BCM325 – Digital Artefact and Contextual Essay

Digital Artefact

A series of six blog posts on my student blog, listed under the ‘Exploring Virtual Reality’ category.

The posts follow my progress experimenting with multiple forms of VR, along with notes I took while attending a presentation on VR in business.

https://sunnycommandeur.wordpress.com/category/exploring-virtual-reality/

  1. Cheap Phone VR
  2. Using the VR Box
  3. Building a Meaningful Business with AR and VR Technology – Ken Kencevski
  4. Oculus Rift DK2 Setup
  5. Using the Oculus Rift DK2
  6. The UOW Makerspace VR Room

 

Contextual Essay

From the beginning of the subject, I knew that I wanted my digital artefact (DA) to revolve around virtual reality (VR). Having never actually used the technology, I was interested in learning everything I could about it. In addition, my understanding was that there hadn’t been much research into VR by past students in the subject. This context formed my original plan for the DA: I would take a wholistic approach and make a series of blog posts on VR subtopics. The end goal was to create a resource for students such as myself to use as a jumping off point, to find a VR niche to research. In the process, I would gain a wide knowledge of the VR space.

The blog media form was ideal for this, as blog posts are a very static media compared to video or podcast. One can refer to a specific part of it with minimal effort, scrolling to the point of interest rather than rewinding or using timestamps. It can be opened in one tab and be used as a portal for further research through hyperlinks, so it was the ideal form for it’s original purpose.

As I worked on the blog, I came to realise two things. The first was that the Future Cultures subject blog already fulfilled the purpose I was aiming to, and it would be much more effective at it with all the VR content generated from this cohort, past and future ones. It would be maintained much more effectively with a constant flow of content too.

The second thing I noticed was that my interests were subconsciously steering the project in a more practical direction. I came to understand that while my focus was wide, all the topics that VR encompasses were much wider, and that I’d never be able to cover everything. I decided to focus on a practical approach, experimenting with all the equipment I could get my hands on. This also involved researching general trends in the VR space, to gather whether it could be useful in my future career. While not exactly a niche, it provided me with a clear direction to head in.

The blog evolved into more of a journal, used to document my primary research process. I enjoyed this approach much more than the secondary research I had undertaken as part of the earlier tasks. It gave me a reason to spend time tinkering and get hands-on experience with the technology, which solidified the learning I had gained from the earlier research. An example of this was experiencing VR motion sickness for the first time after reading about its effects – physically going through it helped me understand how it is such a barrier to widespread adoption.

Where I feel the DA could’ve been improved was technical information. I originally planned to have more posts detailing the inner workings of various VR devices, such as the way the Oculus headset is built, its specs, and how the parts interact with each other to create the experience. Of interest was the cybernetic communication between the system and the user – particularly through motion controllers and haptic feedback. Including posts on this would add more educational value to the blog, which currently stands as more of a recount than the resource that I originally imagined.

While the approach I ended up taking has less of a social benefit for its readers, I feel that the practical experience I gained far outweighed the loss. My experience will be extremely useful in demonstrating an ability to learn, adapt and document the process of working with unfamiliar systems. This may assist in obtaining employment or an internship with a business dealing in emergent technologies in the future.

 

 

Links Used in Blog Posts

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ZeroSilence91, 2014. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Katniss Archery Training. [Online]
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Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6jBzC8wcWQ

 

 

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