21. September 2008 · Comments Off on A graph of the information age · Categories: My personal learning journey

Are we trying to drink from a fire hose? Or are we just flooded with a lot of information that makes use feel informed?

From the people that brought us LOLCats —

song chart memes
more music charts

Last night I was at the Second Life building site of two friends and one wanted to show me a subterranean cave he just built.  I stayed where i was and just used the camera key on my 3D Connexion joy stick to check it out without moving.  I  could have done this using ALT plus my mouse or arrow keys too.

He was shocked that I could do this and was a bit offended by it.  This led to a great conversation about online identity and specifically identity in virtual worlds.

Part of the appeal of virtual worlds is that you can create any representative of yourself that you wish.  Arguably, you can in RL too — but it’s much faster and cheaper in SL to significantly alter your height, weight, gender and identity.

My friend’s main beef was that he is experimenting with different identities, wants to role play and have a bit of fun — and do it away from prying eyes.

We joked with each other that it isn’t the prying eyes of strangers that can pose problems to exploring virtual worlds and identities  but those of our friends, family and colleagues/employers present and future that pose the most risk should we want to shake things up.

I have two main avatars in Second Life – but as I use SL professionally, I am very aware that people in my professional life know my avatar’s name.  Unfortunately, enough know my secondary avatar as well.

Neither I nor my friends necessarily want to lead a dodgy second (or third or fourth life) — but to really experiment with a new identity, it has to stand on its own with no associations with the past.

Second Life does allow for multiple identities – so people who want to use it for work might consider having one avatar for professional use and one for private use.

I have two blogs — but both are professional and I identify myself.  I do know of some guerilla bloggers who remain anonymous for a variety of reasons.  For some — I wonder if it’s their alternate self being let loose, the flip side of the coin seeing the light of day.  Is the funny, loud-mouthed cynic a sweet, mild mannered artist by day?  Hmmm.  I do know some quiet, thoughtful types who claim to be WoW addicts — so it’s not exactly an earthshattering pensivity I’m experiencing here, is it?

So are we going to have to hide behind alternate identities if we ever really want to be our true selves online? And can we ever be? Or are our online lives like some reality show that could be stitched together with tags and fed through a feed stitcher?

Today was one of THOSE days – like one of those bad dreams where you go to work  and only afterward realise you are only dressed in your bottom of the drawer underwear.

Video via my eee pc.

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My mom has recently made the leap to broadband and I’ve gotten her into Skype.  I love Skype for the ability to not only connect via audio and video, but to share files and links while chatting.

Dammit - where IS that program setting?

Dammit - where IS that program setting?

But mom hasn’t been able to GET to any of the links I send via Skype because the MSN explorer wizard pops up instead.  I went through all her settings via Outlook Express and Internet Explorer and IE is her default browser and her home page is iGoogle.  She doesn’t have this problem with email links — just through Skype.  Weird.

So I took myself over to the Skype forums and found that mom isn’t alone and there is a solution.  http://forum.skype.com/index.php?showtopic=167301

Apparently MSN Explorer is installed via Windows Components — not via Add/Remove programs.  So you have to remove it from there — then double check Program Access and Defaults from your Start up menu and make sure your browser of choice is selected as the default.

Sheesh! Not an easy set of tasks for technophobes.

This sort of thing irritates me on behalf of mom and everyone who is trying to get up to speed on technology. 

Having to go into Windows components to uninstall things is fraught with danger if you’re new and think you must have to uncheck everything except the thing you want to change. So having a program turned on by default that can cause confusion and force a new person to take risks is just plain wrong.

Vista recently wasted several hours of my life when I tried to update a video card driver and it instead stripped it back to some clapped out windows driver.  Fortunately, I have a husband who is more confident about these issues than me.  But not everyone can have a resident tech geek on standby.

Shouldn’t technology be getting MORE intuitive? I realise we’ve come a long way baby since the days of punch cards and black screens with green text, but it’s just not good enough to sell people on broadband and technology only for them to be frightened of using it to full advantage.

Mom is starting to develop a network of support — she has joined a computer society for beginners and has me and Paul and her sister and brother-in-law who is reasonably tech savvy. But I feel sorry for those people who want to get started but don’t have a trusted network readily available to them.

Perhaps instead of just doing public information campaigns about how NOT to get duped online, governments should ALSO conduct public information campaigns and provide resources on where to get help and how to build trusted networks online.  That way, when kids who are lucky enough to have involved parents come home and want to go online — the parents can contribute to and take part in learning how to use the internet.  And that’s got to be better for society as a whole.