Thomas Malaby
Department of Antrhopology
End-of-Year Fellowship Report for 2004-05

As a Center fellow I embarked upon an intensive phase of both research and writing for my current research project, which is also supported by a National Science Foundation grant. The topic is how social values and ethics, such as those concerning assumptions about social difference and space, are involved in the production of online virtual environments (also known as MMORPGs). These virtual worlds, such as Sony’s Everquest and Maxis’ The Sims Online, have worldwide participation in the millions, and have become sites for broad-based social activities. During the fellowship year I was able to initiate contact with one of the leading companies in virtual world design and begin extensive research. I also co-organized a working conference at UWM on the nature of online governance, bringing together scholars of virtual worlds with other leading thinkers on technology and society. In addition, I gave a number of invited presentations on my work, and completed two article-length pieces, one of which will appear in an edited volume. I also began outlining the book manuscript. For all of these efforts the Center for 21st Century Studies was an invaluable haven of both intellectual engagement and resource support. In addition to the speaker series and fellows’ seminars, which were always beneficial to my thinking about this project, I also enjoyed the Center conferences, and participated as a discussant in the Center’s “Routing Diasporas” conference. Specifically, the center fellows and director pushed me to think profitably about the nature of architecture and urban planning as ways social difference becomes inscribed in our environment, and this allowed me to think about software, or code, as operating in a similar fashion as a mode of governance in virtual worlds.


presentations and invited talks
“Ethical Code: Engagements and Evasions in the Design of Virtual Worlds,” presented at the Association of Internet Researchers annual conference (AoIR 5.0), University of Sussex, UK, September 2004.

“Ethical Code: Engagements and Evasions in the Design of Online Games,” invited presentation for the Cultural Anthropology Seminar Series, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 2004.

“Coding Control: Ethics and Contingency in the Production of Online Worlds,” invited presentation for the Speaker Series, American bar Foundation, Chicago, IL, February 2005.

Panel Discussant, “Across Diasporic Spaces: Networks and Communications”, for Routing Diasporas: Labor, Citizenship, Empire, a conference sponsored by the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 2005.

Coding Control: Ethics and Contingency in the Production of Online Worlds,” presented at Command Lines: The Emergence of Governance in Global Cyberspace, a conference sponsored by the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, April 2005.

Current department website

 

 

 

Center for 21st Century Studies

Merry Wiesner-Hanks
Interim
Director

 
   
Center for 21st Century Studies
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, WI 53201 USA
tel: 414-229-4141; fax: 414-229-5964; email:
ctr21cs@uwm.edu
www.21st.uwm.edu

 

 

   
  Last updated 9/2/08 by RVD