Reflections

My initial thoughts and impressions on this class at the beginning of the semester are almost the same as the ones I have know. After taking this course, my frustration with technology and relying on it to get classwork done is at an all time high. I went through this course day by day thinking I was always doing something wrong or thinking I was missing some important details of the class. A large part of this problem, I think, stems from the fact I was unable to attend the weekly class meetings in SL due to practice. Communication was the biggest challenge for me. It was hard to remember to continually check my email, our virtual environment website, and Facebook to keep up with the course work and my group members. I also found it was challenging to accomodate everyones time schedule. Numerous times my group found ourselves meeting together in SL and 1 or 2 of us were not able to get there. Even though we were able to forward what was discussed and accomplished in our meetings to our other group members, it is still easier to have everyone together. I think that having a class in a traditional classroom setting would have eased many of my frustrations.

Speaking specifically about the final project, I do like the idea behind it. Using on online forum to promote a cause. I think that it is something that with a lot of work and devoted personal could create a big impact in society. The project reminded me of the ALS Bucket Challenge that sparked a national and worldwide scale and helped spread awareness on ALS and raised a ridiculous amount of money. This all was possible because of a simple, fun idea that spread like wildfire over all social networking sites. I thought this is something similar to what my group tried to achieve on SL. We sent out roses and asked people to pass them along to others. While we were not nearly as successful as the Bucket Challenge, we got the idea behind what we were doing.

I do not think the class was the worst thing ever. Despite my many frustrations with the course, I do think it was important for me to take. Computers and computer communication is something our generation is heading towards and relying on. This course helped me deal with the reality of what I will most likely be dealing with in the future. Our society is becoming more and more dependent on technology and it is only a matter of time until business meetings are held in a forum such as SL. Some where down the road I am sure I will have to use a computer as my main source of communication in whatever it is I end up doing.

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Idea Selection Process

My group came up with our idea to support Cystic Fibrosis because a member in our group had three charities in mind that she was interested in learning about and supporting. The three charities were centered around Cystic Fibrosis, mood/mental disorders, and suicide. We decided on cystic fibrosis because the member who suggested it already had a ton of research on it and seemed to be really into it. Since she was devoted to it, we thought it would be a good idea to work for cystic fibrosis.

If I could do anything different I would come up with some ideas of my own to be tossed around in our discussion. Maybe we would have found something that all of us were in to and had insight on. However, I think we will be fine with our work on CF.

Reflection on Medium is the Message

The blog post, “Painfully Coming to Grips with ‘The Medium is the Message’, ” by virtualworldnmfsfall discusses their troubles with the reading of two excerpts written by Marshall McLuhan as the author of the post cannot follow along with the reading. However, the author found that his fellow classmates in the seminar were just as confused and the author was relieved that he was not the only one. Luckily, there was a discussion held in SecondLife that helped in clarifying the context of the readings and the author was thrilled a discussion was able to be held to guide him in understanding the excerpts.

The author then discusses one of McLuhan’s readings and how it outlines the way we process and interpret information. At the beginning of time, humans used verbal communication to learn from one another, but over time with the alphabet we then were able to communicate on visual context. We can learn through seeing, hearing, and also doing.

The main point the author discusses in a reading on McLuhan is McLuhan’s opinion that we over-analyze content and ignore the way something is presented. He uses an example of a picture of a family eating at a dinner table and how people would interpret the content of the picture. What is the family discussing? Are they a close family? Things of that nature. McLuhan states that we should think about the medium in which the picture is presented. Is it a photograph? An oil painting? A water color? And so on and so forth. He claims that the content actually distracts you from what is happening technologically. His quote about content states “content is the piece of juicy red meat that is carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind” which pretty shows that the meat (content) is not important in this scenario because the burglar is getting away from the dog. The meat is irrelevant to what is actually going on. I like how he phrased that and it makes sense. In simple scenarios like that it is easy to agree with him, but their probably are hundreds of things humans miss by looking at the content and not the medium.

