Final Reflections

Our communication over the past few weeks has improved exponentially. I think it is partly due to the fact that our group split up into two halves. Two of us could make class every thursday and two of us could not. This separation was kind of inevitable. The two that could make class would speak for our entire group to our professor without everyone’s knowledge. Needless to say, it got a little shady and irritating at times. Because of this, the separation into two micro-groups was rather easy, however I don’t know if it is following the rules of the project to work as a “team”. Regardless, since splitting our  group in half, our mini-group has met in person for a few hours to discuss where we see the project going and delegate individual tasks. I feel much more comfortable working on the project now, knowing I have more open communication with my “group”.

I’m a senior Biochemistry student and this class was one of the most frustrating classes I’ve taken in my undergraduate career. I think a major part of the frustration may have been my inability to attend class regularly. Honestly, had I known that there was a regular meeting time that I had a scheduling conflict with, I probably wouldn’t have enrolled in the class. The group work was by far the most difficult. Working with a group virtually was a struggle, but I think the hardest part for me was working with people from different backgrounds. It’s been a while since I’ve worked with people from different majors, and I forgot how difficult it was. Working with a group of individuals that were taught to have the same scientific thought process is much different than working with a group of people that focus more on their ability to connect personally with their group members. Overall this was a good learning experience for me in group work, and I am glad I took this class.


Medium is the Message? 

I read Virtualworldnmfsfall11’s blog post on understanding Marshall McLuhan’s idea that it is not the content that is important, it is the medium in which it is expressed.

Honestly, I didn’t quite understand this. My thought process was, if you show me a paragraph on a computer, newspaper, billboard, and/or cell phone, I will probably find the same message. The medium doesn’t hold that much weight with literature, hence why books are sold in paper, online, and on tape. The message remains the same with text. 

I do agree that we all have relationships with the mediums we choose to express ourselves through. That relationship may alter our understanding or interpretation of a message. For example, I am much more likely to pay attention and believe something that is in The New York Times than I am to something I see on Twitter and assume it was fabricated for attention.

Overall I think there is definitely a relationship between the medium and the message, but I wouldn’t go as far to say that either one is more important than the other. 

Progress is Progress

As I mentioned in my last post, communication is still a bit of a problem for our group. However we have made some progress throughout the past couple weeks.

1. We chose a charity – The Haven of Rest

This charity helps the homeless population in Akron, OH. It provides food, shelter, spiritual support, and career resources. I personally appreciate this program because it doesn’t only support the homeless, it teaches them how to support themselves. The skills they teach them and jobs they provide them with work as a long-term solution rather than a short-term one.

2. We got started on our blog and instagram pages for The Haven of Rest, so that’s pretty excited. Stay tuned on details for those sites.

3. We’re in the process of figuring out how to use SecondLife to market our charity.

Communication Struggle Part 2

So I’ve come to conclusion that the communication struggles are not only due to the fact that we are not in an in-class setting. I found that our communication is strained due to differences in exposure to social media as well as personal schedules.
Not everyone in our group is used to using social media. This is causing a little bit of disconnect due to the fact that social media is a great substitute for face-to-face communication. This technological gab puts strain on our ability to communicate virtually or through social media. Personally this is frustrating to me because I think of myself as very proficient in social media. I have no problem navigating and communicating throughout the various applications and sites available.
Another small problem I found myself running into was the separation between academics, a social life, and family. I utilize Facebook, for example, strictly to communicate with my family and close friends from back home. It was suggested that we use Facebook as a form of communication between our group members. This didn’t work out for me because I felt uncomfortable using Facebook, specifically, as a communication tool solely for an academic purpose.
I’m also starting to feel uncomfortable due to the fact that there’s not much transparency with in our group. This could be due the fact that we’re not meeting in a face-to-face setting where all of us can hear each other’s opinions, difficulties, and triumphs. This also means that the professor does not see who is contributing what. I guess I’m afraid that the communication between group members and our professor that I am not aware of, cannot be proven or refuted due to the fact that he doesn’t see the work put in by each member.

