#5

In this class we spoke about our online personal identities as well as our professional ones. We spoke about the importance of how anything that you post online, no matter where it may be, is essentially there forever and may resurface at a later stage and potentially hinder your opportunities of career progression or in more serious cases cause you to lose your job and label you in such a way that other companies may steer clear of hiring you. This is all very much connected to our #MeToo group project, whereas trial-by-media plays a vital role in how the culprits or victims, depending on the story or how you look at it, are judged and how the punishment comes almost instantly without any proper evidence or any extensive research done.

One of the more serious cases of this that we touched on was when Justine Sacco, a communications director, was fired from the New York based internet empire InterActive Corp after she sent a tweet that linked Aids with race, which caused outrage and her tweet quickly went viral. An article from The Guardian states; “Shortly before she boarded the flight on Friday she tweeted: Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” ¹. The article goes on to tell us that by the time she landed her tweet had been picked up by several social media websites, retweeted over 2,000 times and the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet was trending around the world. After disembarking she quickly deleted the tweet and her account but by then it was already too late. On the Saturday InterActive Corp dismissed her for her “Hateful statements” ².

In another case, one that might worry people slightly more than the previous one, a newly appointed youth crime commissioner stands down from her new role as tweets that she posted online years before resurface. The article says: “Critics claimed the comments were racist, homophobic and condoned violence and drug-taking” ³. There are no examples of the tweets in the article but if they are anything like the critics claim them to be then unfortunately she is no role model for the younger generation to look up to. With this case as an example it causes us to ask the questions; Do we condemn everybody to be guilty of their younger selves actions or statements? Do we not consider the fact that people may grow and change over a number of years and could possibly have completely different views now simply by getting wiser with age or have even gone through situations in their life to cause them to become a drastically different person to their young self?

With these topics all up in the air for discussion John asked us how we might convert our personal presence online into an identity for professional networking. For starters, if we felt it was necessary we could go back over the years of all of our online profiles and sites to see if anything could be used against us in a negative way in the future. Although if we’ve learned anything from this discussion it’s that once something is posted online, even after being deleted, it’s possible that it’s still out there somewhere in some shape or form. Moving forward with protecting our identity for professional networking we can slowly shape our identity how we want it to be by streamlining what we post and how exactly we want to be seen by keeping in mind not just who will instantly see your posts but who may potentially see them in the future. This does not mean changing who you are, it just means becoming more wary about the importance of our personal presence online and how it could have possible career implications in the future.

1. Pilkington, Ed. “Justine Sacco, PR executive fired over racist tweet, ‘ashamed’” The Guardian. December 22, 2013. Accessed December 01, 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/22/pr-exec-fired-racist-tweet-aids-africa-apology

2. Pilkington. “PR executive fired over racist tweet”

3. Dodd, Vikram. “Youth crime commissioner Paris Brown stands down over Twitter row” The Guardian. April 9, 2013. Accessed December 01, 2017.

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#4

In this class we spoke mostly about the opacity and transparency of ourselves in the online world. We spoke about the information that we constantly share and how much of that information we make freely available to all the large corporate entities out there whether we’re aware of it or not. The entire class confirmed that the vast majority of the time we sign up for something or download an app or game we don’t read the terms and conditions. We learned that these terms and conditions often include an enormous amount of personal data that we might not be aware that we are agreeing to share. These companies use all of this information to gather data and statistics to sell on to others turning us, the users, into the product that is being bought and sold. It begs the question; How much are we willing to share so freely so we can continue to access these apps and services for “free”?

On the other side of this argument, being completely opaque can have also adverse effects. One of the readings that John set for us this week was an article from The Guardian from June 2011 titled: “Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man”. It tells us about the mysterious identity of a young Arab lesbian blogger whose online popularity grew exponentially after she was apparently kidnapped which was later revealed conclusively to be a hoax. The person behind the online persona of Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari, who claimed to be a 35 year old feminist who lived in Syria, was later revealed to be Tom MacMaster, an American 40 year old Middle East activist studying for a masters at Edinburgh University.

