6/28, 6/29 – Back in New York City, to Meet in the Virtual World

On June 28 our trip across the United States ended and we came back to New York City. Over the next couple of days the NHK crew would interview Dr. Ikegami and film the weekly autism mutual-support meeting in Second Life with, among others, those autistic people she interviewed in Arkansas, Wyoming, and California. In that sense, this was an occasion for everyone to resume their normal lives at home and as members of the autism spectrum support group in Second Life.

The NHK crew getting ready for the Second Life meeting. With Dr. Ikegami, Mr. Takeuchi (left) would also make an appearance through this own avatar in Second Life (even there, carrying his camera everywhere).
Dr. Ikegami logging into Second Life as her avatar, Kiremimi Tigerpaw.
In one room, Dr. Ikegami enters Second Life…
… In another, Mr. Takeuchi is trying to log in too.



Brigadoon Explorers meetings take place within an SL setting called Dreams, where many building activities and competitions take place. The discussion area you see has been carefully created with the particular needs of the autism spectrum community in mind, leaving ample space to move around in and many seating options. Some avatars prefer to take the same cushion for each meeting, while others like to stand apart from everyone else at the edges.

As elsewhere in Second Life, each avatar has a name displayed over their heads (not captured in photos), so that it is easy to keep track of who may be sharing in the chat, no matter what appearance an avatar may take on any given day.

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A picture taken within Second Life upon arrival to the meeting. Everyone gathered is already deep in conversation, but as the meeting goes on, some will be silent or may leave for a while and come back without much notice, which is perfectly okay and understood.
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Kiremimi and Mr. Takeuchi’s avatar “filming” the event (in truth he was filming from outside of Second Life, looking in). Cora, who was interviewed in Little Rock, appears as her glowing white and silver owl (far left).
Dr. Ikegami explains what is happening in the meeting and helps to fully translate the conversations taking place.


6/29 Interview of Dr. Ikegami

The next day, the apartment is set up for a final formal interview with Dr. Ikegami. There are cameras, lights, tripods and sound equipment everywhere.
Testing the light.
The interview begins. A reflection ensues about the reasons for this trip across the US and the importance of paying attention to the interviewees’ personal stories.
Close-up of Dr. Ikegami.  “In meeting with autistic avatars in virtual worlds, I began to learn about the world views of autistic people, which shook up my own taken-for-granted cognitive framework.”


“The 20th century has been a century of discovering the values of diversity in various cultures, ethnicities, and gender/sexuality. But in the 21st century, we are about to get into the age of diversity in types of intelligence. We will soon have to face up to interacting with various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) in everyday life. But before dealing with full fledged interactions between human and artificial forms of intelligence, why not appreciate and discover diverse forms of human intelligence? It is at this point that the idea of “neurodiversity”, appreciating diversity in human neuro-structures, kicks in.”

At the end of this leg of the journey: Dr. Eiko Ikegami with Kiremimi Tigerpaw.

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