Class 12, The Wrap Party

Looking back on Second Life and this module, I’m still a little unsure what I have gained educationally. Personally through the power of the internet I have began to think that if my searches are indicating who I am online, who must I be in real life? Maybe this is the educational value of the Virtual Environments Module. Either way, I have had smiles and laughs through this system of learning and it has been an enjoyable experience.

I have written a collection of thoughts based on the topical question of, Who’s watching Me? This will be my final farewell to the Virtual Environments Second Life Module.

The Internet, this all encompassing entity that is everywhere and nowhere at the same time. 50 years ago reciting this line one would have thought you were talking about God. It’s funny that for a many number of people the internet is a Godly being, that is to say without internet some people really have become like the ‘lost flock’ in regards to true calling. Now without drawing on parallels between Religion and technology it is sufficed to say that there is a direct coralation between the rise in technology and the decrease in religious faith due to the readily available dissemination of imformation.

Now as my collegues have shone a light on their digital footprint as will I. Walking along in the steps from little to large, my particular digital footprint is much like my shoe size at age ten. Larger than the actual years I have been on the Earth.
It must have been the early to mid 90’s when a computer first showed up in my house. Random green text info and floppy disks and as every kid I knew back then it was something that didn’t really play to heavily on my mind, that was of course until it rained.
My earliest memories where sitting down and inserting a 3 1/2 floppy disk that said games. Boom, I was hooked.
And a plethora of information flew down the screen, I felt like a genius kid at the controls of the Trimaxion Drone Ship (Flight of the Navigator ref).
Moving on, Nintendo appeared. Windows launched Encarta 95 and the Netscape browser went live. Chat rooms were accessible and my words per minute count skyrocketed.
You could sit in your front room and have conversations on a one to one level with somebody on the other side of the world. It was great, heading into school and swapping stories with your mates about pictures of US skate parks you’d seen the previous night “online”!
As the processing power grew so did its consumption and all of us should have no quams about productive and destructive power of the internet, we have more than likely experienced good and bad virtual scenarios and maybe some further in the real world.
When the internet started there were no limitations to intellectual exploration, something that is not true today.
Now my digital footprint is large as I have been active online for quite some time, for my collegues this has provided ample research material to laugh and joke about. I hold my hands up and say, “you got me”. Or did you?
It is true that socially I am as active online as in my real world environment, but the difference is this. My online persona actually says very little about me personally. What I have fed out into my mainstream online feeds are a mere glimpse into what I want you to see. Talking points if you will to entice real world conversations, things that people want to say to judge your reaction without realizing that you are the one who has disseminated the information to engage them.
This is my real world linkability, which is important. To me yes, maybe not so much to you unless you are in my real world but the word, Linkability.
I want to talk about this word, Linkability, only because for me it is the great issue I have between my real life and online life. Linkability in this context is exactly how it sounds. Bankcard to Leap card means you can get the bus. Bankcard to Cinema tickets means you might be getting lucky.
We take it for granted but what happens when data and data systems start developing concepts of analysis that could be coded and rolled out and that code could be executed electronically. Simply put, everything you do online has formed a virtual second you that is nothing like the real you and is now being targeted.
This might seem a little Science Fiction esque but the truth of the matter is that this has already started. Your metadata is being pieced together like a jigsaw to form metadata relationships, this metadata, in aggregate is content. It’s the story of you. A story that is made up of facts but has no narrative. So what happens when probability is introduced to that narrative.
Here’s an example, lets indulge the theory that you are using your epay cards such as, debit and bus… You leave for a night out,

  • Get the bus (check).
  • Buy smokes in a shop (check).
  • Go to the pub (check).
  • Go to another (check).
  • Hit a club (check).
  • Witness a crime!
  • Get a taxi home (check).

All of the above data points have put you in the vicinity of a crime and in 979 cases in Britian in 2012, individuals with stories such as the above woke up to be in the spotlight of accusations of criminal charges.

So the question starts to become not who is watching me, but Am I watching myself! Am I being careful? Am I being responsible as to what my electronic bread crumb trail is leaving behind? The answer we will probably never know as our digital footprint grows larger each day.
“For now, know that every boarder you cross,
every purchase you make,
every call you dial,
every cell phone tower you pass,
friend you keep,
articule you write,
site you visit,
subject line you type,
and packet you route,
is in the hands of a system whose reach is unlimited, but whose safeguards are not.”

-Edward Snowden

Ciao for the last time…

Pepe Picante.


Class 11, fall from heaven…

Whether it was down to the work load or just pre Christmas excitement I completely forgot the bloody class was on! Sitting in front of the tele at about 9pm it dawned on me but alas, it was too late.

This was a shame, as the Arab Spring was used as an example, I was a keen follower of the various revolutions but the class didn’t seem to know what it was.

