Posts Tagged ‘tools’

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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.
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Class 3: Team working

October 25, 2017
Sitearm Madonna on team working

Guest speaker Sitearm Madonna talks about team work through poetry!

This week we were rejoined by the second year group of students on the BA in Visual Art and their course leader Joseph Jacotot (aka Glenn Loughran). This group took the module last semester and enjoyed it so much they wanted to return! They were made welcome by the current group and we had one of the highest numbers of students ever to gather for a class in SL.

Guest speaker Sitearm Madonna (a veteran on this module) spoke about team working, both in Real Life (RL) and in online and virtual environments. His slide deck Team Operations Tips can be reviewed again and, indeed, it is recommended due to the richness of the content. There was only time to touch on it in class. Site speaks from a lifetime of experience working on various teams – some of which he didn’t wish to be a member, others where he was happy to participate and many of which he led. For me the take away point was about the need for constant confirmation that every member of the team is on the same page. Never assume that people agree when it comes to understanding either the project on which the team is working or the decisions that emerge from meetings. This is evident in team work in RL but it is exacerbated in the online environment where our usual human communication cues are missing. Glenn touched on a point that many of you discussed in your blog posts: the importance of voice in online communication. In RL much of our understanding is based on body language, often unconsciously interpreted, which lets us know when individuals in a group reach understanding, consensus and agreement. In the online environment all of this has to be transmitted through voice and text. Therefore, regular reflection as a group is necessary to prevent difficulties.

The issue of leadership in groups and how to encourage it was addressed and Sitearm emphasised the importance of understanding all the roles necessary for group development and progress. He reminded us that members need to flexible when it comes to stepping in and out of the roles as needed. So, the burden and responsibility of leadership actually falls on each member of the group and should be exercised when needed. Here also, the importance of ensuring that the whole groups is aware of the roles they are inhabiting at any time is critical. Negotiation around roles will help this process.

Sitearm provided entertainment during the question and answer session as he changed avatars from The Saint to Sitearm Madonna the elegant lady to a butterfly to artwork and, finally, burning man.

John referred to the #MeToo group project brief asking you all to read both the brief and the assessment criteria very carefully. By now the class was running a little over time so there were no questions directly on the project. We can discuss it in more detail next week. Referring to the first task to be undertaken before the next class John talked about the range of online tools that are available, many free of charge, to support teams and make up for the lack of fact-to-face (F2F) engagement. They cover all aspects team work from communications (Facebook, WhatsApp, We Chat etc), to project management (Trello, Padlet, Google sheets etc), collaborative note taking and writing (PBwiki, Google documents etc).  You should review some of them and there may be others you are familiar with or have used before. Share you experiences with the group.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Decide: among your group what tools you will use for planning your project (how you will stay in touch and share information, etc.).
  2. Write the third post: on your blog explaining your choice of communication tools and reflect on how the group arrived at the decision.
  3. Read: Living Structures in Second Life Virtual Worlds Projects by Sitearm Madonna. [accessed 27 October 2017].
  4. Read: Painfully Coming to Grips with The Medium is the Message an amusing and accessible introduction to the philosophy of Marshall McLuhan. [accessed 27 October 2017].
  5. Supplementary reading: Extrapolating on McLuhan: How Media Environments of the Given, the Represented, and the Induced Shape and Reshape Our Sensorium provides a deeper analysis of McLuhan. [accessed 27 October 2017].
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Class 10: Building

December 1, 2016

This week John is in Florence at the ELIA Biennial Conference so he logged into SL from his hotel room. It seems the wifi signal was good enough to support voice, apart from some reported background hissing, so the class was able to proceed as usual.

John reminded everyone that the student feedback form Q6A should be completed online by everyone (many of you have already done so) and it is completely anonymous so you may be brutally honest!

The class tried their hands at building simple shapes in SL during class. Starting with basic cubes which we positioned on the balcony wall we stretched them into flat panels and then placed images on them. This will serve as a basic slide presentation screen for delivering your group projects in two weeks. Create your images in Photoshop (512 x 512 pixels) and save in jpg format. Upload the jpgs to SL from the menubar Build>Upload>Image. This will cost L$10 (contact John if you have spent all of your allowance!).

Video is not very reliable in SL so John recommended posting to YoTube and providing a link if you want to use moving images.

There will be six groups presenting on Thursday 15th December and no matter how well prepared we all are technical issues inevitably arise which leads to delays. So please aim to remain in class until 9.30 pm to give everybody enough time to present comfortably.

John closed with a reference to this week’s reading list. It addresses the use of social media in disaster relief and business and the power of hashtags. We will discuss the implications next week.

snapshot_001

Poilination created an elegant archway into the classroom from the balcony.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: Technology’s Impact on Disaster Relief which talks about the use of Twitter, Google and other apps for coordination between relief teams.
  2. Look at: The History and Power of Hashtags in Social Media Marketing an infographic.
  3. Read: Five brilliant ways to use hashtags in social media marketing.
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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.

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Class 6: Content creation, part two

March 13, 2013

CLASS SUMMARY:

Guest Lecturers Sitearm Madonna and Elfay Pinkdot delivered this week’s class at the Dublin Conference Area.

The aim of this class was to get participants thinking about and using the tools needed for creating the final presentation and what the implications of making your own or using existing ones might be.

Madonna and Pinkdot covered a list of collaborative tools used for making and uploading: videos, audio tracks, images etc, with emphasis on how these funnel into a typical IOLE Formal Presentation including whether to do it inworld or via YouTube.

This list of tutorials to watch BEFORE class was circulated in advance; to save time and give you a chance to absorb the technical aspects of these tools.  *NOTE: some of these tutorials refer to SL viewers that you may not be using, you may need to look on your own viewer to find where the buttons are located – but they will be there!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JcuscQPZ2wg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBVmFafFatE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jS9J2ecP0w 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0O0gr0jIrs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcy1yje6o6k

There will be time for Q & A during class.

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