Dissecting the Documents

Picture this
: Complete silence in a room full of 12 dedicated interns, working hard as they search through their documents to find the most significant parts of each one. With each important fact they uncover and add to the collaboration sheet on GoogleDocs, the closer they become to unraveling and effectively reporting the noteworthy story that could change the life of this particular youth, as well as the lives of many other youth across the country.

If you pictured this, and felt it – with all of these imminent emotions of the substantial impact of this project welling up inside you – you may have successfully visualized and had a slight sense of the sixth JJIE VW group meeting that took place at 9AM today at the Center for Sustainable Journalism.

Now – to have an idea of how we got to this moment of pure collaboration and document absorption, let’s take a moment to reflect on the meetings that had occurred just hours earlier. Before the group meeting today at 8AM, the Journalism group met to discuss the next steps regarding interviews, while the PR group met to discuss social media plans. While the Journalists were working on locating contact information of interview prospects, the PR group were working to make this project more prevalent in the community and beyond through the establishment of Facebook and Twitter accounts. In addition, the Virtual World group met yesterday, Thursday 9/22, to discuss the machinima for the CT story. After many hours of discussion on how to approach the story and how to produce the machinima, the group seems to have created a more precise outline of how they plan to display the story via virtual world. All in all, every single one of these tasks that each group is taking on are extremely important, and will ultimately work hand-in-hand to successfully expose this story to the world.

This brings us back to today’s meeting – where this hand-in-hand collaboration could be clearly observed. Today’s group meeting consisted of reverting back to each of the documents, and choosing the most significant quotes, moments, and facts from each. With each noteworthy finding, each intern took the time to enter the date, document #, description of event, names of people involved, quote, and any other relevant information into a neatly-created GoogleDoc spreadsheet, prepared by Gwenette. The intention of this spreadsheet is to make it easier for the machinimists to find the most important information and art clippings from the story to include in the machinima story.

As GoogleDocs continues to be our medium for information collaboration, we all learn something new every day about the importance of organization and communication. Furthermore, every day, we all take one step closer to telling the story of this incarcerated youth, to making his voice heard, and possibly even magnifying the injustices of his case and in the Juvenile Justice System just enough to make a difference in this particular youth’s life, and more.

Importance of Thomas’ Progress: From Abandonment to Reformation

Christopher Thomas has been waiting for a big break his entire life. From being neglected as a child to being aggressive with his peers, he came from a very low point and didn’t have a friend in the world. Being in prison since age 13 will take a toll on anyone, I’m sure. Christopher may not know what will become of him should he never be granted a trial and have the chance to be freed. Yet from what we know of him, he is doing well.

It’s been said that Thomas has obtained his GED, a big deal for people in his predicament seeing as though very few of them become high school educated. According to his attorney’s letter in 2012, he was working towards earning his commercial drivers license, a license often needed to drive a larger vehicle. What is he planning on pursuing with this?

Thomas was really a kid cast down before his time. He was given very little options and had very few chances. But he’s making something of himself. Moving forward, it would be great to discover more.

Emotional Display Gallery Additions

Finding, uploading and displaying imagery inworld is proving challenging for the project interns. 3D object creation is a new skill for all of them, but they are persistent and committed to learning inworld building skills.  They are realizing how important it is to do things in order and pay careful attention to details – especially when manipulating a prim object’s shape, rotation and position. The completed assignments will become part of the emotionally evocative imagery used for the CT Story and Forgive poem machinima scenarios.

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. 

Chillin’ Inworld

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.

From Case Documents, to Physical Interviews, to Virtual Worlds

Meeting4_2e RebaInterview4e Meeting4_5e2
The Journalism and PR groups got an early start Wednesday morning. At 8 AM, both groups were at the Center for Sustainable Journalism ready to talk about our specific projects. While PR discussed their event/social media plans, the Journalism group prepared for the first interview with Steve Reba to be conducted in just a few hours.  After talking within our separate groups until about 8:20 AM, we combined to discuss the CT Story case documents. As we explored the main aspects of the case, we decided that it was necessary to make a chronology of the youth’s life. Since a few of the journalists had already started a draft chronology on Google Docs, we continued using their document.

As 9 AM rolled around, we continued to talk about the youth’s life, focusing on some of the major issues: his upbringing in and out of 30 foster care homes, his mental state, the crime, and the court hearing.  Also, from the documents, we had been recording significant people in the youth’s life – from here, since we knew our next big step is interviewing, we wrote down all of these important contacts who could possible give us a better idea of the youth’s life and case.  With a large piece of paper taped to the wall and pen in hand, Professor Witt divided up the paper into sections of people in the youth’s life: Family, Court/Legal, Co-defendants, Social Workers, Foster Care, Mental Health, Victims/Witnesses, etc. From here, the whole group joined in on reading out the names we had recorded from the documents. Soon, the paper was crowded with the names of people that we believe will be beneficial to contact for more insight on the case.

