Friday, December 26, 2008

The Creator Short Cut

Granted that the theatrical experience cannot be replicated in a movie, let alone a small video disconnected from the actual performance. But this is what I have. A short segment of the robotic marionette as it reacted to the performer actions (and the performer reacted to the marionette).

The movements and the position of the performer on the stage elicited a variety of reactions and sounds associated with the "mood" states of the marionette, The Creator.

In this clip The Creator's experiment has gone awry and he (or it) believes his "creature" (the performer) is dead. To explain a bit. The Creator acts as a puppeteer, and the performer acts as a puppet trying to (unsuccessfully) escape the control of the puppeteer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Si se puede!

This is just a random example: a whooping 11 miles per gallon!

I think it is a well deserved if unwelcome disaster the one that "great American auto companies" are suffering at the present time for their unwilligness to do the right thing and resist the lobby that has destroyed every possibility of doing what is right : the OIL cartel. 

In their case (I am referring of course to the management and the "shareholders" who "share" the responsibility as well) greed in disregard for life on earth was mainly the motive and excuse. (not to get us the users off the hook)

A case in point for comparison of philosophy/action: (and I quote from Wikipedia for expediency)

Throughout his life, (Buckminster)Fuller was concerned with the question "Does humanity have a chance to survive lastingly and successfully on planet Earth, and if so, how?" Considering himself an average individual without special monetary means or academic degree, he chose to devote his life to this question, trying to identify what he, as an individual, could do to improve humanity's condition, which large organizations, governments, and private enterprises inherently could not do.

Among the many inventions of his extraordinary mind his Dymaxion car is particularly relevant today. Remember that this is 1933! 

The car had a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km/36 mpg-imp). It could transport eleven passengers. While Fuller claimed it could reach speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), the fastest documented speed was 90 miles per hour (140 km/h.) Isn't that enough?

I believe that if this particular invention of his had been adopted (and evolve from there) we would not even know the phrase "global warming". Many other inventions of his have of course been so widely adopted that we are not even aware of them since they are so common in our daily life. But that is material for another post.

On a recent trip to NY I was able to see a comprehensive exhibition of Bucky's work at the Whitman. Although it was forbidden to take any pictures (what??? would he agree with that stupid rule? a man who wanted to give the world a better life for EVERYONE?) I was able to snap this shot with a tiny keyholder camera (so go ahead, sue me!)

Another interesting aspect of his work was of course the interdisciplinarian aspect of it. Even though he himself was a superb designer he collaborated with no other than Isamu Noguchi
on the design of the Dymaxion car. Noguchi designed a wind tunnel which was a factor in determining the aerodinamic tearshape  car.

This is a good site to see more Bucky stuff

So the point is that Si se Puede!, Yes, we can.

My SFX Work

These are some sample scenes of film, special effects, miniature work and computer animation work I have done in the past few years.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Power of Drill Baby, Drill!

If games and virtual environments were not critically influential in "educating" people by drilling into their brain and responsive system whatever message we wish to convey, then we would not spend so much money, time, research etc. in such medium. But the fact is that...

"Manhunt 2" is a video game in which characters kill
and torture using items such as a fuse box and a toilet.
Photo Credit:
Rockstar Games Via Associated Press
Related Article:

Study Links Violent Video Games, Hostility

The Critical Mass

The Voice of Reason

Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, Haditha and Mahmudiyah, and on and on.

It was Goya, who living in the convulsive time of the Spanish Independence War, tried to give us a feeling for the monsters created by what he called the Sleep of Reason. His images, terrible as they are, pale in comparison to our daily diet of the atrocities committed against humanity, not by savage tribes, but by well fed and trained soldiers and mercenaries that follow the orders of those whose reason is not asleep but simply denied.

Last night, out of the darkness of our time, millions of hearts and minds were lit up by the hope that perhaps this once we can overcome the tide of fear that war, imposed on our brothers and sisters across the world by the weapon merchants and their servants, voted into power by people like you and me, who decide that our own comfort and way of life is more important than the life of others, that become obese while others starve because of our refusal to share the "wealth" that we assume belongs to us, the conquistadores.

"I am only following orders..."

To awaken from the nightmare where we have been trapped for so long requires an effort that seems beyond our strength, or so we are constantly told, and now that we are half awake we must, like the previous writer says, fight, but we must choose our fight guided by our reason and recognizing that fighting some times requires sacrificing that which in our dream state seemed like worthy of living the lie.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


On this election day, I wanted to take a few moments to talk about things that are, to me, very important.

I want to talk about freedom. To me, freedom is not freedom to do what I want, when I want. That is anarchy. Instead, freedom is the ability to act responsibly and morally. This means having the social, economic, and moral freedom to raise my family, pursue a career, and worship any god I choose. It is NOT allowing myself to be led by those who consider themselves as more intelligent and better than myself. It is NOT permitting these self-proclaimed good samaritans to decide what to do with the income that I have worked hard to earn. Freedom is having the ability to decide whom I want to donate money to, instead of having the government remove it from me and make that decision for me.

In short, freedom is a fight against slavery. Whether it be economic, social, or moral slavery, we must fight against it. We must fight those who think they know better than us what we should do with our time, our families, our money, and our worship. I do not pretend to legislate these things to others, and in return do not expect them to legislate them to me.

But let me make one point very clearly - it is my responsibility as a citizen of this country to fight for freedom. I will not be led down a primrose path by those who think that a new world order means taking of the fruits of my labor and giving it to people that they think deserve it. I will also not be led in the direction of supporting unjustified wars for the sake of profit.

I want my freedom! The ability to act responsibly and morally is one that I will not give up without a fight.

The day the world changed

When 9/11 happened the vultures that ruled our country went into a rampage of destruction and deception under the cover of fear. That fateful day the world indeed changed for ever. Change in that case meant that everything that was a promise of compassion, understanding and peace would be sacrificed at the altar of greed and intolerance. Thousands of young impressionable American kids have and continue to be slaughtered in the name of geopolitical dominance.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been and continue to be killed for the sin of living in an oil rich region which happens to be at the strategic center of the Muslim world, a very convenient situation that allowed the Bush cartel to portray them as dangerous because of their beliefs in a "wrong" god (as if there was a "right" one), for dressing differently, for having a different shade of brown in their skin. That was portrayed over and over as a threat to be eliminated, and the masses went for it, giving away their sons and daughters and their economic future to fund the slaughter

But today, the world has changed again, in a reaction so powerful that it might, it just might, restore the balance that we have surely lost. Perhaps it is too late and the damage to our world and to our own humanity is beyond rescue, but there is hope, all around the world, in that world largely ignored by the American people as if it did not exist or matter, that the crumbling empire that is the US might allow the birth of an entirely new world citizenship, that might, just might help guide the world into a hopefully brighter future.

And like Obama said, it is OUR task, that of all of us, not the US, but us, the world, to come together and become what we are supposed to be, the stewards of our only ailing planet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Drill Baby, Kill!