In the article it is stated that; “It emerged that no one, even a woman in Canada who believed she was having a relationship with Amina, had ever spoken to her” ¹. I find this worrying as not only was Tom MacMaster using this online persona to apparently address these issues, and in his words; “illuminate them for a western audience” ², but it seems as though he was engaging with people to an unnecessary extent and connecting with them through lies on an emotional level. If this woman in Canada truly believed she was having a relationship with Amina it seems as though there may have been another side to this supposed lesbian Syrian blogger that has slightly more devious intent than is being let on. If he truly just used the page to highlight the events occurring in the Middle East there would have been no need to engage with anyone else using that persona on such a level.

Reverting back to the topic of opacity and transparency, if the transparency end of this had have been enforced a bit more maybe this situation and other fake profiles can be stopped before they are even created.  This entire topic relates back to one we touched on in class, when we spoke about the documentary and programme of Catfish, in which a group of people help others to find out who they are really speaking to online when they are suspicious of whether the person they are speaking to may not actually be who they say they are. Some of these situations can get extremely serious and involve so many high emotions that something will have to be done about how opaque one person’s identity can be online when it involves possibly damaging another person’s mental health, intentionally or unintentionally.

Off-topic for this particular post, it seems as though our group are realising the difficulties in working as part of on online team. I think so far the biggest difficulty has been finding a time that suits everyone to discuss the project at the same time. We have had messages that have been sent quite sparsely just when each team member is free but it makes it very difficult to discuss anything in detail when all members aren’t present.

1. Addley, Esther. “Syrian lesbian blogger is revealed conclusively to be a married man” The Guardian. June 13, 2011. Accessed November 26, 2017.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/jun/13/syrian-lesbian-blogger-tom-macmaster

2. Addley. “Syrian lesbian blogger

#3

For our third class we had guest speaker Sitearm Madonna in who is a veteran on the moule we are currently taking. He came in to speak to us about working as part of the team as well as communicating and organising a group project solely online.

He showed us a very informative and clear slideshow that he put together on working as part of an online team. One slide in particular that stood out for me was his third slide which was almost like a “recipe” for getting good, effective team results. I found it to be an interesting take on the “ingredients” needed to get the online team working well. It was a diagram made up of what three things need to be implemented by the team in order to get the one output of effective team results.

The three ingredients included: “Inputs”, which was made up of Available Team Members, Time, Labour & Materials. “Controls”, which included Assigned Project Goals & Constraints. And finally “Supports”, which was made up of Commitment, Competence & Processes. When the entire team contributes and sticks with this model, it would be very difficult to not come out with effective team results.

With all of the talk this week based on working as part of a team, in particular an online team who don’t don’t meet face to face so instantly they are at a disadvantage to a team who could meet up in person as it is easier to communicate and converse when the team is altogether in one room. The thoughts of effective team work had been on my mind all week, when I got through the reading that John assigned to us this week there was one line that stood out to me in particular, “The trick to holding daily quality events that attract people includes building a staff of “people who like people” and of “people who like logistics”¹, this is actually a line straight from an article that Sitearm Madonna wrote himself. While this sentence was actually about bringing people to events held in Second Life and peaking their interest so much to gain them as regular visitors to such events, I couldn’t help but think that this sentence could successfully be applied to working as part of a team for a group project. Whereas the trick to holding quality regular group meetings that attract it’s team members includes having people in the team that are people who like and also people who like and understand the organisation and the running of a team project.

With Sitearm Madonna’s experience as working as part of a team successfully, and sometimes unsuccessfully, so many times throughout his career he was the perfect guest speaker that John could have asked to come in to share his invaluable tips and processes of working as part of a team.

