Thursday, February 28, 2008

Limitations of Second Life

As part of our (group 6's) project about crime scene investigation education in SL, I am researching some fundamental limitations of SL which could inhibit progress in VW education.
Specifically I am interested in technical details such as how small an object can be and how detailed can objects be? For example, often in crime scene investigation, the CSI looks for hairs, fingerprints, and other types of trace evidence. It does not seem feasible to incorporate these directly into an SL crime scene.

While searching the web for relevant information I came across a video discussing some other issues with SL education. Have a look
She makes a bold statement at the end which I don't necessarily agree with:
"Even if the technical problems are resolved, there is nothing to be gained by replacing lectures or discussions in a classroom on a campus when all students live within driving distance with those types of sessions in Second Life."

So in addition to limitations, what new abilities does SL bring to the table?

Grade breakdown

Some have asked for me to post the grade breakdown I had up on the screen on Tuesday, so here it is:



Blog Participation


Face-to-Face Participation




Final Project


Final Presentation




A few more notes:
  • Blog and face to face participation is not graded only on quantity, but also quality of participation. So if all you do is post 3 word postings to the blog, that won't be sufficient. The goal here is to post (and ask/comment) challenging and reflective, as well as informative remarks.
  • Please remember that blog and face to face interaction is crucial to the knowledge management of the course. In essence, our knowledge is being harvested so we and others will benefit in the future.
  • The proposal, final project, and final presentation will contain team grades that are altered by an individual participation percentage. At the end of the semester each team member will take a short survey that focuses on the work of each of their teammates. The surveys for each individual will be compiled and added to the instructors' evaluation of that individual's contribution. The resulting percentage will be multiplied by the total for those assignments.
    • For example, if Johnny gets a .96 on his surveys, then his final project grade will be the overall team grade multiplied by .96.
    • This method will account for individual and group efforts.
if you have any other questions, please feel free to email Arturo or myself.

To change the world

That is a tall order, but it is related as with most everything to the power of numbers. Or if you wish to the empowerment of the user at either end of the link.

This is a very interesting "social network" concept that might have a big real life influence in a very positive way:

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Buidling Update

When I first began buidling in world, it seemed extremely difficult because there were so many ways to manipulate objects/prims. So at first I just started finding free objects and using them for my CSI scene on the Swamp. I quickly found that there was very little customization that could be done using that system. After recieving some help from classmates, online resources, and in world avatars, I quickly learned that buidling wasn't so bad. Especially the fact that you can copy objects you have already made makes it much easier. My one complaint however is the maximum size you can make objects, does anyone know why they put a limitation on this??? I am still having a little trouble piecing objects together to make larger objects with seamless pieces and without overlap. I imagine once I get better at that, I will be on my way to building better and more efficiently.

Internet time vs family time

As we have discussed the challenges of finding balance between the real world and virtual worlds, I thought this was an interesting op/ed from Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California and author of "The Disposable Male." I think he sums it up pretty well... that while "ominous clouds loom," he also says, "there's hope, because families are wondrously varied and resilient. Over the years they have managed to survive many technological innovations and potential intrusions." He also gives several excellent examples of the "good side"... perhaps, we can think of it more as "the Force" vs. "the Dark Side". May the Force be with you...,0,176990.story

Terrorism in SL?

Someone had mentioned violence in second life a few weeks ago and asked the question "How long until terrorism spreads into second life?" I have since been wondering if terrorists could actually accomplish anything by entering into second life, as any damage in the world is not what I consider "real." However, I did not stop to think enough about other effects they could have. I recently came across this articles that talks about how al-Qaida or other groups may use virtual worlds to recruit new members, transfer funds in a way that cannot be traced, and engage in training exercises that may be useful in real life.

The article is very interesting and speaks more about possible ways that our government can monitor this growing problem, whether legally or illegally.


Based on ALICE, an award winning chatterbot.

I think the current stat of all chatterbots (not just SL ones) is just sad. They have no feel whatsoever for the flow of the conversation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Evil Google

This is something a friend sent that I thought everyone might find interesting.

QuickTime Exploit in Second Life

Charlie Miller of Independent Security Evaluators, and Dino Dai Zovi demonstrated an RTSP tunneling exploit in Second Life at the ShmooCon, a computer hacking conference. The demo is an exploit that will steal money from Second Life users.

Link here

The Sims Online Becoming EA-Land (Free)

From Tech Crunch - Click Here for Article

This is an interesting move and I think shows the power of "free". I haven't used the Sims Online, but I would be interested in seeing how this may provide a platfrom for education at lower grade levels. The comments about the economy in the article are interesting as well.

-David Y.

Violence and Learning

I've still got some strong and some ambivelant feelings on violence and games and learning. For those of you that didn't get a chance to get to it last Tuesday, here is Grosman's Killology website:

In contrast to that is Jenkins article that says we need all the games we can get, in order to engage students in 21st century learning, and not deskill and bore them when they get to school. He briefly mentions the digital divide, saying that poor kids with no access are being left behind.

Then I found this article on Jacoby's new book that seems to say that partly due to the information explosion and partly due to American culture, hardly anyone thinks knowledge is important anymore, just opinions matter.

I now thinking everyone needs survival skills in today's world. News media coverage tells me that self defense skills are part of what is needed in this violent world, and some of that could be practiced in a computer environment. The other piece is that research and information evaluation skills will be critical, because you don't need to remember everything when you can easily look it up!


Meta Markets

How will information gatherers and hunters survive in the digital age? Some signs are already apparent. As blogs matured they became a real force in the economy by consolidating opinions , analysis and gossip that sways, shapes and creates public opinion.

Witness Tila Tequila's (The Baddest Bitch in the Block) MySpace site where her profile has been seen a mere 123,875,022 times and you can see how clicks do turn into big bucks. Of course we have known that for a few years already although it has taken the entertainment industry quite a while to catch up, at that.

But there are more interesting things happening which are just (barely) outside of the mainstream and that I expect will become the next big thing (remember you saw it here first!).

