David Ardia

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My group (Bloggers Beware) has already submitted a reflection essay about our group project. This essay provides my personal reflections about the class.

CyberOne was an odyssey for me. It began with confronting my fear of projecting myself out into the world in a form I couldn’t completely control. The first thing I had to deal with was the daily class videos. While I think the video cameras kept me from participating as much as I would have otherwise, I quickly got accustomed to their presence. As the term went on I saw how important the videos are to the extension and at large students. In fact, when I missed one day I watched the video to see what I had missed. You made me into a believer in open courseware.

The second challenge was the class wiki. Looking back, my fears seem so overblown and insignificant. I wrote in my class journal at the time:

Whoa. There is something scary about putting yourself “out there” on the Internet. Especially using a tool like wiki where anyone can see it and edit what you write. I’ve always had this great fear of putting myself out like that. My first tentative step has been to create a user profile. A very mild user profile, which simply identified me as an LL.M. student at HLS. Several days later I worked up the courage (I sound so melodramatic) to expand my profile to include some background information about myself and the project I am working on at the Berkman Center.

I quickly got over my fear and began adding material to the Week 6 page on blogs and journalism. Because it was a subject that I was already passionate about I found myself checking the page every day and adding things as they popped into my mind. It became second nature, and I now use a wiki for my citizen journalism project at the Berkman Center.

Then the fun really started. I had done some programming in college and became totally hooked on Scratch, which I think is a tremendous learning tool. For this class it vividly demonstrated the axiom that “code is law.” We were each little gods in our own Scratch world. It also forced us to think incrementally about what we wanted to achieve in our games. After hours of tweaking my Danger Cat game, I was a bit loopy and wrote in my class journal: “Crap. Someone else did a cat game. This sure is addictive.”

As I was polishing the game before uploading it, I was reminded of an important programming lesson: regularly save your work. I lost about 5 hours worth of tweaking because I was tired and didn’t make sure I hit save before I exited the program. In any event, I found Scratch a lot fun and very addicting. I am glad you incorporated it into our class.

The next big event for me in the class was Second Life. Just before I logged on for the first time to meet with the extension school students for our tour I wrote an entry in my journal and added to that entry after I logged out:

I can’t believe how excited I am and at the same time apprehensive about entering Second Life for the first time. It definitely is something different from just chat. My first impression was one of chaos. It was just so hard to get the groups formed and everyone organized. Minor tasks were made difficult. It was like deep water scuba diving. Or what it must be like for astronauts in space. By the end I thought it was pretty cool. Exhausting, but cool.

Next on my odyssey of presenting myself unmediated into the world was podcasting. Again, I discovered that I really enjoyed it. First we wrote a script and recorded it 4 or 5 times with different inflections and emphasis. That part was fun, but the editing was not as much fun. It took hours to make a 4 minute podcast. I guess if I weren’t such a perfectionist it would not have taken so long, but who wants their name associated with some piece of crap?

I learned this same lesson with the video we made for the final project. Distilling several hours of interviews into a seven minute video took days. There seems to be a theme here. Things that look simple take a long time to produce. It’s exponential. It gives me whole new appreciation for the editing work performed by professionals.

I’ve learned a great deal from this class. I learned how to use all of the tools I had been hearing so much about. Things like wikis, podcasts, videoblogs, html coding, and Wordpress blogs are no longer mystical terms. I don’t want to underestimate the value of this. Fear is a great barrier to using the Internet. I think it was in the first or second class that you said “fear is a mind killer.” So true. The demystification process is part of overcoming that fear.

More importantly, however, my CyberOne odyssey threw me into the river that is the participatory culture of the Internet. This forced me to face my fear of putting myself out to the world in a medium I couldn’t control. It was liberating.

The class also played an important role in turning a newspaper lawyer into an advocate for open systems, especially in the context of citizen journalism. I am very grateful to both of you for guiding me on this odyssey.