SLENZ Update, No 139, September 24, 2009

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

SLENZ members  on  international

virtual world conference  circuit

1. Cochrane at SLaction 2009

valverdeset1_002The Valverde conceptual design … as envisioned in Second Life.

There are two Second Life conferences over  the next few days which will feature  the work of members of the SLENZ Project team, underlining just   what can be achieved both by individuals and team members in a virtual world, even if one’s country is isolated in the real world.Slactions

The presentations also  demonstrate the unique  around-the-world, immersive, day-to-day collaborative nature of  working in virtual  worlds – something that  is seldom achieved in real life without the benefits of  virtual technology.

Today (September 24)   Todd Cochrane (SL: Toddles Lightworker) (pictured left), a lecturer in Cybertechnology and Human Computer Interaction at WelTec and a SLENZ Project developer,  will “work” with Dr Isabel Valverde (pictured right),  a performer, interdisciplinary choreographer and researcher originally from Portugal,  to  present “Weathering In / Com Tempo: An Intervention towards Participatory Multi-modal Self-organizing Inter-corporeal” at the SLACTIONS 2009 research conference at the NMC Conference Center, Babbage Amphiteatre, in Second Life ( SL time: 11.30am, Sept 24; NZ time: 6.30 am, Sept 25;  GMT:  6:30pm. Sept 24, 2009 ).Valverde,Isabel

IMG_0503In Weathering In/Com Tempo (WI), a joint paper by Valverde  and Cochrane,  they will detail  their initial concept and interface design work on the dance-technology project that questions reductions of our corporeal intelligence in a hybrid embodied environment, where participants are invited to playfully interact physically and virtually with one another as hybrid-embodied entities.

The  intelligent physical-virtual networked  environment is being designed to act like another player, interacting with the participants through related flow of sensed aspects with the ultimate goal of becoming a  more inclusive, integrated and connected interface for human-environment hybrid living systems.

In  their concept they envisage that the project,  to be staged in an enclosed space, will incorporate a form of  augmented reality (3D motion, haptic and weather data) achieved through  a variety of  hardware  and software means – the five participants will wear clothes that facilitate the capture of motion data and provide haptic feedback –  with the bridging to the physical environment from the virtual environment being through audio and video projection of the virtual space into the physical space and via data transmitted to micro-controller actuated servos embedded in clothing or micro-controller mediated switches that control a smoke machine, fans and sprinklers.

Bridging to the virtual environment will be through live data transmitted from: micro-controller monitored sensors embedded in clothing, weather data and 3D motion capture data, and stereo audio and video streams taken from the physical environment onto SL screens.

In her paper Dr Valverde  expects Weathering In will lead to a) the development of a grammar of personal and relational behavior (through performative and choreographic research in particular site specific space/time frames); b) the development of an electronic Corporeal Network (that senses corporeal data and actuates haptic feedback through the internet into and out of a MUVE/SL); c) the development of performance technologies (through hybrid modes of practice, based on contemporary dance, Movement Therapy forms, Contact  Improvisation, Yoga, and Tai Chi,).

Ultimately, she believes,  the development of the  WI interface prototype “will be the embodiment of a theory of corporeality for the post-human era”.

2. SLENZ at Jokaydia Unconference

Jokayunconf

SLENZ Project lead educator Merle Lemon (SL: Briarmelle Quintessa), lead developer Aaron Griffths (SL: Isa Goodman) and joint co leaders Dr Clare Atkins (SL: Arwenna Stardust) and  Terry Neal (SL: Tere Tinkel) will all  feature at the Jokaydia Unconference over the weekend when the two educators lead a virtual tour of their virtual “lecture halls” on  the SLENZ island of Kowhai.

Facilitated in world by Briarmelle Quintessa the   Sunday, September  27 (Aust time 4pm; NZ time: 7pm; SL time: 11pm, Saturday, September 26 ) session on the SLENZ Project will allow  educators and visitors to  see what the Kiwis are doing on the island of Kowhai where two projects for students (midwifery and foundation or bridging education) are currently being run. Participants will be able to meet and speak with members of the  SLENZ team involved in both pilots.