Take a look at Meta-Markets for example. Their opening blurb says:

Meta-Markets is an online stock market for trading socially networked creative products such as YouTube videos, Delicious bookmarks, blogs, or social network profiles.
In NYSE or NASDAQ people trade shares of companies. In Meta-Markets people trade shares of bookmarks, profiles, videos, or blogs. Just like companies, socially networked products have ever growing values. When product owners issue their shares in Meta-Markets, they raise capital – today play capital, but tomorrow real capital. With Meta-Markets we aim to help people to retain the value of their immaterial labor in social web services.

Meta-Markets evolved from work done at the Physical Language Workshop in MIT as a research project in online economies and "sustainable life forms". Projects like OPENSTUDIO from PLW is another example of an emerging market community that allows artists, curators, buyers, dealers and viewers to create an economy that "breaks free of the shackles of the tired gallery/patron model representative of the classic schmism between the creative and the lucrative."

Even though today, as Meta-Markets says, you are dealing with "play-money", it will become tomorrow's real capital.
Tulum I, by Arturo Sinclair

And, hey! I just sold my first art work today for a whooping 2β Buraks!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Literature factory

You should probably take some time to check out the literature factory in SL. It is a factory full of robots that are building works of literature! The factory is totally automated. Even the receptionist is a robot named Rosie. They even give you name tags and a hard hat to wear on the factory tour. Theres a tour robot that can tell you about all the different robots in the factory, and even robots who serve tea and biscuits in the waiting area.

Not sure if the literature fits my taste though.

Wine in Florence anyone?

CHI 2008 a Social Data Analysis Workshop is coming up in April of this year, and in Florence of all places! the New Renaissance.

A blurb from their call for papers that might peak your interest reads:

In the last few months a new class of web site has emerged that enables users to upload and collectively analyze many types of data. These systems range from pure research projects to commercial business ventures. Sites like Many Eyes, Swivel and Data360 have attracted visualization fans, data geeks, journalists, scientists, and concerned citizens. The blogosphere has also taken notice, and bloggers frequently post about the ways in which they use these sites, the visualizations they create, and the data they upload.

Take a look at their submission papers.

Academic Institutions in Second Life

The link on the class website to the research article on academic institutions in Second Life used INSEAD as one of its case study samples. If you haven't visited it yet, I highly recommend it. They've truly embraced the idea of classrooms without walls and thinking of creating "infrastructure" that cannot exist in the real world. I know this concept has been a challenge for many teams.

Book Maps

Electrophoretic Display by Phillips

In a recent conversation with Gary I believe, I mentioned the idea that books, that robust and traditional staple of our culture would probably change completely in their transition to Cyberspace.

So far, the attempts to replicate the "user experience" has failed miserably, and for good reason; you cannot shnuckle in bed or go to the loo with your computer and comfortably read a novel without it literally costing you an eye or two and probably constipation.

Nor should you be forced to flip pages in virtual books. And when electronic paper, like the electrophoretic information displays by E-Ink becomes commercially available you won't need to carry a thick bundle of it since basically one page, the size of your choice will suffice to display whatever content from the universal library you might want to access.

I would like to think, like many people do, that books will never go away. But the fact is that books are only good if you read them. And given the different environment in which new generations are born and trained, it is unlikely that bookstores will survive as we know them. Amazon is one example of a "bookstore" that is rapidly becoming a general store and even a social space since that seems to be the fuel that drives the emergent morphing Internet.

So, what can digital technology, the basis of New Media offer that books cannot? Interactivity is a given, but what kind of information would extend the book experience in a novel and useful way? Here are a couple of ideas, not necessarily novel, since nowadays nothing is, but they are based on concepts that have been made possible only with the introduction of the digital information infrastructure.

On of them is the concept of Book Maps that establishes correlations, branches and multiple ways to enjoy, understand or analyze a subject we are reading. The serendipitous element that allows us to encounter that which we don't know we are looking for is often mentioned in defense of libraries and "brick&mortar" bookstores. But precisely this aspect is what would be exponentially enhanced by "mapping" all the relationships and possible connections that the text in question might have, from semantic to poetic interpretations. Any filter or focus could be possible as well as the random aspect that we seem to enjoy so much in our physical searches.

Visual Thesaurus

An example of this approach as applied to language is the Visual Thesaurus
which uses a technology called ThinkMap. Try it on if you haven't and play around with filters such as free association mode or relationships etc. (in settings)

Document Icon

Other intriguing tools by Amber Frid-Jimenez of MIT are Cognitive Machines and Semantic Landscapes. Although at first sight they might seem incomprehensible to someone used to a card system, or even to an online search, I can see how the cybernauts among us would get an instant visual feedback on the "terrain" they are exploring.

Semantic Landscape

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

If you do here are the entire proceedings of a very interesting conference put together by the Club of Rome (a global think tank and centre of innovation and initiative) on Living in Cyberspace: The Construction of Social Capital in Virtual Worlds. link

If not you can always use BabelFish to get the gist of it.

Another thread about digital theft

Seems to be an ever increasing security issue. Will we ever have a worldwide governing body for the internet?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Linden Labs to Open-Source All

Linden Lab's decision to open-source its grid as reported by zdnet here suggests a strong belief in its user generated content. It suggests that it can eliminate competition by the already established user generated qualitative projects, content, and user pace.
In a sense this move reminds me of wikipedia since while it is true that everybody can host a wikipedia like website getting the user pace and the submission rate to match that of wikipedia is hard.
On the other hand, in the past users have been very keen to move from a dominant provider to the other based on the quality of service competitors were providing. For example for a long time Yahoo's search engine was powered by google, and while Yahoo had a large user base the number of people switching to google kept getting higher.
I believe that although it is a bold move by Linden Labs it could very much be the right move. It can create enough hype in the opensource community to generate a flock of experienced developers to improve the quality of the engine/grid while at the same time linden lab can still charge for connecting to their grid with its already established user generated content.

On a technical side note: This should significantly reduce Linden Labs bandwidth requirement as they can distribute the servers all across the world without having to maintain them nor pay for their bandwidth requirements. In a sense Linden Labs will become what a tracker is for bittorrent.

Wiki & More

We have created a pbwiki (just click the title to check it out). It works very nicely for the project template.

I would like to know if anyone has seen TV networks putting their shows on Second Life or any other virtual worlds.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Age-based Appropriateness and Cyberbullying

As our group works to develop an educational product that very well may be suited for secondary students, I can’t help but wonder about the issues of teenagers being online. In one way, it connects students through social networks allowing them to create their own identity, reveal their creativity through designs, videos, and other digital products, and offers a gateway to learning. On the other hand, many dangers lie ahead. From unhealthy habits of spending too much time online rather than out enjoying fresh air, adult content that is readily available, inappropriate contact and approaches by adults, and cyberbullying.