  1. Madonna, Sitearm. “Living Structures in Second Life Virtual Worlds Projects” Trinity Sites. Copyright 2006. Accessed August 30, 2017.  http://faculty.trinity.edu/adelwich/metaverse/readings/sitearm.2006.living.structures.pdf

#2

Our second class went much better than the first as I had my microphone working so I could actually hear the class and they could also hear me. We spoke about news and general information and where we got our sources from, speaking about what is and what isn’t reliable information. The vast majority of the class does not purchase or read newspapers, instead most of us opt for online articles that are widely spread across the internet. Hearing this, John then asked us what we would deem as a reliable source and where we would trust the information that we read online. The answer that I think, and hope, everyone knows is from a well-known and reputable source, such as well known online newspaper articles or from a reliable tv news channel’s website. That being said, should we always believe every word we read or hear even if it’s from a newspaper or tv news channel?

Our assignment for our next class was to continue to explore Second Life and this time engage with some of the residents and document our experiences. I chose to go to a place called Muddy’s because it was in the “What’s hot now” categories so I thought that would be a place I would be guaranteed to run in to some of the residents of Second Life.

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Standing on the balcony above the dance floor in Muddy’s.

When I arrived there I was shocked at just how busy it was. It had a quite a large dance floor that was nearly filled with people dancing which straight away got me questioning, what do people get out of dancing to music in a virtual world? I’m never one to judge and I am still learning about what exactly Second Life is so I was intrigued to find out more about the place.

 

I spoke to a few people who were dancing on the dance floor, they mostly referred to me as “Newbie” or “New Boy”, I’m assuming this was because they must have all been regular residents of Second Life and could tell that I was new. A tell-tale could have been that I wasn’t dancing, mostly because I didn’t know how to. I exited the dancefloor and ended up unknowingly standing in what was apparently a “Restricted area, for staff only.”:

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Accidentally stood in the restricted area in Muddy’s.

I got speaking to the DJ, who was the one who asked me to leave the area as she explained I was standing where the next DJ would be coming on. She told me her name was Xena Warrior Agent and she has been a resident of Second Life for over six years. I asked her how long she had been working here, she went on to tell me that the old venue she was working at closed and a friend recommended her and she’s been working here ever since which has been the last five years at least. I couldn’t believe how normal it all seemed because if you take that out of context it just sounds like any job situation you would hear about in real life, which must be how they see it.

I was being slightly hesitant with the questions I asked her I as I didn’t want to come across as rude. I informed her that I was a student and I was doing a project that involved Second Life so she agreed to answer a few questions as long as it was quick because her shift was ending shortly.

I was very curious about someone having an actual job in Second Life. I asked her if she got paid and also just how many hours she week each week. She informed me she only gets tips for the work she does, she went on to say if she does a good job and plays good music people will tip her. It was only at this point I noticed the big sign behind her that said “DONATIONS”.

She told me she works 12 hours a week at Muddy’s, which only now makes me think that she probably has other jobs in Second Life but it didn’t occur to me to ask her at the time. I asked if she gets many tips and she simply replied; “I do okay smiles“, which only intrigued me more to find out just how much but I didn’t want to push it further.

Finally I asked her what people got out of dancing in Second Life. Again, I stressed the fact to her that I didn’t want to come across as rude, I was merely just interested in finding out more about something that was completely new to me. She told me it was mostly for the socialization aspect of it. She said that you never know what their real life situation is, some hospitalised, bed ridden, some take care of elderly parents and can’t find the time to get out. She said there are various reasons for people being homebound and others just like the company.

She went on to tell me that everything is made by the participants, so if you are enterprising you can design stuff and sell it. She told me that the venue we were standing in was built by someone and then sold to the owner. She finished with one simple sentence, “Capitalism at it’s finest!”

If this adventure in Second Life has taught me anything it’s that, for some people, this ‘second life’ is just as important and possibly even more important than their real life situation.

#1

We had our first class on Wednesday the 11th of October which didn’t go quite as I expected it would. I sat down in class a few minutes early as I find it much easier to be punctual when you can literally teleport directly to your campus (Second Life: 1, Real Life: 0). I sat down in the front row in a nearly full classroom as normal as could be, although I couldn’t help to think why everyone was being so quiet as all I could hear was the chirping of the birds in the background with nobody talking. I just assumed it was a quiet group and waited for the class to begin.