Jokaydia Support will be provided by by one of Second Life’s best known educators, Jokay Wollongong herself.

But that’s not all there will be at the Jokaydia  annual Unconference which starts tomorrow, September 25, and has been designed to  to celebrate the year’s discoveries and achievements and welcome Second Life residents both old and new to share their work in workshops, presentations, panels or discussions.

It  is worthwhile looking through the schedule and planning on at least taking in one or two  sessions on Jokaydia or at other venues both in Real Life and Second Life. There will be valuable lessons in all of them.

The unconference is designed for educators, academics, researchers, policy makers, curriculum designers,  IT industry,  digital media developers, students and anyone interested in diverse views and approaches to learning and teaching to build and strengthen their personal learning networks through shared interests.

Meanwhile midwifery pilot lead educator  Sarah Stewart and Otago Polytechnic’s principle midwifery lecturer  Dr Deborah Davis are to present a paper entitled “Using a Virtual Birthing Unit to teach students about normal birth” at the  Australian College of Midwives 16th national conference in Adelaide tomorrow.

Advertisements

The SLENZ Update – No 102, June 19, 2009

An invitation to  another

happening on Koru …

Stanford

Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology’s Mike Baker (SL: Rollo Kohime) will be presenting a paper at The Society of Dance History Scholars Conference 2009 at Stanford University, California, USA, from Wellington Railway Station on the Second Life NMIT island of Koru [Koru: 81,57,21 (PG)] at 3:00pm SLT/PDT on Saturday,  June 20 (10am NZT Sunday,  June 21.

He has issued a special invitation to SLENZers and others to participate in the event in Second Life   and hear his paper, “In the Company of Strangers – Negotiating the parameters of Indeterminacy; a study of the Roaming Body and Departure in Urban Spaces”.

There will be a notecard-vendor  in the station proper which will, once touched, give participants instructions for the presentation, one of a number which Baker has been invited to do this year at universities and conferences around the world.

Baker, who specialises in improvisational contact dance,  is currently completing a Masters  in Art and Design, majoring in dance and video,  with  AUT, Auckland, New Zealand.

An abstract of his presentation will be available from a dispenser in the wall next to the station cafe in a corner of the concourse.

He has asked participants to select the appropriate ambient lighting for viewing the videos, making sure that their media is enabled  with loudspeakers turned off  to avoid feedback.

He will be responding to questions  from the audience  at the end of the presentation with the real life audience taking precedence over the virtual audience.

Rollo Mike & Fiona

Mike and his partner, Fiona.

The SLENZ Update – No 93, May 29, 2009

‘TRIPPY” JOURNEY WITH ROLLO KOHIME

“Getting close by going far away,

going far by staying here …”

‘Departed – In the Company of Strangers’

The ineffable sadness of departure – of leaving, of death – is mirrored more and more in the work of Mike Baker (SL: Rollo Kohime) who has used  Wellington Railway Station both in Second Life and in Real Life to  show that   we, as human beings, can occupy,  two separate spaces and times in one mixed reality.

Baker, a noted improvisational contact dance exponent,  is to showcase his latest work at two events on the same day at the SDHS Conference 2009 (Society of Dance History Scholars) – Topographies: Sites, Bodies, Technologies at  Stanford University – in California and Second Life, between 2.00pm and 3.30pm (Pacific time) on Saturday, June 20, 2009.

He wont be there in person but will  make both presentations as Rollo Kohime, in Second Life.

The first is a paper presentation on his AUT Masters project, “In the Company of Strangers” (Abstract Title: In the Company of Strangers – Negotiating the parameters of Indeterminacy; a study of the Roaming Body and Departure in Urban Spaces) from his Wellington Railway Station build on Koru.

Later, between 5.30pm – 7.00pm (Pacific time) , he will participate in a round-table discussion with a shared presentation and question time (conceived by Isabel Valverde), Yukihiko Yoshida and himself.

