Augmentology" a concise manual of reality for our digital age."

Mark Hancock,_Augmentology: Interfaccia Tra Due Mondi_

[Sponsored by The Ars Virtua Foundation/CADRE Laboratory for New Media]


Having decided to take action regarding the Swastika Symbol, Bowtox broadcasts a _call to action_ to other interested WoW characters through the general, trade and looking-for-group chat channels. He also talks to the surrounding player characters, who begin to modify the base symbol shape.

Lilsmoky is the first to perform the “/sleep” action, which allows them to lie down along one symbol _arm_. Other players adopt the action and a user-generated box pattern forms to replace the Swastika:

Group Dialogue begins regarding action[s]. The lilac text indicates chatting privately, the white is general, and the orange indicates in-game gesturing.

The Group continues to modify the symbol.

As the symbol intervention continues, additional players perform other reappropriation actions, such as:

  • Riding mounts so as to close spaces and join gaps within the symbol:

Characters Actively Altering the Symbol Shape

  • _Beautifying_ the area with displays derived from inherent game functions [eg multiple spell casting(s)]:

Symbol beautification in action

  • Morphing of player characters into disco-dancing pirates. These pirates proceed to play a game of catch with a leather ball whilst dancing in the swastika-turned-box:

Disco-dancing Reappropriation Pirates 1

Disco-dancing Reappropriation Pirates 2

This Synthetic Presencing example ends when Blizzard begins to remove the symbol corpses [due to player complaints]. After thanking his fellow actioneers, Bowtox proceeds to the mailbox and resumes playing WoW via convention game dynamics.

The presencing action is deemed successful as the symbol disappears

Bowtox is a low-level World of Warcraft character located on a USA PvP Server. Bowtox has just placed 7 items up for sale in the Ironforge Auction House. He now needs to check his mail at the Bank mailbox. As he runs over the Auction House bridge towards the box, he sees multiple character corpses arranged in a pattern.

Bowtox discovers the swastika in Ironforge.

While stopping to get a better look at the corpses, Bowtox realises that the pattern is, in fact, a Swastika. On closer investigation, it becomes obvious that the corpses have been deliberately arranged in order to form this shape. As a group begins to form around the symbol, local and general chat channels fill with character speculation regarding the symbol’s meaning.

Growing concern regarding the symbol.

Several characters gathered around the symbol engage in a discussion regarding its potential meaning[s] – does it indicate spiritual intentions? Or could it be a Nazi symbol seeking to provoke racial hatred? When realising each of the corpses have names with racist overtones, Bowtox sees the symbol as sinister. He decides to encourage a spontaneous mob-based action to counteract any negativity involved.

Mobilizing the Group


Entertainment is associated with the concepts of fiction and non-fiction. Fiction involves the projection of a willing suspension of disbelief with variables designed to further narrative progression. Indicators of traditional fiction include characterisation, foregrounding, plot and/or sub-plot[s]. Non-fiction is fiction’s logical counterpoint; chronology, history and “fact” play clear parts in non-fiction constructions. There are many variations on the standard fiction/non-fiction dichotomy.

Fiction and non-fiction classifications are designed to map to boundaries of known forms [think: cinema, literature, television and music]. They are so designed to provoke audience responses introspectively and externally. Current synthetic practices are refashioning this entertainment base via the perpetuation of types of unintentional and deliberately augmented recreation. These recreation types are reliant on immediacy of response, play, and Pranksterism. They employ Sandboxing, Gonzoism and spontaneous engagement. This type of entertainment is termed _Presencing_.

Presencing involves loose clusters of pursuits that evolve in, or are associated with, synthetic environments. Examples include the Streisand Effect, Supercutting, Flashmobbing, the Slashdot/Digg Effect, acts by the group Anonymous, Geohashing, Image macro generation and Internet meme threading. Less defined examples include: MMOG guild interactions [think: user generated games-within-games], Virtual World involvements, and Social Networking via application adoption and creation. These instances illustrate how Presencing pushes recreation beyond a fictionalised/non-fictionalised framework.

Presencing showcases accidental or reflexive entertainment elements where the fictional/non-fictional divide is erased; associated validity qualifiers are also removed and reconceptualised. Amateur production is equated with valued expression. Presencing also offers adaptive potential for augmented attempts at mediating geophysical constraints.

Version 1 of _Unpacking the _Synthaptic_ outlined the concept of Synthapticism and its formation in synthetic environments. Synthapticism rests on an underlying set of semantic structures. These structures allow for the development of credible synthetic relationships and vary according to platform specifics. Common semantic elements include a combination of the _lingual_ and _multivariate_.

In synthetic environments, social interaction occurs through multichannelled communication. Relevant language evolution is reliant on communication patterns generated through brevity and massed consistency. In Second Life, avatars mimic the physical action of writing on a keyboard when their geophysical selves type on screen. Second Life avies may use a combination of local or global text chat or messaging. SL avies can also communicate via voice. Many MMOGs use similar text-based communication with VOIP allowing for layered engagement. Mobile technologies, social games and ARG items all encourage text abbreviation resulting in dense stylistics. These lingual variables help define the mechanics of synthaptic transmission.

Another component of semantic synthapticism is a multivariate method of data absorption. Synthetics navigate and produce constant streams of data. This data may be funnelled through specific software types [eg PMOG] or via self-selected parameters [think: RRS feeds or Friendfeed]. This filtering acts to flatten primary data in terms of acceptable methods of verifiability. Synthetics assign priority to this data through shared attentional chunking. This chunking is multivariate; filtered data transforms and embeds into a socially-elastic comprehension system.

One way of assigning comprehension in this synthaptic data refinement is deliberate _content pinpointing_. In printcentric models, this extraction would parallel the linear construction of meaning via narrative or expositional means. One hazard of the accumulative nature of this process is _rechannelled bottlenecking_. The process of multivariate data absorption creates serial flagging of emergent concepts [ie tipping-points]. These concepts create information bottlenecks via repeated flaggings. Entities may target-mine these areas in line with capitalistic reappropriation. Current examples of this phenomenon are Corporate “Social Media Experts” who mask their synthetic participation so as to claim individuated authorship of such aggregated concepts. Should limits be placed on such reappropriation attempts?