While there are various efforts to protect children online, there are still many ways around for both the children and those trying to find them. I came across an independent film exploring cyberbullying, Adina’s Deck. It’s amazing how easy it is to trash someone online for the world to see. I believe an earlier post here had a link to a college gossip page where people could go on for various reasons probably rarely truthful. When emotions can fuel revenge, jealousy, envy, rage, and a myriad of other feelings, they can also lead to intended and unintended consequences. The teen suicide tragedy in Missouri comes to mind.

In the context of our group project, I envision almost a WOW for science education. My worry is how addictive can it become leading to possible problems. Or, will the education label automatically limit the time a student wishes to spend on the task? My vision also includes designing an educational GAME experience that is captivating and almost subliminally delivers instruction. What I mean is that student become so engaged in the VE that they want to continue exploring while all along, they are inundated and using scientific knowledge to continue advancing. I don’t even know if it is possible, but a thought I often contemplate.

Can we ever fully protect children from the cyberworld? I heard a story about a student researching oral history using a web search engine. I’ll let you imagine what kinds of sites were returned to the horror of the young girl by an innocent search including the word oral.

Who should determine what is appropriate content, types of use, and amount of time spent online for teenagers?

Think before you click

Google's data center, from Harper's magazine, March 2008

This blueprint depicts Google's data center, code named "02 PROJECT" at The Dalles, Oregon.

Google and its nemesis, Microsoft, Yahoo and went there lured by the cheapest electricity in North America. And they need it. They are building gigantic server farms on the banks of the Columbia River.

We tend to think of the internet, the virtual worlds, our email and the "paperless society" as somehow a 'cleaner' option than the legacy of our ancestors. We talk of information and the exchange of ideas, as if these concepts reside on the sphere of intangibles that lead us to a gentler, greener world.

People are slowly realizing that driving their cars and SUV's leave a carbon "footprint" for which we will be hold accountable by generations to come. So we telecommute, we email instead of writing a letter or a note (would we write so much dribble if we had to use pen and ink?) and we search or, using the new verb, we google for information, sometimes for its own sake, the new addiction.

Little do we realize that this new industry is as heavy as they come, and like the article in Harper's 1 mentions: " energy glutton that is only growing hungrier." Currently Google is estimated to have in the order of a million servers. According to the article: "...the servers require a half-watt in cooling for every watt they use in processing". Some simple math will yield in the order of 103 megawatts for the Dalles plant alone. As a curious note, the Northwest Aluminum smelter across the street form the data center once used 85 megawatts before falling under soaring energy costs.

If you examine the blueprint above, you will see that 18,800 sq. ft. are devoted to the "cooling towers". Perhaps it will become fashionable again to wear the Top Hats of the 1920's to celebrate the new Information Chimneys of the New Millenium?

Can you identify the gentleman in the picture?
C'mon, I'll buy pizza for the first to name him!

And the winner is...Takumi! Choose your toppings (**>

While you are at it, look at the building on the upper right corner and you will see a suggestive label: "Transient Employee Dormitory Building". As with all things digital, employees are simply bits and blips in the flow of the new oil. And the "carbon footprint" is not pretty.

The article mentions that in 2006 American data centers "consumed more power than American televisions" and that in all locations currently active or in planning, both in America and Siberia, Shanghai and Dublin where AT&T, Microsoft and Google are heading in search (pun intended) of even cheaper electricity, most of this energy is produced by the burning of fossil fuels. I gives new meaning to the term "cloud computing"

1 The Harper's article "KEYWORD:EVIL, Google's addiction to cheap electricity", which inspired this post, was written by Ginger Strand, author of Inventing Niagara: Beauty, Power and Lies, to be published this spring by Simon & Schuster

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Mixed Realities

I think that this and other examples illustrate quite well a quote I read recently by Richard Purcell (former chief privacy officer at Microsoft) stating that "Technology is way ahead of our ability as a society to think about the consequences"

On a related note (everything is related, I know) an article in the Washington Post about the recent annual Toy Fair in NY, dated February 20, 2008; p.C01 says:

Fact: Kids create more than 100,000 avatars each day in virtual communities such as Habbo and Club Penguin. That startling statistic has broad implications for how kids play and what the $22 billion toy industry wants to sell them to play with.

...For the
(toy) industry, which uses this four-day play date to hawk its current and upcoming products, here's the best-case scenario: Kids won't want to stop playing in their online worlds. With the ever-expanding child obesity problem, that also is the worst-case scenario.

Of course, worst-case scenarios make for some of the best business opportunities (e.g. 9/11). That is why you see and will see more and more, a strong linkage from RL to VR as you already have with toys such as Build-a-Bear which uses the virtual world, where children play a controlled fantasy using an avatar of their toy bear, to model their consumer behavior (and their parent's) therefore bouncing back to RL where the child now sees his/her bear as lacking those things which they so easily get online.

More worrying to me is the fact that those kids forfeit their imaginary role and fantasy playing by succumbing to a pre-canned experience. This might have implications for the development of true free-form creativity in the child. And no matter how emphatically the toy companies insist their "privacy policy" protects your children, the fact is that kids activities online are closely monitored by those same companies, so that while individual privacy might be moderately protected (very weakly I would argue) their group as a whole becomes a very vulnerable and exploited target.

Avatars, Names, Bodies, and More...

I had a chance to glance through Mark Bell's blog for a bit. He has some interesting thoughts on VE and on identity. One statement he makes is that the name a person chooses as a "display name" is important to examine in relation to identity. Bell then states that some people view this as a "throw away" name. (sorry, no exact quotes and my system is too slow for me to go find it right now). We talked briefly about the importance of choosing a name you can live with for SL because it cannot be changed. Does the choice become more identifying when you know you'll be "stuck" with it.

Also, he mentions the choice of Avatar is related to the idealized version of self. Therefore, I wonder if the physical appearence of an avatar is the representation of an idealized version, then is the personality of an avatar also idealized - the way you would want your personality to be? It has interesting implications for griefers, doesn't it?

