Monday, November 29, 2010

Learning Blog #12 Rushkoff, Rosedale and 2nd Life

Learning Blog #12 Rushkoff, Rosedale and Second Life.

I just loved these videos! I am a big Frontline fan, but somehow I missed “Digital Nation.” The documentary raised some intriguing questions about what does it mean to be a community, advantages and drawbacks to “virtual communities” and the sheer  impossibility of “multitasking”. I found Phillip Rosedale so engaging and charismatic, I am ready to give Second Life another chance.

There was much to like in the video, but the section on drone warfare and the “Army Experience Center” totally unnerved me. Offer up a free, decked out, tricked out arcade lounge, present it as a accurate representation of military life to young teenagers, and we will just happen to have recruiters standing by to answer questions. The kids interviewed were pretty blasé, “yeah we know it isn’t real”, but the parent-me worries about desensitization. The drone warfare pilots also looked like they were just playing a video game too, uniform or no uniform. And how crazy-making that they just return from the battlefield at the end of the day and return to normal life. If the drones were shooting at other drones, that would be wonderful—take the people killing out of the equation entirely. But it really does not seem ethical for our guys to be shooting at bad  guys 4,000 miles away when their arms can’t reach that far.

If you are going to capitalize on kids today and their fine motor skills and texting skills, why not direct them towards medicine or engineering instead of warfare? My brother-in-law is a pediatric cardiologist and some of the diagnostic tools he uses do look like something straight out of a video game. And he is a hell of a good gamer too.

As the parent of a 4th grader, I am curious about what kind of training do public school kids get in their media class?  The segment on the Bronx school that turned itself around by issuing laptops to all the students seemed very promising. I’m sure many are on the “have not” side of the digital divide, and something like New Computers are a novelty. A useful one, but still. Perhaps they would have had the same outcome with digital cameras, or kindles, or new gym equipment. I was appalled by the principal being able to spy on the students while they were online. But oh yeah, jr high kids do not have civil rights while at school. They are using school property on school grounds, and their time is not their own. Do they disclose to the students up front, “you have no privacy online while at school?” (Or at home for that matter?)

I wasn’t sold on the Rushkoff’s “speaking into the webcam” commentary, but did admire him for  being brave enough to show his youthful self exclaiming about Digital Worlds in 1994 and what has tempered his enthusiasm.

            Phillip Rosedale was such a charismatic speaker, and very proud of what he has created in Second Life. During the opening shot when he was flying the plane, I thought for sure he was cruising in a virtual one, not a real one! Sheesh! I was pleased that he admitted that “yes Second Life IS hard to use”. I have been on a few dozen times, and end up leaving after 15 minutes, because I can’t fly, or I am flying into buildings. I joined through the New Media Consortium site which drops you into friendly territory, and you don’t have the riff raff giving you grief. I have yet to attend a meeting or conference in 2nd Life, though I have wandered around New Media Consortiums site, played drums, ridden a bicycle, and flew into buildings, and walked around in circles. Is this the future of business? I am in a library where I do have to be physically present most of the time, but seeing the deserted IBM campus was a bit Planet of The Apes. Where IS everybody?
As airline travel becomes more of a headache, and peak oil makes driving too expensive, will virtual meeting beome the new norm? Probably some version of it. Second Life seems good for play and academics, but I saw the eye-rolling of the IBM exec learning to fly his avatar. Perhaps IBM has to create something more button-down & pinstripe to be taken seriously as a business tool.

My aha moment—working on wordpress. I seem to learn something new every time I try to work on the class project. Why is this image showing up three times? How do I make a child page under a page? Or is that a “post”? Now I really wish I knew html & css. I see the possibilities. I know this CAN be done, I just don’t know HOW to do it. It seems like the site is finally coming together. And as a bonus I figured out how to get the paypal button on the Quatrefoil facebook site by testing it out on my class blog. Yippee!

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