Landing : Athabascau University

Social Media Artifact - Blog entry #1

I had been keeping a separate diary of my artifact creation but I am going to start transposing them here for better visibility to my peer group and to have all my refection entries in one place when I go to create my journal at the end of the course. 

I knew pretty much right away what I wanted to focus on for my artifact.  There were a few topics that peaked my interest in this course but following the research I did in Week 3 on Social Computing Theories and Models really stuck with me.  I ended up doing a lot of research involved in Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Self-categorization theory (SCT) and how social media has impacted how people self identify with themselves over the past decade, and how the pandemic has exasperated that over the better part of two years now. 

This topic had really been on my mind ever since watching Bo Burnam's special 'Inside' on Netflix that was released earlier this year.  It's a sensory rich piece of performance art that is part comedy, part musical and part social commentary on the state of living in the internet era.  For those that don't know Bo, he is a comedian who got his start on YouTube.  As a teenager he was one of the first people to become "Youtube famous" by posting funny songs and videos.  He parlayed his internet success into becoming a successful comedian who eventually became know for incorporating self awareness and social commentary into his acts.  In his last special filmed in 2016 called 'Make Happy' he opened up to his mental health issues and anxiety in his final bit which is a song called "Can't Handle This".  Following this special he quite comedy due to suffering from severe panic attacks on stage.  Five years later, just as we felt good enough to try and come back, the pandemic hit, forcing him back inside where he shot, directed, performed and mixed his special 'Inside' completely by himself over the course of a year between 2020 and 2021.  The result is a look inside the mind of someone suffering with mental health issues and using his artform as a way to expose his most private thoughts and struggles.  A lot of what he speaks to deals with how he has disassociated from who he is in the real world and can better relate to who he is online.  Of course, he is a performer so he is dramatizing and over emphasizing some of the points he makes, but this piece really got me thinking of my own mental health and that of my children who know nothing else but growing up in the internet era.  It really impacted me. 

Throughout the pandemic I have noticed that people's attitude and demeanor at work was different from how they normally engaged at work.  Of course there is plenty of factors that can relate to that, we are all under a lot more stress these days, there are lots of distractions at home and conducting business virtually is just inherently different than in real life.  But even after achieve a "steady state" of doing business remotely, I still noticed people didn't go back to their normal practices and behaviors that they had when they were in the office.  I can't help but think that some of that is related to how people interact and behave online is often not the same as how they engage in real life.

Following our field trip on, I got to thinking that if you could create a virtual space that mimicked the real world space people used to work in, both in terms of look, feel and functionality, would this drive different behavior?  That is the intent behind my artifact.  I am going to build out a space that replicates the office environment and spaces used by my team and will eventually have my team "go to work" in this environment over the course of a week.  At the end of the week we'll have a session to see if it made any noticeable difference in our effectiveness, efficiency, engagement and just behaviors in general.  If the outcomes are positive we can look to grow the model and maturity for more positive effect. 

For the artifact itself, I will present a limited trial version of what I plan to roll out to my team.  While Gather.Town has integration with Google products, my company uses GCP and I need to get specific authorization to integrate our GSuite instance with  This will take some time, as will building out the environment sufficiently enough for it to drive the outcomes I'm looking for. 


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