Remixing the American Dream

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This presentation focus on the use of Second Life as a remix platform for the appropriation of spatial cultural narratives.

Text of Remixing the American Dream

  • 1. Ctia Ferreira, CECC | UCP November 18, 2011 Second Life | UTAD (Portugal)


  • Second Life has 25 million registered users
  • In this platform players are invited to actively participate in its development, not only in space construction, but also in its social development
  • Intellectual property
  • Linden Dollar
  • Building tools and Linden Scripting Language available to all players


  • To verify if Second Lifes development may be considered a remix of the chasing of theAmerican Dream
  • To accomplish this goal we analyzed severalin-worldlocations in order to see how users are taking advantage of the building tools available


  • A qualitative methodology was used based on a multimodal netnographic research (Kozinets, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010)
  • [netnography is] a specialized form of ethnography adapted to the unique computer-mediated contingencies of today's social worlds (Kozinets, 2010: 1)


  • Data collection methods:
    • Detailed observational data collectionof 64 locations
    • Auto-netnography (Kedzior and Kozinets, 2009)
    • Data analyzed through an inductive approach


  • Objective:To observe the different selected spaces, as well as avatars behavior
  • Observation categories:
    • Logged in usersPlaceRegionOwnerGeneral place characteristicsTrafficNumber of avatars in the visited placeZones of higher avatars concentrationComplexity levelInteraction potentialSub-locationsAvatars descriptionAvatars interaction


  • Observed locations
    • 64 organized in 10 thematic groups

8. 9. Second Life world map in June 2003 10. Second Life world map in April 2009 11. 12.

  • Players have a close relationship with territory and are the main contributors toin-worlddevelopment
  • Both space and place are culturally produced through player generated space narratives
    • Space empty land available to be bought
    • Representational spaces and places complex locations, compound of different elements, highly interactive


  • Places seem built not only to entertain, but to make visitors comfortable
    • Sitting places are available throughout the world
    • Houses have kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms
    • Public spaces offer many different activities and ways of interaction
    • The majority of destinations available were created by groups of residents and some of them are the official space of specific communities

14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

  • Second Life may be seen as a remix platform
    • Lawrence Lessig conceptualized remix as the mix [that] provides new creative work (Lessig, 2008: 69)
    • Virtual space is being transformed into a network of places and representational spaces through the mix of simulations of real world with fantasy
  • The effort made by players to transform empty land into a prosperous one may be considered a remix of theAmerican Dream


  • "The American dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. [] It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position." (Adams, 2001: 414-5)


  • Your world, your imagination

22. [email_address] Melissa Finley, my avatar, in The pot healer adventure, Numbalculla Island Project