Halfway through the meeting, 4 members of the Journalism crew – Claire, Ann, Kevin, and Fred – had to leave for Emory Clinic to interview Steve Reba, the lawyer who is currently working to bring the youth’s case back into court for another hearing.  The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing ideas for the machinima storybaord.  Everyone was eager to contribute – even the journalists listened on speaker phone as they drove to interview Steve. After our discussion, everyone had a better idea of what the finished machinima might look like.

To get our minds in “inworld” mode, the Virtual World “The Kid, The Cop, The Punch” Machinima group showed everyone what they had been working on: draft machinima scenes from an incident that occurred in Chicago during the 1990’s. With this awesome presentation as reference, everyone at the table had a better vision of how the machinima for our story could develop. Each team member was thinking about how we could best showcase the youth’s story in he virtual world platform. We intend to catch the attention of a wide audience. We know how crucial this story presentation could be to the future of this youth’s life.

As for the interview with Steve Reba – it went great. Steve has been working on this case for the past 5 years.  He’s extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the case and the youth’s life.  He was more than willing to answer and expand upon all of our questions. During the interview Steve agreed any extra attention brought to this case could be helpful to future appeals. Shining light on the injustices of this case in a virtual world machinima might just be how this youth gets another chance in court.

Next step: Set up interviews with contacts from our interview prospects outline and hopefully, with the help of Steve, an interview with the youth himself.

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 🙂 🙂


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

Machinima Prep: Emotional Visuals

JJIE_HWwk3&4_EMOTION Display Wall Example Poster Arrangement
The beginning of gathering graphics for machinima special effects & memory flashbacks.

As we wrap up editing and polishing the Chicago neighborhood machinima, the interns begin exploring the internet for Creative Commons licensed CC0 and CC-By images.  They are searching for photographs and textures that portray and evoke emotions.  The project’s two final machinima – one a real journalism documentary we call “The CT Story” and one a personal poem by a young person struggling with their emotions – will both use graphics and inworld special effects to create immersive, visual experiences to tell their stories.

Organization & Collaboration

Today’s group meeting started out with a much-needed talk about the organization of the project’s activities and documents.

Gwenette led the first thirty minutes as we all took a step back to talk about the valuable information on this very JJIE Virtual World site, as well as to review the strict schedule. We discussed how to post and organize blogs, how to locate and read the calendar on the site (located under Project Info tab), and what needed to be done so we can meet our deadlines.

A major eye-opener for many was the September 30th Machinima Content Deadline. This is very important to note, as it means that the Journalists must have relayed all of the necessary information on the CT story that will be going into the machinima. Although we do have an “emergency info add” deadline for any missing pieces that must be in the virtual world story, the strict deadline is September 30th.

Furthermore, we discussed the events that the Public Relations group will be coordinating:

  • The earliest event, coming up on Wednesday, October 7, is a live, inworld music concert produced by the popular Hypergrid Safari Tours group. They run weekly hypergrid tours across the Opensim Metaverse for crowds of up to 20+ die-hard hypergrid explorers and music fans. We will be hosting their October 7, Noon to 1pmET, music concert on our very own JJIE Virtual World Welcome Workshop region’s Beach Music Stage. In addition, that same Wednesday morning,  Nina Camplin, an artist and machinimist from England, will be our guest speaker during our group meeting.
  • Our Wednesday, October 21, classs speaker, Chantal Harvey, a professional Dutch television producer, animator, machinimist and machinima festival producer from Amsterdam, will be sharing her creative techniques and virtual world machinima tips with our team.
  • Looking ahead to our final project showcase – it will be held in the Media Lab of the Social Science Building at Kennesaw State University, December 2, 2015 from 4:30-7:30. All KSU staff and students are welcome to attend.

After PR talk, we discussed our source materials for next machinima story writing and scenario creation: the CT Story documents received from Steve Reba.  We decided that everyone should be familiar with the case in order to commit themselves to the project. Claire Bohrer, the Journalist Producer, divided up the documents amongst the twelve interns to read through and give a detailed summary of each assigned file. Via GoogleDrive, each team member has designated pdf files to read and correlating templates for notes in which to record his or her findings. The deadline for the completed summaries is Monday, September 14, 2015 at 5:00PM. After all the document summaries are submitted, every group member must go back and read through the every summary (or full pdf files) to become familiar with all aspects of the case. During our group meeting on Wednesday, September 16, we plan to discuss the key points of each document. Along with the summaries, we will be recording interview/avatar prospects, significant locations, and important event dates. All of this information is relevant to both the Journalist Group, who is writing the story, and the Virtual World group, who will be building the machinima scenario.

When it comes to inworld assignments: Gwenette has prepared our Week 03 & 04 assignment, involving researching Creative Commons licensed, emotionally evocative visuals, then uploading, framing and displaying them inworld. The assignment is due on Tuesday, September 15. These skills will be important during our creation of the graphics and inworld special effects for both the CT Story and the “Forgive” poem machinimas.

At the end of the meeting, we all split up into our groups to discuss and assign tour specific tasks. Although we may be in three separate task groups, there is no doubt that we will all be working collaboratively to make this project a success.