The title is, “Dancing in Second Life: A roundtable – “Envisioning Virtual Topographies for Corporeal Interaction: dance and performance convergent applications of the Second Life 3D Metaverse social environment.”

Yoshida`s input has the title, “Real Dance and Dancing in metaverse : from the activity by INETDANCE Japan,” while Baker’s is titled, “The Human Analogue in Mixed-Reality.”

Following the presentations the panel will be asked, “How might dance work be created around the premise that we as humans can occupy, simultaneously, two separate spaces and times in one Mixed Reality?” and ” ‘Belonging’ in Mixed-Reality?

MikeBaker

Meanwhile Baker has had a paper selected for the ‘”Time, Transcendence, Performance” conference at Monash University, in Melbourne, in October.

Recently he also had one of his works, focusing on Second Life and mounted on dance-tech.net, presented at the Artist Salon at Chez Bushwick ,in New York.  The work,  ‘A Facet of the Real?’, is  a study combining his Real Life video work projected in his Second Life Wellington railway station. It was shown along with works by the New York City Ballet and Troika Ranch and a number of other outstanding international contemporary pieces.

Jaki Levy, a media artist and new media consultant in the USA, said after the “performance”: ‘”A Facet of the Real”explored how performance in “first” life and Second Life can intersect, creating a trippy situation in which a live performance is viewed in real time by online avatars in a virtual venue.”

“A Facet of the Real?”

The SLENZ Update – No 69, April 20, 2009

PERFORMANCE ART

Bridging the  Second Life,

Real Life  divide  …

isabelperf1
Dancing fingers from reality – Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and
Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane) in Second Life.

What are we losing through living more and more encapsulated lives in crowded urban areas, following the consumption driven “modernist-technical” standard of living, becoming disconnected from sensing ourselves, one another and earth’s living-system cycles of which we are and will be always part and dependent on for survival and well-being?

That is the question that Portugals’  Butler2 Evelyn (RL: Isabel Valverde) and Aotearoa-New Zealand’s Toddles Lightworker (RL: Todd Cochrane)  will attempt to answer in SL with the transnational  “Weathering In / Com Tempo: An Intervention towards Participatory Multi-modal Self-organising Inter-corporeal Environments”, in Room E104. Whitireia Community Polytechnic, Wellington, New Zealand, and in Seccond Life, above the SLENZ Project island of Kowhai,  between 10:30 -11:30 am on Friday,  April 24,  New Zealand time.

The event is being staged as part of the  Whitireia learning and teaching conference with the theme of: Engaged Teachers, Engaged Learners: Partnerships for Success. The keynote speaker is Professor Russell Bishop, of Waikato University.

valverdeisabel1

“We lose and suffer in exchange for communication and knowledge gains by using awesome but at the same time restricted, exclusive, unbalanced, un-integrated technology,” Valverde and  Cochrane said in an abstract on what is basically an integrated, interactive, real world/virtual world performance.

“For example, large parts of our lives are spent sitting still with screen, keyboard and mouse,” they said. “”Due to this extreme stillness we do not have truly an embodied, inclusive attitude where the physicality is expanded, not compartmentalised into less-demanding intellectual activity.

Playful interaction

The pair – Valverde (pictured right), of the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences,  Almada, Portugal, and Cochrane (pictured lower right), of the School of Information Technology, Wellington Institute of Technology ,  Petone, New Zealand – will attempt to provide answers in an” immersive embodied environment” where five invited participants  “will playfully interact with one another physically and virtually as hybrid-embodied entities within intelligent, physical and virtual sites”.

The event, Valverde and Cochrane said,  would “capture motion, location and biometric information through non-invasive clothing and motion capture investigating new modes of human-human and human-environment dialog/sociability, by expanding inter-corporeal interactions through non-intrusive non-restrictive technology, adapted to the participants’ way of moving in space”.

