Is One Life Enough Class Presentation 13-Dec-2012

IOLE (Is One Life Enough) is an accredited professional social media course taught online in Dublin Virtually Live by Dublin Institute of Technology, for those seeking university and/or professional level training credit. The next available module starts February, 2013.

The final class of each semester is a formal presentation to guests and judges of the showcase work each team has completed.

This semester’s theme was Ties That Bind 2.0. Enjoy these shots (at left) of students and audience, presenting and interacting as their Avatars. Two representative presentations are included, by permission, below.

Ties That Bind 2.0 – Presentation by Inish Karu

Hi everyone and thanks for coming to see this presentation on the theme, "Ties That Bind 2.0."

To the pirates here, it is not what you may think it is!

“Ties That Bind 2.0” represents the connections that we make online.

This first group [Team 1] consists of four students at Dublin Institute of Technology:
. Myself, Inish Karu – resident pirate in Second Life and content creator,
. B.ro – Student of graphic design
. Seranox – Graffiti artist and student of graphic design, and
. Ace – Student of media studies.

The stage set you see before you forms part of this presentation and is the end result of this group’s collaboration on the “Ties That Bind 2.0” theme. Please pause for a moment and think what this piece means to you.

We aimed to show, through using a build, the idea that the Internet connects us all, binds us all together. Those people [on the set] waiting are those not yet connected. Once in the chair, connection happens. The eye that follows you represents the footprint you leave in cyberspace, so that now you and your activities can be seen.

Each group member contributed their own skills to the piece through the design of textures and use of media, as well as connecting with people we interviewed. I did the build, made animations, and learned a lot more about scripting The group then took the build around Second Life to use to further connect with new people. The fact that the display was interactive attracted people to come up and really become a part of it, further tying us together.

We asked people questions and listened to their views on the build and on virtual worlds and networking. This was a fun and novel way to get people thinking about their online personae. One interesting thing that came from the comments was the feeling that, although Second Life was a social networking platform, it was less connected to other platforms and therefore was a place to let your ‘freak’ hang out!

Now [additional team members speak] …

Real Life Vs. Second Life; Personal Identity – Presentation by BoxOfChocolates

In 1689, the English philosopher John Locke wrote an essay called, "Of Identity and Diversity." He differentiates between the body and consciousness by way of a story of a Prince. The soul of the Prince carries with it consciousness of the Prince’s life – memories, feelings and experiences. Even when this consciousness is transferred to a cobbler’s body, the identity remains the same. The Cobbler is now the Prince because identity consists of sameness of consciousness. The exact same can be said today in relation to online identities. I will focus on personal identities and relationships.

The first thing that struck me about Second Life was how varied the avatars looked. It made sense though, because why would anyone stick to their boring old real life self when there were so many wild and creative options to choose from? But not everyone wants to be wild and creative. People choose how they wish their avatar to be perceived by others online. For instance, some people have 2 avatars, a professional one and a personal one. And this goes to show that judgment plays just as big a part of SL as in RL. It is such a big part of human nature that we can’t help ourselves to judge others by the way they look. And it happens in SL as much, if not more, in RL because we don’t have facial expressions or bodily gestures to judge by. Or maybe I am just very judgmental! But I did find myself making automatic judgments about avatars’ appearances and I felt that others made judgments towards me. Some strangers commented that I looked ‘cool’ or ‘unique’

For example, one time that I went to the Blarney Stone [in Second Life], one of many, I struck up a conversation with a robot, who I thought looked deadly, after he commented on my appearance. This would never happen in RL – the interaction, not the robot :P

We can approach and talk to other people much easier in SL than in real life. Up on the screen you will see Box in The RL Gogarty’s pub [Dublin, Ireland] enjoy a real pint. She went with a friend and spoke only to her friend. She would never go to a pub alone and strike up a conversation with a stranger, certainly not wearing a box on her head. I kinda’ got the feeling people perceived Box as a bit of a weirdo, unfortunately :(

But not in SL: I am accepted as the box-on-the-head wearer that I am. This is because our real faces are hidden anyway – but if we choose to hide our faces in real life that is considered very strange, to us in Western world anyway. Think of the women who wear Hijabs: it’s hard to relate to someone hiding their face. To hide ones face is to hide our identity.

Obviously this is not an issue in SL. But what is an issue is, how do we judge others and form relationships and build trust if we cant see or speak to them in RL?

There are many ways as I have learned in this course. One way is maintaining consistency in behaviour: that, over a period of time, our personality remains consistent with what we say and what we do. Gradually, a complex web of evidence to a trustworthy, reliable identity is built up. And the same can be applied to any other online platform such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr etc. As in RL, a good indicator to trust someone is by their friends.

Another way is to write a blog and build up a following. In one SL class we talked about this issue and how credibility is based on not only the quantity of followers but also the quality. Some bloggers even get in guest writers or famous people.

Another important way to verify identity is a library of photos. If the photos show a long period of time and fit with the person’s story, then that is as authentic as one can get other than meeting them in person.

I met someone online and trusted them one hundred percent because they were very open and transparent. But when people who aren’t active online heard about my relationship, they said there is no way I could ever trust anyone online totally, but I did. If Box met another box in Gogarty’s pub, the man box could just as easily be a weirdo. People think that SL is full of weirdos. People who haven’t gone on it. It shows the prejudices we have towards the unknown, it’s normal but no more different to RL which is certainly full of them. I’m happy to say that all the people I’ve met on SL are interesting and fun people, and I hope to build on those relationships in the future and make some more friends. Real authentic ones. (I don’t mind what they look like as long as they have the decency to turn away when I’m changing clothes :P)

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