Posts Tagged ‘Etiquette’

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Class 3: Teamwork and collaboration

February 22, 2017
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Open discussion about places students visited in SL since the last class.

Locks Aichi, formerly of the DIT Learning Teaching and Technology Centre and who has been teaching the module since it started, joined the class this week. She will be around to provide support and guidance from now on.

We began class by explaining the thinking behind our SL avatars names. Some people have chosen to model their avies (as they are known in SL) on their RL selves and consequently the name reflects this choice. Others have developed new ‘en ligne’ personalities that may reflect previous engagements or suggest future exploration, with correspondingly thoughtful names. John explained that when he started in SL in 2006 residents had to choose a surname from a existing list, which gave him Tae. Forenames could be freely invented so Accupa was impossible to resist. However, when SL changed its policy to allow any name to be allocated to an avie he reverted to John O’Connor. Maintaining two identities was too time consuming! So, if anyone is unhappy with their initial choice it can be changed but make sure to let everyone know.

The discussion moved onto a report on the locations everyone had been visiting since the last class. You have been very adventurous exploring pubs, museums, shopping malls, clubs and even some venues of dubious repute. Many have tried dancing, with varying degrees of success; chatting with other residents; flying; teleporting; and generally trying to get a feel for the environment. You are noticing the nuances of etiquette in this particular virtual space and, despite the occasional embarrassing moment, settling in very well.

The opportunity to observe your own responses to being in this strange new environment, one where you feel awkward and clumsy as you try to control your avie, and struggle to understand the conventions around acceptable behaviour, are not lost on you – everyone is reflecting on this. But, John reminded the class not to become too caught up in SL as an end in itself – the module merely uses SL to explore online behaviour in its broadest context, particularly for how teamwork and collaboration can be facilitated and supported. Keep that in mind while you inhabit the space.

We had hoped to look at Teamwork and Collaboration in more detail but time ran out. We did, however, present the teams you will break into for the main project, and in which you should continue your online exploration. Get used to working together online.

Group 1: shadidame; freddymcfreddy; ChipVanCorner.
Group 2: AlxMway; Burnsygirl; whatyamacallit.
Group 3: Saoise; jackmittons; amarcordcat.
Group 4: Deeuwan; Fayebubba; Inchydoney.
Group 5: Yashurdoshur; Agendasm; Yogitea.

John also said he would give each avatar L$300 for pocket money – instantly transforming from lecturer to Dad! Don’t get excited and spend it all at in the first shop – you will need some of it to upload images into SL for your project (at a cost of L$10 per image). By the way, your pocket money is the equivalent of about US$1. Your ‘bank balance’ appears in the menu bar at the right hand side.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Meet: at least two residents of SL and try to engage them in conversation.
  2. Write the third post: to your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Read: (if you haven’t done so already) the very short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Ursula K Le Guin. 1973.
  4. Prepare: one question about the text to propose to the group at the next class.
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Class 2: Art and Utopia

February 15, 2017
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Exploring the changing light from the balcony of the DIT campus in SL.

This week we met three times! On Tuesday Glenn did a technical support session to resolve access to SL, activating voice for everyone and generally getting used to residing in SL. John followed this up on Wednesday to ensure everyone had joined the module group. We looked at changing the orientation of the sun for capturing dramatic photos and tried out flying. We also agreed to use the Sherkin Class 2016 private group for communication outside class time.

Only a few participants had checked the post from last week’s class so much of the activities were not completed. Please read them carefully and get them done for next week. It is particularly important that you start your individual blogs immediately so you can reflect on the issues that arise in class. If you wish to retain a sense of anonymity set up the blog with your avatar’s identity: there is no obligation to reveal your true self online!

We also spoke a little about how conventions in SL differ from Real Life (RL). For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to approach complete strangers in SL and initiate a conversation in a way that would be unthinkable in RL. More often than not, other residents are happy to engage. Sometimes they may ignore you or, indeed, may have stepped away for their pc – known as ‘away from keyboard’ or AFK – leaving their avatar abandoned and unable to respond! It is not possible to tell whether or not an avatar is inhabited merely by looking at it. Similarly, we don’t receive the subliminal confirmation that somebody has heard and understood what we have said because the RL facial gestures and expressions are missing. So, remember to provide deliberate cues during class discussion to confirm you are still in attendance and understand what is being spoken of. Type a comment in ‘Nearby Chat’ or even just a simple ‘y’ to indicate agreement. Better yet, type a question. Typos and poor spelling are perfectly acceptable in SL, as are txt words and acronyms – it is poor etiquette to correct another’s spelling or grammar! Familiarity with all this will develop as you  spend more time in SL.