“Performing arts’  knowledge directs the work, providing perspectives for example as in: Postuman Embodiment [1], Mobious Strip [2], rhizome body [3], reversibility as described by Merleau Ponty, and distantiation as coined by Bertolt Brecht,” they said. “Environmental, biometric and meteorological data is captured using well understood techniques, for example, motion capture that uses the AR Toolkit as in [4]. We also investigate pragmatic application of self-organising information systems theory [5] to feature recognition from multi-modal data streams and to the automatic determination of system control.

“Weathering In intervenes using cross-disciplinary practice in performing arts and computing engineering with the goal of more inclusive, integrated and connected human-environment (physical and virtualised) hybrid living systems,” they said.img_0503

Valverde  and Cochrane, previously  staged an Emergent Hybrid Performance Environment for Second Life avatars and video-mediated guests, from Kowhai and a physical site in Lisbon where they offered partipants opportunities for converging their physical and virtual possibilities for creative embodied communication.
“We believe Second Life provides the most inclusive, embodied mode of being with people around the world in a free, networked platform,” they said of that performance. “(This) Real Virtual Games Project is interested in questioning and developing more corporeally inclusive physical interfaces for this type of embodied global network mode of communication.”

Performer/choreographer

Isabel Valverde is a performer, interdisciplinary choreographer and researcher originally from Portugal, with a PhD in Dance History and Theory from the University of California, Riverside. Her work was  supported by the Foundation for Science and Technology/PRAXIS XXI (Portugal). Her dissertation is titled “Interfacing Dance and Technology: a theoretical framework for performance in the digital domain”, (publication forthcoming by FCG/FCT). Valverde is continuing her research as a post-doctoral fellow of the EU/FCT, affiliated with the Institute for Humane Studies and Intelligent Sciences, the Visualisation and Intelligent Multimodal Interfaces Group (VIMMI/INESC-ID/IST/UTLisboa), College of Social and Humanities Sciences/UNLisboa, and Lusófona University of Arts and Technologies. She holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from the Inter-Arts Center, San Francisco State University, with a Fulbright/IIE fellowship. Her dance studies include the Licenciatura in Dance from the FMH/UTLisboa, and diploma from the School for New Dance Development/Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, under the ERASMUS Fellowship Program.

Todd Cochrane, a developer with the SLENZ Project, teaches a range of topics in Wellington Institute of Technology’s  Bachelors, Diploma and Cybertechnology programmes including client-side and server-side scripting (ASP JavaScript), Ecommerce Website Design (DB), Human Computer Interaction, Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Software Quality Assurance, Prototyping, Programming Practice (Visual Basic). He is a polyglot programmer, writing software in a number of imperative/procedural languages (C/C++,Delphi, Visual Basic, JavaScript, Java, Flash ActionScript) as well as being able to produce code in functional (RUFL and Hope+C) and declarative languages (Prolog).  His current research is focused by the development and extension of a visual programming language. He ran Human Computer Interaction using Second Life as the development platform last Trimester and is delivering Computer Systems Architecture in Second Life and Real Life synchronously this trimester. He has become proficient at Second Life development, and Second Life to Real Life crossing. He recently presented Cross-worlds art work , also known as Club Temp, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art  in Singapore.

isabels-beach_007

A stranger on the shore …  part of Isabel Valverde’s beach in the sky
above Kowhai, with a visitor.
[References: 1.Hayles, N. K, How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatic, The Univ. of Chicago Press: Chicago and London,(1999); 2. Grosz,E. A.,Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism. Indiana University Press (1994); 3. Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (1987); 4. Sementille, A. C., Lourenço, L. E., Brega, J. R., and Rodello, I. A motion capture system using passive markers. In Proceedings of the 2004 ACM SIGGRAPH international Conference on Virtual Reality Continuum and Its Applications in industry (Singapore, June 16 – 18, 2004). VRCAI ´04. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 440-447 (2004); 5.Haken, H. Information and Self-Organization A Macroscopic Approach to Complex Systems 3rd Edition. Springer Series in Synergetics , Springer Berlin, Germany (2006). Note the abstract was accepted by HCii2009 as a poster]

The SLENZ Update – No 48, February 25, 2009

Missed Conversations

in Urban Spaces

An RL-SL experiment/experience

rollo1_004

Dancer and arts lecturer Mike Baker (SL: Rollo Kohime) believes in a “real” life of departures – involuntary departures leading to   “a state of  ‘ leaving’ which co-mingles with and unerringly erodes our efforts to engage with another in the here and now.”