Communication Struggles

My goup started out by communicating throuh email, which was much more dificult than expected. Some of us would accidentally reply to one person and not everyone or not include everyone on emails. This was also difficuly because not everyone checked their emails frequently enough to hold a conversation about the project. In addition, the spaced out conversations were difficult to follow. We quickly left this idea behind.

Our second attempt was to meet up and communicate through SecondLife. We would meet up in groups and use the voice to talk as if we were face to face. This seemed to be the second best option next to a face to face meetin. Our issues came when trying to find appropriate times to meet with the time difference in Dublin. I remember one mornin waking up a 6:30 am to get on so we could all be there together before my 8:00 am class started. It seemed that our schedules didn’t match up well at all.

Finally, we made a google document for our brainstorming process. This document contained different sections for each part of the project. One was devoted to the chaity of our choice and reseaced data. The second was a delegation of tasks, where we let each member pick what they would like to take on personally. The final portion was for questions and comments. This way we can see real time changes to the document, comments, and it’s available 24/7. This has been woking well so far. It is obviously more difficult to work in a group remotely versus face to face, but this is the best option we came up with.

Vitual Licensing Regulation

I was very surprised reading Content Licensing in Virtual Worlds. Today people don’t wait for a lawsuit to come to them, they seek out opportunities to sue anyone enerating profit. If a woman can make millions off of a lawsuit because McDonalds didn’t put “caution hot” on her hot coffee, they can definitely make money from a lawsuit involving a fault licensing agreement. The fact that certain content creators are bypassing legal councel when drafting their licensing agreements is crazy to me. It’s also shocking, these people are smart enough to poduce software, but not to cover their tracks legally. It seems rather ignorant of them to bypass legal counsel. That’s much like trying to fix your own broken arm rather than going to a physician. Personally, I’d go to the professional that spent 8 years in school rather than figure it out on my own.

Im impressed that Shenlei Winkler saw this issue and instead of taking advantage of these creators, she found a way to help them. The creation of a licensing agreement sounds like an almost perfect solution. If the creators won’t seek leal counsel, at least with this outline they won’t leave anything out, which seems to be the main issue with the current agreements.

New Buddies

I’ve noticed that I prefer going to academic places rather than social ones within SecondLife. I found myself in the International Spaceflight Museum. I got to talk to a few engineering students, which was oddly refreshing. I was beginning to think that most of the girls on here are actually guys, in addition to the guys being rather creepy. The students explained how they had built different places throughout SecondLife for projects. Their assignment ended last semester, but they enjoyed the virtual building world so much they continued to visit. We talked about the similarities in our curricula. They were from a school in northern California.

I also enjoy music, so I figured going somewhere like a club would put me around like-minded individuals, boy was I wrong. Most of the females in the “club”, which was dedicated to the late 80’s and early 90’s, were definitely men. I asked a few of them up front if they were male or female. Most of them were offended, except one answered honestly. He said that he enjoyed being someone completely new. I respected his honesty and I enjoyed the rest of our conversation, which gave a entirely new insight into the virtual world. Some people utilize this site not only for pleasure, but to fill voids they feel in the real world. This young “woman” described her goals and ideals for the real world, they seemed difficult to achieve. A lot of them contradicted themselves, such as traveling aimlessly, yet having a large family to support with a high school coaching position. He then paralleled them to SecondLife, making some of his goals very doable. This made me respect SecondLife as more than just a computer program.

Social Media, Asset or Issue?

I read the Wall Street Journal Blog, Your Employee is an Online Celebrity. Now What Do You Do?. My opinion on social media is that it is all about networking. Just like you would hire someone who has a great relationship with Harvard and can bring in business with the associated prestige, someone with a social media following is a very similar situation. These situations should be treated the same, in my opinion. Someone’s connections come and go with the employee, therefore so would an online following. In addition, I don’t think they should treat employees differently to avoid being construed negatively on social media. They should continue to treat them like they always have; it is just as bad if someone bad-mouths the company to their Harvard connections as it is to publicly tweet. That being said, I don’t think the use of social media should reconstruct the way a business operates.