Brain controls for SL???

I came across this link and thought you should see it. Looks like a brain-interface for SL??? Could this work around the idea of a haptic interface since it interfaces directly with the brain?

here's the link.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Business take on SL

I ran across this business report recently and thought you might be interested. I think it is interesting that the things they were trying to do were very "old school" technology:

"Having a Team Meeting in Second Life

By Tom Werner

As you may know, Brandon Hall Research has been investigating the usefulness of virtual worlds as platforms for learning. To this end, our team recently had a meeting in Second Life. It was an interesting experience. Here are some thoughts.

On the PLUS side:

  • It’s a novel environment and, thus, kind of energizing for the group, like any new setting can be.
  • You can arrange pleasant meeting areas in Second Life, and that seems to have a positive effect (we met “outdoors” in Second Life, on a nice deck area).
  • Once you get set up to show PowerPoint slides in Second Life, you can do it fairly well (although a Web-conferencing tool would be more practical if the object is to show PowerPoint slides).
  • There’s some pleasant sense of experiencing fellow meeting participants as physical representations rather than simply as voices (although how pleasant this is may vary for each individual).
  • There can be entertaining side-activities in Second Life. (Our avatars hopped into a nearby hot tub after the meeting.)

On the DOWN side:

  • The meeting is affected by each member’s ability to navigate (although that’s true with any technology).
  • Practical meeting tools (like pointers) are better in Web-conferencing tools than in Second Life (although various tools are available in Second Life, and this is bound to continually improve).
  • If the meeting is primarily information-sharing and discussion, a killer advantage of Second Life isn’t obvious (although you could conceivably argue the same thing about a conference call versus Web conferencing).
  • It’s debatable how conducive Second Life is for meetings. It’s safe to say that even Second Life enthusiasts would say that a standard meeting doesn’t particularly take advantage of the unique aspects of Second Life (for example, 3-D).

All of this reminds me of word processing on PCs in the 1980s: the advantage of typing a memo in a word processor in 1988 versus on a typewriter wasn’t all that great. It was the potential — that everyone would eventually be a content creator, content storer, content sharer — that was the big thing.

We’ll probably continue to meet in Second Life periodically because (a) the “field trip” aspect is fun for our team and (b) it seems important to “feel” the progress of Second Life, Wii, and similar tools."

Project document template

The newly revised project document template is now available on the class resources page. It includes several questions by Gary and answers by Arturo and myself. Special thanks to Gary for coming up with such excellent questions!

I am looking forward to reading your proposals next week.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I wanted to clarify some of what I said today. The more I thought about my comments on spanking the more worried I became about offending others in the class, particularly the other parents. I have a very different view of parenting than most. My style is related to Attachment Parenting first described by Dr. Sears. This method focuses on fostering a bond with your children early with the ultimate goal of creating an independent adult. The way we APers take to get there has recieved much flack from traditional parenting philosophies. I can't count on my fingers and toes the number of times I've been told I am ruining my son, usually by very good parents in my opinion. I did not allow my son to cry-it-out (meaning they are left to cry alone in thier crib until they learn not to cry at night) to teach him to self soothe and sleep through the night. He did learn to do so, just not at 4-6 months, but at 18-20 months. I held him nearly constantly (don't worry, he's pretty independent and doesn't require coddling). I also discipline by a different method, one that does not use traditional time-outs, or spanking, smacking, or any physical pain. My method of discipline is not easy and takes much effort and time. It also is tailored to my son and what he needs at the time. A lot of focus is given to the root cause of a problem. If my son is acting up, I look for a medical reason (hunger, illness, thirst, discomfort) before assuming behavior. This usually takes about thirty seconds to determine (though occassionally I've missed illness at the start of a cold). If the reason is different from medical, then I move into looking at boredom, opportunity, etc as a potential cause for the behavior. If he is simply bored, then I encourage him to find an activity he can do with the confines of our situation which might be entertaining for him. 90% of the time, this solves all our behavior problems. If the root cause is simply him being defiant, I understand his need at 2 to try and assert his independence. This need occurs in children at toddlerhood and later as a teenager. The difference between the two is that in the teen years, the independence needs to be encouraged as they are nearing adulthood. At 2, my son's independence efforts lead back to the knowledge that he is still dependent upon me and his Dad.

The articles I was referring to are varied in thier purpose. Many dealt with "paddling" in schools by school officials. Several dealt with spanking in a home or research setting. The results of these studies determined that in most cases, spanking brought about immediate results, but the lesson was not taught. This usually was the result of being spanked without explaination (or explaining to the child while they were too distraught to understand what was being said to them), and the later life problems were typically associated with a lack of re-bonding with the child. Also remember the spanking situations I spoke about varied from daily to weekly. Many cases, the spanking was done with an object (deemed abuse by today's standards, but at the time participants in the long-term studies were spanked, it was considered appropriate to use a switch or wooden spoon, or even a belt). The spankings were also used more frequently and for less severe offenses as the child progressed in age.

I do not believe in spanking my child. I do not feel that I have the right to tell other parents how to raise thier own children. I do not want to be forced to spank mine, so why should I take away that right from others? I typically come on pretty strongly about this issue because I am so often called a "permissive" or "lazy" parent by those that have not met my child, and assume this simply by virtue of the fact that I do not spank him. I am often asked by family members what I use to spank him, a switch or wooden spoon.

Research exists on nearly ever topic and with nearly every result as the outcome. There is certainly as much evidence to support the use of spanking as to discourage it. My research has focused on the effects seen of spanking, not on the possitive aspects of that disciplinary style. I do not feel parents that spank are abusive and I do not feel that they are in anyway less "parental" than I am. The whole point of me bringing that topic up was to suggest that parents will usually continue to do what they believe is right, regardless of what information they are provided. This is just as true in my household where I continue to allow my son to have bottles at night despite the fact that it may disrupt his tooth position. I am concerned about it, however, have decided that 20 minutes of a bottle of water is not the worst thing in the long run. The reason he still has a bottle instead of losing it at 1 year is medical and was a decision based on health problems he had at the time.

So anyway, another long post, but I did want to clarify what I was intending. The ultimate comment, which I think got lost due to my strong opinion, was that typically telling parents that a violent media source can cause violent behavior in children may be acknowledged, but may have little effect in the household activities. Part of this I feel is related to guilt (if I did this for so long already, I cannot accept that I've done damage so I will continue and disregard the information). Lots of people that practice Attachment Parenting like I do refuse to vaccinate thier children, fearing the medical problems which can result. They know that thier children will be at risk of contracting potentially fatal illness without those vaccinations, however, they feel that the risk (roughly.01% or so of children have severe reactions to vaccinations which can cause permanant damage or be fatal) to the children is too much in comparrision with the potential of contracting a disease. They believe this strongly and disregard what they are told concerning vaccinations in part because they do not want to be told how to parent. I on the other hand, vaccinated my child as reccomended (though a reaction forced a delay in the vaccination schedule for a time).

I hope I haven't offended anyone as that was not my intention. I also hope my point is more clear now. Thanks for listening. If you ahve been offended by my snap comments today, please accept my sincerest appologies for doing so.

Just for fun

Gaming in SL

I was wondering if anyone knows how to use SL as a video game. I know that the purpose for this class is to research innovative ways to accomplish things within this virtual world. However, I was wondering if there is any way to battle, race vehicles, or undertake conquests similar to a traditional video game. SL has a lot of characteristics that resemble MMORPGs, and I'm very interested to see if there are ways to similate video game activities through SL.

If anyone has any idea how to do this, please let me know. I am anxious to find out if I can do these types of things when I am not working on my project.

Random Sample

How would someone go about getting a random sample of Second Life educators? Is this possible in the current structure of Second Life? I am trying to assemble a survey for another project and I want to make sure my research will respected. I am trying to assemble a complete list of people who teach in SL at this point, but I am wondering if I will be able to feasibly do that. Any comments would be helpful.

Monday, February 18, 2008

TV and Second Life

The main objective of the project I am working on with my group is to show the potential of virtual worlds like Second Life in enhancing the future the TV industry. I recently found one article from the New York Times, which, ithink, could be the fundamental framework of our project. I though it may be beneficial to share it with you guys.

Just in case you don’t have time to read it all, here are some excerpts:

if the wildest dreams of some very excited technology developers come true,
virtual reality might finally be the medium that unites the passive experience
of watching television with the interactive potential of the Web.

As broadcasters and media companies have entered virtual spaces, among the
earliest content they have provided residents has been, not surprisingly, television programming, which inhabitants can watch on two-dimensional movie and television screens that appear throughout the world. “It’s obvious, but it gets fun,” said Sibley Verbeck, the chief executive of the Electric Sheep Company, which creates programs and content for virtual worlds. “It starts being a more social experience.”

At minimum broadcasters want a presence in these virtual worlds because they
know that significant numbers of their viewers are already visiting them. “We
have to take our content to the community,” Mr. Smith of CBS said. “We have to
take it where the users are already.”

Additionally television programmers see the games and social activities within
their online communities as an opportunity for viewers — whether they are
designing and selling their own fashion lines on Virtual Laguna Beach or
building and wrecking cars on Virtual Pimp My Ride — to continue to engage with
their brands long after the shows themselves are over.

The proprietors of these worlds say this freedom has profoundly altered the way their users experience the medium of television. “Television has created a public opinion that we are mostly consumers and not very creative,” said Philip Rosedale, the founder and chief executive of Linden Lab, whose company started Second Life in 2003. “But that’s simply an artifact of the technology of television. If people
are given the ability to co-create, to make something using the pieces and parts
of media, they will do it.”

Live Webcast

I thought some of you might find this to be an interesting event, I recieved this email from the Entrepreneurship department in the college of business.

The UF Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation presents:

"How Virtual Worlds Will Transform the Way We Do Business"
Wednesday, February 20 , 2008 in Stuzin 255 from 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Just as the Internet revolutionized the business world, pundits are now speculating that virtual worlds are the next step in the evolution of technology. Presented by Enterprising Georgia, a joint venture of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Atlanta and the Georgia Research Alliance, this cutting-edge presentation will answer the following questions:
· What are the business applications of virtual worlds?
· How will virtual worlds impact corporate IT in 2008 and the years ahead?
· What are the opportunities for savvy entrepreneurs?
· Deborah Dunagan, Global Methods Program, IBM
· Juan Pablo Gnecco, Founder & CEO, Studiocom
· Christopher W. Klaus, Founder & CEO, Kaneva
· Benn Konsynski, Professor of Information Systems & Operations Management, Emory University
· Mike Vizard, Editorial Director & Sr. Vice President, Ziff Davis

For more information on this forum please visit

I have seen a couple of these webcasts and they are usually pretty good. I think its good to know that UF is getting involved with virtual worlds even outside of this class. It is obviously inevitable that virtual worlds will be playing a greater part in our everyday lives and I am glad I am taking this class to be ahead of the curve for the future.

Vollee to offer Second Life mobile

Beta testers?

Questions on upcoming Project Documents


Some members of our group (Group 2) met on Sunday to discuss the project scope and how our project was shaping up with respect to the project guidelines given. As we went over the project spec documents provided on the course web site, we had many questions about the structure of the project document and the terms inside. Our uncertainty about the directions we should take kept us from going forward with the preparation of our proposal. We went through the two project spec documents again and wrote up a list of questions about the things we weren't sure about.

We decided the best thing was to come to office hours on Tuesday and discuss them. Rather than bombarding you with a load of questions that you didn't have time to think about, though, we thought we would write them up so you could go over them before Tuesday. (Writing them up would also help other groups when we find out the answers.)

You can see the list here.
Most of them will probably be pretty simple answers for you.

You don't need to reply here, we'll see you on Tuesday. Thanks.

Keep on (Trucking) Tracking

As we all know, one of the most crucial business both online and off, is the business of knowing where you are on the grid, what you do on it, how you do it, when you come and go... this applies to Bloomingdales as well as the Pentagon and your cousin Freddy.

Today (tomorrow might be another story!) there are just a handful of companies offering this service at the birth of the 3D internet.

Some of them are:

Second Analytics

Maya Realities


Will any of them survive or become the next Google?. Are some of you perhaps working towards that goal?.

It is garage time all over again!

