Posts Tagged ‘technology’

h1

Class 9: Walking away…?

November 29, 2018

Ursula K Le Guin, author of The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas, 1973. Photograph by Benjamin Reed in 2008 from the obituary by Margaret Atwood in the Guardian 24 January 2018.

 

Glenn Loughran, lecturer in Fine Art and Programme Chair of the BA in Visual Art on Sherkin Island joined us this week. He took us through Ursula K Le Guin’s short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas in a way that gradually revealed the rich ideas contained in the story. Glenn suggested that there are many questions to work through in the text but began by asking for  reflections on the first part of the story and the sense of the world presented by Le Guin. What is the atmosphere, the underlying theory presented? It was agreed that it is a happy and peaceful world; it feels like a fairytale and has an old-fashioned quality. The community lives a simple life but could have technology if it wanted to – it seems to have consciously rejected that option. Did anything in the description give a sense that it is too good to be true? What is the philosophy of the community? Glenn suggested that it could be seen as an expression of Utilitarianism described by 18th Century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham and developed in the 19th Century by John Stuart Mill.

The relationship between the narrator and the text in the story is not fixed, with the narrator seeming to slip in and out of the story. This literary technique keeps the timeframe ambiguous: it could be past, present or future while also not revealing who the narrator is. It even sets up an ambiguity about who the reader might be. Why does the narrator say that the people are happy but also sophisticated? They are not banal but complex human beings living in a highly-developed society. Some of you felt that Omelas is a fake perfect world because it is one-dimensional but it was agreed that it is a society that has determined its own way of being.

Then Glenn asked what the turning point of the story is, suggesting that the community is conditioned by something. It took a while to arrive at the conclusion that the introduction of The Child turned the utopia into a dystopia. The child is kept in a degraded way and its situation never changes. Most importantly, everyone in Omelas is aware of the child’s existence. This is the condition on which the perfect society is founded. While everyone is shocked initially they eventually come to accept the condition. Why do they accept it? The Deal.

The moral dilemma at the heart of the text is how the community resolves the condition of the child on which its comfort is based. If we review this element of the story as an analogy to the world in which we live today the child becomes, for example, the slave labour that produces the commodities we use daily. They are frequently manufactured in conditions of oppression and dejection by what Marx described as alienated labour.

Are we aware of this? Do we know? Should we know?

On another level the analogy may be read as the dominance of one country over another or one continent over another – the Western World over Africa, for instance.

In conclusion, is it wrong to walk away? Many of you felt it is wrong and suggested it is refusing to take responsibility. The story makes you ask yourself if you would stay or walk away. It is not an easy decision. Nor is is easy to consider the consequences of either action.

Returning to the opening question of the text – can we escape technology? Again, many of you felt we are too used to it and would be reluctant to give it up. But, you did go on the demonstrate an awareness the impact of digital technology and, indeed, are taking action to limit your engagement. You talked of taking deliberate breaks from your phones, closing down computers so that you can read undisturbed and free from distraction, and you spoke of being aware of the influence of technology over your emotional state.

Glenn explained that many digital devices have inattentiveness built in. They are designed for a certain kind of hyper-attention which is why they can be difficult to turn them off. He referred to Stiegler (who we met in class 4) and his proposition that technology is both a poison and a cure, describing it as a pharmakon. The point is that technology is inherently neither positive or negative: we negotiate this position on an ongoing basis through our choices on when to engage and disengage.

After thanking Glenn for leading a very stimulating discussion and complimenting you all for engaging so thoroughly John suggested that it would help inform your preparation for the project. There were some questions about how the project might be presented. It is entirely your own choice. You may have your avatars present verbally, as we do in class; or through a written text; you may take us all to any other location in SL or use the classroom; you can direct us to a slideshare webpage or even produce a YouTube video. It is also possible to bring images into SL to support your presentation. It was agreed that we will devote next week’s class to discussing your options and describing how to achieve some of the effects you might want to try out.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: the summary of last year’s class discussion on this story and some insightful analysis by Mook Wheeler.
  2. Work: on the presentation for your Group Project.
  3. Write the eighth post: to your blog describing your final plans and preparations.