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Class 2. Continued…

Good start to the second session this week. We have most of the technical issues worked out at this stage, everyone is on the Facebook page and it seems that almost everyone has a voice and can hear when others speak. The room was arranged into a more informal setting to allow for the second part of the module, which will be based around the close reading of key texts on Utopia and Art. This week Glenn gave a broad introduction and overview of Thomas More’s Utopia text. The group was asked to read the introduction to Stephen Duncomb’s text: Open Utopia. This introduction is quite lengthy and quite dense, however, it provides two important ways of thinking about More’s Utopia. Firstly it addresses the idea of Utopia in the present and after a century of failed and violent attempts that led to Fascism and Communism. As a result of these attempts, the concept of Utopia has become a difficult somewhat closed or static concept. However, referring to Francis Fukuyama’s thesis on the ‘end of history’, Duncombe also suggests that while we may be at the end of large-scale social projects, the status quo is very far from perfect for most of the populace. It is within this context that the concept of Utopia is being considered anew, as a way to begin to look forward to the future in a way that has been somewhat barred since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. At a more technical level, Duncombe makes some interesting arguments about the relationship between criticism and utopia, suggesting that criticism is utopias antithesis. This argument is made in a more general sense and then in a way that is much more particular to More’s Utopia, and it was quite illuminating to read Duncombe’s interpretation of the book as a critique of the function of criticism. This critique leads Duncombe to assert the role of the artist in mediating the present-ness of criticism and the future orientation of Utopian projection. This articulation of the artist as the proposer of alternative modes of social formation will be picked up in the next session. The rest of the session looked at other examples of utopian literary exposition such as François Rabelais (1483– 1553) Abbey of Thelema from his novel Gargantua.  Finally, we looked at a couple of concrete experiments such as  André Godin’s  Familistère complex in 1859 and the Worgl Experiment in Austria in 1932.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: SL with some colleagues from the class. Visit at least 3 different locations that are new to you. Find them in search or ask other residents for recommendations, or simply select places at random.
  2. Write the second post: to your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Describe the places and include photos, if you can. Explain what you liked and disliked about the locations and describe any interaction you might have had – relate this to the concept of a Utopian place.
  3. Read: the very short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas. Ursula K Le Guin. 1973.
  4. Pose one question about the text to the group.
  5. Read: 5 steps to build a productive and tight knit remote team
  6. Read: 10 Rules of Professional Etiquette for the Digital Workplace
  7. Supplementary reading about SL and virtual worlds:
    in Virtual Worlds Magazine, Virtual Anthropology and the Prometheus myth.
    Interview with Rod Humble, former CEO of Linden Labs, owners of Second Life, Forget Playing Games. Meet the Man Who Wants to Empower You to Make Games.
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Class 7: Communities and identity

November 10, 2016
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Online identity versus ‘real’ identity.

This week we had a lively discussion that was informed by our visit to Virtual Ability Island in the previous class. The differences between real and virtual spaces became apparent when we considered the limitations of  Second Life. For example, avatars can have difficulty negotiating stairs, particularly spiral staircases, but this has not led to their replacement: experience of Real Life building has shaped our approach to building in virtual worlds for the same reason that early motor cars resembled horse-drawn carriages.

An understanding of what helps us to feel comfortable in a virtual space is very important in the development and support of online communities not just in SL but in general. The rules of engagement need to be clearly defined as do the conventions around acceptable behaviour. Regulations, conventions and etiquette help to define a community and support the feeling of belonging to a group and participating. Joining a community requires patience and a certain amount of commitment – while the rules may be published, conventions and etiquette are less clear. It take time to observe and learn them as you gradually become engaged.

This is also an important aspect of team building. Even in Real Life teams can be difficult to manage and tend to be successful when the social glue that holds them together is given attention. This is even more important for online teams that  meet only virtually. For success you must consider how to support social interaction before you get down to the ‘real work’.