Then the author talks about how media is an extension of ourselves.It is how we can express our views and who we are. Just as the author said he is extending himself by writing his blog and us reading it, I am doing the same for anyone reading my blogs. Pretty cool way for him to catch my attention.

Cystic Fibrosis Awareness Contributions and Group Progress

My group has decided to spread awareness on Cystic Fibrosis. One of my group members came up with the idea after she did research on the illness. Seeing that she was invested in the topic we decided to go ahead with her idea and so far things have been going well. We set up a facebook page, LinkedIn, twitter and tumblr account hoping to use these sites to raise awareness. We also want to use Second Life and came up with a fun and creative way to promote awareness. We got our idea from the popularity of the ice bucket challenge and want to start our own challenge. We will start by passing out roses to 5 different people in SL and ask them to do the same, hand out 5 roses to 5 different people and then challenge those new people to continue the challenge. By people willingly accepting and passing out roses in the name of CF we hope people will start to wonder what exactly CF is and why it is a major issue and deserves attention.

So far my contribution has been setting up and managing the Twitter account. Also, throughout this week I plan on sending out roses in SL to people all over so I can do my part in supporting CF.

For those of you out there interested, please go ahead and follow our Twitter accounts as listed in the hyperlinks above. Your support and acknowledgment would mean a lot!

Copy cats…

I never gave licensing much thought, but after reading Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds I now understand how serious and unfair content creators act in creating their own licensing terms and agreements. The author of this blog, Shenlei Winkler, points out that those who develop SecondLife are changing their own terms of agreement for their users who originally agreed to other terms. This is not okay because the original terms were the one’s that were not only accepted by the user, but those original terms were the ones legally licensed whereas the new terms were not. Also, in more situations than not, licenses are created by the content creators, not lawyers who are the ones truly responsible in the creation of legally acceptable terms and licenses. Content creators are acting out of their boundaries. Winkler goes on to discuss about a group of American Bar Association lawyers who are creating a set of legal templates for content creators to start their own agreements. This will be incredibly important and beneficial for all as appropriate and correct terms will be agreed upon.

In the next article, The Laws of the Virtual World, it discusses the virtual world and how it is almost an extension of real life. It talks about the virtual world as being another world anyone can escape to with their family and friends and practically have another life online. In your virtual world you can do the same things with your avatar you can do in real life – socialize, interact, have a job, ski, etc. The article then goes into two issue brought up with the environment of virtual worlds. First, do people actually own their property in virtual worlds or is it more of a virtual object? The authors, Dan Hunter and Greg Lastowka, say that when comparing objects in the real world to the virtual world, they are indistinguishable in terms of value. This I found extremely interesting because I do not have the most serious view of virtual worlds and view them as merely an activity or hobby and not necessarily another life, but I suppose there are people out there who take their virtual life just as serious as their real one. Second, was the issue of avatar and their moral rights. Since avatars are truly an extension of a human being, then avatars rights should be the same as human rights. I now see how these two issues raise legal awareness for online usage. With the increased use of online life, the law is now taken into account since people are increasingly interacting with one another.

All in all, the legal complications with virtual worlds is really opening up my eyes to how serious the virtual world is becoming. It is no longer a place just for fun and games, but a place some people are investing their life in and their rights must be extended to their virtual environment.

SL Interactions

Roaming around SL, I discovered interesting facts about those I encountered. The first place I visited was a sports-centric area that I thought would lead me to others who were just as passionate about sports as I was. I talked to a lady from Norway who actually created the place I visited. She talked about her and her friends enjoyed creating things and decided to make their own place in SL. In her little Island, visitors can play on the sports courts (basketball, volleyball, curling, etc) and go on the beach to relax and interact with others. There were various stores where you could gaze through art, sports topics, and clothes. She was kind enough to give me a few of her clothing designs as she was disgusted with my current, boring appearance. As thoughtful as it was, we could not figure out how to change my appearance. It was too bad because I was really looking forward to seeing her designs! (excuse my nude bottom….SL has not been loading great lately for me)

The second place I visited was an Island in Brazil. I figured there would be other people my age there, maybe even taking a college course, since a beach is what attracts most 19-25 year olds. I met a girl named Destiny who is from London. As I predicted, she is also a college student studying English Literature. I was having a nice conversation with her until some jerk named Luis came and picked her up in his car! Not going to lie, I was not happy she just abruptly ended our conversation. Not cool. But the Island itself was fairly nice. There was good music, a handful of other people from around the world (I briefly met a man Ramon from Spain), and the beach was beautifully built.

