So, for it being my first netprov experience, I think Thermophiles in Love went pretty well. At least, I believe I learned a lot more from the experience than I lost. I don’t think I was negatively impacted in any way by participating in this netprov. I definitely had and, I guess, still have some expectations that were not entirely met–but, we’ll get those.
Anyway, going into this TiN–I’m abbreviating it from here on out–I wasn’t really sure of what to expect. Aside from the brief tour we got of the site in class on Tuesday night, I wasn’t all that clear on how the whole experience would operate. To be honest, I was sort of assuming that this whole netprov thing would be a very “organic”, free-form experience. I mean, it’s improvisation, right? Too many rules would impinge upon that aspect.
But, that free-form, very ambiguous aspect of the space, for me, surprisingly, wasn’t totally a win. Essentially, in TiN, you are asked to assume the identity of 1 of 5 different cells and then start a dialogue. And, all you get is a little blurb about each gender and about the site–each day also only has minimal direction. Which, all of this freedom together, I would usually appreciate. It’s just, for this particular experiment and what it seems to want to accomplish, I felt like all of the freedom and ambiguity worked against it, in a way. This netprov wanted or, rather, wanted to invite participants to explore gender and/or identity on a deeper level. Then, take what was learned and see where or how it applies in your “real” (IRL) context. But, in reality, gender is, sadly, not so ambiguous. At least, in the mainstream. Gender is called a social construct because it is very structured and not widely accepted–yet–as fluid. So, I felt like there was a large disconnect between this netprov and what it was hoping to do. As I was trying to immerse myself in the narrative of this space, I found myself wishing there were more boundaries to challenge or push against. I felt like that would’ve made the netprov more poignant–allowing people who may never feel stifled by an imposed identity like gender in real life to feel imposed upon and squished into a box. I feel like I elaborated upon this idea more in a comment I left on one of the last day threads:
**I hope this is legible. Otherwise, check me out on the, “Share Your Experience as a Netprov Player” thread on TiN**
Basically, that was my only major complaint about the experience–that I felt it could’ve benefited from imposing more constraints on its participants. I think that would’ve encouraged more and deeper thought on the role of gender in our real-life society.
Anyway, moving along…. Something I noticed and sort of used to distinguish between different participants–aside from their genders, which I’ll get to in a moment–is who was using more “sciencey” lingo and who wasn’t. Some cells/characters were throwing around a whole lot of biologic/scientific/chemical terminology and some were sticking to just personifying the cells–essentially remaining very “human-like” in their expressions. I think this is something you can see very clearly just browsing through the thread titles on the forum. “Peptidoglycan thickness doesn’t matter…right?” vs. “Never trust a person who isn’t having at least one crisis” Very different interpretations of cell- activity and of how the roles were assumed. (I found it difficult to participate in the more sciencey threads because, there, I really wasn’t familiar with the lingo. I don’t know the specific names/classifications of bacteria or the particulars of how they survive. At least, not a enough to be clever about them in a forum. So, I tended to avoid those threads.)
I think this brings us to the genders themselves now. Overall, I felt like there was decent selection of characters to choose from. I mean, like I said, they were all so broad so you could really make what you wanted of them. Which, I think, led to some confusion on the threads–everyone only had a vague idea of each gender . So, you could vastly different interpretations of each gender. For myself, I chose to be an acido and I interpreted acidos to be rather vain and self-absorbed. Overly concerned about their reputation and about whether or not they’re the center of attention. But, some people interpreted them as daredevils or as more altruistic, holier-than-thou types. So, it was interesting to see how people interpreted the stuff from the blurbs–“Always aware of being seen because you stand out” and “The Magnificent 7 rolled into a 1.” I believe there were like 2 different acidos that were trying to start cult-like followings in the threads. Acido_Ecoli and acido_tamorous? Something like that. And, there was this cell called Jason, I think, who also tried to do something similar. Like, how very little time it takes folk to start trying to organize a belief system to fill a perceived power vacuum….smh.
Anyway, I felt like most people tried to stay close to what the blurbs said for each gender. Aside from a few outliers who were advocating for the dismantling of the system (on like day 2-3, like come on guys? at least wait till closer to the end to try to start an uprising/revolt/revolution/whatever), most participants in this space seemed game to stay on point.
That said, once the dates were started and the threads created for them, it seemed like the number of participants in TiN was halved. Like, so many of those date threads were deserted–maybe 1 or 2 comments at most. At least, for my 2 dates, I was the only cell that commented or bothered to try to create a scenario. To try and work with the few parameters we had to create our dates. None of my quadmates ever made an appearance. And, I noticed that it seemed like an admin for the side did most of the pairing up. So, what was the point of even having Mesos if they weren’t going to do their one job–to pair up quads? I don;t understand what the point of them was. To me, it seemed like toward the end of this netprov, the ball was kind of dropped. Also, I feel like people were fine interacting a large, public forum space. But, once it was narrowed down to like 4 per a thread, people lost their comfort and didn’t want to put themselves out their anymore. Which, I understand and I think is typical of online spaces in general–people talk a big game when their audience is infinite but get real quiet in one-on-one scenarios. That dates made the experience on TiN more personal and, consequently, more uncomfortable. At least, that’s my take on it. I’d love to hear what my classmates have to say (aside from Richonda and Katherine because we’ve already talked a lot about the site and ended up finding each other rather quickly on TiN afterwards).
Image courtesy of Wikipedia: Cell Mitosis