place.” From outside, if you have dispaired of getting into it, you call it “That gang” or “they” or “So-and-so and his set” or “The Caucus” or “The Inner Ring.” If you are a candidate for admission you probably don’t call it anything. To discuss it with the other outsiders would make you feel outside yourself. And to mention talking to the man who is inside, and who may help you if this present conversation goes well, would be madness.

Badly as I may have described it, I hope you will all have recognised the thing I am describing. Not, of course, that you have been in the Russian Army, or perhaps in any army. But you have met the phenomenon of an Inner Ring. You discovered one in your house at school before the end of the first term. And when you had climbed up to somewhere near it by the end of your second year, perhaps you discovered that within the ring there was a Ring yet more inner, which in its turn was the fringe of the great school Ring to which the house Rings were only satellites. It is even possible that the school ring was almost in touch with a Masters’ Ring. You were beginning, in fact, to pierce through the skins of an onion. And here, too, at your University—shall I be wrong in assuming that at this very moment, invisible to me, there are several rings—independent systems or concentric rings—present in this room? And I can assure you that in whatever hospital, inn of court, diocese, school, business, or college you arrive after going down, you will find the Rings—what Tolstoy calls the second or unwritten systems.

All this is rather obvious. I wonder whether you will say the same of my next step, which is this. I believe that in all men’s lives at certain periods, and in many men’s lives at all periods between infancy and extreme old age, one of the most dominant elements is the desire to be inside the local Ring and the terror of being left outside. This desire, in one of its forms, has indeed had ample justice done to it in literature. I mean, in the form of snobbery. Victorian fiction is full of characters who are hag-ridden by the desire to get inside that particular Ring which is, or was, called Society. But it must be clearly understood that “Society,” in that sense of the word, is merely one of a hundred Rings, and snobbery therefore only one form of the longing to be inside.

People who believe themselves to be free, and indeed are free, from snobbery, and who read satires on snobbery with tranquil superiority, may be devoured by the desire in another form. It may be the very intensity of their desire to enter some quite different Ring which renders them immune from all the allurements of high life. An invitation from a duchess would be very cold comfort to a man smarting under the sense of exclusion from some artistic or communistic côterie. Poor man—it is not large, lighted rooms, or champagne, or even scandals about peers and Cabinet Ministers that he wants: it is the sacred little attic or studio, the heads bent together, the fog of tobacco smoke, and the delicious knowledge that we—we four or five all huddled beside this stove—are the people who know.

Often the desire conceals itself so well that we hardly recognize the pleasures of fruition. Men tell not only their wives but themselves that it is a hardship to stay late at the office or the school on some bit of important extra work which they have been let in for because they and So-and-so and the two others are the only people left in the place who really know how things are run. But it is not quite true. It is a terrible bore, of course, when old Fatty Smithson draws you aside and whispers, “Look here, we’ve got to get you in on this examination somehow” or “Charles and I saw at once that you’ve got to be on this committee.” A terrible bore… ah, but how much more terrible if you were left out! It is tiring and unhealthy to lose your Saturday afternoons: but to have them free because you don’t matter, that is much worse.

Freud would say, no doubt, that the whole thing is a subterfuge of the sexual impulse. I wonder whether the shoe is not sometimes on the other foot. I wonder whether, in ages of promiscuity, many a virginity has not been lost less in obedience to Venus than in obedience to the lure of the caucus. For of course, when promiscuity is the fashion, the chaste are outsiders. They are ignorant of something that other people know. They are uninitiated. And as for lighter matters, the number of people who first smoked or first got drunk for a similar reason is probably very large.

I must now make a distinction. I am not going to say that the existence of Inner Rings is an Evil. It is certainly unavoidable. There must be confidential discussions: and it is not only a bad thing, it is (in itself) a good thing, that personal friendship should grow up between those who work together. And it is perhaps impossible that the official hierarchy of any organisation should coincide with its actual workings. If the wisest and most energetic people held the highest spots, it might coincide; since they often do not, there must be people in high positions who are really deadweights and people in lower positions who are more important than their rank and seniority would lead you to suppose. It is necessary: and perhaps it is not a necessary evil. But the desire which draws us into Inner Rings is another matter. A thing may be morally neutral and yet the desire for that thing may be dangerous. As Byron has said:

      Sweet is a legacy, and passing sweet
    The unexpected death of some old lady.

The painless death of a pious relative at an advanced age is not an evil. But an earnest desire for her death on the part of her heirs is not reckoned a proper feeling, and the law frowns on even the gentlest attempts to expedite her departure. Let Inner Rings be unavoidable and even an innocent feature of life, though certainly not a beautiful one: but what of our longing to enter them, our anguish when we are excluded, and the kind of pleasure we feel when we get in?

I have no right to make assumptions about the degree to which any of you may already be compromised. I must not assume that you have ever first neglected, and finally shaken off, friends whom you really loved and who might have lasted you a lifetime, in order to court the friendship of those who appeared to you more important, more esoteric. I must not ask whether you have derived actual pleasure from the loneliness and humiliation of the outsiders after you, yourself were in: whether you have talked to fellow members of the Ring in the presence of outsiders simply in order that the outsiders might envy; whether the means whereby, in your days of probation, you propitiated the Inner Ring, were always wholly admirable.

I will ask only one question—and it is, of course, a rhetorical question which expects no answer. IN the whole of your life as you now remember it, has the desire to be on the right side of that invisible line ever prompted you to any act or word on which, in the cold small hours of a wakeful night, you can look back with satisfaction? If so, your case is more fortunate than most.

My main purpose in this address is simply to convince you that this desire is one of the great permanent mainsprings of human action. It is one of the factors which go to make up the world as we know it—this whole pell-mell of struggle, competition, confusion, graft, disappointment and advertisement, and if it is one of the permanent mainsprings then you may be quite sure of this. Unless you take measures to prevent it, this desire is going to be one of the chief motives of your life, from the first day on which you enter your profession until the day when you are too old to care. That will be the natural thing—the life that will come to you of its own accord. Any other kind of life, if you lead it, will be the result of conscious and continuous effort. If you do nothing about it, if you drift with the stream, you will in fact be an “inner ringer.” I don’t say you’ll be a successful one; that’s as may be. But whether by pining and moping outside Rings that you can never enter, or by passing triumphantly further and further in—one way or the other you will be that kind of man.

I have already made it fairly clear that I think it better for you not to be that kind of man. But you may have an open mind on the question. I will therefore suggest two reasons for thinking as I do.

It would be polite and charitable, and in view of your age reasonable too, to suppose that none of you is yet a scoundrel. On the other hand, by the mere law of averages (I am saying nothing against free will) it is almost certain that at least two or three of you before you die will have become something very like scoundrels. There must be in this room the makings of at least that number of unscrupulous, treacherous, ruthless egotists. The choice is still before you: and I hope you will not take my hard words about your possible future characters as a token of disrespect to your present characters.

And the prophecy I make is this. To nine out of ten of you the choice which could lead to scoundrelism will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic colours. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear. Over a drink, or a cup of coffee, disguised as triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still—just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïf or a prig—the hint will come. It will be the hint of something which the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand: something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about: but something, says your new friend, which “we”—and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure—something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world. It would be so terrible to see the other man’s face—that genial, confidential, delightfully sophisticated face—turn suddenly cold and contemptuous, to know that you had been tried for the Inner Ring and rejected. And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude; it may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school. But you will be a scoundrel.

That is my first reason. Of all the passions, the passion for the Inner Ring is most skillful in making a man who is not yet a very bad man do very bad things.

My second reason is this. The torture allotted to the Danaids in the classical underworld, that of attempting to fill sieves with water, is the symbol not of one vice, but of all vices. It is the very mark of a perverse desire that it seeks what is not to be had. The desire to be inside the invisible line illustrates this rule. As long as you are governed by that desire you will never get what you want. You are trying to peel an onion: if you succeed there will be nothing left. Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain.

This is surely very clear when you come to think of it. If you want to be made free of a certain circle for some wholesome reason—if, say, you want to join a musical society because you really like music—then there is a possibility of satisfaction. You may find yourself playing in a quartet and you may enjoy it. But if all you want is to be in the know, your pleasure will be short lived. The circle cannot have from within the charm it had from outside. By the very act of admitting you it has lost its magic.

Once the first novelty is worn off, the members of this circle will be no more interesting than your old friends. Why should they be? You were not looking for virtue or kindness or loyalty or humour or learning or wit or any of the things that can really be enjoyed. You merely wanted to be “in.” And that is a pleasure that cannot last. As soon as your new associates have been staled to you by custom, you will be looking for another Ring. The rainbow’s end will still be ahead of you. The old ring will now be only the drab background for your endeavor to enter the new one.

And you will always find them hard to enter, for a reason you very well know. You yourself, once you are in, want to make it hard for the next entrant, just as those who are already in made it hard for you. Naturally. In any wholesome group of people which holds together for a good purpose, the exclusions are in a sense accidental. Three or four people who are together for the sake of some piece of work exclude others because there is work only for so many or because the others can’t in fact do it. Your little musical group limits its numbers because the rooms they meet in are only so big. But your genuine Inner Ring exists for exclusion. There’d be no fun if there were no outsiders. The invisible line would have no meaning unless most people were on the wrong side of it. Exclusion is no accident; it is the essence.

The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.