Social Media in the Workplace

With today’s technology and heavily reliance on the internet, companies have found that social networking sites have proven to be a useful tool to help anyone promote themselves and their businesses. In the Wall Street Journal article, Your Employee is an Online Celebrity. Now What Do You Do? it shows how employees social networking sites can be a good and even bad thing for a business and how businesses should monitor and handle their employees online sites. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn are widely used and popular websites for people to connect and interact in. Sites like these can be used to effectively advertise and promote a business.

I do not see too many problems with a business using social media as an advertising tool. The problems I do see involve the company evaluating and managing what is appropriate and not appropriate for employees to post. The company would have to come up with strict guidelines and rules for employees on what is acceptable to post and make sure the tweets or statuses promoted the business in the same way the business wants to be promoted without social media.

I believe that with using social media as an advertising tool, job opportunities for students in my generation would open up. Seeing as my generation is the one that has used social media more than any other, students can show their knowledge of technology and show employers that they are comfortable operating these sites. All in all, I feel that with smart and strict guidelines on social media posts, companies will find that online posts and advertising will boost the brand and reputation of the business.

Group Communication

As specified before, my group intends on communicating through SecondLife, but we have also found talking through Twitter and Facebook has helped us organize and communicate with one another much better. We use social media to discuss our plan of action and what we are going to do and when we meet up in SL. SL we use more to do our virtual work with, but it is another method to communicate with each other as we can turn our microphones on and listen to what we have to say instead of typing everything out. We came to do this because being teenagers we constantly check our social networking sites and it creates a quick method to send one another messages.

Second Life and Group Work

My group and I decided that the best way to communicate with one another is through Second Life by messaging each other when we can meet up and meeting at that time to discuss what works needs to get done. We visited three different places in Brazil, Sculptie Paradise, and Morphe Northwinds.

In Brazil, the place was really upbeat and lively. There was a lot of other people there exploring the area too. Brazil had a beach that was a part of what seemed to be a downtown/boardwalk type of place. The downtown had many shops with people exploring the various store it had to offer. There was a lot of shops with art paintings and sculptures in them. I was surprised with the amount of advertising there was. There was a ton of billboards and posters hung up to promote businesses. Music was playing non stop which gave the area a lively and pleasant setting.

In Sculptie Paradise, it was a very frustrating and confusing game. My avatar was placed in a maze and as soon as you chose one path to take, a wall would close that would force you to change direction. After trying the maze for almost 10 minutes, I gave up on it and went to the next location.

Morphe Northwinds was a replica of the industrial era. There were old fashioned industries with smokes stacks constantly puffing out smoke into the air. Also, the roads and walk ways were brick styled and the atmosphere was a gloomy, fogging green. There were no other people here so it was easy to assume this is not a well liked place, most likely due to it’s gloomy mood. All of the buildings were also old fashioned as they were what you would imagine when thinking of the industrial era.

Personal Brand

I read the Forbes Magazine article on building your own personal brand to promote who you are and what you do. The article describes how it is not a mission statement, but a quick and simple slogan to promote you or your company. For example, Disney is “family fun entertainment” which simply lays out the impression Disney wants to give to potential consumers. It talks about how everyone should have and simple, memorable statement about who you are and lays out 4 steps to determine how to put the statement together.

1. Determine Your Emotional Appeal

Think about your personality and find a way to describe and highlight it.

2. Determine Your Description

Find a word that describes who you are or what you are trying to accomplish. For Disney it’s “family”

3. Determine Your Function

Write down EXACTLY what you do

4. Put It All Together

Combine the previous three together into an effective and memorable statement!