Saturday, November 22, 2008

An Academic Journal for Metaverse Creativity

Posted by Alpha Auer...

A few months ago I was contacted by Ravi Butalia, the publisher of Intellect Books and Journals located in the United Kingdom, with the irresistible offer of becoming the editor of a brand new journal, to make its debut in 2010, focused upon creativity in virtual worlds. The suggestion both for the content of this enterprise, as well as my name for the position of editor was made to Mr. Butalia by my much beloved and esteemed professor, tutor and mentor Roy Ascott, who really needs no further introduction in academic circles in the fields of the electronic arts as well as new media inquiry and vision.

Grave illness and subsequent bereavement related to my mother's passing away a few weeks ago, stopped me from focusing upon the development of this project but now I am fully back in the saddle and would like to proceed, prior to which I feel that a sounding out of ideas as well as getting a general feel for potential interest of involvement and collaboration amongst my peers in the metaverse is in order.

My personal approach in this venture has been delineated to Mr. Butalia as follows:

"This will be a refereed academic journal focusing on the examination of creativity in the metaverse, i.e., online social environments which differentiate themselves from online multi-user gaming communities in that they have no underlying social rules whatsoever that are game related: There are no scores to be gained, no levels to be attained. Thus, given this attribute of being intrinsically unstructured; ergo, being virtual environments where Residents undertake activities the purposes of which are defined by themselves entirely, it is hardly surprising that the pursuit of creative activity seems to have become one of the prevalent reasons for residency in a metaverse.

While creative activity in the metaverse certainly does include artistic activity, this definition should in no way be limited to artistic output alone but should encompass the output of the various disciplines of design, such as fashion and object design as well as virtual architecture that are currently all amply manifest in Second Life®, which still retains the position of being the most fully developed and functional of these environments to date. However, beyond art, design and architecture the creation of the very agent that enables the attainment of presence in a metaverse, i.e., the avatar should be considered as a primary source of investigation where creative activity in a metaverse is concerned.

Creativity in a metaverse manifests under unique conditions and parameters that are engendered by the virtual environment itself and is intrinsically related to these in its very act of realization. Thus metaverse creativity cannot be separated from the underlying metanomics (metaverse economy), the legal issues of ownership and copyright, the very geography and related atmospheric/lighting conditions, the underlying computational system but also cyberpsychology and cyberanthropology, the latter two becoming particularly important in the process of understanding the creation and subsequent role and interactions of the avatar with the social environment that it becomes a part of."

(Excerpt from Editor's Questionnaire submitted to Intellect Books and Journals on September 25th 2008, abbreviated version downloadable from here)

I have already compiled a substantial list of researchers and artists, all of whom I will be approaching individually within the next few weeks. However, I am certain that there are many individuals involved in such research activity out there, of whom I am not aware of and who would be a huge asset as contributors to this journal. Thus, it is in an effort to seek out such persons that I am now posting this here.

My first task will be the setting up of an advisory board, as well as establishing co-editors with whom I wish to share full responsibility as well as full credit in the enterprise. I am delighted to be able to say that my friend and colleague from the Planetary Collegium, Yacov Sharir (Cyboryac Jolles in Second Life), Professor of Digital and Performative Arts at the University of Texas at Austin, has already agreed to become one such. Beyond this, I will need to establish interest from individuals as reviewers and ultimately of course as contributors of academic/scientific articles.

Ravi Butalia has informed me that it is customary for the first issue of a new academic journal to be printed and distributed a few months ahead of its officially announced publication date and thus the proposed journal will need to be printed around September 2009. Which means that the call for papers will need to go out first thing in the new year, with a mid spring deadline in time for the reviewing and editing process to kick in at this time.

Finally, my personal academic credentials can be obtained by following this link here, and my artistic activity as well as some of my research data can be viewed on my Real Life website.

If you are interested in this venture please contact me at, with all of your suggestions as well as your proposed degree of involvement. Comments on this post are, of course, also highly welcome...


Solo Mornington said...


VintFalken said...

Congratulations and best of luck with this, Miss Alpha.

If you need someone for beta-testing (err.. proof reading I believe that is in ancient terminology) your writings, I'll be more than happy to lend my eyes and some time! ;)

Alpha Auer said...

Thank you so very very much dear Vint!

They do have people at Intellect books that take care of all of those things but even if not so I wouldn't even dream of putting your wonderful eyes to such use!

If you can forward this information to your colleagues that would be wonderful however. I am really trying to get a feel for the amount of interest that might be out there for this type of a venture, before I fully plunge in. And alas, so far it has not been too promising in terms of comments left here on the blog.

Hugobiwan Zolnir said...

This project is very interesting.

Anyway our little french speaking library of SL would be happy to get and share the virtual version of the journal...

Depending of the number of page we also could think to a french version ?

Best regards from France.

P.S.This blog is great.

Hugobiwan Zolnir

Alpha Auer said...

Hello Hugobiwan, The journal will initially be published once a year. Each issue will include 6 - 7 of 7000 word (excluding footnotes and references) academic essays. There will be a hard copy, Real Life print version that institutions and individuals can subscribe to as well as an online version, which again one will need to subscribe to.

As for the French version - what a splendid idea! However, I imagine that this would involve the interest of a Real Life French academic publishing house. If you know of one such, they would in all likelihood need to contact Intellect Books in the UK, to set up the collaboration. I am obviously in no position to speak on their behalf, but... my personal feeling is all for it, of course.