This should be used as an asset, however only with the consent of the employee. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are social media sites. The employee should have the right to use them strictly socially. I believe there should be guidelines; for example, if an employee choses to utilize his/her twitter for personal socializing, they should sign a contract stating that they will not tweet work-related items. In addition, there should be guidelines for those who wish to use social media as a business tool.

This was an interesting article that reminded me of another change that occurred in the past 15 years.

Second Life Adventures (Part 1)

I was able to get together with my group to do a little exploring. We went to the “Free Dove”, sounds like a relatively simple place. My expectations were for there to be lots of free merchandise for beginners, relatively clear directions on where to find within the store, and a friendly customer base. This store slowly dismantled every expectation I had.

1. Not all of the merchandise was free. There were a lot of free things in each section of the store (skin, clothing, hair, misc.), however contrary to the name, not everything was free. This became confusing and rather annoying. It was very much like real life, everything I seemed to be interested in, was unfortunately out of my price range. That being said, I gathered a few pieces of clothing just to get a handle on how to purchase and wear different items.

2. The store was rather scattered. There were shoes in four different sections of the store. It was like this with most of the departments. I was obviously expecting a store setup like a department store (Macy’s, JCPenny’s, Dillards). They did have instructions on how to buy and wear your items throughout the store, which was incredibly helpful.

3. The friendly customer base was a naive thought looking back. Just like any store in the real world, there will be an array of personalities present. It may actually be worse in the virtual world, people can speak their mind without the consequences of owning their opinions or having to defend them. This leads to very outspoken individuals with little care for those around them. I had some very interesting remarks made towards my avatar in the chat. I wasn’t very pleased with a few of the sexist comments, but some of them I was sincerely entertained by.

I did some traveling on my own as well. I visited Luxembourg City and Mont Saint Michel. I decided I’d rather spend my time looking at places I’d never get the chance to see in the real world. The different influences and architectural techniques that play into both of the places that I visited were amazing.

Luxembourg City was interesting. I was impressed with the architecture around the “island”. There was a large castle built in the city. It had cannons and all types of protection built around the structures. I found some people to speak with, they were suggesting different places to go there. They mentioned that their favorite part of Second Life was the ability to build and make cities the way they’d like to see them. I could appreciate this. My favorite part of Second Life so far is looking around, not necessarily talking with strangers.

Mont Saint Michel was beautiful to explore. It was very elaborate. There were a lot of things to read within the buildings, however it was all in French. Fortunately the 4 years of Latin from high school finally paid off. I could understand some of it. They were basically (from my understanding) facts about the religion and the people that practiced and lived there. This site was a recreation of an actual place in France. That portion was amazing to me,  and this was by far my favorite place to visit thus far.

Personal Branding

I read the article on personal branding from Forbes (The first Step to Building Your Personal Brand). My understanding of personal branding prior to reading this article was that it was how you portrayed yourself. For example, Disney portrays itself as a energetic, fun family attraction, but you won’t see that in writing around the parks. I guess I didnt know there were official statements involved. However I understand that having a brand statement would make it easier to the company’s wokers to know exactly what they were supposed to stand for while working.

I started thinking about my own personal branding. Determining my emotional appeal was relatively easy. I chose the words fun, energetic, and self-motivated. I like to have fun while completing tasks and when working as part of a team. I was taught to give everything I am doing 100% no matter what the task, therefore I’m energetic about my work and being successful. Finally, I am incredibly self-motivated. I usually get tasks completed before being asked, and I tend to go above and beyond with my personal work efforts. Determining my description was also pretty easy. I will be attending medical school next fall to become a physician, therefore I chose medical.

The difficult part was putting these words toether to compile a solid statement about me as a professional and as a person. I came up with “energetic, self-motivated medical professional”. I guess that is the end goal, right now it should probably read “energetic, self-motivated medical student”, but that’s just a little detail.

This article made me think about how I am portraying myself with the statements and pictures I post on socially media. Am I portraying myself in the correct manner? Do people see the energetic, self motivated student I am? These are the questions I will be asking myself the next time I open Twitter with a sarcastic one-liner.