Post-Project Review

In this week’s lecture we watched everyone’s projects and presented our own. I thought that the quality of presentations was really high, even though at times Second Life acted up and I couldn’t quite hear exactly what people were saying. The presentations on PowerPoint were very professional looking, and I found it easy to understand the points everyone was making.

I thought it was great how, even though all of the project had the same brief and were ostensibly about the exact same things, that none of them were remotely repetitive, and I found them all to be very engaging.

The response to our video was very positive, which I think was great considering the amount of hard work and time we both put into it, and I think it was far easier to send everyone the link to a video and get them to watch it rather than try and give a presentation over Second Life itself.

I enjoyed doing this project immensely, and found it to be very valuable, especially in terms of learning more about referencing than I had done before for essays; this video required a much wider range of references than I was used to, especially in terms of images. I think that even though our video turned out to be quite long, there was so much more that we could have included had we had the time.

Here is a link to our finished project. 

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Final preparations for the project

In the last few weeks leading up to the project, Jakle and I have been working on Discord to collaboratively finish the group project. We have been collecting images and references for all of the topics that we want to touch on, and have been surprised at the amount of data collection that has to happen before we start writing the script for our video.

We have decided to create a short video with a voiceover from the both of us, reading a script that we have written on our own bullet points. I found it particularly difficult to cut down the amount of writing I had- the video can only be up to ten minutes long, and at one point I personally had about eight minutes of material that I had to then trim to be a more reasonable length. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing though, I did find the project really fascinating, and found it incredibly easy to come up with things to say about the various things that we looked into.

We found it useful to use google docs as well as Discord for this project, so that when we have written things that we might not want to clutter the chat with, we can link each other to the document we have written and then comment on each other’s work and make suggestions. So far we have found it easy to agree with each other on most of the direction of the project, and it’s good being able to ask clarification from another person on things I might be unsure of.

I don’t think that I have contributed as much as Jakle might have to the project, if we measure purely by time put into it- since video editing takes a very long time and there’s nothing I can really do to help with that process. However, as far as actual content goes I think that we have a pretty even split in terms of who has done what, and I feel confident that we both put a lot of effort into making the project as good as it can possibly be with the limited resources we have available to us.

Personal and Professional Identities

We were asked in this lecture to consider the difference between personal and professional identities, particularly when it comes to online interactions with people.

I think that it varies from discipline to discipline whether your personal and professional identities will be indistinguishable from one another. If you are working in a place that requires you to be relatively anonymous, such as, for example, a prison guard who has to regularly interact with prisoners in a way that there is no overlap in between their personal and professional lives, then you won’t want people to know very many things about you, and you will behave differently in your work than you do outside of work.

I also think that there are jobs that require your personal and professional identities to essentially be the same thing, such as an actor or someone in the entertainment industry. Regardless of what we think about personal privacy for public figures, the general public have a huge interest in these people, and therefore a lot of actors find it necessary to share private things about themselves since it’s just “part of the job.”

I also think that there is a difference in personal identities anyway, not just between personal and professional. I think there is a difference in how I would act around my parents versus how I would act around my friends, and those are all different identities. There is also a difference in how one acts online and how one acts in real life, regardless of whether or not it’s professional or personal.

Project Progression

This week we spent most of the lecture discussing the project in a lot more detail, and then discussing the metoo hashtag and campaign in a lot of detail with the rest of the class. Afterwards, Jakle and I tried to find the third member of our group, and as it turned out, they had actually left the class. It was difficult to tell that because we weren’t actually in a physical lecture together, and instead had to rely on reaching out to other people via Facebook to see if they had heard from the. Jakle and I had already started dividing up work, as we felt that we couldn’t really wait much longer for the third person to show up, so this didn’t turn out to be too much of a problem.

We have been using Discord to continue with the project, which I have found to be such a valuable resource, and we also use Facebook occasionally to communicate also. We have decided that I am going to focus on the first and last bullet points of the project, and Jakle will focus on the two in between them. I think that this will be a good way to make sure we are covering a lot of different topics. We are trying to also discuss with each other about our points, as well as about the project in general, to make sure we are on the same page as far as what direction we want the project to go in.