I say keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' my troubles away.
Do that thing you do so well
I can tell what you been doin'
By the way that you smell.
Keep on truckin' mama
Truckin' my troubles away.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Social Networks, the Ugly

We have talked about the problems of certain aspects of some social networks, and the degrading lifestyles some people can participate in as a resident of Second Life, but this social network seems to have very little redeeming social value as a whole.

Is it a free speech issue, since that is at the forefront with the political campaigns, or should this site be made to shut down? I'm still on the fence on this one!


Clemson discussion group

Bumped into an interesting researcher at the Clemson Developmental Island yesterday. She is an ethnographer doing some very interesting work (of which I'm sure Dennis would find of great interest). She also alerted to me to a discussion group they have called Thothica. They will be hosting a discussion on Evolutionary Psychology tonight at 6PM SLT "Illusions of Life: Evolutionary Psychology applied to everyday life. The Illusions of machines and Human as Cyborg. How SL is more real than RL". You can find it Thothica at (132, 126, 28) OR She warned that they get pretty lively... thought some of you might be interested...

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Getting a little ticked...

Our reading this week struck a cord with some of the other reading I've been doing for our group. We're looking at personality, obviously, so a simple search on avatar personality led me to a book written by David Bell. Bell talks about embodiement, or lack thereof, and of some of the history of the "gender rights movement" for lack of a better term. He mentioned that in the late 90s, a movement developed to keep female gamers out of these online worlds. Women responded by creating groups of girl gamers that used terms like geekgrrls and others. They fought back much like we saw in Ada's story.

Bell also talks about the "cross dressing" aspects as well. He mentions some specific cases of female lesbians being seduced by homosexual men believing the female avatar is actually a man. He then speaks of the sterotypes of maleness and femaleness. The idea is that you must exagerate the sterotypes in order to be a believable avatar.

Up until this point in my reading, Bell had only ticked me off to a mild extent. Then he pushed me right over the edge. He began discussing race and computing. He classed individuals into 3 groups, the Information Users, the Information Used, and those that lack information. By information, he of course meant lack of access. His whole thesis apparently revolved around this point. Apparently minorities and women LACK the needed skills to effectively use the internet and VWs, and it is another ploy by those in the upper tier to keep us all in our proper places. His book was published in 2000.

I growled a few times, skimmed the rest of the work and chalked it up to the hairbrained schemes of the moronic, until I found he's actually published several works on this subject. That really made me angry. While I can see his viewpoint about access, I do not accept his idea that some people (mainly women in his opinion) lack the skills to participate flly in the digital age. To me it is akin to an article in a gaming magazine from several years ago in which the author suggested to his male readers that they should introduce thier girlfriends to gaming through things such as Spiro, or other cuddly, easy games. The author was inundated with enough letters from angry female readers that even he had to admit that perhaps he was wrong. In the year 2000, when Bell was published, I was teaching 7th grade life science at an at-risk in Virginia, where my students were far more technologically savy that I was. Even in 2000, most families had a computer in the home. Though Bell does admit that he graduated from grad school when computer took up several rooms.

I believe he is right that in some cases gender is over exagerrated to be believable, however, I found that usually this is a case of when someone is attempting to project an avatar they are uncomfortable with (ie man project female or vice versa). We won't even get into his thoughts on "furries" as he calls them, and those that would chose them.

Now let me move abruptly to my next topic of frustration for the week. Obviously, since Thursday, much ahs been discussed about violence in the media, ie violent games, movies, tv shows. Everytime some horrible tragedy occurs it's back to the theory of desensitation that causes the young (and not so young) to "lose it" and harm others. I've spent much time in conversation about this lately, and this is not my first post on the subject. But as I watch the things occuring in our world and the increase in technology being blamed for it I feel outraged. I have yet to find a single long term study that links violent media to violent behavior in the young. What I have found are studies that indicate that the "me" attitude of parenting has caused the young to feel isolated and powerless. Obviously there are many good parents in the world, many realize the committment required to parent. Others do not. When the incident at Columbine was blamed on video games and music I (as young as I was) asked why his parents weren't monitoring what they were doing? I find myself now wondering why, even at the age of 27, no one noticed that this young man had gone off his medication, or that something was wrong.

Some discussion in our class has revolved around whether meeting online is truly meeting, whether it is social. Forming friendships online can be just as vital as forming them in RL. No man is an island, why didn't anyone notice? I think again it leads back to the "me" attitude. Well, he stopped showing up to work at the prison, so he's fired, end of story. Why didn't someone go to his home and check on him? It would seem to me if the playing of violent video games is "making" children react violently, then why are parents allowing the games to be played by thier children? While it's not easy to monitor every aspect of what your children's lives, there is quite a bit that can be monitored. I knew most of what was going on in my classroom when I was teaching. I knew who thought they might be pregnant, who was taking drugs, who was living with someone other than thier guardian, who was reading what, and what games they played. I knew which girls braided hair for extra money, and I knew who was "dating" who. I was thier teacher and saw them roughly an hour a day. How can we live in a world where it is SO easy to stay connected, and yet no one knew this young man was about to snap, just like no one knew the young man at Virginia Tech was about to snap. How can no one know?

I think we're living in a time where everyone can be connected. I don't feel that there are classes. While my mother typically uses the internet for shoping, she also knows how to log onto a library system, retrieve materials, and do what she needs to do. She taught herself. Some of the greatest computer users I've met are women and minorities. These are the people that not only can do anything online, but when thier computer is broken, they know how to take it apart and repair it. Not because they had opporunity to learn as children, but because unlike those that have the resources (According to Bell), they cannot replace thier system when it breaks, they fix it. I once epoxied a telephone jack onto my computer when my modem port had broken. It worked that way for years. I've also helped one of my friends reduce her computer to parts in order to find that broken card and replace it. Remember, we are the people that Bell insists have no ability.

