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Class 7: Privacy

November 15, 2018

We started this week with a discussion about your blogs with some general feedback on how you are getting on. John presented the assessment criteria given in the rubric again describing each one and drawing your attention to the weighting in particular. I stressed the benefit of smart working – don’t spend time doing work that will not contribute marks in your assessment. Be clear on what the criteria are and address them in your work. In this context the the content and creativity of your blog is weighted at 40% with your voice (or writing style) and design both weighted at 20%. Remember that.

We also considered what you should be writing about. You identified the instructions given in the ‘Things to do before the next class’ section of the class summaries. Each week you are given a topic to write about and these are usefully numbered from one to six (so far). This is the minimum number of individual posts you need to write. You should also be writing about the discussion topic for each class and the progress your team is making on the group project. I complimented you on the use of illustration in your blogs. This adds variety and keeps your posts interesting. Don’t forget to caption and credit any images. While the writing style common to blogging is conversational don’t allow it to be too casual. Remember to maintain an academic rigour in your references and vary your style from descriptive to reflective and critical as necessary.

There was a request for individual feedback on your work to date and I offered to meet you in SL after class or at another time that suits you. Let me know through email or the Facebook page and we can make arrangements. The first meeting was scheduled to take place after this class.

The topic for the second part of class was that of privacy. We spoke about the enduring nature of online activity and how things that you might have forgotten can return at the most unexpected times. The individuals referenced in the reading from last week lost their jobs as a result. I was a little surprised to learn that in your social circles you don’t appear to have conventions concerning the appropriate use of social media although, a few of you said that sometimes a group might agree not to post photos of an event without permission.

Image 16-11-2018 at 12.39

Social media app that offered privacy.

I mentioned the social networking app Path which was marketed on the basis of its respect for privacy. Working along the lines of Facebook but limiting the number of friends to 50 it was a good solution for families, providing a safe and secure space for networking. Strangely, it was unable to monetise this USP sufficiently and was forced to close down last month after eight years in operation.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Lecture: watch From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) who explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation [accessed on 16/11/18].
  2. Read: Produsage– A Working Definition by Prof Axel Bruns [accessed on 16/11/18].
  3. Write the seventh post: to your blog with an update on the progress (or lack thereof) your team is making with the group project.
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Class 6: Persona, identity, presence

November 8, 2018

This week John started by reminding the class of the importance of re-reading the assessment criteria for your blogs. You will notice that one criterion relates to ‘timelines’ and suggests that regular updates each week are required. So, those who have yet to submit a link to their blogs should do so on the Facebook page as soon as possible. Please check that your blog is listed on the Student Blogs page and let me know if it is not.

Many of you have not completed the ‘About Me’ section of your blogs. It it important to provide a short and appropriate bio to your readers so that they understand your background and perspective. In that context you should also review your blog – try to approach it from the perspective of a first time reader – to ensure it is coherent. Tidy up the layout, deleting any leftover template placeholders or widgets. You have all included photographs of your SL experiences in your blogs. Ensure they are appropriately captioned and, if you are using images from any other source, remember to credit the author/creator.

We also spoke about how the nature of your writing should be developing over the last two blog posts. For the first three posts your were asked to describe your experience of SL and the module but now you are being asked to reflect on the experience of team building. Write about how you are finding the application of the theory we discussed in the third class meeting, what you think you are learning (or not learning!).

Finally, it is important to proof read your writing before posting. This is to eliminate not only typos and errors but also to improve your communication style. The more you re-read your posts  before publishing the tighter the writing and, usually, the better the final outcome.

As we began to discuss the concept of personal branding it emerged that almost none of you had read the two short texts set from the previous class. John explained that they were essential for any meaningful discussion so class was adjourned for a short period to give you time to read them now. Then John asked you to consider your own online identities and how they are made manifest. You talked about using social media apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. You are aware of the impact on your profile that posting to these apps is having. You also spoke of the need for compatibility between your Real Life (RL) and your online personas. While it was not explicitly declared there is also an implicit understanding of the need to differentiate between you personal and professional profiles. However, John spoke of the difficulty in doing this in the era of Google and Facebook: these global enterprises are very effective in eliminating boundaries. In addition to collecting as much information about you as they can they also seek to compare the data and combine it in order to build as full a picture of you as they can. They don’t respect the boundaries you might like to keep. As a result it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain anonymous. It is very important, therefore, to be aware of the nature of the online environment and to maintain a high level of digital literacy.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: the Guardian article Yourth crime commissioner Paris Brown steps down over Twitter row from 2013 (accessed on 08/11/18).
  2. Read: another Guardian article Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’ also from 2013 (accessed on 08/11/18).
  3. Write the sixth post: to your blog about how you might convert your personal presence online into an identity for  professional networking.  
  4. Read: the academic paper User Generated Content and Virtual Worlds (accessed on 11/11/08). From the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, 2008.