This belief  in on-going alienation has led the senior lecturer in the Degree in Arts and Media programme in the School of Arts and Media at Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, NZ-Aotearoa, to explore the idea as part of his  AUT Masters in Art and Design project (majoring in dance and video), ‘In the Company of Strangers’. (Full text of presentation available on  (http://hoststranger.blogspot.com)

“Indeterminacy as a force, responsible for sustaining in us the dynamic of the stranger, is explored in encounters between people in urban spaces,”  he said in a paper recently delivered to the   intercreateSCANZ Symposium, at New Plymouth, in Taranaki, New Zealand,  a presenation which took place with audiences both in real life and in  Second Life at his urban railway station on the NMIT island of Koru (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Koru/63/47/22)

Baker (http://hoststranger.blogspot.com) is  investigating concepts centering on disjunct-conversations and departure  through his research-practice which, as a scrutinising lens, attests to the contemporary theories which reside in the states of ‘becoming’ evidenced in selected writings of  Henri Bergson and Brian Massumi.
The Baker project posits the formation of a new “Urban Myth: Experienced through the vehicle of the roaming body, our engagements, meetings and encounters in urban spaces frequently manifest as disjunct, ‘missed conversations’.”

rolloposter_003

As part of the project he critically explores – both in the real world and Second Life – the forces of indeterminacy which he maintains are responsible for the dynamics which create the personna of the ‘stranger’ in encounters between people in urban spaces.

“I am asserting that this is due to the inevitability in our existence of indeterminacy occurring as a significant mediator of our behaviour,” he says. ” Indeterminacy implies motion and emerges, as Massumi so ably asserts, through ‘… an unfolding relation to its own nonpresent potential to vary …’.

“We, all of us, are constantly being drawn away – always either approaching or embracing involuntarily, a state of ‘Leaving’ which co-mingles with and unerringly erodes our efforts to engage with another in the here
and now,” he said.

He uses interventionist dance strategies to prompt and then interrogate the formation, nature and parameters of encounters in designated public places. The experimental movement frameworks employed are informed by the discipline of Contact Improvisation Dance. The working process is documented using a range of video narrative and internet blogs. Joint real life-Second Life performances have been staged with audiences/participants interacting from both sides of the screen.

Besides the New Plymouth conference Baker  has  had papers on his Masters project accepted for the PSI15 Performance Studies International Conference, in Zagreb, Croatia, and the SDHS Society of Dance History Scholars: Topographies: Sites, Bodies, Technologies, at Stanford University, USA. He has  also been named to an international panel to deliver/discuss the paper of Isabel de Cavadas Valverde: Envisioning virtual cartographies for corporeal interaction: dance and performance convergent applications of Second Life 3D Metaverse social environment, at the SDHS Conference at Stanford.

Baker  has danced and worked with: BodyCartography Project, (USA/NZ) Wilhemeena Gordon, (NZ) Nancy Stark-Smith, State-of-Flux Dance Co, (Melbourne, Australia) Martin Keogh (USA) jzamal Xanitha (USA) and Catherine Chappell – Touch Compass Dance Trust (NZ).

rolloaudience

The SLENZ Update – No 44, February 4, 2009

Strangers: off to the world

rollo-mike-fiona

UK-born Mike Baker (SL: Rollo Kohime),  a senior lecturer in the Degree in Arts and Media programme in the School of Arts and Media at Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson, NZ-Aotearoa, has had papers on his Masters project accepted for three national and international conferences in February and June.

The papers will be delivered at intercreateSCANZ Symposium, at New Plymouth, in Taranaki, New Zealand, PSI15 Performance Studies International Conference, in Zagreb, Croatia, and the SDHS Society of Dance History Scholars: Topographies: Sites, Bodies, Technologies, at Stanford University, USA. He has  also been named to an international panel to deliver/discuss the paper of Isabel de Cavadas Valverde: Envisioning virtual cartographies for corporeal interaction: dance and performance convergent applications of Second Life 3D Metaverse social environment, at the SDHS Conference at Stanford.

