Rod, the man behind Atismia Unsworth, presents this merger of identities. "The painting in the background is one by me," he writes. "The real life version is in my house in Wales, UK and the SL version is in Atis' SL house. Rod is doing research in SL for a PhD."
His doctoral work explores Second Life as a communications technology, asking what it mediates. "If this question is applied to traditional communications technology this answer is pretty straight forward," he explains. "The telephone mediates voice in real time, cinema mediates moving pictures and voice asynchronously. Different communication technologies have different affordances and constraints of course, the telephone is good for conversations and the cinema is good for telling stories, but you wouldn't use film if you wanted to remind someone that something needed doing later on that day, and although you might read a story to someone down a phone line, it does not seem to be a particularly good use of the technology. Second Life, seen in these terms, just seems to put users in a cartoon world. That's why it is seen as a trivial and escapist medium perhaps?"
However, Rod has an intriguing answer to that criticism: