Week 9 – I Work Alone

The question of “how” I work is an interesting on, and honestly something not typically considered.  In short I would argue that my work habits fluctuate from being focused to sporadic.  The long answer to that question would be, it depends.

I procrastinate.  When I need to get something done, most of my attention is not directed towards getting that thing done until I feel a weight or pressure urging me on.  Once crunch time is upon me and with a deadline looming over my head, I am focused, I am determined, and whatever I am working on will get done to the best of my abilities. I don’t care if it’ll take me one hour or ten.

However, without a big bad deadline on the horizon, how I work becomes quite reminiscent of how birds eat.  I like to break down tasks, chunk it over a few days or weeks, and then each day take on a little bit of everything – pecking away leisurely.  With random housework, cooking, and chores scattered throughout.  Oftentimes this pecking away at a project means that I’ve played around with something enough then when it comes to actually doing it I can hone it and just get it done.

Looking more specifically still, the times I am most productive in doing my sporadic style of working is in the morning to early afternoon.  From there I fizzle out (a lot) and don’t really get back into a work flow until the evening into the night, when I tend to be more focused and can really finalise something I’ve been working on.

Currently, I find that I usually do my work at home and that in and of itself comes in a few different forms:

  • Bed – unmade and under the covers
  • Bed – made and under a second set of covers
  • Bed – made
  • Clean desk
  • Messy desk
  • Floor
  • Livingroom – sofa
  • Livingroom – dinning table

On occasion I will choose to go to a coffee shop and or outside to work. However, that’s typically when I have tasks like emails and or readings to do.  As I spend a LOT of my time on campus, for the time between classes and for group meetings I prefer to use spaces such as the library and or a study room to work.  But I do find these spaces to be situationally dependent and not “my” work areas.

After discussions that we’ve had on group work, I think it would come to no surprise to you Ravi that I typically don’t like to work with other people.  Honestly, that’s a lie.  I don’t like sharing responsibility of working with people who’s abilities, work ethic, and quality of work I do not perceive as being equal and or complimentary to my own.  Due to this, within a school collaborative effort environment, I find it very challenging to collaborate on a project with people and because I say that I like to work on my own.

That being said, until I came to university, in one form or another I typically found myself among a cohort of individuals who were similar to me in their work ethic and the personal standards to which they held themselves responsible.  Within these situations, I would find myself surrounded by people whom I felt understood me, both in terms of what I was working on and the standard to which I would like to complete it.  We would be in working environments such as labs and or our common room were we could sit together and work independently, but I would still be okay to ask questions, for help, and engage in casual conversation.  If you really needed to sit and get something done without distractions then there was a silent work area for that.  However, for the most part we had a collaborative work environment.

What I described above is the kind of space I enjoy working in.  For the most part I feel as though VIU and the personalities/work ethics of individuals within my cohort of Digital Media studies students does not lend towards the creation of that kind of work environment.  Although it must be noted that there are a few exceptions to the rule.  Consequently, while on campus I find myself wanting and in some cases needing to work on my own and not interact with other people.  That being said in recent months I have made connections with some people outside of the program with whom I can create a mini version of the working environment/experience described above.

Reading back over what I’ve written, outside of a few words, I can tell that I’ve not really described the kind of person I like to work with.  So let’s try to operationalise the kinds of people I find intellectually helpful and stimulating to be around:

  • People able to think and work independently.
  • Individuals who are able to give and take constructive feedback.
  • People who have a passion for what they are doing and who put their all into everything they do.
  • Individuals who have an open and honest curiosity about the world and enthusiasm for what they do.
  • People who are creative and interdisciplinary thinkers.
  • Individuals with a strong sense of integrity and perseverance.

When it comes to gathering feedback on work that I’ve done, I can honestly say I am a snob in regards to who I will approach and who I will listen too.  Unless there are very specific reasons for me to be listening to them, if I: don’t respect someone and the work they produce; feel as though the attention they would give to providing me feedback; view them as being somehow incompetent; think that their opinion is biased (be that positive or negative); then I am likely not to ask that person for feedback on my work.