Another important criteria for successful group work and team building is trust. This fundamental human condition can be delicate in Real Life so how much more so is it in virtual environments? Building an online identity is really a matter of building trust. The example of the Syrian lesbian blogger demonstrates how easy it can be to build a persona and how devastating it can be if it emerges that the persona does not match Real Life.

John gave some feedback on your blogs reminding everyone to ensure you are writing on the required topic. Generally, the descriptive writing is good and posts are well illustrated. Now it is time to become more reflective. Write about your own response to your learning, how you might apply it and where you are finding it difficult.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the eighth post: to your blog describing how your team has approached planning your project, dividing the work and addressing conflict.
  2. 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.
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Class 6: Online communities

October 27, 2016
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Gentle Heron welcomes the class to Virtual Ability Island.

Gentle Heron hosted our visit to Virtual Ability Island this week. We gathered in the auditorium where she told us of the origin and development of the island. It was opened in 2007 to support a community enabling people with a wide range of disabilities to thrive in online virtual worlds like SL. Now, with a population of over 1,000 individuals from six continents (in Real Life) of varying abilities (not all are disabled) the community is vibrant and active. Although disability may be less apparent in SL where, for example avatars can walk even though their human counterparts may need a wheelchair, those with visual or hearing impairment require particular consideration.

The principles of universal design and access for all underpin the development of the environment so that colour schemes, landscaping, materials and access all promote integration – there is no segregation between the able and the disabled. You won’t find any stairs here, only ramps, colour schemes are soothing to promote calm stress-free engagement and support those with visual disability, while speech is accompanied by text in local chat so those with hearing impairment are not disadvantaged. The Virtual Ability website is worth a visit if you would like to read about the history and development.

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Some participants enjoying virtual refreshment during the visit to Virtual Ability Island.

Gentle spoke of the importance of community support in SL, in particular for people who may not be able to leave their homes in Real Life. Online communities may well provide their only means of socialising, getting informed, engaging with the wider world and influencing issues outside their immediate physical environment.

We then teleported to Cape Able to visit the art gallery. It hosts work by artists working in both RL and SL. We saw work by SL photographer Slatan Dryke. Next door is the virtual presence of the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, with a Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition downstairs and pieces from its famed Masterpieces of American Indian Art upstairs.

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Imagine Magazine, an SL periodical, published a profile on Gentle Heron in the November 2010 edition.

The final location we visited was Cape Serenity which hosts a library and poetry garden. The library has a selection of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama that can be read directly in SL, or in the form of notecards, or provide links to free downloads and websites. It features publications by residents writing about their direct experiences of disability and engagement. The poetry garden was the highlight of the evening. A beautifully serene place with birdsong, a pond, rabbits and birds wandering through panels displaying poems.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the sixth post: to your blog discussing the importance of regulation, convention and etiquette in online communities.
  2. Write the seventh post: to your blog describing how you have contributed to the theme of your group’s project and describing the group meetings held so far.
  3. Read: Digital identity development is a process, by Eric Stoller.
  4. Read: Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man in the Guardian newspaper 2011.

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Class 4: Who are you?

February 25, 2016

The class discussed the notion of online identity this week. We started by sharing experiences of trying to meet new people in SL. This proved interesting in many ways. Approaching complete strangers was simultaneously easier and harder than doing so in real life! Harder because participants were new to it and found it took courage and determination to introduce yourselves and begin a conversation. Easier because you were aware that all residents of SL had made a conscious decision to be here and therefore were signifying their willingness to engage with others. The comparison was made with joining a club or going to an entertainment venue where everyone acknowledges that they are in attendance for social interaction.

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Meeting new people in Second Life is both hard and easy!

There were some surprises at the direction conversations occasionally took. Participants discovered a slightly darker side of  the online world that offered ‘adult entertainment’. Just as in the real world, it is possible to encounter unsavoury characters and it is important to be aware of this side of online environments. However, unlike the real world it is easier to escape from an unpleasant experience by teleporting elsewhere or simply logging off.

Many of you suggested that SL offered the opportunity to present yourself in a new way – to experiment with the presence you offered online. Many residents present as animals or imaginary characters such as vampires or zombies. Even more ambiguous is the knowledge that we don’t really know who we are engaging with in an online environment. The cues we rely on in the real world are not available online. John suggested that this ambiguity also permeates notions of the ‘truth’. He gave the example of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog that received international attention when the supposedly lesbian author was revealed as an American male postgraduate student in 2011. The author claimed he was creating a voice for issues he felt strongly about but the public reaction to being hoaxed was less forgiving. John also mentioned last year’s controversy surrounding the white civil rights leader who passed herself off as black for years. One of the surprises in the Rachel Dolezal case is the amount of support she received after the truth was revealed. If people can be race-fluid or gender-fluid in real life it is unsurprising that they can present convincingly in SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Visit: a music or dance club in SL while it is active with other residents and soak up the ambience of online entertainment.
  2. Write the fouth post: to your blog describing your experience of social interaction in SL.  
  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

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Class 7: Online conventions

November 12, 2015
Prof Dudley Turner, University of Akron Ohio, visits the class

Prof Dudley Turner, University of Akron Ohio, visits the class

Prof Dudley Turner, University of Akron in Ohio, visited class this week. He invited us to drop by Akron Island (see links at right) anytime and also offered his help to students on their projects. If you haven’t already made friends with Dudley look out for him when you next log into SL.

Class opened with a discussion around the reading material from last week, Reinventing Ourselves. Despite the fact that it is quite a dense and academic text it revealed the importance of understanding how identity is formed both in Real Life and online. Many of you needed to read through it a few times to get an understanding of the philosophical and psychological issues underlying this complex process. It also demonstrated to you the seriousness with which these matters are taken and how much is at stake.

The discussion informed your feedback on progress in your projects. Everyone has been exploring SL for interesting buildings and trying to meet the owners and builders. The latter is proving less simple than it sounds and you report having come up against time zone differences, e.g., arriving in deserted cities because (despite the 4 time zones) everyone in North America is sleeping or working! Or being unable to establish contact with people, sometimes even when their avatar is standing in front of you. We talked about strategies for engaging with individuals you meet in SL: understanding what avatars in SL might be doing; the difference between Instant Messaging (IM) and local chat; contextualising your request. So, when you meet someone online the normal human cues that allow you to decide when and how to introduce yourself are not available. You need to keep in mind that people may well be engaged in different conversations that you cannot see. Trying to engage them in conversation may not succeed therefore you need to leave a message that they can see at a more convenient time. When doing so it is important that the message gives the full context of your request: who you are, what you are asking for; why you are asking this particular person; how can they contact you. This approach should be used in any form of online communication.

John also reminded you to read the project brief and the assessment requirements thoroughly so you understand precisely what to do. He said that although you are working on a group project you will be assessed individually based on your discussion of the project during class, your blog posts about your contribution to the project and your role in the final presentation at the end of the semester.

Finally, John spoke about writing posts to your blog. A summary of his advice can be read in a post to this blog from last year and would be useful for you to read now.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: about the Impact of Technology on Disaster Relief and the History and Power of Hashtags and Five Brilliant Ways to Use Hashtags.
  2. Write the seventh post: to your blog describing progress on your project.
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Class 6: Content creation

November 5, 2015

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For some reason attendance at class this week was very poor. This made it difficult to have a really meaningful discussion. However, Rory made up for it by sharing his experience of co-creating a successful automotive blog over the last five years. He shared the story behind the development as a few friends went from posting photos about their common interest to becoming a recognised source of expertise with several hundred followers. We discussed how this led to more focussed sense of responsibility towards the community of followers and greater sensitivity around the audience. Issues of copyright and plagiarism emerged also. The value of having a recognisable approach to the subject is one way of counteracting this – Rory suggested that the source of distinctive images remains recognisable even if cropped or altered.

John reminded the class that everyone should have at least the following five posts made to their blogs by now:

  1. Expectations for the module.
  2. Review of three locations visited in SL.
  3. Description of encounters with two residents of SL.
  4. Three adjectives describing yourself and a 30 second elevator pitch.
  5. How to convert your personal presence online to an identity for professional networking.

From this week on you should write at least one post a week describing progress on your project: how you are communicating with your partner, the tools you find useful, how easy/difficult you are finding online collaboration, what works for you and what doesn’t, etc.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: some of Reinventing Ourselves: Contemporary Concepts of Identity in Virtual Worlds, Eds Anna Peachy and Mark Childs, published by Springer 2011.
  2. Prepare: a report on your progress with the project for next week’s class.
  3. Write the sixth post: to your blog describing progress on your project.
  4. If you have some time visit The Garden Maze at Falconmoon and see if you can find your way to the middle!
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