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Earlier this month, Trilby’s typist had the opportunity to hear Donna Haraway speak in real life. Haraway is the author of “The Cyborg Manifesto”, and namesake of avatar DJHaraway, a VB/CO experiment into the nature of identity. She was one avatar with multiple operators. Would she develop an identity? Did she need one? People were invited to log in and document DJ’s adventures in a flickr group:
Donna Haraway was an excellent speaker, brilliant and enthusiastic. She touched upon many ideas: string figures, coral reefs, bacteria, and cooperation between animals. I had the impression that, rather than a conventional lecture where something is explained, she was bringing about the conditions for the audience to have an epiphany. Her message was both scientific and spiritual, that humans are destroying the planet because we feel we are separate from all other life. We reproduce too much, we cause other species to become extinct, and we generally make a mess of the earth. If we want to survive, we need to change our attitude and realize that we are part of the earth, and that other species are our relatives. We have never been separate, and in fact, we aren’t even individuals.
Donna Haraway was signing books after the lecture, so I asked her to sign, “When Species Meet.” As she took the book, I explained that I was a member of VB/CO, a performance art group in Second Life, and we had made an avatar with multiple operators to explore the idea of identity. Then I told her that we had named that avatar after her. She laughed and said, “I like that!” She was still smiling as she signed my book. She wrote: For you and all your avatars in 1st and 2nd life.