Currently, most of the feedback I get is either from my fellow students (both inside and outside of my program) as well as from professors.  Typically, if time allows, I try to leave at least a few hours between when I have completed work and when I go back to review it, as this enables me to go over things a little more critically.  Once this is done then I usually ask a classmates to look it over and get their feedback on a number of components.  After this the work is either submitted, which enables me to get feedback from a professor, or I approach a professor I trust and ask them to look it over for me before considering the project complete.  Here I would like to add, although I hope it would go without saying, that a project is only considered complete after careful consideration of all areas of feedback and appropriate adjustments have been made.

Week 8 – Revised Project Proposal

Hi Ravi,

Please follow the link below to see my revised project proposal.  I’ve tried to incorporate new elements based on your feedback and the lecture we had in class this week.  Additionally, the time to go back over my project with a new perspective has allowed me to reframe a few elements better. So there are a few minor adjustments but nothing particularly dramatic and or monumental has been altered.

RevisedCaribbeanOralStoriesCollection_Project Proposal

Best,

Felicia

Week 7 – Playing within stories; Gaming

I love play games, especially on my own.  Primarily I used games as a way to escape reality and regain a little control in life for a while.  Because of this I like playing  simulation and puzzle games.  Although there are some RPG games that I really enjoy, it is very rarely that I play a game for the story it provides me.

Narratives within a game nice and when executed well something that I do enjoy; however, I find that when playing a game I’d much rather construct my own narrative within it.  That being said, there can defiantly be a bad story to a game – or perhaps more accurately a story I perceive as being bad.  In these case the story acts as a hinderance rather than an asset.  Even if the world, gameplay, and graphics are fantastic I can almost guarantee that I won’t have fun playing a game with a bad story.

That is not to discredit the value of a story.  It can defiantly elevate mediocre game play into something more stimulating and or enticing.  Take a hidden objects puzzle games for example, if you simply play scene after scene where you’re given an over cluttered room and asked to find something in it then you’re likely to get bored quite fast.  Make it a part of a murder mystery, where one of them items you are asked to look for is a clue that will lead you one step closer to who did it, and suddenly the player is more motivated to move through room after cluttered room and look for thing.

Below is a trailer to a game that takes very simple forms of game play, like I described above, and added to the player experience by encasing it in a narrative.

Consequently, considering the two sides of that narrative debate I identified above, this leads me to liken a story in a game to toppings on ice-cream.  As long as you like vanilla ice-cream then you’re going to enjoy eating it with or without toppings, but if what’s added onto it is something you don’t like (for example durian) then it will detract from your ice-cream enjoyment.  Possibly even make you hate it.  On the other hand, if you like ice-cream but will only eat vanilla if it’s all that’s available (let’s say you cousin Bobby ate the last tub of caramel), then adding some fresh cut strawberries and caramel to your vanilla ice-cream will result in you enjoy eating it much more than if it was simply vanilla.

Week 6 – On the go; mobile narratives

If you lost your USB stick would you know where the lost and found is on campus?  If you sprained your ankle would you know where to seek first aid?  If you wanted to sign up to a Rec trip would you know where to go?

VIU is not the easiest campus to navigate, and the vertical geography encourages people to stay rooted within their faculty building once they’ve survived the long hike to their classroom.  This in combination with the fact that many students do not attend campus tours and are unlikely to seek out many of the resources available on campus unless they are absolutely necessary, bring to light a few issues:

1. Firstly students are not aware of the support systems and resources available to them on campus.

2. Secondly, these resources remain under-utilised.  As a consequences to this, during budget reviews, these support systems are at risk of being cut.

3. Thirdly, without access to appropriate support channels, students are at risk of underperforming.  This in turn reflects badly on the university, which can negatively impact future attendance and funding.

One possible solution to this issue is to create a mobile, self guided campus tour that can be marketed to students as a scavenger hunt, self guided tour (akin to waking through a museum), or a constant resource available for students to access when it becomes convenient to them.

Using an application such as Aurasma, with a smart phone, it is possible to create an augmented reality experience in an easy to access and cost effective manner.  An ‘aura’ (the augmented reality element) can be triggered using a wide verity of images that can be selected from a pre-set library or custom creations can be used.  ‘Auras’ can take a wide range of multimedia forms including, videos, animations, images, texts, and or audio elements.

Using the example of creating an augmented reality scavenger hunt to solve the issue identified above, please view below below to see the buildings that would be included.

 

This is a map of the Nanaimo campus of Vancouver Island University. Buildings 165, 185, 190 193, 200, 255, 300, 305, and 315 have been identified.
Buildings 165, 185, 190 193, 200, 255, 300, 305, and 315 have been identified on this map.

Across these buildings, located in ares such as main entrances, reception desks, and room signs, will be adorned with customised rabbit ‘stickers’ (see figure. 1).

Rabbit vector images

Once one of these triggers are scanned, the ‘aura’ that is generated will aim to provide additional information of the function/accessibility of the area in question.  If this tool is considered to work in conjunction with a scavenger hunt, then it would be beneficial for participants to note down an element of what is included in the ‘auras’ to ensure that people are paying attention to the information provided to them.

Ultimately, the goal of this project can be summaries as:

• Encouraging students to explore and learn about the VIU Nanaimo campus at their leisure.

• Create a resource that is easy to update and maintain, which allows student to access and consume useful information at a time in a way that is convenient to them.

Week 5 – Archive or external hard drive

I’ve never met somebody who has memories of when they were two.  I only really have childhood memories going back to when I was eight and I would most certainly not swear to them in a court of law.  One  early “memory” that I do have – and I would like to stress that the word memory is used very loosely – is around my experience of the 1997 eruption of Soufrière Hills, Montserrat.

The large scale of the eruption, well technically eruptions, left a large ash cloud that travelled across to many other Caribbean countries.

One of those countries was Antigua, where we were living at the time.

Apparently the ash rained down, causing a sort of fog to appear over the landscape and a layer of ash to steel over anything with any sort of opening.

Being the delicate little baby I was, this ash was very bad for my health and I developed a bad cough.

Whoop! Here comes daddy with his plane connections.  He got us all out of Antigua on one of the last planes cleared to fly out my ATC.

And we went to Trinidad, my mom’s home country, where we could stay with family, and where was clear from the wrath of Soufrière Hills.

So, we stayed with my grandmother for a few days – at the time most people were still living at my grandmothers house.

Until the mighty volcano settled down and stopped spewing ash into the air,

and the ash that was spat out into the atmosphere had settled.

Then we flew back to Antigua.  My mom was probably really relived to get away from her nagging mother and my dad was probably sad to leave her cooking behind.  Honestly, I have no clue I’m just adding a little embellishment here.

Anyhow, back to the story.  Once we were back in Antigua…

…there was a lot of cleaning up to so. Lucky my, being a baby and all that, I got out of it.

So clean clean clean, or shwam shwam shwam as I would say as a child…

…and once the house was liveable once again, apparently all it needed was a good hose down, life went back to normal.

And Felicia was a happy baby once again.

Week 4 – Choose your own adventure

After our activity in class, and a lot of frustration expressed by Evelina, I realised how small my social media digital footprint is.  This lead to further reflection, after which I realised that some of her difficulty resulted from the name she was searching for.  So, in a very rudimentary ‘choose your own adventure’ style, I created a flow chart that outlines some of the paths that can be followed using my digital footprints.

Okay, with all that said and done let’s follow down two of those paths and see where we end up.

Firstly, let’s begin with where we stated in class – my name.  Mostly the only things out there associated with my name are some demographic characteristics of myself (age, gender, occupation etc) and from there you can find the path of secondary and higher education schools I’ve gone to.  You’ll see that I lived in the UK and that I moved schools (from the north of England to the south).  That I have more GCSE’s than the average person, and that while I was completing by GCSE’s I was a senior prefect.  From there I went to sixth form in a larger city, I also went against convention and completed an IB Diploma rather than A Levels.  Then once again it’s a jump to a new school, and a new country, when I decided to come to Canada and study a BA in digital media at VIU.  During my time at VIU, I was a Peer Helper and that volunteering acted as a stepping stone which allowed me to work with the Nanaimo Global Film Festival.

Okay, so after having added a bunch of words and removed the organisation of the diagram above, what can a stranger learn about me, what story is there?  Taking a step back and looking at the larger picture I see the story of somebody who’s been very focused on school, who followed the British conventions of a good student, and excelled from an outsider’s perspective, but remained within a standard convention as a high achieving student.  A person who is not afraid of moving, someone who is proactive within their school community, and an individual who has not ventured far from academia or the placed in which it is housed.  Said differently, I see a person who has had blinkers on, who has been focused on a narrow niche so much that it quite notably encompasses who they are.

Felicia Fischer to one side, what can we learn from Dolfing96’s digital footprints.  The first thing that stands out is that it’s a name associated with accounts dedicated to platforms on which people share content, opinions, and make customised compilations of content they desire to consume.  Looking at Pinterest in particular, a lot of the content that is consumers and shared is associated with crafts and organisation – mostly with a do it yourself twist.

The story I would associated with that trail is that Dolfino96 is a person who enjoys crafting, sees organisation as essential, and likes to be hands on with the things that they do.  “Dolfino96” is likely not the name of the person behind the screen.  However, it is safe to assume that they are born in 1996, making them 21 or 22.  Dolfino means dolphin in Italian, so another fair assumption to make is that the person is female.  Beyond that however, without a more detailed look at the content which has been saved on the Pinterest account (which is private) nothing more can be ascertained, well nothing beyond the fact that the person behind Dolfino96 does not want other people to be able to access the content they have on Pinterest.

Week 3 – Yours, mine, ours: REMIX

Before getting into the nitty gritty of what I actually produced I’m writing this short preface so that, if you so desire, you can gain an insight into my thought process behind this assignment.  Out of all blog posts I’ve ever done towards my degree, this is the one that I’ve struggled with the most.  Creativity, and sharing what I have produced, is not something that comes easily to me.  Perhaps I was intimated by the idea of taking the work of someone else or taking something perfectly suited and established within one context and moving it around into another.

After struggling with this concept and three written blog posts later, I decided that enough was enough and that it was time to go back to basics – a strait line.  When I was in secondary school, my maths teacher used to encourage us to play with mathematics, just briefly, if we were ever getting bogged down, fixating on a single problem, and frustrating ourselves at a lack of understanding.  So it was likely out of habit that I decided to remix 16 vertical lines, into a parabolic curve (shown below).

After having completed that, and honestly having given up a little because I still felt as though what I had produced was not sufficient, my brief talk with you Ravi lead me to my final remix.  Although if I’m honest I see it as more of a reverse remix. Stories, as much as they can live in great detail and complexity within books, on the stage, and in video, can all be traced back to the stories that were shared verbally and passed down through the generations by oration and simple human interaction.

Consequently, and considering my final project for this course, the final remix I am submitting for blog post 3 is an audio recording of me reading Oh, The Places You’ll Go. A story first read to me by my mom, which conveys a message I think we should all carry with us and be reminded of once in a while.

Week 2 – Making a scene

Standing at the sink looking out the window at the bird feeder, with a dishtowel in his hands Kevin turned to Teddy,  “Okay… the floors have been vacuumed, you went for a nice long walk, the bathrooms are all clean  – no thanks to you I might add.  The laundry is in the dryer, dish washer is running, dinner is in the crock pot… I thinks that everyone, time to pick the girls up from school. What time is it?”

Hanging the dishtowel over the side of the sink, Kevin patted his pockets, “Where’s my phone?  Teddy, have you seen my phone?”

Teddy looks up at Kevin, head slightly cocked to one side. “You know you could at least try to help out a little.” Kevin sighed in exasperation, as he moved around the kitchen muttering to himself. “Ah! Found it.” Kevin exclaimed as he put is phone into his pocket.

“Okay Teddy, phone, check.  House keys, check.  Car keys, check.  Wallet, check.  Grocery bags…check. Time to go, I’m going to pick up the girls Teddy. Be a good boy until we get home.”  Dashing out of the house, Kevin shot strait to the blue minivan parked in the driveway of large bungalow.  Tossing the grocery bags into the front seat of the van, and with practiced ease, he pulled out of the driveway and went to pick up Samantha and Clara from school.

Pulling into the Chase Elementary School parking lot, Kevin walked around to the back of the school towards the playground where the children were busy squeezing a few more minuets of play.  Sighting the girls on the climbing frame, he decided to head towards the group of parents – or more accurately the group of mothers – gathered in the shade along with his twin’s teacher.

“Good afternoon, how is everyone doing today?” Kevin asked as he approached the women.  The group turned to him as he approached, and like always, opened very reluctantly to allow him in.

“Hi Kevin, today is a good day thank you.  The girls were absolute angles today, as always. I’m going to miss not having them in my class next year” Ms. Lioné said, directing a radiant smile towards Kevin.

“We were just talking about what a crazy day I had at the office. Oh and look at the time.” Jennifer said.  Turning away from the assembly of adults and projecting her voice out to the playground, she bellowed “Jasper! Jasper! Come on, we need to leave for gymnastics honey because mommy needs to get back to work.”  Turning back to face the group of women she was talking to previously Jennifer said, ” I’d love to stay and but someone’s got to put food on the table. Have a great rest of your day girls. Kevin.”  Walking away from the adults, Jennifer went to get Jasper from the playground before heading away towards the carpark.

“Gosh, some people. Don’t listen to her Kevin, we really admire what you’ve done.  Why is it expected for a woman to give up her career when they have kids, but it’s considered lazy when a man does it?” Ms. Lioné said.

“Thank you ladies, I appreciate it.  But at the end of the day I don’t care what people think Alexandria and I are happy, and most importantly the girls have someone to come home too at the end of the day. Them being happy is all we want. If you’ll excuse me ladies, I better get my girls and head home – they want to make a surprise for their mom before she comes home from work today.” Saying his goodbyes, Kevin excused himself from the group and went towards he climbing frame to take Samantha and Clara home.

Week 1 – The truth is a lie we tell ourselves

In an academic environment such as university it is almost surreal sitting here and being asked to construct a believable lie about myself.  So Ravi, what lie can I tell you about myself?

As you know I’ve had the good fortune of moving around a lot as a child and have lived in a few different countries.  What you may not know about me is that for a few months my family and I lived in Shanghai, during this time we were moving around a LOT, and to make sure that I did not fall behind in school my mom homeschooled me.  She pushing my along at my pace rather than that of the ‘normal’ school curriculum, which resulted in a few delays in me getting into the correct class at an international school. We were in Shanghai for almost two months when I was finally enrolled in a school and the timing of my enrolment meant that I was in school for a grand total of one day before the holidays started.  After that we ended up moving back to the UK, so despite living in China for three (ish) months, I can say that I went to school for a grand total of one day.

Now even though I was only there for such a short period of time, it was all still strange and eventful enough for me to remember it all vividly, well kind of.  In the morning I was kept in this little side room by myself, with a few different teacher coming in and out as they made me do a bunch of tests to evaluate what section I needed to be placed in.  After that I was sent to the lower school, to have a Mandarin class with the kindergarten students – to this day  I’m almost certain that at least a quarter of them actually were smarter than me.

Once Mandarin class was over I was sent back to the middle school so that I could have lunch with students my age.  It was interesting though because the school did not have a main cafeteria, instead this trolly was brought up to each classroom with the rice and all the other side dished, and this big pot of soup.  Everyone would line up, grab a tray of food and a bowl, get the bowl filled with soup, and then sit at their desks and eat.  A few of the more social students would push their desks together so they could eat and talk.

Chinese school lunchVery confused by this all, and more than a little disgusted by the strange food, I sat in the corner by myself – pushing questionably smelling meat around on my tray – until I decided that the best course of action would be to hide in the bathroom until lunch was over. Excusing myself from the classroom, I went to the bathroom and was even more horrified when rather than individual stalls it was rather a trough with a few dividing walls that greeted me.  A sight similar to the one below.

Chinese trough bathroom

I suppose than normal behaviour for a bewildered child would be to walk in, see something strange and walk back out.  For some reason though I decided to sue the bathroom even though I really did not need to.  Perhaps it was because there were other girls in there and I did not want to seem strange walking in and just walking out. Perhaps it was because I felt adventurous and as though this was an element of the culture that I need to experience.  I’m not really sure why, but on that faithful day I decided to use the trough bathroom.

Now not to get into any unpleasant specifics, but that is also they day I learnt that it is truly a skill to be able to squat and pee into a trough whilst wearing uniform trousers… needless to say, things got more than a little messy, I got to go home early, and that was thankfully my first and last day at that school in Shanghai.