Final Reflection

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My humanities course has come to an end. This was the first web based class that I have ever taken and I have a better understanding of the virtual world. I learned how virtual reality influences the way we interact in the real world, and I enjoyed interacting with international students from Dublin, Ireland.

The final presentations that each group in the class gave were centered around interpreting reality. My group collaboratively presented three different perspectives of reality. Each presentation was rather lengthy; for future reference, students should be informed to practice timing their presentations more, in addition to revising it for content. To further improve the course in the future, more international students should join the course, this may involve collaborating with another university in addition to DIT.

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Group progression

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While working on the group project associated with the humanities course I’m enrolled in, my group mainly communicated through Facebook. We made plans to work on different sections of the project individually, and then we would collaborate our ideas once we had found enough information on the type of reality we had chosen to study. The three forms of reality included: Phenomenological reality—which is based on subjective experience–, consensus reality—based on opinions and observations made by a group of people—and non-reality—which implies that nothing is real and objective reality does not exist–. Even though we each found interesting information about different forms of reality, we could have worked more collaboratively. It would have been beneficial for us to meet more often in Facebook at the same time. However, we managed to still create a interesting project.

My focus for the presentation is on the differences between objective and subjective reality.The concept of subjective reality implies that we perceive the world we live in based on our own individual thoughts and experiences. Therefore, we all live in different worlds that share similar characteristics defined by objective reality. From a subjective perspective, nothing is real until it has been experienced. The perspective that reality is external and is simply something we are born into is defined as objective reality. In this perspective of reality, we are characters in a world that is real, solid, and exists regardless of our state of being (e.g. whether or not we are alive) or our state of mind (whether or not we have a mental illness). When one plays a video game, it is possible to distinguish between the real world and virtual reality even though all of one’s attention is focused in on the actions of your avatar in the game. The same is true when you are experiencing a lucid dream, you are conscious of the fact that you are in a subconscious state of mind, but the images you perceive are vivid enough to allow you to coexist in both worlds.

Hashtags: #HaveTheyBecomeAWasteofCharacters?

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There was a time when hashtags had a specific purpose to allow marketers to promote a product, issue, or event. Hashtags were an appropriate form of communication to build a social media community on Twitter. However, hashtags are beginning to lose their significance. Hashtags are no longer solely affiliated with Twitter, and their use is commonly observed on other social media apps as well, such as Instagram. Internet users are seemingly misusing hashtags and incorporating them into their internet posts/tweets for reasons other than their original intended use. According to the article entitled “Are Hashtags Actually a Useful Social Media Engagement Tool?“,  [Hashtags have] “taken on a life of their own…”. Many people agree that the abuse of the Hashtag phenomenon went too far when the parent’s of a newborn baby girl decided to name her Hashtag. Due to the lack of regulation over the use of hashtags, their use is relatively unorganized, and some have begun to wonder if their use is even necessary anymore, or if they are simply taking up space. Hashtags can no longer be used to promote a specific product or issue because when you click on a particular hashtag, more than likely a plethora of dissociated results will come up, defeating the purpose of including the hashtag in a conversation.

 

Technology: A Saving Grace of Modern Disaster Relief

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According to the article entitled “Technology’s Impact on Disaster Relief”, mobile technology, social media apps, and mapping have proven to be essential components of relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy. Individuals effected by the hurricane were able to communicate with other community members through Twitter, by simply including the appropriate hashtag (i.e. #Sandy). Volunteer efforts were also established through Twitter, and people were able to find out where help was needed most through mapping technology, such as Google Maps. Photographs were shared between individuals to stress the severity of the situation and to get more people to support the relief effort. Mobile apps were created to inform the public about what should be done during and after a hurricane. Although natural disasters aren’t always predictable or avoidable, taking advantage of these technological advancements could improve disaster relief efforts in the future.

Unfortunately, it is possible that there were individuals effected by the hurricane that did not have access to a mobile device, and thus would not have been able to take advantage of this type of a relief effort. Therefor, it is still necessary for relief efforts to be able to fall back on more primitive/traditional methods of expending support to hurricane survivors.

Virtual Regulation, Convention and Etiquette

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Regulation and etiquette in an online community can either be loosely enforced, or strictly implemented depending on the conventions that have been put in place or simply normalized within said community.

Even though online communities can provide a medium for the development of relationships between individuals regardless of race, religion, or gender, many problems can arise. As a result of the increase in online communication, many people (especially from this generation) have become less inclined to partake in face-to-face interaction; fueling the inclination for internet users to find comfort in hiding behind an avatar. It then becomes easier to be deceptive or pretend to be something your not. This can lead to internet bullying and cause people to make insulting comments about each other without a fear of getting caught, or of any other consequential action. A number of regulations have been utilized to avoid and/or eliminate cyber bullying or unwarranted commentary by internet users online. For example, on social networking websites such as Facebook, it is possible to report a post, which is then filtered through an evaluation process wherein it may be removed from the site, if it is in violation of Facebook’s policy.

Along with regulation, convention is also an important aspect of online communities. Certain commonalities are developed  to allow each community to distinguish itself. Most virtual sites are created to allow people to share ideas and express themselves in an informal online setting. However, one usually creates a Facebook to keep in contact with friends and network with new people; that same person might create a Twitter account to keep up with celebrity gossip, or a blog to keep up with current events and/or discuss controversial topics. Whatever the reason for joining an online community, once you are a member, you adapt your form of expression according to the format of the site (some communities are photograph oriented while others utilize text more).

Based on the regulations and conventions that are practiced within an online community, proper etiquette within that community can be established. Due to the fact that body language and facial expressions do not supplement conversations online, a social code of conduct should be adhered to, to avoid miss-communication and/or misunderstanding between individuals.

Communication

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The online humanities course that I am currently enrolled in will require my participation in a group project. My fellow classmates, in addition to the three DIT students, have been split into 3 groups. Each group is responsible fro creating a project within a virtual reality online world (or Second Life (SL)) to present a project on “reality”. Due to the fact that the course is offered online, each group must come up with a method of communication to work on our projects in a collaborative and productive manner.

My group have chosen to communicate through Facebook. Facebook seems like the most logical choice of communication because we each already have Facebook accounts. Most of us agreed that we use Facebook more than any other online social networking site, such as Twitter or Skype. We have created a Facebook group, and page to post any information that we find relevant to our project topic and to communicate/relay ideas between each other.

Meeting New People in Second Life

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While in the virtual reality site entitled Second Life (SL), I visited Governor Linden’s Mansion (which happens to be a popular destination within SL based on the amount of traffic/people that visit the location. I met someone by the avatar name of Zeus7777. I explained to him that I was relatively new to SL and I was interested in continuing to explore the virtual world. He was very kind and offered to show me around; he even suggested new places that I could visit to satisfy my goal/interests. We became friends in SL and we chat from time to time when we are both online. I wonder where he will take me next…

I have always been interested in learning about French culture and practicing the language with someone whenever possible. Therefore, I made an effort to seek out destinations within SL that were French influenced. I came upon a place called Area 51. I met someone named Roxie and she was very helpful. I asked her questions about Area 51, and she described it as a “French Sandbox” that is open to people all around the world. It was exciting applying the french I have learned in school in a virtual reality setting.