Avatar in the Wild

JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying being seated under a tree by hillside cottage (STORY CIRCLE)
JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying being seated under a tree by hillside cottage (STORY CIRCLE)

 

This week has been extremely busy with the editing of the first machinima and brainstorming/planning for the next ones. However, I went inwold and read over the storytelling slides, which helped give me a sense of how the stories can be told and the structure they can have. These slides are displayed in a place called Storytelling Circle, which is one of my favorite locations. I love the starry sky, the fire, the cottages, and the cozy feeling this location exudes. 


Two Worlds Combined

Sitting on tree bench under the stars
JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying the Comfort of the Outdoors

 

When I first found out that all interns would have their own avatars and build inworld, nervous was not the emotion that overcame me. I worried and feared that my confusion and lack of knowledge with technology would hinder my capability to fully grasp virtual reality — I was wrong. Our developer, Gwenette Sinclair, has done a phenomenal job of guiding us through each homework assignment with clear and concise directions. I first logged in knowing nothing and now know when I login I can create, rotate, copy, and change shapes of boxes in inworld. I can create note cards and drop them in a basket that is delivered to Gwenette via Internet.  I can fly, run, and teleport to any location I choose.  It is amazing how practice and patience with virtual reality has allowed me to acquire skills and enjoy every time I login inworld.

This week’s virtual world assignment required us to take a screenshot of ourselves facing the camera, while sitting on a poseball at one of several locations. I chose to take my snapshot while relaxing under a tree near the Storytelling Circle. One of the wonderful things about being inworld is that two worlds come to life.  I chose to sit under the tree because in reality I love to be outdoors.  Being able to sit under a tree and stargaze in our virtual world, like I do in the physical world, is the best of both worlds for me.


Chillin’ Inworld

VWChillin_001e
JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying the warmth of a fire at Campfire Hill as Fall approaches both inworld & in physical reality.

 

Never have I ever been introduced to such an interesting concept: Virtual World Journalism.
Since I have never spent much time with video games or anything “virtual” really, this whole experience has been quite new and a little intimidating to me. However, Gwenette has set up such a great workshop via OpenSim where we can expand our virtual world knowledge and really learn how to navigate inworld.

Although I won’t be the one creating the actual world in which the stories will be told, I am one of the journalists who is gathering the necessary information to put into the story and ultimately, into this world. For this reason, it is imperative that I, and the entire team, are familiar with the very different aspects of inworld life in order to gather all of the fundamental information to present this story right.

Oh, and perks of being inworld, as you can see above – despite my extremely busy, non-stop life [with school, this project, my job, and a billion other obligations], my inworld avatar finds the time to relax for me. Hmm, I guess these avatars can really teach us something – sometimes you need those moments where you can just take a step back to breathe and relax.


First Interview – Journalism Jolt

When I first started school at Kennesaw State University, my [indefinite] plan was to become a journalist. At the time, I didn’t know what type of journalist, nor how I would fulfill this aspiration. With no direction or a working portfolio of my work, I drifted from this original ambition and chose to pursue a different degree.

However, this project has once again sparked my interest in journalism. Since I have always loved writing, I knew that would be one of my favorite parts about this project. But now, as I delve deeper into the project and allow myself to get wrapped up in this case, I have an even greater love for the magnitude of journalism. Yes, journalism is writing. But more importantly, it is reporting. It is getting the deeper story through interviews, interactions and observations, and it is getting to know the people involved on a personal level.

These all-important aspects of journalism were all put into perspective for me today – Today, I had my first official interview. Since I have never been in the shoes of the journalist asking the questions and taking the notes, I was undeniably a little nervous. However, as a team, we had become familiar with the case and had come up with some great questions for Steve Reba. After reading through the documents, we were not only prepared, but we were extremely motivated, as we gradually realized how crucial this project could be to this youth’s life.

At the Emory Clinic Valet Parking
At the Emory Law Clinic (L. to R.) Claire Bohrer, Ann Ondieki, Fred Lewis, Kevin Enners

Since our interview was scheduled for 12PM and we wanted to be sure we had enough time to make it there (Atlanta traffic is unpredictable), we left our group meeting a little early at around 10AM. With Fred as driver, Kevin riding shotgun, and Ann and I riding as back-seat passengers, we jumped in the van and were on our way to the Barton Clinic at Emory Law to interview Steve Reba.
The drive was shorter than we thought and valet parking treated us well, and we were walking up to the Clinic right at 11:30 AM. It’s a good thing we got there early though, because we used all of our “extra” time to prepare the recording devices in the Conference Room at the Clinic.
The interview went great – Steve, having worked on the case for about 5 years now, is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about every aspect of it and was willing to answer all of our questions (and we had A LOT of questions).

After about an hour-long interview, we said our thank-yous and good-byes and left with the hopes of Steve being able to initiate a meeting with the actual youth in the current prison where he currently resides.

All of this being said – I absolutely love every aspect of this project. From the research of the case and contacting witnesses, to managing the communication with my wonderful team and writing/reporting the actual story. This project has taken over my life in a way I never imaged – every day, I am even more eager to bring more attention to this so that we can shine a light on its injustices and bring about a change – not only in the youth’s life, but to the whole system and other youths’ lives who could stumble down the same path.

Although I turned away from journalism my freshman year, this clearly does not mean that there is no chance of me changing course from my current degree and trying my hand at journalism in the near feature. In fact, I feel like I am already on that path. And I’m loving every second of it.


JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying Kicking It & Dreaming Under the Stars on the Tree Bench

 

 

Greenway DayDreaming Under Near the Storytelling Circle_001

 

You know that moment? The moment when you take in a deep breath at the end of the day, feeling either complete relief that the day is over and you’ve done all you needed to do, or like you’ve absolutely have done nothing? Today, I took that deep breath and I felt like my day was not over yet. When this picture was taken for me by our amazing developer Gwenette Writer, I desperately wanted to be my avatar. Just kicking it with my feet crossed under a tree looking into the stars. And I somewhat was my avatar, because even though I could not relax at the time this picture was taken, my avatar did it for me. It made me feel better that I did some relaxing today 🙂  Maybe next time I could actually try relaxing in real life 🙂 🙂


Your Ideas Count, Write Them Down!

JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying Fresh Air in a Hot Air Balloon on the Beach
JJIE Virtual World: Enjoying Fresh Air & the View in a Hot Air Balloon on the Beach

In everyone’s mind lies a wealth of knowledge that is unique. Everyone is gifted with their own ways of communicating, hence making life more interesting. Imagine going to the bookstore to get a book and every section you go to, each writer has the same  writing style and content. It is fair enough to say reading would be a chore rather than a joy! In the same token, if all artists copied a famed artist and molded all the products  in the same way their “famed icon” did, art galleries, music stores, and theaters would run out of business.

Variety plays a big role in creating  interest. The only way to achieve variety in writing is by allowing different ideas to the table, then consolidating them to form a cohesive story. In the same manner, to achieve a tasty meal, a good cook takes his knowledge of his recipe and assembles his ingredients, then cooks them taking into consideration what needs to cook first.

Tying this information to my favorite quote from the exercise Gwenette gave  us, “Putting it on paper let’s you start fixing it,” all ideas count and an idea left in the mind cannot help anyone. On this note, as we gear towards the writing and actualization phase of this special task, everyone’s input is important. Our goal is to put  our ideas together and bring out Chris’s story in an objective manner, and hopefully shed new light on this pressing issue.

 

 


Inworld

So, I have not blogged yet. As a PR person this virtual reality seemed WAY out of me league. But, as the weeks have gone on I have come to enjoy it. I have realized that I can actually do pretty good on the homework assigned each week and do it in  the time given. I never thought I would actually understand what was going on inworld. Public relations I understand, even journalism I understand to a point being a communication major, but adding virtual reality to my list of skills I never thought would come as naturally as it has. I am excited to learn more and maybe show other members of the team how to do things if they don’t understand.

JIE Virtual World: Enjoying sitting at picnic table  at campfire hill
JIE Virtual World: Enjoying sitting at picnic table at Campfire Hill

A New World

As I begin the third week of this amazing journey, I marvel at the amount of knowledge I have already gained through this project. As the old adage goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, I have literally walked into a world previously unknown to me.  With the mind of a novice, I have learned to walk, run and hopefully by the end of it all, I will be flying into greater heights of knowledge about this New World. Navigating through the virtual world has at times challenged my technological skills, but it has also revealed to me the joys of opening myself up to new ideas and succeeding in accomplishing new tasks.

As a Journalist, I appreciate the role the virtual world plays in highlighting issues of importance in society, and presenting them in a totally innovative way, in this case through the use of machinima. I have learned a lot from my peers who bring to this project such zeal and knowledge, and look forward to the process ahead.


As We Progress with the Project…

Collaborating on this project has been great.  I can’t ask for a better group of colleagues to work with.  We watch, listen and learn. We are patient with each other.  Group members are communicating and as a whole we are progressing.  The most challenging and time consuming issues for me involve inworld activities.  Logging on and learning the process of maneuvering  the camera and avatar proved challenging.  A little tidbit when logging inworld for the first time: your login  is first name space last name. Remember the space.

I wanted to be part of two groups: public relations and journalism, but decided to stick with journalism. Navigating the inworld platform is not that difficult, but learning the process is time consuming. By Sept. 2, 2015, the journalism group will have written outline/plan detailing goals, strategies and tactics for the entire group and for each individual journalist.  We are focused, determined and working hard to make sure the finished project represents our exceptional talents and efforts.  Everyone on the team understands the final goal is creating a phenomenal 4 to 5 minute machinima.

Today I spent a couple hours inworld with my avatar learning how to build.  I was fine until I got to the hallowing and cutting segments.  I left the virtual world to correspond with journalism group members regarding next Wednesday’s meeting and blogged. Our team goes above and beyond to exceed expectations.  It’s refreshing to know I am collaborating with very talented and motivated people.

Going back inworld, blog more soon.

 


My Voice: Contributing to the Virtual World Project

We had our show and tell on Wednesday, August 26, where we discussed our own greatest works along with connecting that to how we can contribute to the project. My presentation was on an article I wrote about my life with Asperger’s which was published by The Talon in April 2015. Dr. Witt had stated how mental health is one of the issues surrounding juveniles in the justice system, clearly not strange waters to someone who grew up in the autism camp. This makes me want to fall down on my knees and thank God that none of my struggles didn’t lead to being behind bars for any violent mishaps stemming from problems on the inside.

JJIE recently publish a story of a 14-year old inmate who committed suicide on last Easter Sunday. The lead sentence states “Severe understaffing and failures in training and mental health procedures” were factors in his death. It’s no surprise. It would be an interesting study to see how prevalent such circumstances are today and their correlation to the criminal actions of juveniles in the system.

The misconception, still prominent today, is that suicidal teens merely have a vain desire to “seek attention”. That there is no internal problem with them.  All they want is the proverbial spotlight cast on them by their peers or others around them, perhaps only to hear the wailing cries of “Don’t kill yourself! We love you!”. This is pretty far from the truth.

Many of those who feel the burden of suicidal idealization want to be happy. They don’t want to die, they want to live life and live it to the fullest. Yet, on the flip side, they may have a missing sense of self worth which leads to the conclusion (albeit a delusional one) that the world would be a better place without them.

What of those that get convicted and incarcerated so young? Who feel their life is over? Such a young imprisonment may bring the thought that one’s life is over. Especially when combined with mental health issues going unnoticed or untreated.