There is a basic distinction between an area and a place.
For the purposes of this discussion I will use the term space to denote the larger wholes within which areas and places are distinguished. Spaces can be divided into areas, which are geometrically defined or indicated regions. Spaces can also contain places, which are areas permeated by spatially articulated social norms and expectations for what people do there. Areas can be designated very precisely by measurements, or by reference to landmarks, or loosely as “over there.” There are many purposes for designating areas, but designating them does not automatically make them places in the sense I want to emphasize. Places in my special sense are those areas that are places-where-we-do- something, rather than just stretches of places-where-some- thing-is. That area over there is just an arbitrarily defined space, but this one here is the town picnic spot, or a court- room, or a ball field.
Discourse is not a synonym for language. Discourse does not refer to linguistic or signifying systems, grammars, speech acts, or conversations. To think of discourse as mere spoken or written words forming descriptive statements is to enact the mistake of representationalist thinking. Dis- course is not what is said; it is that which constrains and enables what can be said. Discursive practices define what counts as meaningful state- ments. Statements are not the mere utterances of the originating con- sciousness of a unified subject; rather, statements and subjects emerge from a field of possibilities. This field of possibilities is not static or singular but rather is a dynamic and contingent multiplicity.
Although anonymity and invisibility are undoubtedly related, they are two distinct variables. Given that computer-mediated communication usually involves invisibility—as most online interpersonal communication is textual—it fosters a unique form of social presence that is defined by the degree of perception, awareness, recognition, or acknowledgment of others. Invisibility renders irrelevant stereotypes and prejudices related to gender, age, skin color McKenna & Green, 2002), physical attributes (e.g., weight, height, and general appearance), stigmatizing behaviors (e.g., stuttering; McKenna & Seidman, 2005), and physical and sensory impairments (Barak & Sadovsky, 2008; Bowker & Tuffin, 2002).
Simulated reality is the hypothesis that reality could be simulated—for example by quantum computer simulation—to a degree indistinguishable from "true" reality. It could contain conscious minds which may or may not be fully aware that they are living inside a simulation. This is quite different from the current, technologically achievable concept of virtual reality.
Virtual reality is easily distinguished from the experience of actuality; participants are never in doubt about the nature of what they experience. Simulated reality, by contrast, would be hard or impossible to separate from "true" reality. There has been much debate over this topic, ranging from philosophical discourse to practical applications in computing.
“Commodification” is a somewhat Marxist idea, referring to the way that market values can replace other social values, or the way a market can replace a communal system. “Our parties become commodified as Tupperware moves in to turn them into buying opportunities.” or “The techniques for proper breast feeding used to be passed down from mother to daughter, but now there is a market for lactation consultants. As a result, one of the most intimate human functions has become commodified.”
“Commoditization” is a newer and undocumented word (except in WIKI) referring specifically to the way that goods that used to be distinguishable in terms of attributes end up becoming mere commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers. “The collapse of Marlboro’s brand value in the early 1990’s convinced cigarette manufacturers that their products had become commoditized.” or “Unless Intel comes up with a new kind of computer memory chip, Japanese equivalents will commoditize RAM.” The problem with commoditization is that the only thing that left to distinguish one brand from another is price, so margins shrink.
Commodification is more of a crime of the market against humanity, while commoditization is more of a market problem for the manufacturers of branded goods.
I wish to focus on one particular distinction here. It is the distinction between inputs and outputs, on the one hand, and the guts of the machine on the other.
The first sense of “mechanism” is a regularity in response to perturbation, an expected output based on a given input in a system, perhaps modeled by equations. This is the facet of causation explored by the randomized controlled trial. Consider the claim that exercise reduces the symptoms of depression (made appropriately precise to your liking). This is an example of a “mechanism” in this sense of inputs and outputs, or phenomenological observations after interference.
The second sense of “mechanism” is the underlying structure that gives rise to the regularity. Cartwright calls this second sense the “nomological machine.” It is the guts of the engine, the reality on the ground of what is going on. Questions about what happens in the body and mind, at both the subjective and the neurological or chemical levels, in different people when they exercise, are on this level of causation. How does the machine work, and what are its conditions of functioning? This sense of mechanism might seek to explain when and how exercise reduces the symptoms of depression, rather than just seeking evidence as to whether it does in general.