PhD student Josh Rivers has received the Leifur Eiriksson Foundation Fellowship to conduct his dissertation research in Iceland. The foundation is a more localized version of a Fulbright Commission, more information on the foundation can be found here.
Josh will be investigating questions surrounding virtual worlds; below is a description of his project:
“With the rise of digital platforms and the growing significance of virtual worlds, questions surrounding the role of what Tarleton Gillespie terms “custodians” of such online platforms continue to loom large. Drawing on Julian Dibbell’s work in LambdaMOO and Thomas Malaby’s research at Linden Lab, this project will chart the evolution of institutional ethics as they relate to the symbiotic interaction between Icelandic company, CCP Games, and the players of their massively multiplayer online game, EVE Online. CCP has always had a unique relationship with its product, one marked by a readiness to adapt and reevaluate its own role vis-à-vis EVE Online players, particularly when compared to other technological institutions and their users. Against the backdrop of recent work in institutional ethnography and the ethics of care, this project will delve into the current state of CCP’s institutional approach to its role as the self-described “caretaker” of EVE Online. Ethical action can be a challenge for social science to capture because it happens in small moments every single day. Using a synthesis of participant observation and narrative interviews this project will rise to this challenge by producing a holistic ethnographic analysis of CCP Games. In doing so, it will trace ethical commitments as they are situated in quotidian corporate practices and enacted in major corporate shifts such as CCP’s upcoming move to a new headquarters building. Additionally, this project will investigate to what extent CCP’s location in the cultural context of Iceland impacts its corporate culture and informs its ethical commitments. Ultimately, this project aims to chronicle a unique corporate approach to ethics while contributing to broader knowledge about the interaction between societies and institutions.”