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The right to be heard

I found it interesting that the first sentence in the introduction of this article was a question; an unanswered question – “Does Web 2.0 mean anything?” It’s almost amusing that as students we are asking the same question as web research and developers. I know there are specific definitions as to what Web 2.0 is and the types of tools and collaboration that makes Web 2.0 exist, but what does it mean to the people who don’t actually care? The people who don’t own a computer? The people who aren’t connected to the Internet? Or the people who use the computer and Internet every day but only for work, not for research, or Web 2.0 uses?
The question of the “right to communicate” is an interesting one. I didn’t really even think about it, to be honest. But as citizens we all know we have the right to free speech and freedom of opinion and expression, so what happens when the only way to voice your opinion is through a video posted to the web? A comment box on the website? An email? An online survey?
The people who either have accessibility issues, or disabilities, or the people who aren’t connected but still hold the same rights of freedom of opinion and expression are now left without an outlet. This just emphasizes the importance of continuing already existing communications with the addition of Web 2.0 technologies. We can’t simply just leave many people behind and ignore their rights to communicate with us. I understand that certain campaigns or companies will target specific audiences, and those people may not have communication issues, but for … say … the government, it is much more important to be able to give everyone the same opportunity to voice concerns, opinions, and comments. Everyone should be apart of the conversation.
Any thoughts?

Kim Bottomley

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June 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Living (With) A Second Life

It is three days later and I’m still thinking about Second Life and trying to decide how I feel about using it socially and professionally. As I ponder the social ramifications of Web 2.0, I can relate to a few other comments that have been made.

When we finished our class experience on Second Life I sort of felt like I do when I sit down and watch a reality TV show. In a world where we all have so many REAL issues to contend with every day, there is obviously a societal cry for an escape from our own reality. So we’ve created TV shows where people are on display 24/7 and we are told that they are ‘real’ people living ‘real’ lives. Deep down I don’t think we have ever believed this, but yet, reality TV has not gone away. In fact, it’s become more popular.  Often we pretend not to enjoy it, or talk about how fake and unbelievable these shows are. But don’t we still watch them? Isn’t it sometimes easier to watch Jon & Kate Plus 8 and make up our minds about their lives, their insecurities, their relationships, their ‘reality’, instead of addressing our own?

So then I think about Second Life. We are creating avatars in a world where we know that we are always on display. We pretend that it gives us freedom to be anyone we want to be, but judgement prevails and stereotypes are often perpetuated.  

At the beginning of “The Electric Self: Doing Virtual Research For Real In Second Life”, Julie Rak cites an interesting quote:

In one way or another we all have this hope. The yearning to transcend, to reach up, to let go of our skins and find a new place without sorrow and loss. Virtual worlds have the capacity to promise that redemption, to entrance us, to make us forget ourselves until it’s too late.
—Tim Guest, Second Lives: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds (351)

I guess I feel the same as I do about Facebook, Twitter and other social mediums. Second Life can be a good tool when it is used to enhance and not escape reality. Second Life is innovative and promotes creative communication. But it also provides an opportunity for people to mask their real life issues and live within their very own virtual bubble. If we don’t understand how to live a first life as confident, intelligent and compassionate individuals who promote equality and acceptance, we certainly won’t get it right in a second life.

May 30, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , | 1 Comment