Baker (pictured above with wife Fiona), who has danced and worked with: BodyCartography Project, (USA/NZ) Wilhemeena Gordon, (NZ) Nancy Stark-Smith, State-of-Flux Dance Co, (Melbourne, Australia) Martin Keogh (USA) jzamal Xanitha (USA) and Catherine Chappell – Touch Compass Dance Trust (NZ), is completing a Masters in Art and Design (majoring in dance and video) with AUT University,  Auckland.

His performance-based Masters project, “Company of Strangers – Negotiating Meetings, Exchanges and Conversations in Urban Spaces”, critically explores both in the real world and Second Life the forces of indeterminacy which he maintains are responsible for the dynamics which create the personna of the ‘stranger’ in encounters between people in urban spaces. He uses interventionist dance strategies to prompt and then interrogate the formation, nature and parameters of encounters in designated public places. The experimental movement frameworks employed are informed by the discipline of Contact Improvisation Dance. The working process is documented using a range of video narrative and internet blogs.

The Second Life portion of Baker’s dance project is based on the NMIT/SLENZ island of Koru. His blog is at: http://hoststranger.blogspot.com

Better SL viewer ahead?

On the face of it the churn rate of “newbies” entering Second Life is probably unacceptable in business terms but 15 percent of those trying out Second Life for the first time, deciding to “settle” in world, to my mind, is nothing to get discouraged about.

Given similar problems to those Second Life has had over the years many five-year-old – old hat? – businesses would be pleased with the on-going, steady retention rate. philip_rosedale

Linden Labs’ executives, Philip Rosedale and Mark Kingdon appear far from discouraged even though they would like to “triple that number,” according to an exclusive report by Ian Lamont, in The Industry Standard. (Story and transcripts http://www.thestandard.com/news/2009/01/30/exclusive-linden-lab-executives-plot-second-life-growth-interface-concerns-persist?page=0%2C0&source=nlt_daily)

Both Rosedale (pictured right) and Kingdon (pictured left) said in the Lamont interview that on-going, significant work to make the user interface less complex would have a huge impact on the retention rate of the virtual world.kingdon2

Singling out search, the user interface and new user orientation as needing major improvements, to up the on-going user retention rate, Rosedale told Lamont, “We need to collapse the orientation experience on learning the interface down to a 30-minute timeframe. We’re not there yet.”

Going on to describe the current interface as “overwhelming,” Rosedale said, “The basic UI of the software also needs to change. “It has too many pixels,” he said referring to the buttons, numbers, and other data presented to users on the screen. “They’re all kind of demanding your attention — your [Linden] dollar balance, your inventory window, all the buttons on the bottom bar, chat and text that are visible in the window, that’s asking something of you, blue pop-ups that are coming up.”

Rosedale said that Second Life had moved beyond an emerging application for technology-savvy users. “There is a lot more diversity in use, demographics and behavior in Second Life today than there was, say, at the end of 2003,” he said.

Kingdon added. “There is a very compelling set of activities that virtual worlds are incredibly powerful for. They erase geographies, they allow for a type of interaction that you can’t get in the real world and they bring with them really interesting economic and business opportunities for users.”

Kingdon detailed localisation projects for countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, and cited in-world training and remote meetings as compelling activities for companies. Both he and Rosedale portrayed Second Life as a competitor to enterprise video conferencing, which they believe is unable to match Second Life’s ability to make people feel comfortable interacting with other remote users.

VW education/meetings do work

lbj_close_talker

On Mark Kingdon’s case (above) for the benefits of holding real world meetings in virtual worlds Metaverse developer Caleb Booker has provided a compelling argument for the use of virtual worlds like Second Life for real world education environments and meeting spaces.( http://www.calebbooker.com/blog/2009/01/27/roi-in-virtual-worlds-1-why-webcams-fail/)

I have to agree with Wagner Au  in New World Notes (http://nwn.blogs.com/) that up until now, “the notion that the professional world should prefer meeting in the metaverse over speakerphones or web cams or other technologies seemed roughly crazy.”

