How does convergence aid in the study of the virtual world?

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A common theme I have come across in reading this week’s articles pertains to a particular word: Convergence. In studying virtual worlds, it is important to understand both the culture of the research necessary, and the culture of the virtual world itself. This has become increasingly more difficult with the fact that mediated technologies are no longer completely separate entities (like being able to listen to a popular song via you tube on your iphone for example) In “Making Smart Choices on Shifted Ground”, Markham and Baym discuss, “The contemporary self, which used to seem fairly reliably embedded in a human body, must now be seen as constructed with an in response to multiple media”. In explanation, “Qualitative researchers must grapple more than ever with the problem of how to identify one phenomenon when convergence intertwines them all together” (3). These ideas form the question of how one should study virtual worlds and research their communities because there are so many different aspects to focus upon. As well, because media and technology are constantly changing and converging, how is it possible to separate these different aspects?

The word convergence also appeared in how virtual and second worlds are created. Although these different worlds are separate from real life, it is interesting to note that many different norms and facets are pulled from the real world in the initial creation of these online worlds. This idea becomes confusing because in studying these virtual worlds, is it valuable to note which real life culture they stem from, or is it irrelevant as a new culture emerges within these virtual worlds? Boellsteroff writes, “Actual-world sociality cannot explain virtual-world sociality. The sociality of virtual worlds develop on its own terms; it references the actual world but it is not simply a derivative of it” (3). The real world is a building block for virtual worlds, but the culture formed within these virtual worlds is that of its own identity. This convergence of both the online and offline worlds creates another phenomenon of study.

In understanding how to research virtual worlds I find it very interesting that there is not merely one “lens” to look through. For example, you could study my facebook profile as a separate entity from myself as a person, but it is valuable to the research to look at the groundwork (me as a real life person) and how that aided in the creation of my online facebook self. While studying merely my facebook by itself will provide some information, the convergence of my real life self and my online self will provide a completely other aspect to the study at hand.

We Are Wizards

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After watching the “We Are Wizards” documentary I had mixed feelings about what end of the intellectual property spectrum I stood on. The internet has DEFINITELY changed the way we consume media. Instead of being produced and consumed, media can now be produced, consumed, altered, have growth of a fan base, and then that fan base can grow a subculture and fan base of its own. Instead of sticking to one structured formula, the internet has allowed for a completely different type of consumption to occur. I believe that while fans have the right to use intellectual property, there are certain limits that should be put in place. I completely agree that if information is going to be put out there it is of free game to use, however if fans tarnish a brand or turn it into something completely different then what the original publisher intended, I do not believe that it is ethically right. In the last 3-4 years fan culture has grown immensely. Sub-cultures, such as the bands in We Are Wizards have popped up and created a whole new realm of fan culture. While in this case Harry Potter was the inspiration behind the music, the bands created started a whole new cult following. Harry Potter helped inspire these bands, but the music they produced inspired a entirely new type of fan group. This is where my opinions blur. How far are fans able to take intellectual property without it becoming a legal battle over rights? Do fans have these rights to intellectual property? The “We Are Wizards” documentary enlightened me that a majority of these fan subcultures believe they are entitled to all media as fans. As they are not “profiting” from their hobbies, they should be able to freely enjoy using media such as Harry Potter as a stepping stone to their own endeavors.

 


Creative Process!

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My groups creative process has been surprisingly easy. Going into our meeting with Aaron, we werent very confident that our video concept involving acting, flashbacks and splits screens was going to go over well, but with Aaron’s excitement and added advice towards our project, it seems to be going in an awesome direction! During our meeting with Aaron we discussed differentiating between the past and present, reality and fiction, with different focuses, such as black and white picture, or even using animation. I think this idea really gave our concept structure and definition.

Two milestones that we have accomplished include a script rough draft as well as some material to use from creative commons. Both of these were really important because 1) the script is the basis for the entire video, and 2) Creative Commons resources will add a new dimension to our video. Some hurdles we have experienced involve scheduling. Although our group only has four members, it is very difficult to come up with a time in our busy schedules that we can all get together to shoot. As well, we experienced some trouble in creating our storyboard using the screencast program recommended. It was difficult to download correctly on my PC and I know the other girls with macs were having some problems too.

The digital tools we have been using in class have helped our creative process growth. Between garage band, Creative Commons, and the screencast, all have either aided in the planning and development of our video, or will contribute to the final project. Editing especially will play a major role in the creation and success of this video. The tools we were taught in class will turn this video into a more dynamic and dimensional projection of what One Day stands for, and hopefully help get our message across in a more interesting and audience grabbing manner.

Creative Commons

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This was my first time using Creative Commons and I found it to be a really useful process where I was actually able to find some great media to hopefully use in my final project. Before using the search engine I was skeptical to the quality of media that my search would result it, but I feel like I found some really useful and interesting materials to use for the project.

1. Ghost on the Ward– This is a music file I fond upon searching the Creative Commons music on Jamendo. It has a soothing rock tone to it, and touches on an individual being alone and friend trying to reach out to help them. I feel like this could fit perfectly into the project video where the abusee’s friend is trying to help her realize the dangerous situation she is in.

2. Myths About Dating Abuse– This is actually a video I found using Creative Commons on YouTube that is produced by One Day. This video lists common myths and about dating abuse and the fact or fiction behind the warning signs. Because it is a video created for One Day in particular, I believe this would be really useful to take clips to use after our self produced video when we recap about the One Day organization and the warning signs of physical abuse.

3. Lonely Girl– This picture is from Creative Commons via Flickr. In looking for an image, I wanted to find a picture of a woman who looked like she was alone with no way out, a typical sign of dating abuse. In doing so I came across this picture of a woman sitting in the dark. I thought this was an exceptional picture to include in my final project because although the woman has no physical signs of abuse, her body language and eyes tell her story. This is important because unlike common myths, just because you cant see the abuse does not mean that it is not happening.

Post Storyboard Creative Process

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During the storyboarding step we had technical difficulties and we were unable to access the power point mode of Google docs,so instead we had to draft the storyline in a regular document. During the storyboarding step scenes became more definite with actual settings and props. Ultimately, our original concept ended up working out, however upon some research we realized we weren’t going to be able to use some music we previously discussed because it was copyrighted. An element that we should eventually include in this project would be none copyrighted music that supports the scenes through the reality and fiction and helps show the contrast between the two. My ultimate vision for this project is that the flashbacks and split screens accurately depict the warning signs of abuse and bring to light some scenarios of abuse that may have been previously overlooked.  It is important that over the course of the narrative, Girl #2 in the relationship goes from being unaware/in denial of the abuse around her, to finally accepting what is going on and taking actions to remove herself from the relationship and abuse. Girl #1 plays a huge role in helping guide Girl #2 to this realization. My final vision hopes to bring the narrative full circle and point out all the warning signs of abuse.

 


Storyboard Direction

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The creative direction we hope our storyboard takes is being able to depict an abusive relationship between a boy and girl dating by using the function of flashbacks and split screens to compare and contrast reality versus fiction. We will have the 2 main characters of a boy and girl, and then a second girl who addresses her concerns with her friend about the signs of abuse shes seen within their relationship. The second girl will attempt to draw upon past scenarios, using the flashbacks, and then compare and contrast what is actually happening to what the girl in the relationship thinks is happening using the split screens. This will be reflected in the storyboard using different images that draw on the past, present, and comparative factors of the relationship at hand. We hope that the story board depicts the message that while physical abuse may be present, individuals in an abusive relationship might not allows realize the seriousness of what is occurring because they are blinded by so many other things. The second girl is vital to the storyboard to point out all of the times her friend was being abused but failed to recognize the signs of abuse that were occurring.

 

Google Docs

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I was sick in the hospital with pneumonia the day we were assigned our groups and a member of our group created the google doc. While in theory google doc seems like a convenient way for team members to collaborate on an assignment together, I find it to also hinder the work quality from a group. Luckily,  a sister from my sorority was assigned to the same group as me and was able to fill me in on the project, but it was very difficult to communicate between group members in getting the work done and fully completed. The problem I found is that google docs only works with a google email. While I created an email address to access the group document, that email is not the one I check on a daily basis and it was difficult to keep track of whether the document was being worked on and edited and by who. Because it allows for collaboration on the project at each member’s own accord, it is much less reliable and efficient then actually setting a time to meet face to face and accomplishing the work all together at once.

As well, it is really hard to keep track of what work is being completed and who is doing what. While emails were exchanged in my group, it was hard to monitor responses and track certain members down to help with work completion. Google docs is definitley helpful in the virtual world, but I believe it is not the best resource for completing a group project where there is the option of actually being able to meet up face-to-face. I think that working in person takes less time and better allows for team members to understand their role and individual tasks in completely the project together. Personally, Google docs is not a virtual resource I like to rely on unless is is absolutely necessary.