I have been wanting to write this post for weeks now, but I simply had such a bad feeling that I kept putting it off, like a brain operation.
But a few moments ago I heard a snippet of news on the local channel about some assassination plot on Obama. Is this a surprise? Not exactly. The barrage of images and video of Paling shooting high power rifles with a telescopic sight, alongside invective abuse of power and misinformation are very suggestive to the inbred, broad redneck base that finds her so appealing under her disguise. After all don't they say it is our right to bear arms as if this was the wild West? And what would they be for but to enforce our ideas? Vietnam, Irak..., a black man, a dog, our teachers, our neighbors?

The majority is not silent anymore, it feels threatened and shouts kill! kill! at the least prompting, and there is plenty of that. Who orchestrates this aspect of the campaign? who is in charge of the not so subliminal massaging of weak, ignorant and impressionable brains? Who is the new Cheney? the new Rumsfeld? have they ever gone away? Will they?

Television is a powerful medium, producing a mild seizure effect that we have grown accustomed to, but which comes very handy when in the hands of advertisers and marketeers of every bent.

Unfortunately at this point in time with inmmeasurable stakes at play there is no need to resort to mafia connections or intelligence operators (although the knowledge of subliminal control is their domain), but simply to seed the minds of halfwits to execute random and irrational acts of violence, hoping that one of those hits the target, never mind the catastrophic global consequences of such power grab by those who think of nothing else but their own glory under their abominable god.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The ugly american god

According to vice-president candidate Palin, the war in Irak is god's will and plan. We should be grateful for it:

"Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that plan is God's will."

God is also apparently a shareholder on big-oil and is very keen on pumping up whatever is left so that total destruction can be assured in time for his glorious second coming. Make sure you have your camera loaded and please post the event on YouTube.

"I think God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get the gas line built, so pray for that."

Like they say, this strategic candidate has an excellent record on both energy and the environment, issues that are intricately related. And, proverbially, two birds can be killed at once. Since it is her stated belief that human activity has no impact whatsoever on global warming (use the internet to check this outrageous if not plain stupid statement) then it is OK to "drill, drill, drill", "kill, kill, kill" so that we get rid of that inconvenient wilderness full of animals that deserve to be killed, not to mention the rest of humanity. That way we can all enjoy front seats at the Apocalypse. Excellent strategy.

Palin's favorite hobby

It is a sad thing to see the pathetic crowds pumped up by such shows of indifference to life, coming from someone who claims to be on god's side in everything she does. With that consultant who needs Kissinger?

It used to be that the "ugly american" usually referred to some individuals that exemplified the worst arrogance that this country exported abroad. But as of today the global perception has shifted to the "ugly country" which I guess plays very well with the political campaign slogan of "country first". After all our exports were suffering, now we have a true product that we are supposed to be proud of.

Made in America.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

God, Guns and Country: The American Way

Harry S Truman, August 8, 195033rd president of US (1884 - 1972)

After hearing and seeing in the transmission of the Republican Convention the insanity of those who believe that the world was created in 6 days and therefore feel proud of "packing a pistol", killing for fun (or sport!) and sending their naive sons and daughters to war as cannon fodder to defend the black blood of comfort and greed, I think I will share a couple of quotes that coming from minds much bigger than my own are better able to summarize the dangerous situation being manufactured by the political machinery of the "righteous majority".

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him, the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable an ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. - Albert Einstein

Beware of the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch … the citizenry … will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How will I know? For this I have done. And I am Julius Caesar.

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons
. - Bertrand Russell

So I believe

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What is a hero?

In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it's yours.” Ayn Rand

I think this quote above aptly describes what a hero is. Is it someone who is captured in a war? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Is it a political or sports figure? Once again, perhaps.... or perhaps not. Then what is it that makes a hero? I think that it's mostly what a person does in the midst of the unfortunate circumstances in which they find themselves. We may never know the full details of McCain's time as a wartime captive, so we probably can't say anything intelligently about it -- good or bad. No judgment is warranted because of lack of evidence. All we know is that he had the good fortune to somehow get through it alive. For that, I am grateful (otherwise I would be wishing him harm).

Many people want to be a hero, but few desire the hard life that comes with being one. And most heroes I know don't trumpet their accomplishments to the world. Instead, they desire to live a quiet life, free from the difficult circumstances that helped mold them into the heroes that they are.

The Bottom of the Pit

As I watch and listen in disgust to the body language and the hypocritical language of McCain, trying to present himself as a hero because he was unlucky or stupid enough to be captured by those whom he was trying to destroy, I am reminded of Bertolt Brecht's "Fear and Misery of the Third Reich":
One Big Family
Two SS Officers talk about "United Nation" and then start shooting.
A Case of Betrayal
A couple have "given away their neighbour" to the SS because they heard foreign broadcasts coming from his house.
Occupational disease
An injured man comes to a hospital. The surgeon explains before doing treatment a doctor must ask questions concerning the patient’s private life to check if he deserves treatment.
The motto
A Hitler Youth meeting, one boy hasn't learnt the motto "beat stab shoot them till they fall…" He is accused of learning "something different at home."
These are some of the scenes, do they sound familiar? The mere idea that a warmongering, angry and revengeful old man could be elected by the ignorant majority of "god fearing" and so easily swayed "voters" of the conservative persuasion should ring alarm bells in any human that has evolved beyond their reptilian stage.

At a moment when our planet, our "mother earth" is being raped and destroyed by the military-industrial-entertainment complex instead of pulling together as a species to try to survive the catastrophe that is upon us, greedy politicians will go to the depths of their bottomless pit to dig even more oily and bloody dirt to give themselves a beauty bath, to appeal to a public that cannot see beyond the soundbite, who are not able to recognize in the tone of voice, in the look of the eyes that show the darkness of their sick mind.

Like war-criminal Bush said in his "televised" and puppeteered appearance at the Republican Convention, McCain is "ready". He is for sure. Who in their right mind would want to shake the economy even further by disrupting the flow of billions to the war machine? the life and blood of this country?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Small Worlds

Anyone trying out Small Worlds yet? It's just gone into public beta.

I'm Sebastien Knoller in there as well.


Friday, May 30, 2008


Any one out there what this.... SL is on MTV. I am working to get a copy of this for distro to people.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Avatar's carbon footprint

We did not really go into this discussion in our class, except by bringing up the fact that Google's use of a white screen contributes substantially to global warming. Google itself acknowledged it by turning their screen black for a day to save energy.

But on to avatars. An article published in the Near Future Laboratory blog mentions some interesting numbers that gave me pause:

According to professor Julian Bleecker Ph.D of USC and cofounder of design think tank the Near Future Laboratory, "a Second Life avatar produces 1,685 pounds of CO2 and an acre of real estate in Second Life produces 99 tons of CO2.

Power Consumption Per Avatar Per Year (Second Life Servers): 153 kWH
Power Consumption Per Avatar Per Year (Home User’s PC): 1,095 kWH
Total Power Consumption Per Avatar Per Year: 1,248 kWH CO2 Emissions Per Avatar Per Year (Second Life Servers): 207 lbs (94 kilos)
CO2 Emissions Per Avatar Per Year (Home User’s PC): 1,478 lbs (670 kilos)
Total CO2 Emissions Per Avatar Per Year: 1,685 lbs (764 kilos)

...Some equivalence for perspective:In 2003, the per-capita power consumption in the United States: 13,242 kWH
In 2001, the per-capita power consumption in Iceland: 26,947 kWH
In 2001, the per-capita power consumption in Keyna: 118 kWH
(World Resource Institute, EarthTrends — )

...Every year, every Avatar in Second Life produces CO2 emissions equivalent to a typical, honking, bloated, arrogant SUV driving 1,293 miles, based on the assumption that this kind of SUV generates 1 lbs of CO2 per mile".

We all know that we will have to make substantial changes to our lifestyle if we want to do our part in saving this "spaceship earth" like Bucky called it. If we don't we will leave the planet to our avatars instead of our grandchildren...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Professor Avator & Second Thoughts About Second Life

I'm not sure if anyone is still checking this blog with the end of class, but I thought I'd share a couple articles from a recent issue of the Education Digest (available through UF Libraries). Two articles regarding VEs and SL were found in the January 2008 issue (Vol. 73, No. 5).

Professor Avatar by Andrea L. Foster looks at some different uses of SL in education by different universities including the exploration of Dante's Inferno and the re-creation of the Sistine Chapel.

Second Thoughts About Second Life by Michael J. Bugeja compliments our class topic regarding SL and the law. Specifically, the question of liability is raised. Particularly is a student required by a course to go onto SL is exposed to griefers, who is held responsible? The professor? University? Student? Linden Labs?

Bugeja also follows up in the February 2008 issue with an article Second Life, Revisited, in which it appears he received communication from Linden Labs. I have yet to read the article.

Anyways, much like the scribblings in the high school year book by fifty of your closest friends, "have a good summer."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The new top Linden

Well, the new head guy is in at Linden Labs. I wish the guy luck ... but I worry about two things:

1) his new avatar name is "M" Linden ... one worries that creativity is not his strong suit.

2) although his background includes time at organic, I'm wondering if he's the guy who will take the lead in fixing the grid, which is really the biggest problem right now.

At the very least, the company now has two top guys to work on the problems facing the company. Like I said, I wish the guy luck.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


As is often the case lately, this weekend I found myself explaining Second Life to someone unfamiliar with the concept of VWEs. Their immediate response was... "I never thought YOU'D be a gamer!" Hmmmmm... a gamer... (not unlike the mother who upon learning what I did for a living then responded with "OH! You're in PR?!? Used to like you!)

Follow that up with a discussion in SL about virtual identities that claim that the virtual world erases stereotypes (NOT)... We can create alternative identities... but even these are judged. In the discussion, someone posted the link attached above in the title of the post. It's the trailer for All this made me very interested to see the outcomes of the Masks group!

Again, I also find myself contemplating some comments made on this blog... that people in SL have no RL. I beg your pardon. My RL is awesome... and I'm enjoying SL too. BUT... how does that change the way people look at me? Yet another opportunity to put me in some category.... middle-aged, mom, white, female, American, student, gamer...

Education & Capitalism

Why do we have schools? To educate! Of course. That must be it, but if you peel back a couple of the layers and discover that Columbus really didn't discover 'America.'

We assume many things we are taught to be true. Columbus is only the outer layer of half-truths we are indoctrinated with. More information can be found by clicking on the title OR just google, education capitalism. This is not always the case, but seems to be pretty prevalent at the University of Florida.

The reason I say all this is because this class seems more like job training than a educational experience. Just like many other classes, we are supposed to fulfill a certain amount of requirements to get a certain grade. That seems to be the main focus and it is up to the student to make it something more.

Sure we are learning, but why do we need to learn how to complete a business proposal? I was excited about this course based on James C. Oliverio introduction to Digital Worlds, but my experience has turned sour. Maybe virtual environments just isn't the thing for me...

Anyone know much about modern-day train hopping? (

HiPiHi: China's Answer to SL

Just thought I'd post this little tid bit about China's SL clone that just came into beta. In some ways it looks more detailed than SL, but the animations don't look as smooth to me. Either way I thought it was interesting that there is a thought that HiPiHi could be the answer to go create standards for virtual worlds and take them from being a simulation separate from the Internet to becoming mainstream internet as the 3D internet.

BTW Anyone understand Mandarin?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tired of Reality?

Stanford University is announcing a 2 week intensive training institute on immersive virtual reality. From September 8 to September 19 they will train you in the design and programming of virtual reality worlds.

The faculty is composed, among others by researcher Jeremy Bailenson, currently the director of Stanford's Virtual Human Interaction Lab, whose work in the field of cognitive psychology, telepresence and virtual environments, (funded by the National Science Foundation) is highly recognized.

In the The Avatar's Influence, The Chronicle of Higher Education
- What people do in virtual reality doesn't always stay in virtual reality he argues, and makes an excellent and compelling case that virtual representations of professors can be more effective than the real thing.

In Transformed Social Interaction in Immersive Virtual Reality Jeremy Bailenson discusses VHIL research projects in an extraordinary and fast paced Metaverse U presentation . I will try to show this in class because I think it will open (or close, there is always that possibility) a few eyes and raise awareness of what we have already discussed earlier in the class, that being as we are in the midst of a paradigm shift, it is difficult, sometimes impossible to perceive what is right in front of our eyes. Sometimes because it is very skilfully disguised.

Bailenson's main area of interest is the phenomenon of digital human representation, especially in the context of immersive virtual reality. He explores the manner in which people are able to represent themselves when the physical constraints of body and veridically-rendered behaviors are removed. Furthermore, he designs and studies collaborative virtual reality systems that allow physically remote individuals to meet in virtual space, and explores the manner in which these systems change the nature of verbal and nonverbal interaction.

You can apply at

The Oneiric Universes

Among the chatter about these issues, an article by Séverine Fiévet published last month in the French magazine LE MONDE talks about the virtual approach to treat children with difficulties.

The psychoanalyst Michael Stora will open a private clinic (this month) in Paris (I wonder what the cost will be) where the therapy happens via a video game. He contends that by playing a better communication is established with the therapist.

With three full-time people, including one child psychiatrist, and fifteen psychologists, trained with the video game, the clinic will treat children and teenagers with psychological difficulties, with family or school problems or situations. The young patients will be received in a different kind of environment, with a giant screen, access to the Internet and to all the game consoles available on the market.

Stora says: "The unconscious is becoming visible. We are now close to the oneiric universes."

SL posts strong economic growth on dwindling enrollments

A recent report showed that second life is continuing to experience economic growth. Although fewer new users are signing up for Second Life, the faithful are spending more time and money than ever before. Second Life's in-world economy is growing at a rate of 15 percent annually. User hours, concurrency, and economic transactions all showed robust growth.

Less positive statistics include total avatar population growth of 3.2 percent, the slowest month-to-month growth on record. Also, Linden's premium subscriber base declined for the fourth consecutive month in March. Interestingly, Second Life achieved a gross domestic product of US$300 million, a larger total economy than real-world nations Dominica and Micronesia.

These numbers may show some positive signs currently for Second Life, as the world is continuing to grow amid a tough virtually competitive environment. However, I believe that the new user numbers are still the most important. This is due to the fact that the virtual world is not large enough or proven enough to sustain itself without continuing to attract new users. Hopefully SL will make this a priority sooner rather than later.

Disabilities and Second Life

I recently came across an article describing some of the ways in which SL is helping people with disabilities and abused children. In one example there was a woman who was helping abused children who were all the way in portugal reconnect with social skills. She said that "They easily get in touch with people that they don't personally know, this means we seem to break a barrier of socializing."

In another example, a program called live2give was taken on with 9 adults who suffered from cerebal palsy. The program allowed them to connect with people from all over the world to help them cope with their everyday problems.

I think SL is a great resource for people who may not be able to get out everyday whether they are scared socially such as the abused children, or just arent physicaly able to. I think that SL also helps them to dream and be someone in world that they are not capable of in real life.


Ancient Avatars

Costumes of Slaves or Serfs, from the Sixth to the Twelfth Centuries.
Did they have a life then?

Just for fun

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What to do

Well after 3 hours of trying to work in SL I am calling quits for the night. 5-10 crashes this evening make me want to bail on this software as soon as the class is over. I hope to make my way into game building and development and SL will be an example of what not to create. A good idea in theory, it just annoyes me to no end that now my floors move on touch and refuse to line up, and when everything is right the viewer crashes. I hope SL gets fixed soon or I am afraid UF should look else where for virtual technology.

Maybe open source with mono is the way.....

Apple in Second Life?

In response to all the gloom and doom, here's a story from MacNN that suggests that Apple is exploring the idea of virtual retail outlets. They don't name any specific company, of course, but the details of the patent application are pretty interesting. Will they work with an existing company, or - following their usual course - go it alone and create some kind of application all their own? As an Internet oldster who actually remembers Apple's eWorld service, it will as always be interesting to see what Steve & Co. has in mind.

Get a First Life

Face it, we all need to from time to time

Is Second Life worth saving?

Evidently, while we in Digital Worlds have been busy with our final projects, trouble has been brewing in Second Life.

Does anyone remember a few weeks ago when we logged in to Second Life and were greeted with a new Terms of Service (ToS) to agree to? Turns out that Linden Lab had altered their ToS to become more restrictive as to how others use their copyrighted material (their logo, icons, etc.). You can read what were some of the changes here, as well what are some of their legal ramifications.

To make a long story short, Linden Lab has decided to restrict any kind of usage of their copyrighted material to only that usage which they find VERY favorable. Since it's not possible to enforce this kind of preferential usage of copyrighted material through trademark and copyright law, Linden has taken the audacious step of circumventing copyright law by making these restrictions on their copyright as part of their contract with the user (the ToS).

Now, most of the users out there in Second Life (myself included) are not really affected by this. However, there are some who are irate as to the situation and have gone to strike the use of Second Life (don't worry, the strike's over by now).

In light of all of the other problems that have been plaguing Second Life, from banks running away with people's money to companies leaving Second Life for greener pastures, pissing off your core audience is not something that Linden Lab wants to do. After all, these people give you, in essence, free publicity by blogging about their second lives. The last thing Linden Lab needs is more bad publicity.

As such, a question needs to be asked that I think we all should answer: Is Second Life worth saving?

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe there is a bright future in virtual environments and I think that they will become more interconnected with our lives. But, will it be in the form of Second Life? Why should it be?

Second Life is limited environment for programmers to work with. For example, from my experience in this course, programming in Linden Script has been a challenge, to say the least. Not because Linden Script is hard to understand. But rather, it is very limited in what one can "officially" achieve in Linden Script. And unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to expand on the language, as it is still closed-source. Add to this Linden's willingness to take advantage of the open-source community, at the cost of providing almost no feedback this community politely asks for it, as well as their other recent problems and I start thinking that something's rotten in the state of Linden. Maybe those companies are seeing the beginning of the end and have decided to abandon ship.

Or maybe not. Maybe the recent change in the ToS was really necessary due to the amount of increased competition Second Life's been getting from other open-source virtual environments. And maybe they'll finally finish their Mono upgrade of Linden Script and then become fully open-source. And maybe Linden Lab will create new ways to appear lucrative and companies will flock once more to Second Life where they'll live happily ever after.

It seems the time is coming when Linden Lab, and us as users of Second Life, must decide whether we want Second Life to grow and expand, or not. Regardless of the outcome, I think Second Life has shown how Linden Lab has been a pioneer in brining virtual environment to the masses, and that there is a future in virtual environments. Let's just hope that they're not another Netscape.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yet Another Bashing

"SECOND LIFE, April 11 (Reuters) - The fledgling virtual agencies and service companies who made it big during the boom years of Second Life are looking toward greener pastures, weary of unmet promises from Linden Lab and drawn by competing virtual worlds."

Read the full story here

On the bright side I have learned that LL have started unit testing as can be seen in the image below obtained from SL Watch. [FINALLY]

Announcement of Interest

I was reading through some SL announcements the other day and noticed this announcement from Global Kids, a major player on the Teen SL grid. I thought that some of our groups might be interested in submitting something to them for them to use on the Teen grid. One of the advantages of this is that it would give your research access to an under 18 audience in VW, something that MUVE research has been lacking in. Well, here's the announcment:

As you are well aware, educators around the world are increasingly using 3D, persistent virtual environments as pedagogical tools in areas as diverse as science, art and civic engagement. However, there is as of yet no community of practice for practitioners across disciplines and platforms. Global Kids is excited to announce new efforts to create such a community and to invite your participation to support RezEd: The Hub for Learning and Virtual Worlds.

With generous support from the MacArthur Foundation, RezEd will be an online community for educators, parents, librarians and more to get informed, connected, and inspired. While leveraging an array of participatory and social media tools, the initial focus upon launch will be on:
· Best Practices from the field
· Thematic, guest-moderated weekly discussions
· A regular, twice-a-month podcast series
· A rich library collecting and contextualizing the best
research and support material from the field.

One component of RezEd is to make accessible and practical the type of work being done by many members of this growing community and connect it with practitioners in the field to inform their work.

As an organization with great interest in the development of this emerging community, it is with great enthusiasm that Global Kids invites you to submit a best practice piece on your respective programs and methodology. The best practice form that we have created is short, but designed to ask you to explore the experience that you've had that has proven to reliably lead to a desired result in
your work.

The Best Practice submission process is comprised of an Online Best Practice Form that you can fill out at your earliest convenience. If your best practice is accepted, Global Kids will notify you as to when you can expect your piece to be published on the site.

Lastly, any feedback is welcomed as we develop the initial offerings for RezEd Beta and move towards an official launch in May of 2008. Please feel free to pass this on to colleagues and wider networks where this may be of interest.

Many thanks.


Amira Fouad
Program Manager
Online Leadership Program
Global Kids, Inc.
137 East 25th Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10010
tel: 212.226.0130 x 114

Friday, April 18, 2008

First LIfe, Second Life, Third Life????

OMG, you guys have to see this. We've talked so much about SL being so much like RL with people having jobs, etc. Well, this is what to do when you're SL just isn't enough for you, or your SL gets to be too stressful. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baby Step Digital Design for theatre and dance

Tomorrow evening in the REVE from 7pm to 9pm Digital Design students from the School of Theatre and Dance will be presenting research regarding teledramatics, SecondLife virtual venue, polycom video conferencing and pidip and pdp, motion control DMX and remote Internet2 performance

Come check it out!!!

clip from The Office

I found a clip of what inspired me to take this class. The entire episode is worth watching if you can find it

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Black Holes in Cyberspace

Researchers at the University of Washington area looking into the existence of black holes in cyberspace. They suggest that information is disappearing into a black hole when a browser doesn't go to the intended website. Most people dismiss it as a wireless or some other glitch when in reality, the information is getting lost in a "black hole".

