Last night we discussed how people use technology to keep to themselves, to be alone when in public spaces: headphones, smartphone, texting, surfing, singing. But, in the same conversation, Dr. G spoke of using technology to hide the fact that we feel awkward that we are alone, we want people to think it is intentional. In the educational technology field, Squire calls this cocooning–a way to have privacy in public spaces, but I don’t think he was thinking of it in terms of protecting one’s status, or how they are perceived in public. Dr. G also mentioned ways of spreading out in public with the intention of keeping people away. When using technology, Squire calls this camping: find an outlet, find free WI-fi, plug in laptop, headphones, smartphone, put hood up, put bags on table around you for privacy, purchase coffee and nurse it for 6 hours so they don’t kick you out. Squire’s camping is not with the intention of keeping people away; it is more about establishing a makeshift home office space anywhere, a place to retreat while in public.
Squires views of cocooning and camping are about finding space to call my own, ways of retreating from the chaos of a public space. Dr. G’s angle was more about intentional communication with others, preserving social status by attempting to look busy, or marking off space, spraying your stuff around like a tom cat.
There is some fleeting irony here in regard to Gamers, that I can just see in my peripheral vision. Gamers are extremely social, and use gaming as a social vehicle. The irony, however, is that when they are cocooning in a game, or camping in their bedrooms (imagining here a mom complaining about her son not leaving his bedroom, eating at the screen, not bathing, etc.), they are PERCEIVED by non-Gamers as antisocial, when in reality, they are cocooning and camping in order to BE social. Many have been shunned from traditional social venues, and so choose the gaming venue to socialize. In my interview with ‘D’, I learned that he is a Gamer primarily for the social aspect of it.
All of my analogies are not lining up exactly, but, this supports my intentions of mapping social interactions when I do my fieldwork in the cafeteria, watching the Gamer tribe as each member Jockies for the center of their community of practice.