Hello Avatar

Hello Avatar

Rise of the Networked Generation

By B. Coleman

Foreword by Clay Shirky

An examination of our many modes of online identity and how we live on the continuum between the virtual and the real.

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Episode 38 (Jan. '12): B. Coleman
Monday, 19 December, 2011





An examination of our many modes of online identity and how we live on the continuum between the virtual and the real.

Hello Avatar! Or, {llSay(0, "Hello, Avatar!"); is a tiny piece of user-friendly code that allows us to program our virtual selves. In Hello Avatar, B. Coleman examines a crucial aspect of our cultural shift from analog to digital: the continuum between online and off-, what she calls the “x-reality” that crosses between the virtual and the real. She looks at the emergence of a world that is neither virtual nor real but encompasses a multiplicity of network combinations. And she argues that it is the role of the avatar to help us express our new agency—our new power to customize our networked life.

By avatar, Coleman means not just the animated figures that populate our screens but the gestalt of images, text, and multimedia that make up our online identities—in virtual worlds like Second Life and in the form of email, video chat, and other digital artifacts. Exploring such network activities as embodiment, extreme (virtual) violence, and the work in virtual reality labs, and offering sidebar interviews with designers and practitioners, she argues that what is new is real-time collaboration and copresence, the way we make connections using networked media and the cultures we have created around this. The star of this drama of expanded horizons is the networked subject—all of us who represent aspects of ourselves and our work across the mediascape.


$44.95 T ISBN: 9780262015714 216 pp. | 5.5 in x 8.5 in 47 figures


Clay Shirky.


  • ...a well-researched, engaging book that will amplify your curiosity for the virtual landscapes.

    Dr. Ornella Corazza

    Leonardo Reviews


  • As engagingly written as it is insightful and eye-opening, Hello Avatar is the indispensable guide to the new era of X-computing.

    Nicholas Mirzoeff

    Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University; author of The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality

  • In Hello Avatar, Coleman explains to us what is happening at the edges of networked society in profound and revealing ways. She provokes the best in us by pushing the boundaries of our thinking about identity and culture in a digitally mediated world. She manages to operate at the most serious level of theory and the most immediate level of design and practice in the same text. Coleman's new book is a true gift, to the scholar, to the designer, and to the general reader alike.

    John Palfrey

    faculty co-director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University