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Class 3: Teamwork and Collaboration

February 18, 2021

Settling in for Sitearm Madonna’s presentation.

John welcomed Sitearm Madonna to the class introducing him as a graduate of the module and subsequent guest speaker since then. Sitearm, a retired engineer and currently a consultant in online applied collaboration, has vast experience of team working and has developed a theoretical framework to support online teamwork. He has been refining the presentation each semester and delivered this class in voice with a subtitles. There was also space for input from the class and participants with a live demonstration of briefing, brainstorming, and debriefing. You were very cooperative and engaged enthusiastically, making the content far more meaningful while practicing the application of the theory.

To review the basic content of the presentation see the class summary posted posted in February 2020. You can also review Sitearm’s slides and notes which he has generously made available on his website.

Class 3 in discussion

Engaging with Sitearm in demonstrating teamwork in action.

Sitearm accompanied his talk with comprehensive explanatory slides.

John finished the class by thanking Sitearm for a most engaging class. You will be putting the theory into practice immediately as the Team Project will be introduced next week. In advance, please review the brief in Brightspace and have your first team meetings before next week’s class. Here are your assigned teams:

Team assignments for the Team Project – Tomorrow’s Office

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Week 2: Blogging to the World

February 11, 2021

Much to our relief when we logged in to SL for class today everybody found that ‘voice’ was working. This ensured our second class was much more accessible and far easier to engage with than was our first class last week. A few more participants joined the group and once they were settled John thanked those who had sent links to their blogs and reminded everybody else to do so as soon as possible (send your link by email). He will post the links on the student blogs page here and asked you all to check out your classmates blogs, read their posts and leave comments.

You were reminded to include an ‘About me’ page in your blog (see page 1 here for an example). From the discussion is seems that many of you had read Griffin’s article ‘How to Write a Killer About Me page for your Blog‘ and understood the importance of giving your potential readers a context for your opinions. John reminded you that although your blogs are public and available to anyone to read it is unlikely that they will gain a following without promotion and advertising; nevertheless, you may use your avatar’s persona for the blog if you are uncomfortable using your Real Life (RL) identity. Simply write your bio from the perspective of your avatar as a participant on the module.

We discussed the continuing relevance of blogs on the web and many of you confirmed that you are more likely to view videos or listen to podcasts than read blogs. Indeed, there appeared to be a feeling that blogs are a somewhat dated form of publication. John suggest that it might be that the online-diary nature of blogs has changed and the level of presentation has evolved so the what was once seen as a blog is now an online magazine publication. Once a distinct format in its own right blogs have now become an integral element of many websites.

You asked about the most appropriate style of writing for a blog and whether it should be casual and informal or more academic. This module, as part of its learning methodology, uses writing as a mechanism for learning. The intention is that by the end of the semester you are confident in your own writing ability and familiar with the conventions around accountability. You will use four main forms of writing for your blogs: descriptive, narrative, reflective and critical. This can be achieved while writing in an informal tone of voice – a dry academic style is not suitable for blogging. However, you do need  to be accurate and write to the topic. It is also important to ensure your opinions are validated by referencing to your sources. In the first instance those sources will be the reading and viewing material for the module but, as you go on it is important to read around the topics and discover your own sources. Remember, it is essential that you reference the sources correctly. John referred to the links provided in the reading list to support your writing and referencing.

The practicalities of working online were discussed and you noted the difference between SL and video platforms such as Zoom, Bongo and Team. Online virtual worlds seem to be more immersive and less tiring than video meetings, despite the somewhat dated look and feel. SL can also be seen as less intrusive as you aren’t required to share video of your personal space in RL. In all online engagements, however, the lack of body language and the ‘distance’ allow for misunderstanding to arise more easily than it might in RL. Humour, particularly the more subtle form, can be lost and efforts to convey irony can come off badly. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the conventions and etiquette that are appropriate to any online group in which you are working and to provide feedback and cues that support your communication. Positive engagement is not guaranteed so be aware of the need to confirm your points of view are understood.

Finally, John introduced the assignment for next week. You are to try and meet at least three individuals in SL and engage them in conversation. He explained that this exercise is becoming increasingly difficult as residents of the virtual world are less accessible than they used to be. SL, and other virtual worlds, used to have a tradition of welcoming to the ‘newbie’ but, this seems to be less true these days. As people become more specific in their use of virtual worlds they tend to have less time for casual engagement, and may ignore you, or even be rude. John recommended that if you feel uncomfortable during any of your engagements don’t hesitate to quit SL immediately. Don’t worry about how you may be perceived – just get out if things don’t feel right. While you cannot come to any physical harm in a virtual place don’t allow yourself to be exposed to any form of aggressive or inappropriate behaviour either. Whether or not you are able to find any avatars to engage with write about your attempts and experiences in your blog post this week.

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Class 1: Welcome to SL

February 4, 2021

Welcome to Second Life (SL) the new semester and a large class of over twenty participants. We are joined by students of Visual Communications, Interior Design, Architecture, Contemporary Visual Culture and Fine Art. While almost all of you found your way into Second Life there was a major issue with getting voice activated. Only four of you were able to do so successfully. In fact, John also had an issue when he logged in half an hour before class started. He found some suggestions on the SL wiki and eventually resolved it be clearing the cache. So, if you are still having trouble with your voice check out that link and see if you can resolve it. John also suggested you visit SL during the week in pairs, or larger groups, and try to get your voice working together. If the students who were successful with voice can help the others it would be great. It is important that you get voice activated because you cannot hear other avatars speaking unless yours is working.

picture of the class

We have a larger class than usual this semester with over twenty participants.

 

The glitch resulted in a slightly more chaotic and slower introduction than is usually the case as we were restricted to communication via text chat. However, everyone persevered and John got through most of the topics scheduled for the first class.

Firstly, everyone ‘friended’ each other. You will see from the pic above that this turns your avatars name tag from white to green and it means that you know when your classmates are online and you can communicate more easily, particularly if you end up in different locations in SL. You can offer to teleport a friend directly to your location also. Play around with it and see what else you discover.

John went on to explain that the format of the module is interactive discussion, based on the weekly reading material given in the corresponding class unit in Brightspace. It is important that you read (and view video material) before we meet in class so that you contributions are informed and relevant. If this is not done we will need to do the reading in class, which will result in the later finishing time of 9.30 pm! You will find a short quiz each week in Brightspace which will let you know if you have engaged with the topic and understood it. Your answers do not count for assessment.

You will also need to visit SL between classes to carry out the tasks set in the Assignment part of each weekly unit in Brightspace. Initially these tasks are described for you in some detail. For instance, this week you should explore at least three different locations in SL. As the semester progresses you will be assigned to a team and will begin work on a project to be presented in the final week and your blog posts will reflect on that.

This week you must also start a blog using wordpress and write your first post describing the locations in SL that you have visited. Throughout the semester you will post to the blog on a weekly basis so that by the end of the semester you will have produced the equivalent of a semester paper.

Finally, John asked you to read the Assessment unit in Brightspace very carefully so that you understand it fully. The blog will count for fifty percent of your final mark, with the Team Project making up the balance. Note that the first assessment point is in four weeks so don’t leave things to the end!

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Spring semester 2021

February 4, 2021

Welcome to the module ‘Virtual Environments: Is one life enough?’ being offered as an elective module to students of Technological University Dublin School of Creative Arts and Dublin School of Archtitecture.

Classes will start on 4th February on Thursdays at 8:00 pm (12:00 pm Second Life time). We meet online every week at TU Dublin in Second LifePlease note: you will need a Mac or PC desktop or laptop to access Second Life – you cannot do so with a mobile device.

Full details about the module are available to registered students in Brightspace, where you should self-enrol.

If you are new to Second Life, known as SL, then start by reading Getting into Second Life to find out how to access the class. You should then visit SL and find the TU Dublin campus, learn how to get around the virtual world and familiarise yourself with the environment and how to control your avatar. This will take a few hours so give yourself plenty of time before class starts.

Please read pages 1 to 9 in the column on the right also. If you would like to find out more about what to expect during the semester read the posts in this blog: all class since 2009 have been summarised.

If you have any problems email John O’Connor at TU Dublin.

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Class 11: Team Project presentations

December 17, 2020

We were delighted to be joined by a select audience for the Team Project presentations this week. Valibrarian Gregg, Gentle Heron, Mook Wheeler and Sitearm Madonna supported us with comments and questions about the topics under discussion.

John was most impressed with both presentations. He remarked on the quality and depth of the research conducted by each team, the professional delivery and the ability of each team member to address the questions that came from the audience in a thoughtful and reflective way, demonstrating the engagement you had with the details of your subject.

The Red Team opted to go first and gave us a link to a YouTube video which we all watched in our browsers. The video was very well scripted with appropriate and insightful content. Team members took turns narrating and performed exceptionally well. The images, diagrams, layout and typography all combined to support the main contention of the presentation which nailed the brief. In the follow up Q&A session you demonstrated a command of the subject and responded with confidence and a convincing level of detail.

The Green Team presented live in SL. The original intention was to show slides on a screen in SL but, wisely, it was deemed more effective to provide a link to a set of Google Slides. Once again, the presentation was delivered in part by each team member, handing over to each other with ease and professionalism. The team dressed professionally for the occasion to complement the content. The design and layout of the slides was excellent, even down to the specially designed Green Team logo with stylised leaf motif. This team also engaged with their Q&A session in a professional and confident manner – this was borne out by the reflective nature of their responses to questions and a clear understanding of the content.

Following the presentations John wrapped up with some general comments and our guest speakers also contributed, complimenting the student teams. The full brief for the Team Project – Fresh World was well researched by both teams. Assessment criteria can be found on page 6.

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Class 10: Warning!

December 9, 2020

We have reached the final week of teaching on the module and it seems to have flown by. John began by thanking you all for engaging with the content so well and for full attendance at every class for the first time since the module commenced!

We discussed the two addresses to the UN Climate Change Conference in Poland in 2018. The nonagenarian David Attenborough and the sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg delivered what was essentially the same message but in very different ways: each in their own distinctive style. Overall, the message, echoing the warnings from world scientists, is not positive: in fact, the prognosis for our planet is a cause for grave concern brought about by the unsustainable manner in which we have been exploiting our natural resources. The term anthropocene has been proposed by scientists to describe the geological era in which humankind’s impact has changed the planet in ways that were previously only caused by geological forces. In trying to establish when the anthropocene might have begun you proposed the atomic era, or perhaps it was as far back as the industrial revolution, or even the dawn of humankind. emck1999 shared the conclusions of a recent project in which she considered the impact of our unsustainable use of the earth’s resources, making her feel old and cynical, she said.

Nevertheless, John suggested there may well be more positive indications recently. HannahSimoneNathalie referred to the Attenborough documentary A Life on our Planet, 2020 currently showing on Netflix; in an interview with the Radio Times (and in the context of the current pandemic) he says hope may emerge ‘from the whole world having experienced a shared threat and found a sense that we are all in it together’. He speaks of ‘encouraging signs’ of an increased trust in science, adding ‘the time for nationalism is over. ‘In the end,’ Attenborough says, ‘it’s not really about saving the planet. It’s about saving ourselves …. It’s simpler than you might think, a century from now, our planet can be a wild place again.’

The second cause for hope is in the very existence of Greta Thunberg. The sense of opportunity and potential that is natural in youth, but which tends to dissipate with age, should not be dismissed. The problems facing humanity are so grievous that the older generation simply may not have the imagination nor the stamina to conceive of a solution whereas those with less ‘experience’ can approach the future with the ingenuity and determination that is a hallmark of human beings at our best. This seemed to resonate with you as a reasonable expectation, from your own experience.

