The SLENZ Update – No 30, December 02, 2008



December 15, from 9am to 5pm (New Zealand Time) (SL Time 2pm – 10 pm December 14) : New Zealand’s leading virtual world learning research group, Second Life Education New Zealand (SLENZ), has invited interested educators to attend a free, one-day workshop in real life on Wellington Institute of Technology’s Wellington campus and in Second Life on the Nelson-Marlborough Institute of Technology’s island of Koru ( Registration essential on first-come, first-served basis as numbers limited. For registration email:

Virtual peace training

Virtual Peace: Turning Swords to Ploughshares (, a humanitarian/disaster assistance training simulation brings together digital learning technologies and international humanitarian assistance efforts. It has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation and HASTAC. Created by Duke University’s Tim Lenoir (full project team: in collaboration with Virtual Heroes, Duke-UNC Rotary Center, Duke’s Computer Science Department, and Duke Information Science and Information Studies (ISIS) it allows students and educators to enter an immersive, multi-sensory game-based environment that simulates real disaster relief and conflict resolution conditions in order to learn first-hand the necessary tools for sensitive and timely crisis response.

Interestingly the simulation uses the avatars of real people and simulations of real places for what is a realistic training scenario based on reality. Learn more about Virtual Peace.

Species ‘change’?


In an era when biotechnology has made it possible to alter the basics of what we eat, how we provide energy and even the makeup of our genetic structure, a graduate student at the University of California is to attempt to “smash” the species boundary, by living as a dragon for 365 hours – virtually

Pushing the limits of what it means to be human she  is exploring the intersections of biotechnology, art and virtual-reality in a fully immersive performance, “Becoming Dragon,” according to Tiffany Fox writing in net magazine, (

To fulfill the final project requirement for her MFA in visual arts, the student Micha Cardenas (SL:Azdel Slade) (pictured above) (, a transgender person, will spend 365 consecutive hours immersed in Second Life, wearing a head-mounted device with a stereoscopic display that blocks all but the virtual world from her view, in a to-scale virtual model of the actual performance space (complete with the black leather couch that will serve as he RL bed). She will spend the entire duration of the performance in a laboratory at UCSD’s Center for Research and Computing in the Arts (CRCA) at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).

The performance began with a two-hour session on December 1 and will continue until December 17 (

Cardenas’ movements are being mimed by way of a Vicon motion-capture system, which allows her avatar’s movements to correspond with her own in real-time. In essence, Cardenas will “become” the dragon, moving and even speaking as her avatar by way of a Pure Data patch called “Lila” that modulates her voice.

The project is also a means of questioning the one-year requirement for “real-life experience” that transgender people must fulfill in order to receive gender confirmation surgery (also known as sexual reassignment surgery).

“The general theme for my project is to explore the possibilities for transformation, to ask the question, ‘Is change really possible, or do you get what you’re given, and that’s it?'” Cardenas explained to Psyorg. “I’m asking if it’s possible to replace this real-life experience requirement with Second Life experience, but I’m also asking a question that is somewhat rhetorical or fantastical: Could you really become your second-life avatar?

Linden disappoints

There was some rather disappointing news for Kiwis and Okkers (New Zealanders and Australians)  at the Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop 2008 Conference in Melbourne  last weekend

It came from Linden Lab’s Chris Collins, who, when asked about the delay in the proposed creation of an SL server farm in Australia, admitted that the “real soon now” of 18-months ago had stretched considerably, with no commitment given on when, if ever, this may occur (

Looks like our lag performance, although in New Zealand mainly attributable to  the lack of foresight or investment by either Telecom or TelstraClear, will not be improving in the near future. Of course the New Zealand Government could use private enterprises such as NetFx ( the fastest commercial internet service in the country) to end the provincial internet problems cause by the two main players. Given the right funding NetFx could easily implement its optical cable system in provincial towns throughout the country as is currently being  done on a local government basis in places like Dannevirke.

But on the plus side he said that the 2009 beta of a standalone Second Life grid which will allow users to run their own grid was progressing.

Further reporting on the AVWW has been scheduled for the next few days by