So, are there black holes in SL?

Social behavior in virtual environments

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was discussing the "surprising power of synthetic identity." (WEEKEND JOURNAL; Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?
Alexandra Alter. Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Aug 10, 2007. p. W.1 - link: Some interesting statistics reported in the article: 40% of men and 53% of women who play online games said their virtual friends were equal to or better than their rl friends... and 25% of the 30,000 surveyed said the emotional highlight of their past week occurred in the virtual realm. The link to the Stanford study should be attached. I find this fascinating and curious. Is it bad, good, neither, or both? Thoughts?

Church on SL

I saw this before I started the class, but forgot about it until now. If you can't attend church for what ever reason, including being too lazy to leave your house, just log on to ( There seem to be many efforts to provide ease of access when it comes to attending church. I found two 2-D versions, but seems to be the most developed. With a click to the title you will be taken to a video of SL site of (

What do people who normally attend church think of this? Would you attend church virtually? What are the opinions of those who do not attend church on a regular basis?

Interesting Summer B class

There's an upcoming summer B class that I think will be interesting to everyone in this class: it is an interdisciplinary course on online social networks (ie Facebook, MySpace) and related kin (Twitter, etc.) offered out of the College of Jou. & Comm. (OK, I admit I might be biased because I am teaching it, but *I* think it will be interesting. :)

Here's a basic pitch - please see me in class, send me an email, or message me in SL for details.


There are more than 68 million users of Facebook in the United States, and the majority of those users log in at least once a day. You probably know someone who is 'addicted' to Facebook or MySpace, or that person might be you. You might use "social media" tools a lot every day... but how much do you really think about them? Have you thought about the following questions:

-- how are social media tools changing my relationships?
-- how are social media tools changing the way we communicate?
-- what does it mean to say I have a "digital identity" and how do I "relate to it" and "manage it"?
-- how will social media tools affect my career?
-- are these technologies making my life better or worse?

If you're going to be on campus in the Summer B semester and are looking for an interesting summer course, there's a new undergraduate course that will explore these questions.

JOU 4930 (section 4919 - the section number is important) will meet Monday - Friday from 11am - 12:15pm in Weimer Hall 1076. There are no prerequisites. A good portion of the class work will be done online at different social media websites - class time will be primarily discussion and exploration of different resources related to the class.

Students can email me at: with questions - I have a preliminary syllabus available. A Facebook page devoted to the class also has been set up.


Monday, April 14, 2008

going green

This may be a little out of context I just wanted to share with you all some of the key focus of industry folks around the world. I recently got back from the International Advertising Association World Congress that was help in Washington DC this year. The central theme of most advertising professional seems to revolve around being truly green as opposed to just riding the wave. E-Platforms help in a lot of way for educational institutions to really promote this cause but at the same time when auditing some of the process that we do officially or personally if each one of us audit ourselves we may do a lot better. So before you print a piece of paper next time for class re-think...

life like avatars

The stage seems to be slowly forming for life like avatars. Visit 0ddcast site they are adding a face and personality to their avatars. They aim at personalizing websites by adding personality to it so it would speak to the targeted audiences. The future is now slowly opening up to add personalities and emotions to avatars as well. Just wanted to share this new development.

Real Life Shopping

I have begun to realize more and more that poeple actually enjoy shopping for things on SL, including clothing, furniture, cars, etc. I think that this could be a great business channel for actual malls and shops that exist in cities around the world. I imagine alot of people who don't have the money or other means to visit somewhere like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills would love to be able to walk down a replica in SL that delivers the same ambiance. Users would be able to enjoy the glitz and glamor of such places without even being there.

I also think that retailers would be able to set up a system where users could be in the store, click on the item and buy the real thing on that company's website. Or users could just by the SL version for a much cheaper price. If users chose the real life version they would just be directed to the website and could customize there purchase. There are endless possibilities and locations to be exposed from all over the world. I am not much of a shopper but I know that there are plenty of people out there who are and I think that there could be a good business model out there to expose this.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Competing Virtual Worlds

I came across an article speaking about Nickelodeon and their plans to increase work on their own virtual world. Nickelodeon is expected to announce Thursday that it is developing an entire virtual world, involving games, avatars and a strong social-networking component, based on network hit “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
Nick also is expected to announce that it is developing Monkey World, a social-networking and massive multiplayer game based on an original concept and not tied to any of its existing franchises.

The company is becoming increasingly competitive with Disney, which already has ToonTown and recently acquired Club Penguin. Virtual worlds such as these are targeting young children, but do frequently charge subscription fees.

Although these worlds target a younger crowd than that of Second Life, it could pose problems if SL intends to grow and starts a "Children's Second Life."

UF Graduate Student Council 2008 Research Forum

To our Class:

I just was notified Saturday that I was accepted as a Poster Presenter for the Graduate Student Council Research Forum happening this Monday, April 14 at the Rietz Union.

Between 10:30 and noon I will be displaying photos, summary documents, and logged into SL on my laptop showing how Group 6 is Bringing (Criminal) Justice to Second Life.

Drop by if you get a chance, I'll give a report on how the Forum went when I get the opportunity.


Nicholaz “The Mad Patcher” Beresford's Moment of Truth

"At the moment I simply don't have the time, but to be true to myself and you, probably even if I had, I'd be no longer willing to put up with Bullshit™ any more." Says Nicholaz one of the leading Second Life open source viewer developers. Read Nicholaz' blog here

I have read on this blog and others about people's complains about the recent hours long outages, viewer crashes, and several other technical concerns, and I strongly believed that LLs move to open source the viewer and later on the grids was a smart move in the right direction to remedy those problems. [have a look at "How Many Eyeballs Tame Complexity" from The Cathedral and the Bazaar]

However, a key component in open source development is the transparent communications between the core developers and the community around the project. Ignoring developers submission hardly qualifies as a good open source practice.

If examples were a teacher LL should have a look at how successful open source companies handle their communities. Like Red Hat, Sun Microsystems, Mozilla, IBM ... and the list goes on.

Finally, Linden Labs might have laid the ground for a successful bazaar mode project -A precondition for bazaar mode development- however, they should invest in the effort the community invests in them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paper on Wii interface for SL

As I was searching the web today for other reference material, I came across a scholarly paper about the use of a wii interface with SL. Although the subject has been talked about before on the blog, I don't believe an actual scholarly article has been cited. It is now on the resources page for your benefit!

Resources page

Virtual Marketing

In working with one of my faculty members (he wants to discuss Second Life marketing in his economics course next week), I ran across a few links to share:


It seems that more and more people are exploring the same topics that we are researching. It will be interesting to look back five or ten years from now at this time and see how much we have (or have not - ie the flying cars envisioned 20 years ago) accomplished.