The third factor in providing hope is technology itself. Often demonised as the cause of our problems technology is, in fact, somewhat neutral. The French intellectual Bernard Stiegler, who died this year, proposed that technology should be understood as a pharmakon, a Greek word that means both ‘poison’ and ‘cure’. Technology is the poison that has brought our society to its sorry state but it could also be the cure by which it may be saved. Stiegler also believed in taking practical action and established many projects to prove that there are alternative ways of developing communities and society that does not result in the destruction of our environment. This understanding of technology is surely influenced somewhat by McLuhan’s belief that ‘we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us’.

John attempted to tie together the threads of our weekly discussions suggesting that a core theme emerging is that of responsibility. Our personal responsibility was explored in the classes about McLuhan and the true nature of the ‘self’ and ‘being’. The importance of professional responsibility emerged during our discussions on blogging and community relationships. The Le Guin story about Omelas and concepts of digital citizenship considered last week, along with the discussion in this class, raised questions about communal responsibilities and the shape of our society. At the heart of all discussion on responsibility is the ethical dimension. Without an ethical framework there can be no sense of responsibility and life is forced to play out in a constant struggle for survival. The challenge for each one of us is to engage with our multiple responsibilities, consider what we can do and to play our parts with deliberation. Above all: do not simply follow the general flow of events blindly.

Before concluding the class John dispersed the princely sum of L$200 to each of you so that you can upload images and photos to SL for your presentations next week. He also warned you that the conversion rate meant this is equivalent to less than a singe US dollar. It was also agreed that the Red Team will present first with the Green Team following. John will be available if there are any issues with your projects between now and next Thursday.

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Class 9: Digital Citizenship

December 5, 2020

Valibrarian

Valibrarian shared some of the ideas from her book on Metamodernism to the the class this week.

 

We visited the Community Virtual Library (CVL) in SL this week for a presentation by Dr Valerie Hill (aka Valibrarian), the director. Val has taught at all grade levels, served as a school librarian for twenty years and a college professor of information science. She suggests there is now a need for a new look at literacy: metaliteracy.

Alvin Toffler, writing in the late 20th century, coined the term prosumer when he noticed individuals were beginning to create and share content themselves: what we now call user-generated content. This has toppled the information hierarchy and we now have much more user-generated content than traditional formats such as books. YouTube has become the main source of information on the planet. As both consumers and producers of media we have become prosumers. One of Toffler’s well-known quotes relating to changing literacy is:

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

This constant oscillation – swinging between production and consumption of media, and between physical and digital media, aligns to our philosophical moment which Val calls metamodernism, a term being widely adopted to describe our era. Acquiring knowledge in the past meant climbing the ladder toward final mastery. Not anymore! In metamodernism culture, we learn new tools and apps constantly while evaluating live information and adapting to new devices and software updates. There is no end to the incoming stream of information. Val’s book Metamodernism and Changing Literacy addresses the challenges we face due to these changes. It is imperative that we each understand our personal responsibility as digital citizens. A term that fits with this personal responsibility (at any age from child to adult) is metaliteracy. Mackey and Jacobsen (2014) coined the term to help us better understand how we can be literate in digital culture as prosumers. This is essential to digital citizenship. For more on this have a look at Metaliteracy and Metamodern Times.

We play many roles as a metaliterate individual, as both consumer and producer of content. The Internet connected everyone… giving a voice to all. Yet, not everyone has anything meaningful to add to the conversation! The Internet has become a flood of information that is impossible to navigate without metaliteracy. Once we understand with it means to be prosumers and participants in digital culture (unless you are a hermit isolated without Internet connectivity) we become aware of the need for digital citizenship. Yes, everyone has a voice online… but not everything shared is good, meaningful or even true. In fact, Mackey and Jacobson believe we live in a post-truth world.

While the many elements of digital citizenship are beyond the scope of this short talk Val suggests they cover ethical use of information, cybersecurity and safety, communication and even emotional intelligence. She suggests looking at the digital citizenship wheel at the DQ Institute website. CVL has built a digital citizenship museum in the virtual world of Kitely and has branches in other virtual worlds besides SL.

Val witnessed the close of the Gutenberg Parentheses (the period in which the printed word was the main source of information) as printed encyclopaedias or dictionaries became rarities. Many of us love the smell and physicality of books which are likely to remain available, but we also use ebooks, websites, databases, videos, podcasts, blogs, apps and more. Juggling all these tools – sometimes simultaneously – is actually changing the human brain. This juggling is a metaliteracy skill and part of digital citizenship. However, one can get carried away by the stream of social media into a self-absorbed whirlpool. Not only must we learn to juggle and choose the best digital tools… we must also juggle between worlds: physical, virtual, or augmented. Choosing the best space for a specific purpose (working, gaming, social interaction, learning) is also a metaliteracy skill. New platforms are emerging constantly with virtual reality headsets and 360 video becoming mainstream. Val is part of a team of educators researching these environments as it is impossible to explore them alone. A major goal for CVL is to bring together digital citizens to share best practices for becoming metaliterate digital citizens. CVL has tools to help accomplish that goal. For example, they are working on a virtual database, a network of ‘office hours in virtual environments’, and a virtual world education consortium.

The Information Revolution has changed literacy forever. We live in a fascinating, fast-paced time. Val has adopted the term metamodernism in discussion of our current philosophical era but there are other names being used: post-postmodernism, for example. She is presenting the topic here today in the metaverse, a place where metadata constructs a simulation of reality – we are inside a metaphor of our world. As you think about that you are using metacognition (thinking about thinking). About… about… about… meta… meta… meta! We have become metamodern and it is now time to become metaliterate.

In closing, Val hoped that we will all ponder our own responsibility for digital citizenship and think critically about our own changing literacy. Metaliteracy is simply a term to address literacy as prosumers. The Metaliteracy website describes it as follows:

Metaliteracy promotes critical thinking and collaboration in a digital age, providing a comprehensive framework to effectively participate in social media and online communities. It is a unified construct that supports the acquisition, production, and sharing of knowledge in collaborative online communities.

In response to Val’s presentation the students suggested that being accessible all the time and being expected to reply instantly to everything is overwhelming. The ‘show location’ tool is scary too. The death of privacy in the age of Google was also mentioned and the need to teach children from an early age so that they can navigate the worlds they are going to inhabit as they grow. Val suggested looking at the Common Sense website for more on this.

John, along with the students, thanked Val for her highly informative and fascinating talk. John also thanks Sitearm for coordinating the event.

Class listens to Valibrarian

The class listening attentively to Valibarian’s fascinating talk.

 

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Class 8: Walking away…?

November 26, 2020

Map of the island, Utopia.

Illustration for the 1516 first edition of Thomas More’s Utopia.

Talking about Ursula K Le Guin’s short story The One’s Who Walk Away From Omelas always brings some surprises and new ways of looking at the world and ourselves. We began, as usual, by considering the context and the time in which the story was written, the US in the early 1970s: The Vietnam war is in full flight; the Civil Rights movement remains active with demonstrations and race riots; the Watergate Crisis leads to Nixon’s resignation; terrorist activity in pursuit of political goals emerges around the world; the cold war between the US and Soviet Union is raging quietly; the oil crisis leads to severe shortages of petrol in the West; flower power and the hippie lifestyle were presented as idealistic anti-violence alternatives to post-war society norms. In sum, the apparently idyllic sixties were over and a new realisation around the challenges of global society was about to dawn on the Western world.

The opening of Le Guin’s story is clearly drawn from the hippie movement and festivals such as Woodstock in 1969. The Eden-like city of Omelas and its surrounding hinterland is presented as a form of Utopia. However, our contemporary familiarity with perfect places in fiction (since Thomas More’s publication of Utopia in 1516) has led to it becoming a trope – we are immediately suspicious: alert to the revelation of a flaw in this seeming idyll.