We think that it would be boring to just present a factual account of what happened with the #metoo project, and as well as that want to include some of our own opinions to make the piece more interesting. I think that I have a very biased view when it comes to this issue, and it’s interesting working with someone who sees it as much less black&white than I do, and it’s good to have discussions about this and about our own personal experiences.

We have, on top of dividing up work, decided that our medium for the project will be a video, since we think that it will be much more effective to have everything done and set by the day of the project, so we don’t have to rely on Second Life’s notoriously faulty voice system in order to give our presentation.

#metoo project

In this week’s lecture we discussed the group project, and the brief that had been posted to the virtual environments page. I had mixed feelings about the brief, on the one hand I really like the idea of doing a project about the metoo campaign, and the current happenings in Hollywood and the world at large, because this kind of thing is really interesting to me as someone who considers themselves to be a feminist. I think that the opportunity to dig deep into a topic that is close to my own heart will be really interesting and valuable, and I’m definitely looking forward to that side of the project.

On the other hand, I am a little wary about the lectures on this topic, and about talking about such a sensitive issue with people who I don’t know. I think it’s such a difficult thing to discuss sexual assault, even with people who you know and talk to on a regular basis, let alone an entire group of classmates. I’m not even talking about personal stories of sexual assault or harassment, I’m talking about the kind of opinions people might have that I might find uncomfortable or difficult to agree with or listen to. I am hopeful that the people in class find the metoo campaign to be a positive thing with many positive effects, though.

My group has three people in it; jackmittons, JakleUuki, and I, and we spoke about the best way to keep in contact with each other regarding the blog. The only person I spoke to was Jakle, because we found it very difficult to contact jackmittons without knowing their real name, which is probably indicative of the class as a whole, who seemed to have a few of the same issues.

Jakle and I discussed what the best option would be in regards to communication about the project, and thought that both Facebook and Second Life didn’t really have the types of features we needed to be able to be clear about what we were going to, and in order to set goals for ourselves. Also, if we were working on Second Life, we would need to arrange another, separate way of communicating with each other the times when we were going to be online, which seemed to us to be unnecessarily complex.

We decided, after Jakle suggested it, to use Discord to connect with each other, which I believe is a tool originally used by gamers in order to conduct live streams etc, but was very useful for us to communicate. We are able to divide our chats into different subject with different subject headers, and we are able to also use voice chat to communicate- which makes things a lot quicker and easier to follow.

I am really looking forward to getting a start on the project, I think it’s going to be a really great topic and a really interesting way of working that I haven’t really tried out before.

Second time on Second Life

After the lecture was over this week I decided to again stay on Second Life and try and generate some things to talk about in this blog post. I was quite wary of talking to people on Second Life, even though that wasn’t much of a problem the first time I was on there, since I didn’t actually see that many people outside of the lecture time, and even though those people were technically strangers, in that none of us had met in real life, it wasn’t really the same situation.

I decided the best place to go to find some people on Second Life would be one of their advertised events, since I thought that it was likely a lot of people had seen the same adverts as me and would go to the places looking to meet people. I went to a sort of Halloween-themed treasure hunt that someone on Second Life had set up, and immediately there were more people there than I had encountered so far on my experiences in Second Life.

I thought it would be really interesting to talk to the person who had actually created the treasure hunt, because it seemed like something that only someone who was really dedicated would put the time and the effort that only a few people would probably see. Unfortunately they weren’t around at the time when I was there, but there was a tip jar there where people who had visited and enjoyed themselves could donate some money to the person who had created it as thanks. That made me think about the fact that they weren’t actually making any money (other than generous people leaving them tips) from this area on Second Life, and therefore its even more impressive that people make places like these in the first place.

A few people struck up conversations with me in this area. One person wanted to know where I had got the cat that came with my avatar, and then gifted me a horse when I told her that. Another person immediately started asking me personal questions about myself, such as my age, gender, and name.