A few minutes after 8:30pm John O’Connor, our lecturer for the module, arrived and stood in front of the class. Still, all I could hear was the chirping of the birds for the next few minutes so I assumed the class hadn’t started yet. It was only when I seen my class mates responding in the chat to something that must have been said by John that I realised there was a problem as I still couldn’t hear anyone speaking. I addressed the class via chat message like a helpless child to let them know I couldn’t hear anything. We briefly tried to troubleshoot the problem but with my Voice Chat enabled and my volume up there was an unkown hitch that couldn’t be responsible for holding up the entire class. John informed me that I wouldn’t miss too much and that there would be a summary of the class posted on to the website so I could catch up on what I missed.

Our first assignment given to us was to visit different places in Second life and talk about our experiences. The first place I visited wasn’t too far from the DIT campus as I just wandered outside and came to a sign that I had to stop at, ‘FREEBIES’.

Snapshot_001
Flying around as the “FREEBIES” sign caught my eye.

It had a selection of items as you can see so I thought I may aswell. Now I wouldn’t usually be the type of person to wear a hat but I thought I’d give it a go seeing as this is Second Life and it’s a chance to do things a bit different (I understand that wearing a hat isn’t very extreme but it’s all about baby steps, after all my avatar is only a few days old). But that thinking didn’t get me very far as you can see in the following photo. Now it may have been my fault as I’m still getting used to Second Life and I still do find most of it a bit confusing, but after receiving the ‘hat’ I went into my accessories and tried to ‘wear’ the hat something went wrong somewhere and very confusingly I just turned into an oversized bag:

Snapshot_010
Me, trying to figure out how wearing a hat could go so wrong.

One thing that I instantly do like about Second Life is the option to fly, which I use to get around everywhere that you are allowed to fly because I mean if your options are to walk, run or fly, why wouldn’t you fly everywhere? We all use our feet too much in real life anyway.

Snapshot_011
Trying to get the hang of my new ability to fly.

The second place I visited was the Sacred Gaia. It is an educational company founded by Cynthia Foster MD, to educate people about herbs and natural health. It had a small herb garden which I walked around and could read information about different herbs and how to take care of your body, in particular your liver which they recommend you help to flush out every few months as it’s basically the filter for your entire body. They recommend to filter it out by drinking apple juice, certain herbs mixed with oil once every six months. So straight away I thought the Sacred Gaia was a great source of information. There was also a ‘Magic Water’ pond in the herb garden, which had a sign in front of it inviting you to take a dip in to find out your ‘Guardian Animal’. It sounded an awful lot like finding out your horoscope, which I never pay any attention to in to in real life. But, you guessed it, seeing as this is Second Life I thought I’d live life on the wild side and take a dip.

Snapshot_012
Taking a dip in the Magic Water pond.

As you can see I was eager to find out my guardian animal to continue my thirst for all the knowledge that this world has to offer. When I took a dip in the pond the Magic Water whispered to me “Your Guardian Animal is… Owl, a bearer of wisdom, a prophet who foresees the time to come”. I was amazed at how much information was readily available just in the Sacred Gaia, right in front of you if you look for it. It got me thinking how much more there must in the entire Second Life world if this was just one tiny part of it.

To bring to a close what was an interesting first day out in Second Life I went to a local juice bar. It seemed very quiet and it got me thinking that Second Life isn’t the world I thought it would be. It is much more sparsely populated than I had anticipated as I didn’t come across one other person on my short adventure today. The entire world must be truly enormous because I know there are an incredible number of people out there. I look forward to venturing much further into the world on my next outing and meeting new people. To finish off the day I relaxed with a Doctor Pepper at the colourful juice bar and listened to the catchy music they were playing.

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Having a Doctor Pepper at the bar.