Thursday, 22 November 2018

Class Six / Online Privacy 

Due to my core module deadline, I did not have time this week to attend class, nor meet with my group. I had previously notified my group about this, hoping that it wouldn't create complications for them. It is becoming more evident now exactly how difficult it is to have all of us meet together at the same time. As well as having many other deadlines to meet, I also work part-time four days a week, making it a struggle to manage the work load. Unfortunately this situation impacts the quality of the work I produce in college, although I still wish to make the most effort. Luckily, the other members of my team are understanding, some being in a similar situation, so we aim to generally meet before or after the online module commences. 

Having read the texts prescribed to us from the previous week, I found that the situations described could be related to each of us, without even realising. The case of Paris Brown is one which i find to be the harsh reality of our online usage in the modern age. Here is one of many examples of a young girl, who is trying to build a successful image for herself at such a young age, and has just been torn apart by something she has said online. Although every single person has said something wrong before, the fact that it is said online makes it permanent, for anybody to dig up. Not only that, the fact that it has been pointed out that she has said something wrong, there are now articles about the whole occurrence, further damaging her image. There is also a point to make that if this incident had never occurred, would people still be oblivious to the fact that they may have their own past mistakes buried somewhere on the internet? I believe that unfortunate incidents like this must occur to act as a wake up call to the rest of society. Most of us carry on with our lives disregarding a lot of important things, and are completely struck when something bad happens to us, because we were too careless to consider something in the first place. I believe it takes these sort of situations to alert us to be more careful whilst online. Technology is growing faster than we previously thought possible. With the increase of online tragedies, such as suicides over cyber-bullying or cases like Paris Brown's, it is beginning to become clear to society that we must take care whilst using the internet, as it is one of the most dangerous tools. 

Rules are made from people's mistakes.

Class Five / Identity 

After class today, majority of our group had the chance to meet up in the online environment to discuss the project. As this was our first meeting, we all seemed to be a bit nervous about being at a very early stage of the project. However, having a small discussion about the topic and our own opinions really seemed to ease the situation. We found the topic of the future of the workplace to be very relevant to the modern age we are in now. As we have seen in the past ten years, technology is advancing at an extremely rapid pace and will continue to do so. The image you may have had when you were a child of flying cars and robots taking control over humans does not seem so abstract anymore. 

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race….It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded.”— Stephen Hawking for BBC

During the meeting we discussed this aspect in regards to the workplace. As we have seen in the past, thousands of workers being made redundant in factories in favour for more efficient machinery. Even since then, technology has come a long way. We see now, in fast food restaurants in certain countries where devices and robots have been fitted to take orders, where the least amount of human interaction is needed. You may notice now that using transport, topping up your mobile phone, paying bills or even applying for a passport requires minimal human interaction if even, as technologies are now in place. It may seem that life is a lot simpler now than it ever was before. However, when you consider the future of the workplace, it becomes a little bit more daunting. It now seems that humans are under pressure to keep up with the latest technologies in the fear that they will become useless for work in the not so far future. 

We also spoke about the idea of construction, which at the moment is a booming industry in Ireland. Now, there are not many construction workers struggling for a job. However, the 3d printing of buildings is beginning to be introduced into society. If we fast forward another ten years, we wonder if construction workers will even be necessary?

Peter then opened an interesting discussion about the future of online shopping in relation to virtual reality. Would clothing stores even be necessary in the future? If we all owned VR headsets, and could visit stores, view different items of clothing from all angles online and order them to our homes, would we even need the pain of shopping anymore? As online shopping is already available to us and is becoming increasingly popular, we wonder what the evolution of that could be. It is interesting to think about the fact that ten years ago we would have never imagined that we could buy goods from the comfort of our homes. Now that we have the world at our finger tips, we wonder how much further could it evolve. 

The meeting involved only a brief discussion about the topic, and an exchange of thoughts, yet i felt a lot more relaxed having spoken to the group.