Beach bum in the sun!

POSTSCRIPT
John has often thought, since starting to teach this module, that the ultimate benefit of teaching online is that it affords the opportunity to teach a class from any location, with the ultimate ideal of doing so while sitting in the sun on a beach. Travelling to conferences has required me to deliver the module from places such as Nantes, Vilnius, Poznan, Florence and other locations around Europe. We have also has participants join the module from Sherkin Island off the west coast of Ireland and various countires around Europe, the US and Australia. But this class was the closest I have come to delivering from a beach: on holiday in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Unfortunately, the vagaries of international time zones resulted in my having to teach this class at midnight local time! But at least my avatar got to wear a hawaiian shirt…

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Class 5: McLuhan and Stiegler

October 24, 2018

The discussion this week began with the question of some of the things that make us, as human beings, different from other inhabitants of the planet. Starting with the suggestion of opposable thumbs we eventually landed the human facility to develop sophisticated tools as the key differentiator.

Writing in the second half of the 20th century Marshall McLuhan suggested that tools are an extension of what we can do and, ultimately, an extension of ourselves. John referred to the reading from the previous week where the example was offered that if you pick up a hammer you don’t simply have a hammer in your hand you have a ‘hammerhead’ You’ve changed both the hammer and your hand. You have created a new functionality that neither object had before. While this gives you an ability to do things you couldn’t previously it also limits your perspective: you are now predisposed to hammering nails into things! Tools change the the way we interact with the world – they change us – they change society – they have an effect on our environment.

To understand the power of our tools McLuhan asked us to consider how we perceive the world around us; how is information coming to us: through our eyes, ears, finger tips? We talked about the nature of painting versus photography; radio versus tv and live interaction versus virtual reality. For example, listening to the radio is often done in conjunction with other tasks such as cooking, tidying or driving whereas tv tends to absorb all our attention (using tv as an example required some imagination on your part as none of you actually looks at tv the way my generation does but, the analogy was clear). This is a simple demonstration of how the medium, while somewhat invisible, shapes our behaviour.

Bernard Stiegler proposes the use of the Greek word Pharmakon in relation to tools, to acknowledge they are both the cure and the illness. He is thinking particularly of media technology. While tv absorbed the viewer’s attention fully there has been a distinct shift in our consumption of contemporary digital media (particularly social media). The result is a move from deep attention and engagement to a fragmentation of attention in short bursts, across a range of platforms.

The danger, as McLuhan put it, is that we are ‘shuffling towards the 21st century in the shackles of 19th century perceptions’. He urged us to try and be aware of the impact the tools we use repeatedly is having on our perception and understanding of our reality. This becomes increasingly important once we realise that our way of living is bringing about the demise of the planet’s ability to sustain our civilisation.

These are some of the concepts you should engage with in developing your project.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: Digital Identity Development is a Process. [accessed 25 October 2018].
  2. Read: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man. [accessed 25 October 2018].
  3. Look at: the infographic Personal Branding: 10 Steps to a New Professional You. [accessed 25 October 2018].
  4. Write the fifth post: to your blog describing and reflecting on the progress of your group towards developing an approach to the project.

ADDITIONAL READING:

  1. The Medium is the Massage is Marshall McLuhan’s best known work, written in partnership with graphic designer Quentin Fiore [accessed 25 October 2018].
  2. The other well-known concept developed by McLuhan is the Global Village [accessed 25 October 2018].
  3. Extrapolating on McLuhan: How Media Environments of the Given, the Represented, and the Induced Shape and Reshape Our Sensorium provides a deeper analysis of McLuhan. [accessed 25 October 2018].
  4. Reading Bernard Stiegler is a useful introduction to Stiegler’s work by academic and blog writer Sam Kinsley.
  5. Dive right into Stiegler and read Escaping the Anthropocene if enjoyed the theme of the discussion in class [accessed 25 October 2018].
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Class 4: Project briefing

October 18, 2018

John started class by reminding everyone who hasn’t already done so to send in a link to their blogs. To date there are ten blogs outstanding. You are reminded to read the module website page about assessment and note that your blogs will be assessed after this week, again after week 8 and, finally, at the end of the module. It is important also that you read and understand the criteria for assessment.