I found it easy to deflect these questions, especially since they were coming from a stranger, but I do think it might be more difficult for others to do so, especially younger people on Second Life who mightn’t have the same kind of experience with talking to people online that some others do. I also thought it was interesting the contrast between conversations on Second Life, and conversations in real life. I think that if I were out in daily life minding my business, I think that anyone would have a hard time coming up to me and outright asking me those kinds of questions about myself with absolutely no prior discussion, and I wonder what it is about the internet, and particularly Second Life, that makes people more inclined to be so direct.

I think one answer to that is anonymity; if nobody knows who you are then there isn’t much chance that your online behaviour will impact your real life in any meaningful way. It is possible, with Second Life and with other online tools, to construct a completely different persona than the one you might have in real life. I also think that the fact that there aren’t really any direct consequences to anonymous actions online have something to do with it. It becomes far more easy to do things or say things that you might never do in the real world for fear of repercussions, which is why the internet can be such a dangerous place sometimes.

Second Life, while having a distinctly abandoned air to it, doesn’t feel like a hostile environment, most of the people that spoke to me were friendly and direct, and didn’t seem as though they wanted anything more than to talk to someone else online in a friendly manner.

Second Life – First Opinions

The first time I went onto Second Life was before our first online lecture, to make sure that I was prepared to show up to class having familiarised myself with the way that Second Life worked. I first set up an avatar, which I chose from one of the presets, but I did explore a little the kind of creation tools they have available to create avatars, and it was very detailed. I think it’s interesting that the creators put so much effort into making sure that users would be able to customise their avatars down to the tiniest details, and I think that even though I only used a preset for class, if I were a person who actually did spend long periods of time on Second Life I would definitely be making use of this feature to customise my avatar in more detail than I currently have. I also think this feature must draw people to Second Life, since you can feasibly create any persona you want that looks any way you want it to look.

The first place I went in Second Life, after the initial tutorial, was to the lecture theatre in the DIT Second Life Campus, for class. Afterwards I was very interested to know if other colleges had similar things, and spent a while exploring other college campuses, most of which are grouped together in a particular part of the Second Life map. I did find that most of these campuses are private, which means that only students can get into them to go to lectures, which is probably to make sure that nobody uninvited interrupts lectures. I don’t think that DIT has the same sort of system, which I did find a little surprising and I wondered why this was.

I picked a few places at random to venture to after I was done looking at other college campuses and what their buildings all look like. Firstly I went to Japan, an area in Second Life apparently modelled after Japan, but having been to Japan I can’t say I saw many similarities. I did notice that in Second Life there is often a lot of audio playing at the same time, when I was in this location there were approx. three radio stations playing at the same time, depending on where I was, and eventually I had to turn my background music slider all the way down just to avoid this problem.

There weren’t many people in the Japan area of Second Life, and when I clicked on the mini-map that tells you where people are in relation to yourself, I only counted about fifteen. I did wonder if this was typical of most areas on Second Life, or if that seemed to be the normal amount of people in any one place.

The next place I went to explore was also chosen at random, and ended up being a sort of housing estate, with all the buildings modelled on Japanese-style houses. There was nobody in this area too, even though this area seems as though it was meant to be quite heavily populated. I thought this because most of the buildings had signs on them saying they were for rent, which presumably means that at one time or another the people who created this area thought that there would be the market for that kind of thing, even though there clearly isn’t now.

That was my main impression of Second Life from my first time exploring it: that it was clearly meant for more people than are currently populating it. Everywhere in Second Life has an odd feel to it, no matter how many people are there, as though it used to have a lot of people there but has since been abandoned. I would be more interested to find out why Second Life declined the way it has, because from what I have heard I think a lot more people did use to use it than currently do. I can’t think why its user-base has declined so much over the years, possibly it might be something to do with the outdated graphics that Second Life has, which probably once would have been considered sophisticated but now look very clunky and blocky. I also think that Second Life as a platform definitely has its issues; in the time that I’ve been using it it’s already crashed twice, and I had an issue with my voice during the lecture that meant that I couldn’t speak or hear the lecturer when he was talking.