In John's class, the discussion was about the idea of online identities and personas. We spoke about the Syrian blogger, "A Gay Girl in Damascus", who shocked and angered most of the online community after being exposed. The blogger, claimed to be a Muslim lesbian woman from Syria, documenting her experiences. Before being exposed, many admired this woman for her bravery. However, after gaining a large following of support, she had posted that she was kidnapped. After the blog was exposed, there was a lot of controversy about the situation. Although it was important that people read the blog, as it discussed issues that are relevant today, people claimed that their lives had been put in danger, as they tried to find this girl after being "kidnapped". 

This case opened the discussion of online personas and the legitimacy of these personas. Many would agree that generally, if we are unsure if something is legitimate or not on the internet we would check the responses for clarity. After scrolling through comments, or even glancing at the amount of likes the post has, we reassure ourselves whether it is legitimate or not. However, this case proves that we can never be sure that something is correct, or that somebody is who they say they are. 

Class Four / Tools and Society

As all members of my group are also in my course, I initially thought that it would be a lot easier to work together, as we see each other in person almost every day. At this stage, we have not discussed the brief although plan to do so. I believe that we encountered difficulties in meeting together to discuss the project as we are all taking part in the same core module, where it didn’t seem feasible to take time to discuss the project whilst being met by an abundance of deadlines. In a way I was relieved that I didn’t feel so under pressure, or that I was holding the group back as we all seemed to be in the same position. We did however, arrange to meet at a later stage and all seemed eager to work. In today’s class we discussed the a few of the previous readings. The first one, regarding the either constructive or destructive use of a tool. For example the impact a tool such as a hammer may have. What differs us from humans is our ability to create, build and manufacture things. Our ability to speak and communicate with each other greatly impacts the world around us. The most basic object, a hammer, is an addition to our power to be able to create or destroy something. We also discussed the difference between radio and television. As radio is something that is usually playing in the background, it does not have our full attention, as we may be carrying out different activities at the same time. However, television has all of our attention, as we sit down to hear the audio but also to watch the videos. We discussed the difference between a painting and a photograph. Many assume that a photograph is a more realistic interpretation of what is around us, as a painting can be altered to appear different to reality. However, the photograph is just as deceptive as a painting, as a simple change in angle can alter the message that the photograph is conveying. The topic of mobile phones was then brought to our attention, or the technology which is available to us today. The world seems to be more alerted now to the power that we have using a mobile phone, and how we are no longer only using mobile phones for what they were designed for , but as a platform, an alternate reality. We now subconsciously use our phones, browsing through various apps that we may not be paying any attention to. Mobile phones are now used as a tool that can be both positive and negative, giving people a certain level of power that they do not hold in reality. 

Monday, 22 October 2018

                      Class Three / Working in Teams

As I had been absent from the first two classes, this was my first time attending a class in the virtual environment. After my own independent exploring of the realm, I was excited to visit the class room with everybody. Upon arriving at the building, I had seen the DIT logo outside of the door, knowing I was in the right place. On the walls, different art works were displayed, created by students. People arrived in different costumes, some on horses and in fantasy gear. We all sat down and awaited John who then called the roll. During the class, we discussed team work and efficient team work. As working on a team is something I don't usually enjoy, it is something that is very important as it is required throughout all life. In most careers, you will work on a team, so it is important to be able to identify the different roles within a team, and to balance out the work for an efficient outcome. The class were then divided into different teams, named by colours. For the remainder of this module, the different teams will be working together on a project. When the class came to an end, everybody began to disappear quickly, as they would at the end of a class in real life. My team, the red team, have formed a Facebook group chat where we will discuss the project and begin to work together, but haven't done so just yet. 

         Class Two / Interacting with Residents

For the second class, I was much more familiar with the virtual environment, making it a lot easier for me to explore it. This time we were asked to interact with other residents of Second Life and interview them. 

The first resident I made contact with was at the Skinny Dip Inn location. I was curious to know what made this location so inviting for people, and what they did when they were visiting. This man claimed to be 30 years old and living in Canada. This man, dressed in a long black cape, claimed that most of his social interaction happens through second life. He lives in a very remote area where there are not many people around to make friends with. Second Life allows him to meet with people all over the world. He claimed that most of his friends in the realm are interested in the fetish side of Second Life. Skinny Dip Inn is where him and his friends meet almost every day.