The form of the story is also interesting to explore more deeply. While clearly allegorical the narrative is open to many interpretations. Is it describing contemporary society? Perhaps it is a retelling of the Adam and Eve mythology? Maybe the fundamental paradox of the human condition is at the heart of the story? Le Guin shifts the perspective of the narrative from third person to first person throughout. She also ‘breaks the fourth wall’ by addressing the reader directly on several occasions; disrupting the illusion by suggesting that the story might become more believable through the introduction of the dark twist:

Do you believe? Do you accept the festival, the city, the joy? No? Then let me describe one more thing.

The story also has some bold philosophical propositions weaved into the text. It is never clear if they are held by Le Guin herself, or merely the narrator… just as it is never clear what the relationship between author and narrator might be. Is Le Guin proposing fundamental truths about human nature and society?

Happiness is based on a just discrimination of what is necessary, what is neither necessary nor destructive, and what is destructive.

Her fiction was influenced by cultural anthology, feminism and Eastern spiritual philosophy and explored gender and sexuality (The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969), political systems (The Dispossessed, 1974) and moral development. The final twist in this story presents a stark moral dilemma which Le Guin characterises in the decision of some citizens to walk away from the land of plenty.

We wondered if we were presented with the choice would be stay or go. Would our complacency and moral ambiguity lead us to accept the justifications for keeping the child in the cellar or would we have the courage to walk away? It is interesting to note that the option of remaining in Omelas and seeking change seems to be ruled out in the story but, does that mean it is ruled out for us in our lives?

Ultimately, it may be that the purpose of the story is to have us consider our own personal responsibilities as members of the human race.

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Class 7: Online Communities and Relationships

November 19, 2020

Class field trip to Virtual Ability Island

Mook Wheeler (second from left) introduces Virtual Ability Island to us. Sitearm Madonna is on the extreme left and Gentle Heron on the extreme right with the two Marias beside her.

 

John began the class by talking about the feedback for the assessment of the Website Blog, part 1, which was circulated earlier. He spoke about the importance of beginning now to write more reflectively on your experiences in SL and on your teams. Think about what you are learning and how your perception of working online is developing. You should also refer to the reading and viewing material given to the class when writing your posts. Consider how your experiences either support or contradict what others are saying. Your view is valuable once you are developing it in that context so, your posts may become a little more like short academic papers from here on.

John also emphasised the importance of reviewing the assessment criteria for the Website Blog, part 2. Take careful note of the descriptors in the assessment grid so that you know what to aim for. This is also important for the Team Project. Remember, the brief is to stimulate hard-nosed executives. You need to be creative to attract and maintain their attention.

Then we teleported to Virtual Ability Island (VAI) to meet the community led by Gentle Heron. Unfortunately, Gentle’s internet connection was playing up so she was not fully with us at the start. However, Mook Wheeler, a long-standing friend of this module, was on hand to do the introduction. She explained that VAI is an international cross-disability peer support community of over one thousand members, who may have physical, mental, emotional, developmental sensory (deafness or blindness) or multiple disabilities. About a quarter of the membership does not (yet!) have a disability and they are referred to as Temporarily Able Bodied (TAB). They may be a parent, spouse, child, friend or care-giver.

For a more detailed report on the presentation see the post from the visit to VAI earlier this year.

Mook then introduced herself saying she has Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is a former academic who first discovered SL in 2006 at the peak of its media exposure. She continued:

This discovery was a blessing for me, because SL provides methods of interacting with people that do not carry the high stress that face-to-face, eye-to-eye and voice-to-ear interactions do. In the physical world, ‘socialisation’ exhausts and stresses me. In SL, it can invigorate and lift me. I consider SL essential for my mental and emotional health. Because interaction in SL does not carry the stress it does in ‘RL’ (‘Real Life’, or the physical world), I discovered that the ‘SL me’ is very different to the ‘RL me’! The ‘SL me’ is calmer, steadier, more rational. The ‘RL me’ is much more of a reactive creature, buffeted by sensory input and constantly set back by ‘incorrect’ social input and output. Offending and getting offended is an unfortunate constant of my ‘real-life’. When around people, the ‘RL me’ is hardly able to think. When around avatars, the ‘SL me’ does not have this problem.