This class I heard was shorter than normal as people were busy with other issues, the hashtags were mentioned again and I wanted to post this articule from The Guardian.

Presentation next week…… ooooooohhhhhhh.




Class 10, building, now and then.

This weeks class started with me being absent. I had notified John in advance as I celebrated another year on this Earth. John was however running the class from Florence as he was attending the ELIA Biennial Conference.

From what I have been able to pick up, there were some technical difficulties at the start of the class but the class got involved in the building side of SL.

The class was somewhat preoccupied with RL and exams and such was quiet. John passed on a reading list which refers to the power of the hashtag.

This cool infographic pretty much sums it all up.The-Power-of-Hashtags-in-Social-Media-Marketing.jpg..

Pretty cool!!!



Class 9, just fine…

Following on from last week,  Acuppa Tae  reiterated the importance of the student blogs and again ran through the ‘should’s’ and shouldn’t’ behind what we are posting in our blogs. This Thursday is the deadline to have all our blogs up to date and in ship shape order. The style of the blogs is to continue in the same vein of form but now with an emphasis  on our group project work.

This particular group work is seeming harder than first imagined. Having been on this Earth a little longer than my esteemed colleagues  I have a slightly larger digital footprint. However the investigation research into the seedy underbelly that is my group will continue.

After Acuppa Tae  explained that use of multiple communication platforms for the group work is acceptable we have found this much easier. Facebook Messenger is our regular form of correspondence and it has been working well for us.

I personally find that with the run up to Christmas that I am posting less and less online. I still have the obligatory twice weekly Instagram post but regarding facebook I seem to be gravitating further and further away from it. Possibly this is a turning point or maybe it is just down to having a shed load of work for my deliverables!

Acuppa Tae did explain the fundamentals of our group assignment and to tread carefully in regards the intrusion into somebody’s personal bubble. The outlining of the project was also quite invaluable, discovery through research, reflection and reaction. This has formed a new insightful thought process within our group and the results are starting to appear.

Anyway, I must run as I have some more snooping to do!!

Ciao for now,

Pepe Picante…

Class 8, debate…

Although shy of numbers this did nothing to deter my vocal nature. The chief topic of discussion was focused around the real vs virtual environments in relation to the Virtual Ability Island.

We spoke in length about what feelings we have towards being comfortable enough and in turn being accepted online. Are the ramifications the same in a virtual environment. This in my view is not only down to the social platform but also the persons willingness to express themselves as themselves. If so, happy days, if not, this can be a release for the individual but also a waste of time and energy for others. This is where the boundries become blurred. The internet as a whole facilitates a learning environment. Whether this is for the greater expanse of knowledge or simply for procrastination, users will ultimately and comfortably cross the line between the two spectrums. This is where something like second life can be intelligently used or harshly abused. Thankfully for the Virtual Ability Island users this is the former.

We spoke about the ease and usability of the SL platform, although a little outdated it is still able to provide its initial goals. If for example, they release an application to increase its user database this could very well see a drop off in its active users, something that could effect its online social community in a detrimental way.  Trust is an issue, this adequately displayed by the lesbian blogger article. The trust that thousands of people had was ultimately shattered when the truth broke about the identity of this particular person. The resulting remarks that I strongly believe is that unless you can see and talk the the correspondent in the first person, be coy!

We brought up the group aspect of meeting in SL, as hard as it is to meet people in a real world environment, SL seems to be a little harder. There has been progress made with my group but not much. However as the end of the year looms large in the minds of everyone more hast will inevitably appear itself over the coming days.



Class 7, reading week, theming meet…

As this particular class falls on reading week we are without our regular SL class. This is giving us the opportunity to discuss what theme and direction we are going to take for our “end of class” presentation.

Who is watching you is a pretty straightforward title and as started in a previous blog the importance of online security is pretty much a must these days, if not for yourself but to keep others from posting junk on “your” social media sites.

We have planned to have a meeting later this week so this post should be updated as soon as that happens…


Class 6, pick up sticks…

Due to a technical issue I was unable to attend this particular class but what I have learnt from my classmates and the virtual environments blog is this.

Class 6 was hosted in the Virtual Ability Island, this class was introduced by Gentle Heron. The class gathered in the auditorium and the Virtual Ability ethos and functionality was explained. It facilitates a varied range of disabilities and was initialised in 2007 to provide an escape from the day to day monotony of each individual disability. There is no segregation within the Virtual Ability environment. There are also no stairs, only ramps and the colour scheme has been carefully picked to support a soothing stress-free calming environment.

Hosted by Gentle Heron, she spoke about the importance of a community and community spirit. This online community may be providing the only social interaction that people within this community receive.

The class teleported to Cape Able art gallery which hosts work from artist from both real life and second life. This is a varied gallery that has artists from multi disciplinary techniques and forms.