The second resident I came into contact in was a bartender at Fibber Magees in the location of Dublin. The bartender claimed that this is his part time job. He logs on to Second Life three times a week to go to work. He works usually during the weekend, when there are different live music events happening. When this man is working, he does not actually have to do anything, only to stand behind the bar. He uses this opportunity to talk to his "customers" and give them more information and background about the bar. Interestingly, the man claims that he is a 40 year old American who is fascinated by the history of Ireland. After educating himself about this history, he likes to pass on information to people visiting the Dublin location in the realm. 

The last resident I interviewed was a female who I also found at the Dublin location. This lady claimed to be 31 years old, residing in the United Kingdom. This lady claimed that she had met her partner of 4 years through Second Life. The couple met in the realm and found that they had a lot in common. Logging on every day to Second Life they would meet and talk. After 3 months of talking, they became a couple. The lady had told me that it wasn't until the first year that she had seen any pictures of him. She said that the couple felt so strongly for each other that it wouldn't matter what their appearances were. The couple have never met in real life but will plan to do so eventually. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Introduction to Second Life

      Class One / Introduction to Second Life

Upon discovering the Virtual Environments module, I was immediately reminded about a news report featured on Sky News many years ago about the dangers of virtual environments, along with cases in relation to pedophilia which occurred on Second Life, a popular virtual environment. What interested me about the module was the fact that we were able to appear online in an environment somewhat similar to reality, whilst remaining anonymous. It is both remarkable as well as frightening that we can exist in both virtual life and real life, and appear online as whatever persona we wish to be.

After making an account and creating an avatar for myself, I entered the virtual reality curious about what sort of people I would be interacting with. This particular online environment is vast, with the public building its contents for many years now. 

The first location I visited contained explicit content, where you are warned in advance that you must be an adult to enter. This location, named "Skinny Dip Inn", is a resort location, where avatars with the same interests visit to interact with each other. I would consider this location to run along the lines of online fetish and fantasy. When you arrive at the location, you are notified of a dress code which you must obey in order to remain in the location. As you walk around there are different stores you can enter, selling provocative clothing and underwear. The strangest store I passed by sold realistic genital and body parts for avatars. As revolting as most of us may think this is, only imagining the strange people behind these avatars, this location is very popular and visited by many people each day. It is unknown to most people how many others actually interact in this sort of environment, considered to be enticing and arousing. 

The next location I explored, I found under the category of current popular locations. This location, named "Japan". Upon arriving here I was greeted by floating bunny rabbit characters, as well as cats. The location is very bright, with natural decor, as well as a lake. 

Beautiful cherry blossom trees surround you, with animations of their petals falling. The location gives you a feeling of peace and bliss as you explore the contents. There is a game of bowling available to you, as well as an outdoor swimming pool. The unusual aspect of this location is that it genuinely makes you feel as if you are somewhere peaceful, from where ever you are playing this game. 

The third location I travelled to, I found under the category of "Travel hot spots", named "Blarney Stone Irish Bar". Similar to real life, you will find an Irish bar almost anywhere around the world. When entering the bar, you are bombarded by elaborate Halloween decorations, in a realistic bar set up. It is quite noticeable the amount of time someone had taken to decorate this bar. On the wall you will find a list of events that will be happening in the bar over the course of the Halloween period. At this time, avatars will meet together to listen to live music and DJs. If this music isn't to your taste, across the road is Fibber Magees, a well known rock bar. There is also the option to visit the Guinness Store House, which is just down the road from both bars. Compared to the other two locations, this one interested me the most as it was recognisable. You can imagine that some of the game users feel as if they are actually travelling when jumping from a Japanese location to an Irish one, with huge differences in the appearances. 

Class Six / Online Privacy  Due to my core module deadline, I did not have time this week to attend class, nor meet with my group. I ha...