Arctic Region SuperComputing Project

I thought you might be interested in this project going on at the ARSC (Arctic Region SuperComputing Center). The idea of creating a three dimensional, virtual reality drawing program using body language or gesture recognition seems to me filled with potential for future interface applications for MUVE's. At the very least it would provide a much better way to create avatars and structures in MUVE's.

Enjoy! And be sure to check out the other projects they are working on there. It may be cold up there, but they sure are working on some hot stuff.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daily Show pokes fun at SL/Congress use of SL

Additionally, here is an article about it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Scripters and Builders on Second Life

Last week, I was close to an equivalent of a panic attack. The deadline was approaching fast, and we still don’t have a structure: what am I going to do?

The first thing I did was talk to Arturo and Dennis about the situation, and they talked to me about the fact that there are builders and scripters all over Second Life looking seeking some tasks to fulfill—some of them do it out of joy and others think of it as a job and as a source of financial gains.

Well I looked round, and it was hard locating people at first. Then I realized the best way to search for builders is searching through the classified ads. I contacted about 10 people last week, and I finally contracted with a lady who owns a building company and a guy who like scripting.

The most difficult part of this process is that it is time consuming. It took a lot of time to first find these people, try to explain to them what exactly our group is looking for and finally negotiate a price. There was also the issue of trust. You don’t really know these people, and you don’t know their level of skill, so you have try to figure it out through your conversations with them. I hired a person who said he was capable of doing our building—which is a really complicated building—but I soon found out that he doesn’t have the right skills to fulfill this job. I asked the person if he can do the scripting and I found an experienced builder who is currently doing a beautiful job creating our structure—you can teleport to our space using the blue teleport right across the Fine Arts building.

All I want to say is that if any of you are having trouble with scripting and building, you can find people who can do the job for you before the deadline. Just be patient, careful and have your Lindens ready.

Good luck all, and I hope you guys check our building and give us your opinions on it.


I have been progressively more vocal about Second Life's scripting language inadequacies. While the syntax is simple enough it lacks the ability to be versatile, it in my opinion doesn't measure up to the creative people doing projects and programming in Second Life.

While I am sure the LSL is "Turing Complete" it is slow and lacks a lot of feature available in languages such as python, java, ruby..etc. Moreover, LSL lacks the libraries and the huge communities developing those libraries and other applications. However this is about to change. Linden Lab has started moving to Mono a C# like language. This move could very much be the deciding factor for the future of Second Life and Linden Labs.

Less important in my opinion is the fact that mono scripts run 220 times faster than their LSL2 counterpart. Yet a welcomed addition

Mono, will allow developers to program more flawlessly, focusing on content rather than spending time struggling with LSL.

[book] Platform Second Life

Whether Second Life will be the platform of the future or not is not the issue here. It is that people are starting to see the role that virtual environments can play in providing real life applications by being the delivery platform.

Havok Engine Released for Free

Havok Engine has been provided for free in non-commercial PC applications

Havok Engine is the engine that powers Second Life, Half-life, CoH, Starcraft and quite a few other big names.

Purchasing Property through SL

As I prepare to graduate and move on to a career, I am faced with issues such as searching for a condo/apartment to move to. It has been a tedious process and I can't seem to get over the feel that I am going to make a bad decision. The problem with this is that I am looking at pictures and reading about properties online, but I am unable to get a feel for what I am actually getting.

Second Life could be a possible avenue for improving this process. If property owners or management groups built models of their properties on the market, potential buyers would be able to tour them in second life. They could be built so that the dimensions are similar to that in real life, and everything within the house is the same. If this process was developed, I believe it would become very popular and potentially change the way people shop for homes forever. This could also be done to sell commercial properties, vehicles, or anything else that adding dimensions to could improve.

The Last Lecture: A Must See

I don't know if you've already seen the Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch, or took the cue from our speaker last week, but it is a must see! One thing that I took from it was the idea of a head fake.

Many students, including myself, have referred to school as boring. What Randy has termed a 'head fake' has the potential to erase boring from someones vocabulary when talking about education. This puts the student in an environment that (s)he enjoys and teaches him/her something they would normally not enjoy learning by tricking them. 'One' of examples Randy gives is about the Alice program he's working on. In the program the user thinks (s)he making a movies and video games, when they are actually learning computer programming. I think this is something that is greatly lacking in the educational institutions I have attended, especially the higher I've gone. I remember having to do pages of math homework in middle and high school AND hating it. I remember playing a game in my elementary days that emphasized math skills on a computer AND loving it.

The student doesn't even need to be tricked into doing something, it only needs to be fun to increase the chance the student might actually take something from a lesson.

This is only ONE of the many things that I took from and enjoyed about Randy's speech. I highly recommend watching it, just give the title of this post a click, sit back, relax, and watch it.

Observations and recommendations

Thanks to those of you who attended the Team3/Gator Quest event in the Swamp on Thursday. The virtual Gods were smiling on us and all the technology came together for the presentation so the folks in the real world were able to see the virtual world, and the virtual audience was in fact able to see both the SL presentation and the live webstream from Weimer Hall. Along the way, we learned a few things I thought might be worth sharing right away.

Regarding audio and video, in order to see and hear multi-media effectively, you should load the newest version of SL AND the newest version of QuickTime. THEN, spend a few moments learning how to use the new navigation bar at the bottom of the screen. You can turn on/off the music, turn on/off the multi-media, and adjust ambient sounds, etc. with the volume controls. If, for example, as was the case on Thursday, the audio/visual came from the streaming media. SO, the master volume should be turned up, music and ambient sounds turned off, and the media button turned on. And viola! Sound and video in real time. We got quite a few IMs with people having difficulty initially, but I believe, in the end, everyone was able to see and hear effectively. Hope this is helpful in some way.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alternate Reality Gaming

For those of you interested in alternate reality games and viral marketing like the Batman movie promotion that Keith wrote about, check out  This is an ARG promoting the Summer 2008 Olympics.  If you're not sure how to get started, I suggest checking out this link to get caught up-  

On the website, you will meet the character, Ariadne, who has amnesia and cannot remember her real name.  She woke up in a maze in the middle of nowhere.  After posting her story on the internet, she discovered there are others like herself.  They all woke up in mazes around the world, can't remember who they are, and are in peak athletic condition.  Help Ariadne and the others make sense of what happened to them and find out why!  Discover "the lost game" of the Olympics!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Logins disabled until further notice

Is it me, or has SL been overrun with technical problems lately?

I really like this application, but this company needs to get their shizzle together.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Congress in Second Life

Back at the end of Jan. someone had posted about Congress in Second Life...
Well, on April 1st another session was held.
Definately read and look at the pictures.

Multi-touch interface design

What do you guys think of this idea by Jeff Han? What applications can you imagine for this kind of interface for Multi-user Virtual Environments? Other applications?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who's Joining Me?

So reading through my blogs this morning I was pleasantly surprised that I had quite a few virtual worlds articles.

My favorite (and the one that the title of the post refers to) is Nickelodeon is developing a Spongebob Squarepants Virtual World.

Also interesting is that Paramount is using (another virtual world... Anyone have experience with this one?) to by allowing avatars to place mini clips over their heads.