And if in your spare time you consort simply with the people you like, you will again find that you have come unawares to a real inside: that you are indeed snug and safe at the centre of something which, seen from without, would look exactly like an Inner Ring. But the difference is that the secrecy is accidental, and its exclusiveness a by-product, and no one was led thither by the lure of the esoteric: for it is only four or five people who like one another meeting to do things that they like. This is friendship. Aristotle placed it among the virtues. It causes perhaps half of all the happiness in the world, and no Inner Ring can ever have it.

We are told in Scripture that those who ask get. That is true, in senses I can’t now explore. But in another sense there is much truth in the schoolboy’s principle “them as asks shan’t have.” To a young person, just entering on adult life, the world seems full of “insides,” full of delightful intimacies and confidentialities, and he desires to enter them. But if he follows that desire he will reach no “inside” that is worth reaching. The true road lies in quite another direction. It is like the house in Alice Through the Looking Glass.

_____________________________

* C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge. “The Inner Ring” was the Memorial Lecture at King’s College, University of London, in 1944.

human connection technologies

Photography is still more powerful than video

analog will always be more powerful than digital

note:

don’t confuse the actuality with the possibility

analog reality is possible in the virtual world. As it were, we’re all just bits of energy anyway…

There are technologies which provide connection portals between points in
the real world, i.e. photo sharing applications, video conferencing
applications, e-mail.

Then there are technologies which somewhat virtualize and abstract and enhance the
real world, i.e. message boards, which serve as both communication medium
and repositories of information, thereby facilitating social
connectedness.

And then there are completely virtual worlds which provide a deep shared
experience between participants, thereby facilitating connectedness.  These
are realities such as Chess, Checkers, tennis, World
of Warcraft, Minecraft.  These realities consist of an abstract reality in
which people can share experience and interaction.  The ‘work’ that gets
done in abstract realities is not directly useful or applicable to the
‘real world’ reality, but the shared experience and shared interaction is
vitally important because it provides an experience of connectedness
between the participants.  The social connection and solidarity does
transfer from the virtual world over to the real world.

Minecraft is interesting because as a 3D CAD system, it could be used to
re-create a virtual ‘copy’ of a real world space which would be topographically
accurate, so it could emulate some of the reality of the real world, and
assist with visualization, orientation for members of the real world space, and planning of
topography and layout.  But the main value of Minecraft is in
the social connection and solidarity which it enables.

A BBS is can facilitate collaboration for people, both on-site and off-site,
as even on-site, not everyone can be in the same place
at the same time, and not everyone can have a photographic memory to
remember what all is being worked on, and what is on hold, and what
various options are.  Obviously a group doesn’t cram everything into a
BBS, but a BBS can be useful in its own way, in the same way that a
grocery list can be useful for not forgetting important things when you go
grocery shopping.

Useful in different ways is a text-based chat room such as IRC.  In my experience
text-based chat can be extremely effective for supporting social
connectedness.    Most of the time there
wouldn’t be much going on in the IRC window, or, if there was something
going on, it might be on a subject you don’t connect with, and you would
not participate, you might merely interject a : -) the same way you might
just smile and walk by if you cross paths with an interaction that is old news to you.
Still the IRC window is a portal into a virtual space where there can be shared
experience and resulting social connection.  Some of the real world does
bleed into the virtual world, in the bits and pieces of real-world
information that people discuss.  So this mix of real-world information
and connectedness from shared virtual experience is a powerful mortar that
can cement connection and can allow people to feel involved, aware, and
connected.

Another obvious platform for social connectedness is Minecraft.  It might be hard
to imagine busy people hanging out on a Minecraft server, as this is not something
that lends its self to multitasking very well, and the obvious reaction to
this idea is something along the lines of ‘why would I spend time working
in a virtual world when there is real-world work to be done.’  Of course,
the reason someone would do this is to relax.  Most people don’t work 100%
of the time, people need a break that allows them to engage in something
different.  Minecraft is no less of a challenging puzzle than a game of
chess or checkers, and Minecraft can be a solo experience, or a shared
experience, or BOTH… (you can build something alone when you feel like
being alone, and later on you can show people what you built when you feel
like social connection.)

So as to why anyone would spend time in Minecraft instead of doing
something else non-productive, the answer is that of all the
non-productive things you can do to relax and blow off steam, few or none
of these have the added bonus of having an integral social connectedness
with other people both in your local area and far from you.

One thing that would be very helpful for a Minecraft server would be a
phone conference system such as ventrillo where people can participate in
a shared phone call concurrent with their minecraft session.  You don’t do
a conference every time you are doing a minecraft session, but for
those times when you are doing a shared minecraft session where you are
directly interacting with other people in the minecraft server, the
conference call adds so much value to the experience.