He based this on the assumption that  in-world meetings put on by companies like IBM and Microsoft “were mostly limited to the early adopters already familiar with Second Life.”

However, Au goes on to say, that Booker lays out his reasoning lucidly for why the professional world should change its view through comparing being “close” to  people in an avatar sense to getting the “close-talker” feeling of  being trapped counting the other speaker’s nostril hairs, as in the Lyndon Baines Johnson picture above or a la webcam, and not being able to look away.

Suffice to say, Caleb argues cogently that Virtual space experiences work better than a webcam experience because one can maintain some “personal space”;  whatever learning mode one is in, chances are one will do fine;  and the experience fills one’s field of vision far more readily.

Read Caleb’s article: its one of the best expositions on just why education as opposed to other forms of elearning WILL work in Second Life and other virtual worlds.

Kermit for the third time..

intellagirltully

My final word on the saga of  the believability of Kermit. Intellagirl Tully (real life Sarah Robbins) is recognised as one of the foremost researchers/educators operating in Virtual Worlds. She probably has thought more about academic identity in a non-academic world than most other people. I’m indebted to a SLED list poster for pointing me to her “enjoyable and insightful” piece for the SLCC Education Workshop in 2006 titled, ” ‘Image Slippage’: Navigating the Dichotomies of an Academic Identity in a Non-Academic Virtual World.” You can read it at: http://secondlife.intellagirl.com/SLCC-Robbins.doc

Is the writing on the SL wall?

blumenthal

The on-going debate inside the walls of Linden Lab and among Second Life educators and others on the benefits or not of merging the carefully policed, but poorly-patronised Teen Grid with the well-patronised adult grid, has been brought into sharper focus by MySpace’s decision to remove the profiles of about 90,000 US-registered sex offenders.

The question is not whether Second Life can survive the addition of a teenage group of possible hell-raisers (grin) but whether it can survive the imposition of more stringent controls such as proof of age, identity, location and possible background checks being placed on the general population of Second Life, things which may be required by some US regulators to ensure the safety of the teens.

Personally I’m not a proponent of the Nanny State and think this would be a step too far. I have enjoyed, for better or worse, the “anything goes, frontier” feel of Second Life – even the griefers – for the past four years and hope to continue to be surprised and astounded by the activities/art/works of my fellow residents for years to come, no matter what their real life backgrounds.

Proof of age is currently not mandatory within Second Life and is required only for specific “adult” areas – I’ve only come across one proof-of-age-barred area over many hours of exploration – but given the general in-world penchant for privacy I don’t think the introduction of mandatory proof-of-age on the general grid would be a good thing.

[Interestingly the Linden Lab ban on casinos and sexual age-play among adults has, as predicted, reportedly only served to drive these activities underground.]

The thoughts on this issue were sparked by comments made by Connecticut Attorney-General Richard Blumenthal (pictured above at an unrelated occasion, but appropriate-looking “friend”) who initiated the release of the MySpace figures which were almost double the number that News Corporation-owned MySpace officials originally announced last year. (http://preview.tinyurl.com/c62qqs)

Blumenthal said the “shocking revelation” backed up his campaign to ensure that social networking sites should be barred as “playgrounds for predators”. “

Almost 100,000 convicted sex offenders mixing with children on MySpace is absolutely appalling and totally unacceptable,” he said. “For every one of them, there may be hundreds of others using false names and ages.”

Blumenthal said the new data unmasked what he called MySpace’s “monstrously inadequate counter-measures” and noted he would continue “to fight for reforms and safeguards at MySpace and other social networking sites to protect children, including age and identification verification.

“I urge MySpace and the social networking industry to end their resistance to age and identify verification,” he said.

One wonders how long it will be before he and his fellow travelers look at virtual worlds, now that social networking and virtual worlds are coming together.