Archive for October, 2015


Group project: Building in SL

October 30, 2015

The project is to explore SL to find an interesting building. By ‘interesting’ we mean:

  1. the design (interior or exterior);
  2. the purpose (what use the building has been designed for);
  3. the actual use of the building (it may be that it ends up having a different use than the original purpose);
  4. the type of people who visit, own or use the building; etc etc.

For the project each pair of students will visit at least five possible buildings before selecting one to work with. The building must be open to the public (or, in the case of a private dwelling, permission should be sought from the owner) and freely accessible. The rationale for selection is to be developed and a presentation made to support your choice. The presentation should describe the building drawing attention to the key aspects that make it interesting. It should also describe the building in context:

  1. how it fits into the immediate environment;
  2. its fitness for purpose;
  3. the use to which it is being put;
  4. the origin of the building;
  5. how and why it was built;
  6. whether or not it is considered a success by its owner, builder, users, neighbours etc.

The presentation should also give the audience a flavour of the building.

The presentation can be made in or near the building or in any other appropriate venue selected by the group/pair. It should last between 5 and 10 minutes. Presentation date is normal class time on Thursday 10th December.

Each participant should also describe the progress of the project in a weekly blog post. 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?

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.

Central station, Amsterdam

Central station, Amsterdam

Mocha cathedral

Mocha cathedral

Falling Water

Falling Water


Class 5: More on personal branding

October 29, 2015
Participants present their 'elevator pitches' in class today.

Participants present their ‘elevator pitches’ in class today.

Most participants have now set up their blogs and sent links to us. John reminded you of the importance of posting something every week and ensuring, in particular, that you are keeping up with the posts specified for each week. That way you won’t have a panic at the end of the semester when all module submissions are required. To encourage this there is a assessment point this week and in week eight of the module. Final assessment will be made at the end. So, ensure you have sent us a link to your blog and that you keep it up to date. There was some discussion around privacy and it was agreed that you may keep the blog private if you wish – just don’t forget to invite John and Locks to have access.

The class then continued the discussion about personal branding from last week. The reading informed your responses and it is clear that you all have an instinctive understanding of the nature of your online presence. It was generally agreed that we try to present the best sides of ourselves on Facebook. Many of you noticed, however, that when friends get jobs they become more aware of their social activity and often separate their Facebook identity by changing their names. This led to some consideration of the different platforms available online: LinkedIN for professional networking; Facebook and Instagram for social activities; Twitter for impromptu comment. We didn’t get around to looking at Google Plus or some of the more recent apps that allow people to remain anonymous, or delete posts after they have been read. The rise of public interaction promoted by Twitter and Facebook is now beginning to result in privacy having a premium. Have a look at the app Path which is very much like Facebook except that it guarantees only your own circle of contacts can see you.

We took a break from the Media Centre and went downstairs to hear everyone’s elevator pitch. Although it can be difficult to sum up your personal life or personality in 30 seconds – particularly in a format more suited to pitching a simple idea – each of you put some considered thought into the process and presented very well. This led to a discussion of the appearance of your avatars in SL. Concern about the choice of female avatar costumes resulted in triplets in the class! John suggested using the meagre few L$ given to you at the start of the module to explore the shopping experience in SL to find alternative clothing – or indeed alternative avatars. Visit Redgrave for an extensive range of clothing for men and women. There are also plenty of places to find free clothing. Some of you have also raised this topic in your blogs and it is one to which we will return. In the meantime you might like to read about the Heron Sanctuary, an SL community for people with disabilities.


  1. Read: this thoughtful blog post Content Licensing in Virtual Worlds about the legal issues around protecting ‘things’ you create in SL and online in general. Read the comments also.
  2. Read: The Laws of Virtual Worlds. From the California Law Review 2003 this is an excellent, if highly specialised, review of the legal position of avatars in virtual worlds.
  3. Write the fifth post: to your blog about how you might convert your personal presence online into an identity for  professional networking.

Class 4: Personal branding

October 22, 2015

We started the class by hearing from the participants about their experiences meeting new people in SL. It is quite a different experience from RL. Second Life is a platform specifically designed for interaction, communication and community building therefore it is acceptable to speak to nearby people/avatars, even complete strangers. For the most part they are willing to engage. Participants discovered that it was not as easy as it may sound to start conversations: do I use voice or text? I feel uncomfortable using voice; everyone is talking at the same time and it is not easy to distinguish one voice from another; mostly people respond with a greeting but don’t engage any further; it is difficult to break into a group of people who seem to know each other already… Nevertheless, some of you reported having interesting and engaging conversations and nobody experienced unpleasantness.

We then went on to a discussion about online identity – informed by the articles, blogs and website links given here after the last classes. The imagery in Humans of New York provided an interesting opportunity to consider how we present ourselves. Participants talked about how you use Facebook and Instagram and how you perceive ‘friends’ in these spaces. However, it seems you don’t give much conscious thought to how you might be seen by others and how you present yourselves online.

To develop this topic for the next class you should re-read the articles given in class 2. Keep the following questions in mind while you are reading. When I post to Facebook what impact am I trying to make? How would somebody who knows me only through Facebook recognise me from Instagram or any other platform? What criteria did I use in selecting my profile picture? When I am looking for a job what social media links will I include in my CV?


  1. Think: about three adjectives you would use to describe yourself.
  2. Prepare: an ‘elevator pitch‘ describing yourself in 30 seconds. You will present the pitch in class.
  3. Write the fourth post: on your blog describing the adjectives you selected and why; discuss how these traits influence your Facebook presence; and write your elevator pitch.

elevator pitch



Class 3: Exploring Second Life

October 15, 2015

To facilitate a class trip In Real Life (IRL) the time for this weeks class was brought back to 4.00 pm. Some people had a little difficulty finding their way up to the Media Centre because the ‘Home’ landmark brings you to the ground floor – you need to teleport up to the Media Centre from there.

We spoke about the experience of finding interesting places to visit in SL and many of you had difficulty finding places or accessing landmarks. Some of this may have been a result of slow connection speed. So, we visited a few different locations to give you a sense of the variety of SL. First, we went to Lauk’s Nest, one of the oldest locations in SL, and a lovely nature reserve with some interesting buildings and tree houses. We got used to controlling our avatars when flying and trying not to get lost. After a chat about the economy of SL we visited a shop to see how a commercial enterprise works. Finally, we visited the Blarney Stone pub in Dublin Virtually Live to meet some of the punters and experience a virtual leisure outlet. The final destination was the only one that did not allow voice. We had all activated the module group so we were able to use private group chat to keep in contact.

Lark's Nest wildlife park in Second Life

Lauk’s Nest wildlife park in Second Life

Blarney Stone pub in Dublin Virtually Live

Blarney Stone pub in Dublin Virtually Live

Returning to the Media Centre there was a brief chat about the importance of keeping your blogs up to date – writing at least one post a week. it is also important that the activities set for the next class are completed. All of you had read at least one of the texts on personal branding but as we ran out of time it was agreed to postpone discussion until next week – giving time for those of you who haven’t yet read the text to do so now!

We spoke a little about the etiquette around approaching strangers in SL. John explained that it is perfectly acceptable to approach strangers and talk to them. In this way SL is very different form RL. Generally, avatars are perfectly happy to chat. This may be done via voice or public chat, depending on the avatar’s preference and/or the availability of voice in the location. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened for any reason simple teleport away to another location or log off. Do not hesitate to do so if you meet any aggressive or unpleasant behaviour. SL allows you the freedom and safety to explore in a way you might not in RL.


  1. Go: out into SL and make contact with at least two people who you haven’t met before.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Explore: the website Humans of New York (accessed on 16/10/15) and see how the author has used social media to make an impact – an example being his use of instagram, facebook, twitter alongside the blog. Take note of how he has identified and positioned himself.

Class 2: Getting to know Second Life

October 8, 2015

Participants in the module this semester are engaging very well with Second Life and were able to make their way to the Media Centre without difficulty. We started the class with a quick review to ensure that everyone is comfortable in the environment. John got links to all your blogs which will be posted to the module blog this week. Well done on getting the blogs set up and making the first post. Don’t forget to complete the ‘About’ section by giving a little bit of information about yourself (if you prefer to keep personal details private and don’t want to reveal anything about yourself invent a life for your avatar!)

John paired up the participants who were in class and spoke a little about the group project. Normally the class is made up of students from different programmes but because you are all Interior and Furniture Design students this semester we decided to base the project on your discipline. You will explore SL to find an interesting building and make a presentation describing it, discuss how successful it is at fulfilling its purpose, introduce the designer, builder or owner if you can find them, and explain why you find the building interesting. A more detailed brief will be posted shortly.

We also began to explore some of the options for getting around SL by having our avatars fly around the Media Centre. It takes a little bit of time and practice to control your avatar so John advised spending some time in SL before the next class, practising. The activities to be completed for next week will encourage you in this regard. Each of you was given L$300 (roughly about US$1) to explore the consumer economy in SL.

Everyone joined the DIT Module group which allows you to set the Media Centre as your ‘Home’. That means you can set SL to login directly to the Media Centre. It also allows us to participate in private Instant Messaging (IM) among the group. John reminded everyone that SL is a ‘real’ place in the sense that anybody can join. Therefore – just as In Real Life (IRL) it is important to be careful about where you travel and to whom you speak – give some consideration to your online exploration, whether in SL or anywhere else. If you find your self in an uncomfortable situation in SL do not hesitate to QUIT immediately.


  1. Explore: Get to know your class partner and explore SL together. You are to visit at least 3 new locations. Find them in search, or by flying or walking around, ask other residents for recommendations or select them at random.
  2. Write the second post : on your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Explain how and why you chose them and what was particularly interesting about them.
  3. Read: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Personal Branding by Yohana Desta at Mashable or Personal Branding Basics by Chris Brogan, expert in online community, social media, and related technologies or The first Step to Building Your Personal Brand from Forbes to prepare for the discussion in next week’s class.
  4. Other interesting reading about SL and virtual worlds:
    in Virtual Worlds Magazine, Virtual Anthropology and the Prometheus myth
    An article about Rod Humble, former CEO of Linden Labs, owner of Second Life Shared created spaces
    Your Second Life is Ready – Popular Science’s take on SL in 2006.

Class 1: First meeting

October 6, 2015

Congratulations to the participants who made it into Second Life for the first class yesterday! You all managed very well indeed. For those who are still having difficulty logging into SL please talk to your colleagues and see if they can offer advice and help.

After meeting outside the DIT Aungier Street building in Dublin Virtually Live we teleported to the Media Lab for an introduction to the course with John and Locks. The regular class meeting time will be Thursday (starting this week, 8th October) at 8.00 pm and finishing between 9.00 and 9.30 pm. We will meet at the Media Lab and all participants saved the location so you will be able to return there whenever you log into SL.

We also added each other to our ‘friends’ list. This enables you to see when participants login to SL and you can send an instant message (IM) to each other when you are in different locations – very handy if someone gets lost in SL.

John explained that class will be interactive and discursive. Each week we will look at a different topic, introduced by a set text that participants are asked to read before the class so as to inform the debate. It is important that all participate fully and engage to get the full benefit from attending. You will also need to visit SL between class times to complete activities that will be set to encourage exploration. Specific activities will be set for the first few classes to get you started.

You were all asked to create a new blog for the duration of the course. You will be expected to write a weekly post describing your experience of the class and the discussions and activities in which you engage. If you keep this habit and post weekly you will avoid the burden of having to write a complete paper at the end of the module. John also explained that you will be paired off next week to work on a project which will be presented at the final class of the semester. You are encouraged to read through the pages listed in the right hand column of this website to get full details of the project, see examples of previous student blogs and get an idea of what to expect in the rest of the course.


  1. Set up your blog: using bloggerwordpresstumblr or any other blog site. Complete the ‘About Me’ page (read some of those pages on other blogs first) and remember it is different from the first post on your blog. Write from the perspective of your avatar: the persona you will be using to explore in this module. 
  2. Write the first post: to your blog about your expectations for this module – what you hope to get out of it, what you think you might contribute, etc. Address the relevance of  module objectives from your perspective, ie, justify why you think they are important to you.
  3. Look at: John O’Connor’s blog and Dreamscape Diary bearing in mind what you learned today compare your own blog writing to this.
  4. Visit the following: Dolce Merda, Brain PickingsIllustration Friday, Chris BroganStyle Pantry Think about how you would identify these blog authors…what impression do you get of the person behind the blog?
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