The last location of the day was Cape Serenity. This platform boasts a library and poetry garden. From fiction to non-fiction and all inbetween this seems to be and alternative learning zone which can be a happy alternative to real world learning environments.



Class 5 is alive…

The class began as usual with us meeting in the D.I.T campus in Second Life, nothing unusual here. There was a brief chat about the groups that people are in and some confusion as to who were who and contact details. As my group is whopper we already have made a start on it and felt pleased to be somewhat ahead of the posse.

We had a back and forth conversation about social media and what sites worked best for individuals and as a group. People seem to be agreeing on the ease of Facebook for both contacting and accessibility. Which is good.

We discussed social media and how much or how little it is reflected in our day to day lives. This is a contentious issue as many give little to no thought of the ramifications that an online social post can have. I am always cautious to remember that words on a page can have a very different perceived meaning to that of a spoken dialogue. This is where Second Life tries to breakdown social barriers with its active speech function. I am yet to really see its functionality in an open outside of the classroom environment, but perhaps this will be more accurately displayed next week in the Heron Sanctuary.

We ended our class with a trip to Lauk’s Nest island in Second Life. This is one of the oldest park themes in Second Life. It’s creation was developed 2 years after the initial inception of Second Life and has seemed to maintain the integrity of the original creation.

Looking at both personal branding and the humanitarian related online resources such as Humans of New York for next weeks class, I have had this thought, regardless of who’s watching me, who am I watching?


4 score…

Day 4,

We were joined by a guest lecturer called Sitearm Madonna, this gave John the luxary of being a student for the evening and joined us on the low chairs in class this week.

Sitearm Madonna explained the origin of his female avatar and his 11 years in Second Life. Sitearm has had a long career in Second Life and has been influential in developing within the Second Life platform.

John reiterated about writing our blogs. He also reminded us that we would be being assessed next week on our blog posts.

I (Pepe Picante) shared the facebook page that was set up with the class and asked people to join. This is a closed group which will function only for this group. It will be a handy tool for staying in the loop with my other classmates.

John gave us the task to meet up in Second Life within our groups and discuss the presentation topic called ‘Who’s watching you?’

Oh, is that the time, better log on…

Ciao for now,


Pepe Picante’s 3rd day at school:A clear hat-trick!

The class was a little light this week, maybe due to the International football being on, or just because only the strongest will survive! Either way Pepe Picante was there to make it a hat-trick of attendances.

We looked again at combining everyone into a different social media communications group, this was agreed upon last week but no progress had been made. I mentioned that I would ‘take the bull by the horns’ so to speak and contact people.

We had an informal discussion about our experiences exploring SecondLife, some like myself had nothing really to write home about, although one or two others explained their journeys and as interesting as they were the group seemed to be resigned to the fact that the lack of people to talk too seemed to be the main sticking point. In saying that ‘RaveDogers’ did find himself taking the party onto the next level and came to class on the ‘come-down’ or possibly to convince us to ‘get-on-it’! However his disco fever was short lived and after he managed to stop dancing he promptly ‘hung his hat/trunks/tunes’ and disappeared.

John, campaigning his own ‘hat-trick’ reiterated the importance of the blog. Although he wouldn’t name and shame he is expecting all blogs to be live and updated by next week, which, in fairness is why we are doing this module so not at all an unfair point.

We have now been split into groups and given a brief. This brief is titled; ‘Who’s watching you?’ The purpose of this is not only to see if we can work as part of an online group dynamic but also to see if we can use our lateral thinking brains to figure out the, who,what,where and why’s of online surveillance. Deeper still, who is watching me and why… Spooky online spooks.

Managing my digital footprint come to me in two forms. The do I care? and Why not?

I suppose in managing my own digital footprint I tend to struggle against my own inherent sense of transparency. Commercial interests seem to be asking us time and again to sacrifice or own privacy in order to partake with their specific online community.

The time and energy that one needs to devote to privacy within an online realm pails in comparison to the pace at which we are being sucked into a fictitious community.

Managing and controlling digital footprints encompasses a number of different stages.

Like anything in life you must first understand the primary use of the feature. This can be hard considering that a number of social platforms offer the same services in principle but with very different outcomes. E.G. Facebook Vs Grinder.

Once your online platform has been accepted as something you feel will benefit from having, have a look at all the possibilities you can use that platform for.

E.g. Facebook Business page for my design work.

Many Social platforms offer extended features such as a business page, group pages and event pages. These add on features are designed to streamline your online experience while finding out more information about you. This can be a handy tool but also opens the door to a more direct marking strategy that social media outlets use to sell their clients products.

When one sets up a social media profile it is important to remember that privacy enhancing tools are an important way to feel safe. These tools go someway to build a more anonymous online presence without effecting your online experience.

Ciao for now,

Pepe Picante.