ADDITIONAL READING:

  1. For some context on Karl Marx’s theory of alienated labour read Anatomy of an AI System, by Kate Crawford and Vladan Joler. Their essay uses the Amazon Echo to describe an anatomical map of human labour, data and planetary resources [accessed on 29/11/18].
  2. To read more on the effect on attention by digital devices see Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes by N. Catherine Hayles in 2007 [accessed on 29/11/18].
  3. Relational Ecology and the Digital Pharmakon, 2012, by Bernard Stiegler is a good introduction to the author’s ideas.
h1

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].
h1

Class 4: Media and messages

November 2, 2017

As we moved into November a few scheduling clashes and misfortunes (coupled with this being reading week at DIT) led to the class being held on Thursday this week rather than the usual Wednesday. In addition, the class summary is being posted very much later than usual. Apologies from John and Glenn for disturbing the normal routine but it could not be helped (and thank you for your understanding).

All of you had read the blog post about ‘painfully coming to grips with The Medium is the Message’ and some of you even went on to read the more academic text describing Marshall McLuhan’s influence on ‘reshaping our sensorium’. This led to a lively and informed discussion about McLuhan’s philosophical ideas as expressed in his 1967 collaboration with graphic designer Quentin Fiore, The Medium is the Massage.

We arrived at an understanding of the basis of his theory that mankind is defined by the ability to develop tools – tools that then reshape and redefine the very nature of man and society. Furthermore, we noted that language, and communication in general, is really a tool that has had, and continues to have, the greatest influence on our society. The rapid development of communication technology throughout the 20th Century, culminating with the mass entertainment format of television, was identified by McLuhan to be as significant as the development of speech, writing and printing.

It is clear that we cannot know in what way our tools will affect society. But, McLuhan goes further and suggests that these very tools ‘massage’ us into believing they are merely neutral channels of communication while in fact the tools are having a greater impact on our development than the messages they carry. This development is incremental and not easy to perceive. We cannot predict the future so at best we should try maintain an awareness of the influences of our tools.

We suggested that the digital revolution currently playing out seems to be even more evidence in favour of McLuhan’s theories. His concept of the Global Village coming to life with virtual reality and social media. We will look at this again next class in the context to the group project.

No activities were set for the following week.

h1

Class 7: Medium and message

April 7, 2016

We began the class by talking about the feedback John gave on the student blogs. He reminded everyone of the importance of writing all of the required posts so you should check that you have done that now: everyone should have at least six posts written – as described in the ‘things to do before the next class’ section of all class summaries (note that the next assessment point for the blog will be following next week’s class). You might like to read advice on blog writing from Prof Dreamscape to students on this module in 2014.

Following that we had a discussion based on the the reading material provided on Marshall McLuhan and Axel Bruns. Not everyone had read the papers so we took five minutes out to do so before continuing. We looked in particular at the impact of social media apps and how they might be influencing how people interact. This was compared with older communications technology such as the land-line telephone. Using both text and voice a lively discussion ensued with everyone sharing their views.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Ensure your blog is up to date with six posts written and your bio clearly visible (the bio may relate to your avatar – in other words it may be fictional or aspirational).
  2. Read the group project brief 21st Century workplace and be prepared to interrogate it during the next class.
h1

Spring semester 2016

February 4, 2016
Rory_003

Students presenting their group projects in December 2015

The first class meeting of the Spring 2016 semester is on Thursday 4 February, 8:00 p.m. Irish Time, and will be taught online in Second Life.

The ‘Is One Life Enough’ professional social media course is a university-level online course taught weekly for 10 sessions held at Dublin Institute of Technology Campus in Second Life and accredited by Dublin Institute of Technology in Ireland and the University of Akron in Ohio. The audience for this course is undergraduates, professionals, and educators seeking university-level training and credit in the use of online tools, such as Second Life, WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn. Attending class as avatars participants will maintain online journals between sessions. Students will learn to establish and strengthen their online professional presence. You will learn also to work collaboratively, online, to complete team projects selected by the students and presented at module’s end to a collective university and Second Life audience.

Dublin Institute of Technology Students will receive 5 ECTS Credits as part of their current tuition – contact the office of Dean John O’Connor or your School for details.
Second Life Students receive DIT Accredited Professional Continuing Education Credit for a part-time tuition fee (99 Euro or equivalent in L$/US$) – contact Dublin In SL Registrar Sitearm Madonna
University of Akron Students may receive UOA College Credit as part of their current tuition – contact the office of Dr. Dudley B. Turner.