I know that this blog has been rambling, but of course during the course of writing it I've had three seperate conversations with my son, taken water to my husband that is recovering from Strep, and I've taken a second to feed my aged cat canned food. But hey, maybe it should be all about me? Come on folks, especially the ladies and minorities, please prove Bell wrong. And remember to take care of each other. Those of us in Grad school know what its like to be far from home, with no one to look in on you. I remember thinking that when I arrived here, 12 hours away from my family and my fiance that the only people that would miss me would be GRU and maybe Cox. Ironically, I quickly made close friends of several cohorts, and we have always taken care of each other. It's not hard. When someone is strapped for cash, take them leftovers from dinner, or invite them over. I can't count the number of meals I've taken to my friends, and how many I've gotten in return. When someone you care about is down, take them out for coffee, watch a movie together, it's just a couple of hours, and can mean the world. The night I called a friend and told her that I was miserable, she picked me up and we drove for three hours talking. Several weeks later, when her sister had an ear infection that sent her to the hospital int he middle of the night, I drove. It's not the things we watch as adults, or the games we play, it's the fact that no person is an island and we all need each other. SL gives us a chance to make connections to people, to keep in touch, and to take care of those, even when they are hours away.

Friday, February 15, 2008

We are not alone...

Researchers at the Sloan Center for Internet Retailing at the University of California, Riverside are developing a Second Life academic research facility and platform called "eLab City". It combines a panel of Second Life users, experimental research capabilities and tools for unobtrusively tracking and studying virtual user behavior.

Those of you interested in the subject can learn more about their work and I suggest, if you think you will be pursuing this field in the future, to join their efforts at eLab City. I will send everyone you an invite shortly. Don't feel obliged to join:=)

Just be careful not to be too influenced from what you learn there but rather take it as a departing point to go even further.

Next Tuesday's Speaker

Regarding Arturo's post today, here's a few links about our speaker and his company:


Another education and publication opportunity

Thought some of you might find this of interest... would be curious to have Dennis and Arturo's take on this organization/publication. I looked at the speaker bios for Breckenridge and several use their SL avatars for their bio pics!

Innovate Special Issues/Forthcoming Webcasts/Innovation 2008 Conference

Innovate ( is published bimonthly as a public service by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University and is sponsored, in part, by Microsoft.

We have established the publication dates for the following special issues and have extended submission deadlines as follows:

The Future of Education focuses on the trends, pressures, and evolutions shaping the future of education in all its forms, with particular consideration of the role of information technologies in creating that future. The issue is slated for publication in June/July 2008. The deadline for submission to this issue has been extended to April 1, 2008.

Academics in Virtual Environments focuses on the use of Multi-User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) as an enhancement to K-21 education. The issue is slated for publication in October/November 2008. The deadline for submission to this issue has been extended to August 1, 2008.

Additional information on these issues is available at

The February/March author webcast series begins Tuesday, February 19th. Check out the schedule at

Finally, we have added a number of speakers to the Innovation 2008 conference at this coming April in beautiful Breckenridge, CO. Check it out. The deadline for early registration for the conference and the resort hotel is getting close.

Tuesday's brrr-chat

Joe's Car

Our next guest speaker comes from balmy Ontario (only -14 F). No wonder he is involved in creating more realistic V-environments so that he can move into them instead! Let's give him a warm welcome:-)

Joe Rigby is the creator of Mellanium, based on the popular MMO UNREAL 2 engine. His pitch is that if you ever dreamt that you could project yourself and your clients, builders, developers and inspirational colleagues into a replica of a “virtually perfect” construct, now you can. The key, among other things is the ability to import AUTOCAD files into the VE.

He will also demonstrate streaming from SL directly to SKYPE, a move towards blurring the ever thin line between RL and VR.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Class Readings and interesting note

Just a quick note to let you know that the readings for next week have been posted on our class resources page. If you don't see them, remember to refresh your browser.

On another note, I found something interesting today about hallucinogenic HUDs that you can purchase for your avatar. I am definitely NOT advocating their use in any way, but it is interesting to me that the "pharmaceutical" market has hit SL. Anyways, here is the SLURL

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More research thoughts and questions

My question of the day is… can we "simulcast" our "event' on Gator Nation to invited UF participants as well as collaborate with other places in world? For example, I attended the "Power of Positive Thinking" session at Stonehenge (Wisdom and Enlightenment Center) on Saturday to see how they do it and get a feel for how many people show up, what type of interaction they had, how successful was the communication, etc. I ended up with more questions than answers… and ideas. There are so many sociological perspectives we could approach from this… So, my thinking is, (for example)

1. I had no idea who the woman (assuming she was) was who presented the session in SL I attended on Saturday. She did a very nice job and got good response from her audience… but, I'd be interested in expanding the role of avatar profiles (that would be authenticated) and measuring credibility and celebrity in-world based on in-world presentations. If these type of events are to become more mainstream, wouldn't that be important? And,when giving advice or public presentations in-world, would people consider avatar profiles more than/ equal to/ less than their avatar look? Can we allow people to pick between two or three avatars that would be the presenter based on either profile or look (be able to pick race/gender/and look i.e. hair color, attire, accessories) and see which they tend to prefer? See if they even really care what their profile credentials or avatar features are? We could even give the same exact presentation content and measure feedback, then compare results. Am I making sense? The collaboration with/simulcast between UF/open sl community question would also apply here and be worthy of measuring if environmental difference influences audience perception.
2. As another example... could we ask the Dean of the College of Journalism and Communications to have a "conversation" about the directions he plans to take the college in new media and invite UF students to attend? Thinking in the convergence culture, we could also be blogging it (I can't believe the Emory people didn't do any of this yesterday!!! WHAT A MISSED OPPORTUNITY!!!!), recording it in video for a YouTube post that could be distributed on the J-school Facebook listserv and he could actually be presenting live in the college. Then we could measure blog posts, compared to IMs in world, compared to YouTube hits, compared to actual discussion in RL. Do we have the authority to seek this type of interaction with colleges? (we can put any college/any official in place of the example I've given)

I've also had multiple conversations with faculty from mass comm, sociology, and family/youth/community science who are all intrigued by the potential for ethnographies from observation of avatar behavior at these events. The scripting tool to create avatar expression that we're working on could be very helpful in that regard as well!!

Sorry to be so long winded!! But I look forward to your feedback!

Preliminary Report on the Digital Worlds Emory Conference

I drove to Atlanta on Sunday and attended the Digital Worlds Conference all day Monday. They did video tape the entire conference, and promised it would be up on the web before too long. They had a wireless internet feed for guests, but the band width was too low to do more than check email. No one except the hard-wired presenters could get into SL.

One of the speakers in the first panel was Dr. Edward Castronova, who gave recent updates on his research in MMORGS. They are still the biggest game in town.