What really gets me about the Paramount article is how amazing viral marketing has become online. I'm not an advertising or marketing major and really know little about it, but holy cow this business is booming especially with websites like those created for the new Batman movie.

Tuesday's Speaker

I thought it would be important to write about my thoughts on what I thought was the best speaker we have had thus far. The presenter showcased some serious grasp for getting his feelings across to students. It would be nearly impossible not to pay attention to what he had to say even if the subject matter wasn't interesting, but in this case it was. He brought up a lot of points that you tend to take for granted in today's age of computers and technology. Just the simple idea of multitasking on AIM, its something I have been using since middle school and have never even thought about it as being multitasking. The program they have at carnegie mellon appears to be one of the best in the country and I think our program is on the right track.

Thank you for all those involved in bringing our speaker in for last class.


Just a reminder... Dean John Wright in the Swamp this afternoon

Hello fellow avatars,
Just a reminder that the Team 3 Gator Quest presentation by College of Journalism and Communications Dean John Wright is THIS afternoon. I have sent invitations to everyone to join our group so you may enter our parcel. I will also send a notecard reminder (if you haven't already recieved it) with a few details. In case you DON'T get it...

First, please go to the Welcome Center area in the SE corner of the Swamp. There you will be able to pick up and wear the HUD. Gaelle will be there to answer any questions you may have. Please arrive no later than 4:45 so we're ready to start by 5:00.

Second, please make sure you set the World Sun to noon... you'll get a much better view.

Third, if you have any trouble hearing, once the Dean has begun, you may need to move closer to front/center. Make sure you've turned down your ambient sounds, turn off your music, and turn ON the streaming video. You'll need it to hear and see the screens.

Finally, we will have a few questions that Brandog will be asking in IM prior to the Dean's comments that you will need to answer in the HUD. He will provide instructions. Once the Dean begins, we ask that you use the HUD to measure your response to his comments and the content. These will only be seen by you so will not be distracting on the screen. We ask that you save discussion in IM (or voice) for the post-speech discussion upstairs afterward. The Dean will only speak for 15-20 minutes, then you can head up to the teleports back up at the Welcome Center where Unknownhero2 Darwin will guide you to the Skybox.

Thanks to those of you who can join us! See you in the Swamp this afternoon.

Donna D, on behalf of Team 3

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Virtual Reality and the Treatement of Paranoia

Research at the Department of Computer Sciences, University College London used virtual reality to measure the spread of paranoia and paranoid thoughts among people in general casual circumstances.

You can find the original article here
As the article points out "The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, will be detailed in the April 1 issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry."

Team 3 Event TOMORROW (April 3rd)

Please join us on our SL Gator Quest to better understand engagement and interactivity in Second Life as we host Dr. John Wright, Dean of the College of Journalism and Communications in the Swamp Amphitheatre, Thursday, April 3, at 5:00 PM (2:00 PM SLT). As the new dean, Dr. Wright will be presenting his vision of the future of new media and digital technologies in the College. Dr. Wright will be giving this presentation in RL as part of his "State of the College" address at the spring meeting of the Public Relations Advisory Council in Weimer Hall while we simulcast it to a SL audience at the amphitheatre. His presentation will be in voice, so please make sure you have your voice activated. We've also learned that it's best to sit closer to the stage for best sound quality.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in our study of engagement and interactivity through your active response to the HUDs that we ask that you attach at the event. Only YOU will see the HUD and your responses are completely confidential (no ID attached at all). Complete HUD directions are at the Welcome Center sign announcing the event. If you could plan on getting there at at 4:45, to make sure you have the HUD attached, find a seat, and we'll have a brief discussion/Q&A prior to the dean's comments. His presentation will be brief... approximately 15-20 minutes. We also invite you to join us for a chat in our “Sky Box Amphitheatre” after the presentation for feedback and a general discussion of your interactive experiences in SL. You can get upstairs by using the teleports at the amphitheatre Welcome Center. While your HUD data is confidential, public chat at the entire event will be logged and used for our final analysis.

Finally, if you have friends that you believe would have an interest in joining us on Thursday, please have them provide me their avatar's name via email ( I can offer them permission to enter our parcel for the event.

Hope to see you in the Swamp on Thursday!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Politics in World

I have heard of many occasions where people have used second life as a way to voice their opinions about certain subjects. I often wonder if second life could be a good venue for political opinion. With election day quickly approaching I would imagine that many people have been using Second Life as a resource for political science topics. I feel unfortunately however that the majority of what would be found on SL is a liberal opinion on politics, however I have no proof of this. Does anyone have an opinion on that statement?

I would hope that we could at least find a fair opinion on both sides of the political spectrum. I plan to investigate this topic further this week. I thought it might be a good idea to set up my own island with my own political opinions on it. I will keep everyone updated on its progress. All opinions or help is always welcome.


Random Thoughts

Warning: This is more of a rambling of thoughts that I've had, and yes some things relate to SL, others not so much..

So, I sit here, on my computer with the understanding that we have about a month left this semester. And I thought about how when I first came into this class how excited I was. How I wanted to be in here, 1) Because people I knew just raved about SL and I had yet to be given an excuse to download it 2) I have had various expierences with virtual worlds, and was very interested in what made this one different. I came in to this class, not only wanting to widen my horizons, meet people from various degree backgrounds, but also have the ability to express myself.
And unfortunately I found myself in a very difficult place. Now understand, I still classify myself as being a young individual. And I think most would agree. I look around the room, and most of the people I sit with are not freshman in college. Even though people here are considered my peers, I do not feel like I am their peer intellectually. And many times this has stopped me from commenting in the class during discussion, and many times from posting or commenting on the blog as well.
And I regret that. I regret not taking the opportunity to step up and converse with those around me.

After such thoughts, I actually began to think about my interaction within SL. In terms of interacting with those that I might see in class, well, it seems as if I tried to avoid such things. As to other places in SL, I find it easy to start up a conversation with random people I meet, and I seem to have no problem with leading a conversation. And in real life, in any circumstance but our classroom, I seem to have no problems doing either of these things!
It just seems as for sharing, talking, and communicating within the class and on the blog, well I think feeling meek and shy may be an understatement.

And maybe all this has something to do with not really knowing as much as those around me. Or at least me feeling as if I don't know as much. Or maybe that sometimes I think that I really don't have much to say that would add value to the conversation.

I check the blog on a regular basis, and I think well, it would be nice just to post, post about thoughts, random as they be, some dealing with SL, others about news in technology and the world.

Hmmm. Well. I think that is enough rambling for now.
Hopefully later I'll get to post my machinama!!

a few thoughts on non-seq learning

I am sorry I am late in posting my thoughts about this reading. Here are few on my thoughts on the article by LaChapelle.

Designing non-sequential learning – Some time ago I had an opportunity to talk to Dr. Ulmer who was working along these lines on the web environment. He would be a great speaker to have for our class for one of the sessions. Thinking along these lines SL is an environment that defies RL principles in many ways, in other words this is a place where one can let their fantasies run wild. So under those circumstances defining rules of operations could negate the exploratory nature this environment presents. At the same time not having such would lead to chaos. I personally feel a guided approach in learning environments in SL will be a better alternative as opposed to defined rules. I am sure all of us have experience bots in IM’s a more functional BOT that could serve as a peer or a guide in SL will ad some positive experience.


Second Life being used for educational purposes is nothing new, but it is always interesting to see this get such publicity. I imagine that picking up English as a Second Language in Second Life can be a cheap, no pressure way of boosting one's vocabulary. One of the people interviewed talks about how they dressed up in pirate gear and taught ESL students new words in practical use like "loot" and "booty". They also loaded up particular scenes like restaurants and had ESL students practice ordering food, a very useful exercise.

Monday, March 31, 2008

World Bank: Doing Business in SL

This is the most 'professional' thing I've seen or heard on SL.

3D Library Visit: Using Second Life To Research Everyday Problems

I found this article that may be of interest to the Library Group, and also to any of our class looking at business education applications. European college students are also having classes with SL elements.

The computer science students in the article treated the library checkout process to a systems analysis for using RFID to track and control the collection at an SL version of a conventional library.

The article closes by making connections between that class and the potential for teaching other logistics and supply chain management courses that can benefit from simulations.


Speaker this week

Here's the bio on the speaker this week. She will be speaking about issues of law in Second Life:

Ida M. Jones is currently a Professor in the Craig School of Business at CSU Fresno. In 2006, Professor Jones received the Provost’s Technology in Education Award, awarded by the Provost at California State University, Fresno. Ida earned her J.D. from New York University and is a member of the California and New York Bars. She has been teaching in Fresno since 1987 and teaches a variety of business law courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Professor Jones has authored/coauthored instructor's manuals for business law textbooks, prepared internet exercises for textbook publishers and published articles in a variety of journals, including the Journal of Legal Studies Education. In 2004 and 2005, Professor Jones received distinguished paper awards for presentations made at international conferences.

In 2004, Professor Jones successfully completed the coursework for the Certificate in Online Learning from UCLA. That program is an intensive program designed to prepare instructors for the rigors of teaching online. Ida serves as a campus Teaching, Learning and Technology Fellow. In addition, in her role as Digital Campus Fellow to the University from the Craig School of Business Ida provides assistance to faculty in the university and the school who want to deliver online courses. Professor Jones was the first recipient of the Verna Mae Brooks and Wayne D. Brooks Professorship in Business Law from 1996-1999. In addition to research, Professor Jones presents seminars to local businesses on a variety of employment law and ethics related topics.

Autism in Second Life

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Linden CEO?

I came across an article stating that Linden Labs is searching for a new CEO, as their current founder and CEO Philip Rosedale is stepping down. What I found interesting is that Mr. Rosedale is leading the search for a new chief executive, and will be assuming the position of chairman of Linden's board once a replacement is found. He has also stated that he will continue to be involved with the company and would like the new CEO to have complementary skills to his so that they may work well together.

From what I gathered, Mr. Rosedale is looking for someone from outside the company to bring in a new perspective. He said the most important criteria is to find someone who has had experience growing a small company into a global player. Linden is facing increasing competition and has struggled achieving the growth and retention than was hoped. Rosedale also said the new CEO should be passionate user of Second Life and "a great coach" who will work well with Linden's staff (Arturo, perhaps?).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Invitation to attend event April 3rd

As most of you are already aware, our team (3- Measuring engagement and interactity in virtual academic presentations) will be hosting a live event next Thursday, April 3rd, at 5pm EST at our venue in the Swamp. However, we ask that you join us no later than 4:45 in order to get settled in and to explain how to use the HUDs we'll be using to collect data.

The event will feature a 15-minute presentation from the new Dean of the College of Journalism and Communications on his vision for the college and on proposed directions in new media technologies. He will be presenting in RL to the college's PR Advisory Council spring meeting with a simulcast in SL to us. Please join us if you can. I will have more information and details in class on Tuesday.

Team 3

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

MUVEs in K-12 Education

I came in a little late to class today because I got tied up at work (school), but I wanted to weigh in on the education discussion.

If the Alvarez article proves anything, it is that there is very little known, and very little being done with Virtual Worlds in K-12 education. In fact, I’m pretty sure this is the only thing this article says convincingly. In my opinion MUVEs do have the ability to provide educational benefits in K-12, but it is extremely difficult to take advantage of them in their current state.

The logistical issues if using MUVEs in K1-2 are unfortunate, unavoidable, and nearly impossible to overcome. We have discussed at length how difficult it is to establish a K-12 presence in teen second life, and even if you do you can’t control where students go and what they do elsewhere in teen second life. To be a plausible option, I think you would have to go with Active Worlds, or some other secure MUVE where you could control who had access and who didn’t, and where else they can go. It’s easy to say that this isn’t an issue, but if you work in a position where you are responsible for what students do and don’t do online you realize the importance of control.

You could theoretically create excellent virtual learning environments if you had time. Most teachers, even if interested, do not have the time to learn how to create objects and setup a virtual world, let alone scripting to create any meaningful interaction with the environment. The current state of things is that teachers would need to team up with developers, or get paid over their summers to have any sort of a hope of developing an original, effective virtual world experience. Yes, students could log into a virtual world and interact, but without a meaningful environment developed around them, it really does become a glorified chat. Premade virtual environments (like islands in SL, or existing games) are options, but they are few and of varying quality right now.

Another major roadblock is pedagogical. While we know that role playing / experiential learning / social constructivism etc. are effective learning tools very few people have started working out how to apply these in practical ways to MUVEs. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t or can’t, but there is a lot more pioneering to be done before we can say with any surety that MUVEs are effective.

There are administrative / security issues, but I see those as outgrowths of the pedagogical issues. If you can show an administrator that a method is effective, that it can cover the standards required, and that it can motivate and engage students, then these issues become much easier to over come.

My primary reason for taking this class was to explore whether bringing a MUVE to classes at our school would be a plausible option. At this point I can say that SL and TSL are definitely not good options for K-12 education. I see other virtual worlds as a reasonable option with good educational possibilities, but again the time investment that it would take to create world, add meaningful structures for learning, and deploy it would require funding above what most schools could afford.

With this said, I think there are some real, concrete ways that teachers can start using MUVEs in their classrooms with relatively small amount of effort.

1) Use a SL account to demonstrate a trip to an educational location in Second Life. For example, the teacher could visit the Abyss ( and lead the class in an exploration of the area without needing everyone to have accounts. Yes, it would be better if each student could explore individually, but this method could serve as a starting point.

2) Use existing role playing video games as a demonstration in the class to lead discussions on decision making, ethics, etc. I don’t have access to the article anymore, but there was an article on a teacher who used Neverwinter Nights for this in a secondary class with one computer and a projector with much success (

3) Use elements of game design in lesson design. If you can’t use actual games or MUVEs in the classroom, you can at least recognize those features of the games that provide motivation and effective teaching. For example, problem solving, scaffolding, mystery, narrative etc.

4) Use existing educational games in the classroom. Drill and Skill is fine when used in the proper context for appropriate purposes, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The Algebra game DimensionM that I posted before is a good option. Some teachers have use Civilization in their history classes. There are few games that fall into this category, but I think there will be more in the near future.

In summary, I think MUVEs provide the opportunity to effectively teach secondary students, but in their current form they are not a practical option for most schools.