Inquiries: James Neville (‘Sitearm Madonna’ in SL) sitearm@gmail.com

Module History

In 2009, the ‘Is One Life Enough’ module was founded for Dublin Institute of Technology DIT students by (then) Head of School of Creative Arts, John O’Connor (‘Acuppa Tae’ in SL), and eLearning Development Officer, Claudia Igbrude (‘Locks Aichi’ in SL).

In 2010, IOLE received the ‘Jennifer Burke Innovation in Teaching and Learning Award’ from the Irish Learning Technology Association and Dublin City University. Also in 2010, module eligibility was expanded to the greater Second Life Community via collaboration with Dublin Virtually Live Owner, John Mahon (‘Ham Rambler’ in SL).

In 2012, IOLE received the ‘Further and Higher Education Innovation Award’ from Learning Without Frontiers (London, UK). Also in 2012, Dr. Dudley Turner (Dudley Dreamscape in SL) graduated from the Autumn 2012 module as a Second Life Student.

In 2014, module eligibility was further expanded to University of Akron students via collaboration with Dr. Turner.

Organization History

Dublin Institute of Technology is the largest provider of third level education in Ireland with degree awarding authority and is on track to be Ireland’s first nationally accredited technological university.

Dublin in Second Life is a recreation of Dublin City online, celebrating the music, art, education, culture, and enterprise of Ireland and is a premier member of the broad Second Life Community, recognized by both Residents and Linden Lab Top Management.

University of Akron is one of America’s strongest public universities, focused on innovation, entrepreneurship and economic growth.

Vitae

John O’Connor is a Director of Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) in Dublin, Ireland, and Dean of the College of Arts and Tourism. His work includes sitting on the Senior Leadership Team of DIT, teaching the award winning module, ‘Virtual Environments: Is one life enough?’ and promoting Dublin as a creative city and thriving economic hub. His academic interests include: access to education for isolated communities; the use of technology to support learning; typography; and development of the professional design sector in Ireland.

Dr. Dudley B. Turner is Former Interim Dean, College of Creative & Professional Arts, University of Akron (UOA) in Akron, Ohio, USA. He teaches communication, persuasion, and professional speaking. Dr. Turner is a champion of the use of virtual world communication technologies such as Second Life. He is the 2014 winner of the prestigious Ohio’s Innovative Teacher Award from the Ohio Communication Association.

h1

Class 5: Content creation

March 14, 2014

Ham Rambler 1_001CLASS SUMMARY:

Ham Rambler (above) and Sitearm Madonna spoke on the development of content in the online environment. Sitearm covered the following points:

  • Content Creation – what constitutes content, how is it generated?
  • Value – does your content have any value?
  • Sharing your content – making it available, generating an income.
  • Use and protection of online content – copyright and Intellectual Property (IP) issues.
  • Consider your content for the end project.

Ham talked about the use of corporate trademarks in Second Life and the reaction of global brands to seeing themselves appear in the virtual world. The various methodologies for protecting content including copyright, trademark registration and patents were discussed. A question about the copyright of book titles focussed on what might not be protected (see You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice…) The development of digital and online content has led to a new approach to sharing under the Creative Commons system.  Finally, we referred to Bruns’ Consumer – Prosumer – Produser proposition brought about by the web (see last weeks list of activities).

Sitearm Madonna’s slides are available here:
Content creation examples and tips
Creating content inside and outside of Second Life (with an emphasis on team working)
Tips and tools for online virtual collaboration and team working

Some other interesting links from Sitearm:
Soundtracks from the Is One Life Enough Song Contest
YouTube video of the Second Life Build A Robot Contest Winners

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

1. Read: Content licensing in Virtual Worlds (accessed on 03/14/14) a thoughtful blog post about the legal issues around protecting ‘things’ you create in Second Life. Read the comments also.

2. Read The Laws of Virtual Worlds (accessed on 03/14/14) from the California Law Review 2003 this is an excellent, if highly specialised, review of the legal position of avatars in virtual worlds.

h1

Videos from Finale

May 25, 2012

Here are the videos all by the students:
GROUP 1

GROUP 2:

GROUP 3

%d bloggers like this: