Hello, my name is Spookylukey and over the course of the next several months I intend on diving deep into the second life world to engage with unfamiliar surroundings and avatars to form a greater understanding of virtual communication and teamwork. I am an aspiring web designer and hopefully soon in the near future I will begin to work with clients based globally. Please join me on my journey whilst I progress throughout the next few months and please feel free to comment and get in touch.
My blog – Week 1 ; A brief exploration.
During my first week of class in the virtual world we were met by our lecturer John O’connor in the TU classroom. After a brief consultation and welcoming we were tasked with visiting some locations that we found interesting and to document our experiences.
I decided to journey through the familiar streets of Dublin as i head heard that it was quite a welcoming and lively city. Whilst hovering around town i abruptly came to a halt as I had suddenly come across an obscure Texaco petrol station. Now, although I can’t recollect the last time I filled up my motor, but i am sure that the prices had not inflated past the 1.50 per litre mark. I was very unaware of this disgrace, it seems to me that the fuel providers clearly have some sort of monopoly over the motorists of the city.
On a positive note, Dublin saw a historic and dramatic change in political affairs. With the recent election just having taken place it is believed that Sinn fein are aiming to put a firm clasp around the wrist of these fuel providers and landlords alike. The future looks bright for Dublin so lets keep looking forward. Power to the people!
After a long day browsing around the city, I grabbed a bite of lunch at centra beside the spire and decided to take a short trip to the Guiness storehouse in the evening. Upon arrival I was impressed by the construction and architecture of the exterior of the distillery. I was swiftly greeted be a large illumines Guiness sign and shortly welcomed inside for a quick tour. The silos of the distillery struck me by how large they were, I was told that up to half a million litres are made there daily.
The host was extremely generous and gave me a number of samples on the house when my visit came to an end, they then directed me to the las stop on O’connel street which was about ten minutes away.
My blog – Week 2 ; A weekend out socialising.
As a class we were asked to further explore the second life world and to socialise with some fellow avatars. I was hoping to get to talk and interact with some characters in Dublin to be able to gain some insight into their lives and to ask why they are in the place that they are.
I decided once again to visit Dublin again as I thought that avatars present have a high chance of being Irish residents themselves and there for i would be able to start an easy conversation. I made my way down to temple bar and asked for access to the busy local pub. The majority of avatars on the map were actually present in this pub, in fact any avatar that i saw on the street outside were making their way to the pub. I first came across two characters originally from sligo who told me they were taking part in a fourth year module and had to document online interactions in either an online forum or second life itself. They didn’t speak in the chat for very long but told me that they have come across numerous avatars that spoke through a microphone and were present in the pub at that moment
My second encounter was asking the host of the private chat access to the conversation. He was a tall, dark figure and stood in the corner of the room beside a vending machine for up to an hour while he was chatting away. He asked me what my intentions were and how I was able to identify him as a private chat host, I told him that he was pointed out by a friend. At first he sounded sceptical as to why i was here alone trying to talk to other avatars. After a few short messages that explained why I had indulged in after life, he sent me an invite into the shared pub chat.
The group conversation was not at all what i had expected, it was clustered with numerous voices quiet and loud. I found it very hard to clarify who was saying what and to who they were referencing to.
My blog – Week 3 ; Assignment of groups.
Unfortunately my group was unable to contact each other this week as we had not been sharp enough to engage in conversation before we all logged out of second life. I was eager to begin speaking to them so I made sure that the next week i would make an attempt to secure some of their emails before the class ended in week 4. There was definitely a lack of awareness amongst our group as nobody had made an attempt to contact each other during the class. One week wasted but that was the last time that would happen. Lesson learned.
My blog – Week 4 ; The first group meeting.
We were asked to form in or groups outside of second life and discuss our aims and targets regarding how we were going to initiate the process, due to the lack of initial communication we were unable to get started the previous week.
I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to reach my group outside of second life as I had never spoken to any of the members, nor had I heard them speak through the voice chat yet. I felt that we were all stuck in a slightly awkward yet tricky situation but i felt that i needed to approach my group piers within the class before everyone had logged off for the week. If so, it would have been a week of preparation and team work spilled down the drain in my opinion. As i was only becoming familiar with second life and the ways of this particular virtual world, I was unaware of the private messaging system that was easily accessible to me. Therefor due to my lack of understanding I opted to link my email address (and a side note) into the shared chat box for my piers to read and enable them to contact me via email. Within a day or two the group managed to contact my email and sent me their phone numbers so I could add them on whatsapp which will be our chosen platform to communicate on. Caoimhe was then able to set up a WhatsApp group with the members of our team once we had a contact list of all phone numbers.
Unfortunately one of the members was not present in the first meeting as we were unable to get hold of them due to unknown reasons. Caoimhe and I begin to talk constructively by messaging each other, we began to discuss the project in general and how we were going to create specific meeting times. On Wednesday evening myself, Jack and Caoimhe decided to hold a short 15 minute call. The call just consisted of a brief and general discussion where we chose to further research google for the project. We also agreed on holding another meeting later in the week when everyone will be able to partake in the call so that we could assign roles and responsibilities for members to undertake. We had decided that we would like to present a slideshow and make a well made cinematic short film as Caoimhe and myself are into videography and editing.
My blog – Week 5 ; McLuhan’s theories.
When understanding media, McLuhan describes the content of a medium as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. He is saying that people tend to focus on the obvious, which is the content, to provide us valuable information, yet during the process, we genuinely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced slightly, or over long periods of time. As society norms, values and ways of doing things change because of technology, it is then we realise the social implications of the medium. These can range from religious or cultural issues and historical precedents, through interplay with existing conditions, to tertiary effects in a cascade of interactions we are unaware of.
McLuhan has also created a theory consisting of two categories, hot media and cool media. Hot media is that of which engages one sense completely and cool media generally uses low definition media that engages several senses somewhat less completely, in that it demands a greater deal of interaction on the individual/audience.
My understanding has been along the lines of resolution – that is, how much work the ‘audience’ needs to do to fill in the gaps to create the fuller picture. So Hot media is very high resolution, there isn’t any space that the viewer needs to fill in to understand a photograph. On the other hand, a cartoon – that consists of a simple circle to represent an eye, a few squiggles to represent the hair and the top of the head, and a curved line to convey a smile – is low resolution; the viewer has to understand and interpret the information there to create the whole picture. Media that involve more than one sense tend to be Cool – because the audience has to actively interpret different signals from different senses.
My blog – Week 6 (6th post) ; My avatar and me.
This week we once again gathered in the TU classroom as discussed virtual identities. The idea of developing and maintaining a virtual online persona is indeed a trickier concept then it first might appear. As once said by actor Will Rogers, ‘It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation, but you can lose it in a minute.’ This statement truly sums up how easy it is to slip from being a respected and admired individual, to a questionable one.
There are certain key aspects to take into account when you are in an virtual environment that requires you to interact with other individuals. They all revolve around you making sure that you are able to sustain an all-round professional and likeable persona.
In order to develop this persona over time, it is important that you initially engage in the interactions positively, this means by being punctual and responsive. When entering a classroom or meeting, it is essential that you arrive on time, prefferbly a couple of minutes before hand. This will very clearly show that you are eager to begin the session and that you have allowed yourself and piers some time to settle down before the initiation. Once the session has started it is also important that you are ready to be responsive to whom that is beginning to speak, interaction is essential wether that be greeting them, answering a question or just talking in general. This will once again show that you are eager to interact and also shows the speaker some respect by engaging in conversation when needed. At the end of the day, nobody wants to have a conversation with thin air. It is also important to be mindful and respectful when others are speaking and voicing opinions. It will come across as impatient and rude if individuals are taking over each other and will make the voice call sound clustered and over saturated with noise. Finally, if you are a good listener and understanding person, you will gain the admiration of piers for having the ability to comprehend what others have to say. This will show your appreciation for others who are voicing themselves and you will have shown that you are not a selfish, hard nosed participant.
The importance of how others perceive you is crucial in the working world. It is necessary to care about how you are presenting yourself. By taking care of your actions and being mindful of your manners, you will be able to steadily build a positive image of yourself for others to see and will come to your advantage sooner then you think.
(7th post) ; Team work.
The team has so far held one meeting call to discuss the project, but there has been a sufficient amount of conversation exchanged in the group chat that we had set up. The team was struggling to maintain a healthy meeting schedule as members were constantly unavailable or busy and at some occasions had no broadband internet connection. After some further research we had discovered that google had actually a very positive carbon footprint and had shown many signs of trying to help our environment and our planet. It wouldn’t make sense to try and make a presentation aimed towards an already environmentally friendly company, so we opted to try and find a more suited option that would related better to the brief.
Caoimhe and I continued trying to make phone calls but it seemed that the other two members were constantly unresponsive which in my opinion was a little frustrating to say the least. There was clear signs of no progression within the team, so Caoimhe and I had take matters into our own hands and begin the process ourselves. That included being in-charge of all matters and decisions until the others had decided they would participate.
The two of us ended up calling for a couple of hours which was strange in the beginning as we were practically two complete strangers but luckily we got on well and soon became friends. We felt that finally Amazon would be the perfect company to pitch our presentation to as we felt that they were lacking environmental sustainability and had come under heat by critics and activists world wide for quite some time now.
Surprisingly the communication between us was fluent and easy, and we were able to establish how we wanted to approach the presentation. We couldn’t afford to waste anymore time waiting on the others to join us so the ship was set sail and whoever was onboard was on the journey, no holding back.
My blog – Week 7 (8th post) ; Online relationships.
Unfortunately this week i was unable to attend the class as my broadband had been temporarily disconnected leaving me with no internet for a couple of days.
(Thanks again virgin media)
My blog – Week 8 (9th post) ; To walk away?
Omelas is initially portrayed as a shimmering city of delight and happiness. Omelas has no kings, soldiers, priests, or slaves and the narrator subtly claims how they are unaware of the economics of the community. Everything about Omelas seems to be so amazingly pleasing that the narrator comments on how the reader is would not be truly convinced of its existence and so elaborates on one major aspect of the city which is its one injustice. The city constant state of blissfulness and peace requires a unfortunate member of society, in this case a child, to be kept a state of constant darkness.
The citizens of the city will eventually reach and age where they are mature enough to know the single dark secret of the city. The citizens are initially appalled by their discovery of the suffering child but will eventually come to terms with the situation bar a few citizens who decide to walk away from their city in silence to an unforeseen destination.
The readers perception of a Utopia-like world is challenged throughout the story. As a faithful avatar, I would personally side with those who have chosen to leave Omelas in silence even though the next destination may be less desirable then Omelas. My conscience would never be able to settle with living in a society where my happiness and freedom comes with an inhuman, unimaginative injustice lingering over a child or any human being. I believe harmony should never come at the sacrifice of others and therefor Omelas would not be my city of residence.
(10th post) ; Team dynamics and progression.
Finally, things had started to pick up communication wise. The team had somewhat come together and unify slightly better then before. Myself, Caoimhe and Denisa had pre-planned a call to specifically plan the structure of our presentation. Unfortunately Jack was not able to attend again. We really wanted to emphasise how negatively Amazon was impacting our environment with their actions and how they will be able to change their ways to implement a new way of life for our mother earth. The presentation would need to have a gripping aspect consisting of interpersonal and emotional details that would not only make you think but make you feel. We believed that this method of presenting would have the most power.
The topics would be subdivided and assigned to each of us to research and develop. Denisa chose to cover Amazons renewable energy and fuel usage, Caoimhe chose to cover non renewable energy and Amazons links to the oil industry, and I was left with the last topic to discuss which was amazons plastic use and non recycled materials.
We further discussed how the presentation would be broken down and subdivide into sections that would flow fluently. I believe me and Caoimhe had a clear vision of how we were looking to present this as we were both interested in the topic itself and were passionate about our planet. We knew that this presentation had to hit a deeper level in the mind and had to somewhat touch the heart. So a powerful into and outdo was key to engage our audience, so I began working on a small speech in my spare time that would really speak to people.
My blog – Week 10 (11th post) ; The major project.
Thanks for joining me again. The time has nearly come to showcase our presentation. I am quite eager to present a powerful presentation that means a lot to myself and the team. I think that it will be interesting to see how the audience perceives it too. I am of course a little nervous but I firmly believe that with all of the substantial preparation and time that we had invested into the presentation, it will pay off.
The group has once again unified even stronger as now we have all members communicating frequently and happily. Jack was assigned the role of designing the presentation as well as making the into and outro (which I sadly wanted to do but eventually got my way in the end!). It was only fair the everyone was assigned and equal amount of work to do, even though some of us were left often stressing and organising the mess in the beginning!
We decided a meeting call was necessary once again so that we could all edit the slides and our script simultaneously in real time on google slides. It was great being able to edit the slides together as it made the experience far more interactive. The script was necessary to create a clear and punctual presentation, I was constantly reviewing the grammar to ensure that the same tone was being used and that the presentation sounded intelligent and professional at all times. We all proof read the presentation as a group multiple times to refine it until we were satisfied with the script. If I’m being honest, I the script was quite informing and intuitive, I think we were all genuinely satisfied with the outcome!
The day prior to the presentation the group decided that we were best to have a meeting to read through the script to practice for the final presentation.The vast majority of the the project had been completed and we were just ironing out a few minor creases at this stage.On the day of the presentation we hosted a final meeting around lunch time. We ran over things one final time and concluded the tone and the pace of the script to how we ideally would have liked to present it. I feel that with all this additional preparation we were all able to sit back and breather for a few hours before the big moment. It was honestly an amazing feeling being able to admire the work that everyone had put in and to see the outcome we had produced over the coming weeks.
The only issue we encountered was Denisa’s microphone not working when we were about to present our project to the class. I feel that we should have all logged into second life earlier in the day and performed a sound check, this was my only regret. I was prepared for something to go wrong and had read the script multiple times personally, so I had no problem volunteering to read Denisa’s part of the project. I’m not going to lie, reading double the amount nearly caught my breath but I knew i just had to read slow and steadily to enhance my chances of not slipping any of her lines!
We were all very satisfied with the outcome in the end, its a fantastic feeling having putting effort into a project and pulling things off successfully. Despite a rocky start, I was really thankful for everyones contribution and couldn’t have made something as good as that without the help of the group. A massive thanks to Caoimhe especially.
My blog – Week 11 (12th post) ; Anthropocene and the major project.
This final week of class in the virtual world had come and we were discussing a deep topic that holds a place in everyone’s heart and mind. We are in a new stage of climate change as we all know, we are all facing a long battle that we are currently losing. My group had chosen to make a presentation that showcased how Amazon had become an environmental burden to the planet. We wanted to show the audience how we need to change fast before the effects of the modern world eventually destroy the health of our humanity. Climate change may reach a stage where the effects are irreversible and nature itself will perish slowly for generations to come.
In the presentation we tried our best to reflect our feelings and knowledge as best as we could in hope to inspire change. We want to make the world a more desirable and solution free place to live in. We want our future generations to not have to struggle with simple aspects of life due to our mistakes that we could have avoided.
* A quick reflection on my time and classes in second life.
First of all i would like to say a massive thank you to John and Sitearm for facilitating our classes each week. The classes managed to flow into the current times we are in now, i.e the cover-19 era. Initially I wasn’t sure what kind of impact it would have on us working from home, but I feel that these extra classes were definitely beneficial to us. I personally found the topics quite interesting to discuss but some of them were quite deep and went over my head. Never the less it was an extremely interesting experience and Ive taken away a few important lessons from my time in second life, such as being aware of maintaining a healthy online persona and it has also made me aware of some interesting socio-economic concepts and theories I have never heard of before. I am looking to work as a web designer in the future and will eventually hope to contract, which means there will be a lot of online communication that I will encounter in the future. The concept of this class definitely grabbed my attention when I first saw it and I’m glad we were able to continue classes smoothly for the past few weeks.
Once again thank you for reading my blog, I wish you all a great summer and happy future.