There was some discussion about the elevator pitch and questions about how to go about it. Some of you were unclear about just what was expected so John explained that this was simply an exercise to give you the opportunity to have your avatar stand up and make a presentation – just to give the experience. He suggested you could talk about your choice of avatar costume, your interests and skills or anything that you feel like. LouHug, bennagle, Whimseyy and PeterKeane all got the task over with – others will be called on at random over the next few classes!

Most of you had read the Group Project brief so John started the discussion by reviewing the assessment criteria. The importance of ensuring you know exactly what you are being assessed on can’t be overstated. There is no point in working really hard on something that yields no benefit so, read (and regularly re-read) the assessment criteria for the Group Project given on the Module Assessment page. John recommends reviewing the criteria at least once a week and after each group meeting.

We considered precisely what was expected under each criterion noting that the actual content of the project is only one of the six criteria. John also emphasised that the main learning from this project is about team dynamics and group work. You should expect to run into difficulties when working together: some individuals will work hard and contribute while others may not; some will never turn up to meetings; others will go off on tangents and produce work that is not relevant. DON’T WORRY. That is a very common experience in group and team work. It is exacerbated when you are working online. The point of this project is to allow you experience it in a safe environment. Your task is to observe this behaviour, reflect on it and offer a critical response informed by your understanding of how group dynamics and the roles to be played by team members. Your mark will be based on your own work and is not dependent on your team mates’ contributions.

The content of the project was selected to give you an opportunity to consider your role in contributing to society as you emerge as educated professionals. Despite the pressure to earn a living and compete you need to consider your wider responsibility to the global community of this planet as a citizen. We have been warned that we are exhausting our resources and will be faced with the consequences in the coming decades. It is your generation that must start the search for a new way of engaging with one another and our home planet. The references given in the brief offer some starting points for your consideration.

Bernard Stiegler

French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, whose writing is referenced in the project brief, is currently in Dublin for the DIT GradCam hosted Inter-Nation – European Art Research Network conference in the Wood Quay Venue.

Most of you have met, or at least attempted to meet, in your groups since last week and some teams have set up Facebook groups for communicating. For the next class you are to meet in your teams to talk about the project and how you might approach it. Remember, you are still at the ‘Forming’ stage of your team – getting to know each other and learning how to work together. You should begin the ‘Storming’ stage by starting to brainstorm ideas for the project. Don’t worry about deciding on any one idea this week – just talk about a range of interesting approaches you could take.

You should continue to meet regularly to work on the project and your blog-writing should reflect on these meetings and your progress on the project.

Remember to join the class Facebook page so that you can keep in touch with developments between classes, such as the poll about the day for next weeks class. The following week is Review Week so there is no class. Use this time to get started on your project – the presentation date will be will be around the corner before you know it!

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: the texts given in the Group Project.
  2. Meet: in your teams to discuss the project and brainstorm ideas for development.
  3. Write the fourth post: to your blog reviewing this meeting (or, reflecting on why the meeting didn’t happen).
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Group Project: Warning!!!

October 17, 2018
earthrise

This photograph of earth was taken from lunar orbit by astronaut Bill Anders in 1968, during the Apollo 8 mission. Nature photographer Galen Rowell declared it “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken”.

 

As you prepare to leave college with your degree the prospect of seeking a fulfilling career will become increasingly important. Much is being written now about the changing nature of work. As long ago as 2012 Forbes suggested that Job Hopping is the New Normal for Millennials. But, the Guardian newspaper reported that the trade unions in Britain are concerned about the abuses of the gig economy suggesting it results in lower wages. TUC wants clampdown on ‘poverty pay’ in gig economy jobs revealed that almost half of adults aged 25 or over were earning less than the minimum wage.

The World Economic Forum report on The Future of Jobs 2018 provides a comprehensive analysis of trends on an industry-specific and country-specific basis. In the section on Strategic Drivers of New Business Models it concludes that the unfolding of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is resulting in a variety of new and emerging jobs while the more traditional job roles are declining. But, there is some good news for you as the Economist reported in 2016 that people working in creative fields are less susceptible to automation in Automation and Anxiety.

Taking a more holistic perspective raises deeper concerns for the future of not just work, but the entire ecosystem of society. French philosopher Bernard Stiegler suggests that the world is heading rapidly towards a dead end thanks to the consumerist model. Speaking in London this year he argued that a radically new approach to shaping our society is required. Rather than allowing capital and technology to dictate we need to bring epistemological, technological, artistic, judicial, social and economic questions together in order to shape the future.

In 1992 the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a Warning to Humanity suggesting that vast human misery would ensue if we did not change how we are impacting the planet. They ‘feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life.’ Last year the warning was updated when 15,000 scientists from around the world published World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.

This is a real challenge to you, individually and collectively, as you consider emerging into society from college. For this project you are asked to consider how you might address the problems facing society while earning a living and living your lives. Do you accept the premise of the World Scientists? Can you see ways in which it is possible to work for a more sustainable engagement with our planet?

You will work on this project in your groups to present your findings in an entertaining, informative and lively manner using whatever medium and format you wish as long as it can be stored for later review (e.g. a talk, short film, narration+visuals). Each team will also present its project live in Second Life. The presentation should be no shorter than five minutes and no longer than ten minutes. You are encouraged to use visual, audio or any other aids to support the presentation during which each member of the team must take part.

Each participant must also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post with particular emphasis on their contribution to the project. (What are you bringing to the group and how does it fit into the team’s work?) Discuss the details of the project and also the issues that arise in working collaboratively online. How easy is it meet up virtually and plan the project? What difficulties arise in development? How easy or difficult is communication? What particular problems arise and how do you deal with them? Focus on the experience rather than writing a ‘correct’ post or having an answer for every difficulty.

See page 6 Module assessment for assessment criteria applying to this project.

Important note: If you use images or sound be mindful of copyright, particularly as presentations will be posted to the module blog.

Presentations should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes in duration.

Your presentation can be made in the DIT campus or any appropriate venue selected by the group. Presentation date is normal class time of 8:00 pm on Thursday 13th December.

ADDITIONAL READING:

Automatic Society 1: The Future of Work by Bernard Stiegler, Translated by Daniel Ross from La Deleuziana – Online Journal of Philosophy, ISSN 2421-3098 No. 1/2015 – Crisis of the European Biopolitics [Accessed on 19 October 2018]. This is the introduction to the first volume of Stiegler’s book and introduces his argument on the need to reshape society.

Taking on the mounting challenge of climate change by Mike Hayes in The Irish Times (Sponsored Profile by KPMG) 18 October 2018 [Accessed on 20 October 2018]. “This is the biggest issue that has ever arisen in my professional life … We’ve got to act now or else it will be too late. The question is if we are going to do anything different in response and, if we are, what?”

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, 1956. Audio version on YouTube [Accessed on 20 October 2018]. This short story asks the question “How can entropy be reversed?”

 

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Class 3: Team work and collaboration

October 11, 2018

We began class this week by reviewing the Elevator Pitch discussed last week. John admitted he had forgotten to refer to it in the main summary of the class so added it as a comment later, with a link to an article from the Harvard Business Review describing an elevator pitch. You should all prepare a 30 second pitch on any subject you wish. I will call on you at random to deliver it over the next few classes.

John went on to identify the groups in which you will work for the module project. He assigned you to one of five groups each with six members. You are asked to try working online and avoid working together in Real Life (RL) if you can, so that you get as full an experience of online collaborative working as possible.

JOC - 101318 - project groups
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As class progressed it was noticed that some students are having a few problems logging in to SL or getting their voices working. John asked you to help each other sort out these issues outside of class, if you can.

Many of you have sent links to your own blogs to John and these have been posted to the module website – please have a look at the blogs and comment on each other’s posts. You can find a link to them to the right on this page. Those who haven’t yet sent a link to John should do so as soon as possible but at least before next week’s class. You were reminded that the first assessment of your blogs will be after that class – if you haven’t already done so make sure to read the page on module assessment.

LouHug shared the Facebook group he created for us to communicate outside of SL. Second Life 18 is a private group and will be active only for the duration of the module this semester.

John gave a talk on Team Building to the class. Normally, this is delivered by Sitearm Madonna, a graduate from the module with extensive experience of online collaboration but I didn’t have time to contact him in advance. Hopefully, he will be able to join us for a later class to share his wisdom. In the meantime I, rather cheekily, used his excellent slide show Virtual Collaboration Tips and Tools to illustrate my presentation. We discussed the content of slides 2 to 5 in some detail; we just touched on slides 6 and 7 and will revisit the content in the other slides in a later class when it will be more relevant.

For now, you are asked to review the Form, Storm, Norm, Perform paradigm in your own teams to help form a bond. Also, consider the roles within the team you may be best at playing.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Meet in SL: in your team groups.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing the first meeting of your team or, if the meeting did not occur, describe how you tried to facilitate the meeting and why, in your opinion, it didn’t happen.
  3. Read: Living Structures in Second Life Virtual Worlds Projects by Sitearm Madonna. [accessed 13 October 2018].
  4. Read: Painfully Coming to Grips with The Medium is the Message an amusing and accessible introduction to the philosophy of Marshall McLuhan. [accessed 13 October 2018].
  5. Optional reading: Extrapolating on McLuhan: How Media Environments of the Given, the Represented, and the Induced Shape and Reshape Our Sensorium provides a deeper analysis of McLuhan. [accessed 13 October 2018].
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Class 2: Settling in

October 4, 2018

A few new participants joined the class today and settled in almost immediately.

Two participants sent links to their blogs to John during the week. Just before class started he noticed a bunch of emails arrive with links to many more which he will review after the class. He will post links to all the blogs here (see the link in page 9 in the column to the right) and encouraged you all to review the blogs and make comments on them.

John spoke about one of the key shortcomings in a virtual world such as SL: the lack of facial expression and body language. Because our avatars do not react or present non-verbal responses it can be difficult to establish rapport. Indeed, sometimes it can be difficult to know if the person behind the avatar is even there at all. Maybe she or he has gone away from the keyboard (AFK) to make a coffee or answer the phone! Therefore, feedback and response via text message or voice needs to be more frequent to reduce anxiety. You can text message ‘Acuppa Tae nods’ or ‘John smiles’ or even ‘y’ from time to time to reassure others that you remain engaged or agree with what they are saying.

We had a useful discussion on the different voices of the sample blogs given last week (Dolce Merde, Brain Pickings and Chris Brogan) and analysed when and why you might read them. We also tried to determine the purpose of the blogs. So, for example, Chris Brogan is essentially reinforcing his reputation as a thought leader in online marketing whereas Dolce Merde is playfully offering eye candy. The discussion incorporated a review of your own reading habits: where you go for topical news; how you verify the facts presented to you; your unconscious trust in some media sources compared with others etc. Many of you joined in the conversation and contributed well. John concluded by reminding everyone that you should be cautious around your consumption of information and practice analysing sources to develop discrimination.

John commented that the tone adopted in your blog posts last week was appropriate for the content. It was mostly informal and informative, using a chatty style. You will find that you need to vary this tone from week to week depending on the topic you are writing about. You should also remember the basic conventions of academic writing and apply them appropriately during the semester. Be aware of writing in a narrative, descriptive, reflective and critical voice. It is also important that you refer to your sources and cite them appropriately. There are many different styles that can be used for citations but the main thing to remember is the purpose: your readers needs to be able to check your source for themselves. The College favours the APA Style so it is usually best to use it. Here are some useful links on the subject.

We agreed to use a private Facebook page for communication outside the class. One of you (I didn’t catch who it was) agreed to set it up and John gave his Facebook address to be added. If you aren’t already on Facebook you should set up an account for the duration of the semester. You may do this in your avatar’s name if you wish but please note that while this is a common practice it is, strictly speaking, a breach of Facebook’s Terms of Service.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Make contact: with two or three residents of Second Life. Introduce yourself and try to engage them in conversation. Always remember: if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation for any reason QUIT Second Life immediately. You can log in again in a different location.
  2. Write the second post: on your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Read: 5 steps to build a productive and tight knit remote team by Diogo Costa in Tech Co, 5 February 2016.
  4. Read: 10 Rules of Professional Etiquette for the Digital Workplace by Aaron Orendorff in Lifehacker, 27 April 2016.

OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL READING ABOUT VIRTUAL WORLDS:

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