She shared notecards which give more details about online communities and Virtual Ability; how SL’s communication methods support her needs; and digital citizenship.

Maria Wirsing has very low vision so she uses two avatars and two SL viewers. One supports the visual and the other converts text to speech using optical character recognition (OCR). She has many friends in SL and interacts with people from all over the world.

We then opened the discussion to questions from the students. HannahSimoneNathalie started be asking if SL had impacted in unexpected ways? Gentle explained that she had not anticipated how intertwined SL and RL would become and she now doesn’t see a separation between them. xtrashot wondered how everyone had heard of SL? Gentle first heard of the world from an online chat room and was immediately attracted by the immersive nature of the virtual world whereas Mook discovered it through her research activity and Maria was introduced by an online group that was developing a presence here. Once she arrived she didn’t leave. John wondered how much time community members spend in SL every day and the answer is anything from two to eight hours normally but maybe as long as fifteen hours when involved in conferences.

ianjkelly noted that the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase of online activity and asked if this was also the case for VAI? It seems not, for the most part, although Gentle commented that she is noticing it in the less disabled folks. For the members who are used to social isolation prior to COVIDS-19 there has been little change. pastelmoon19 asked if it took a long time for them to enjoy SL or was it something they loved from the beginning. Gentle remembered that she spent her first few weeks sliding on every waterslide she could find! She loved it. For Mook the first day was full of shocks of all kinds but, after the first week the risk was becoming addicted. John said he spent long hours immersed in SL when he discovered it in 2007, only emerging for food and sleep! Sitearm admitted that he got over it after the first five years! For Maria it took three minutes to ‘fall in love’ with SL, and she hasn’t looked back.

Gentle invited the class to remain on at VAI, or return later, to explore the range of activities and sights. She thanked the students for their attention and their interesting questions. John concluded by thanking Mook for stepping into the breach unexpectedly and so capably. He also thanked Maria for sharing her insights this evening. Gentle Heron has been involved with the module since it commenced over eleven years ago and has always been extraordinarily generous with her time and sharing her not inconsiderable experience. John thanked her for her continuing support. He also thanked Sitearm Madonna, who has also been involved since the beginning, for making the arrangements for this field trip. The students echoed their thanks saying they enjoyed the session finding it really insightful and interesting.

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Class 6: My Avatar and Me – virtual identities

November 12, 2020

Real face merging with avatar

My avatar and me.

 

To establish some common ground for this complex subject John asked you all to think about how you would answer the question ‘who are you?’ in the context of the propositions put forward by Daniel Dennett and David Chalmers in the videos set for viewing in advance of the class. ‘How do you describe yourself?’ After you had given some thought to this we considered further questions: ‘Are your descriptions real?’ ‘Is it an illusion?’ ‘What makes yourself real?’ as we attempted to co-create an understanding as a group.

We acknowledged that how we present ourselves depends on the circumstances or the environment. So, the person we are at home is somewhat different from the person who goes into work or college, or who socialises with friends. Does this mean we have multiple personalities? This led to thinking about the difference between our ‘self’ and our ‘identity’ and the importance of establishing your ‘self’. The deep philosophical nature off this question is at the heart of what it means to exist, to be alive in the world, to be human.

It is also important on a more prosaic level. How we might wish to present ourselves professionally is important for our career development. It starts with coming to an understanding about the kind of image we decide to promote and then consciously projecting that through not only our work but also our professional engagements of all sorts. Social media is a key tool in this context – something we are all acutely aware of in the current situation where we are almost totally dependent on it.

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