This fed into the next panel, on economics and money, and how the linkage between the real world and virtual worlds will need to evolve before financial institutions can function effectively in virtual worlds.

A reoccurring theme in all the panels was identity and how it will work and evolve. The third panel talked about future man/machine interfaces that will make virtual worlds easier for noobs, and how identities will be expressed in the virtual arena in politics and business.

The final panel had the CFO on Linden Labs, and the CEO of a new social networking virtual world Kaneva, discussing the role of entertainment versus avatar-generated activities, and the impact of open-source, open-standards, and interoperable virtual worlds software. This session was done as a multi-platform event. It was a live feed to and from the SL weekly TV show Metanomics and the Linden Labs rep was in-world and on Skype. Audience members in-world and in Atlanta got to ask questions and make comments. Very shortly this panel should be available through the Metanomics webite,

It was an interesting event where I also got to meet face to face some of the pioneering avatars of education in SL.


link message

I am trying to link 2 objects by script language.
For example, I touch one object for start and touch the other object for end, then I want to calculate how long did I complete this.

I looked for some information from the following 2 websites,

But I found message-link can only deliver 4 values like:
• integer sender_num

• integer num

• string str

• key id

How can I deliver other variables such as llGetWallclock()?

Monday, February 11, 2008

New Location for Office Hours

Hi everyone!

From now on, Arturo and I will be holding office hours (Tuesday mornings) at the REVE. Just turn right when you enter the REVE and go down the hallway to Arturo's office. See you then from 10 AM to 12 PM.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Group 1's Project--Version 2.0

Objective: Show TV networks how to utilize the technologies in Second Life for marketing and advertising goals.

TV networks have recently started virtual worlds for some of their popular shows, specifically ones that attract a younger audience. For example CW’s Gossip Girl and MTV’s Laguna Beach. There is, however, speculation on whether or not these new investments in Second Life reached their objectives of receiving wide attention, attracting new users and, most importantly, broadening fan loyalty toward the shows. In this project, we would like to investigate several Second Life sites, and come up with recommendations to improve their functions. Our recommendation will come in the form of an ideal virtual world for a specific TV show. In this case, it will be for American Idol.

1. Locate some virtual worlds relating to TV shows, observe and evaluate them and try to identify some of their flaws. Also, check out the shows’ Web sites and see whether or not they enhance the virtual world experience. (Content Analysis).
2. Survey Second Life users on their TV usage and try to find out what would attract them to experience a virtual world for a TV show.
3. Implement the findings by building a virtual world for a popular TV show. My idea is to do one for American Idol. Some of things we can do include:
a. American idol parties where users can come in the virtual world and watch a live stream or an encore production of the show
b. A voting system in which users can vote for their favorite performers
c. A dance competition and the winner gets some Linden Dollars
d. Virtual auditions for the show?
e. Special footage from the show for Second Life users
f. American Idol shop with lots of free stuff
g. More ideas for this part to come based on the research collected from the content analysis and the surveys.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Chat logger v1.0

Alrighty, spent about five or six hours this past week learning some of the linden script, I was able to create a primitive chat logger which on "touch" begins logging and on second "touch" ends logging and sends a detailed chat log to my email address.

Included in the email is information regarding the location of the client, who the client is, who is talking, and what they are saying. It logs all "near" conversations.

This script can be attached to an article of clothing, and it will log whatever is within a certain distance of you if you wear it, or it can be attached to a "microphone" at a certain fixed location and record all conversations within that location.

Some things I want to do:

  1. Create a nice looking prim based article of clothing to attach it to for player carried recordings. Maybe a watch?
  2. Create a nice looking static microphone object to attach it to for static recordings.
  3. Create a feature which listens for certain expletive words and warn a user via PM not to use those words (profanity filter maybe?) Even cue a public warning sound effect or something, that might be funny =)
  4. Modifiable chat log sending email addresses without a user having to manually modify the source code.
  5. Support for sending to multiple emails
  6. Support for daily chat log emails
  7. Web based log via secure http post
  8. I'll think of more
If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

Also please not that this is for testing purposes only, and that unauthorized chat logging is a violation of privacy rights, including Second Life TOS, this cannot and should not be used without consent for all parties involved.

With that being said I would like everyone's permission on tuesday in class to run a quick stress test, maybe 1 minute in length, where people just spam the hell out of the chat. Let me know if this is possible.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

And The War Goes On...

In the tenor of my previous post here is this other sample by the "American Military University":

"We cannot begin to predict where and when terrorists will strike until we understand them. For that, we must study them. Take the next step in advancing your career by receiving an
undergraduate or graduate certificate in terrorism studies."

How long for an
undergraduate or graduate certificate in cyber-terrorism do you predict?

Somewhere inside their site I found a rather curious idea by the
Director of National Security Law who suggests "taxing" terrorists on their financial activities... Say what? That gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase "your taxes working for you"!

Elevator Pitch

I just started building on Tuesday for my CSI crime scene (white collar crime). I have found it to be a rather enjoyable experience once you get the basics down. At first it was very difficult, but once I had learned how to quickly rotate wiht ctrl and duplicate objects with shift, it became a much easier task. I am also happy to report that there are tons more freebies to find in SL than I ever thought. The first two weeks of class I couldn't find anything of substance, but with better search tecniques I have been finding more and more places. Thankfullly I have been able to find a free house that I am using to make into a corner office NYC style for my white collar crime.

I need some help on my building tho...I wanted to make my corner office scene appear as tho it is an upper floor in a tall building like on the streets of NYC. I have raised my buidling off the ground and built an elevator shaft to reach it. Now I know I could just set up a teleport at the bottom of the shaft and have it teleport to the top, but thats too easy...I need a challenge. Does anyone know if it would be possible to make a platform that would rise and fall when it is touched? I don't know anything about scripting but thought I might be able to find a premade script somewhere, any suggestions?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer


9-11 paranoia spilling into VR

Regarding the question of "spillage" between RL and VR (and vice versa) there is this interesting article in the Washington Post ( Wednesday, February 6, 2008; Page D01) about a recent paper by the government's new Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity:

Intelligence Officials See 3-D Online Worlds as Havens for Criminals.

(Brought to you from the same people that consider a nail-clipper a terrorist weapon:)

"The intelligence community has begun contemplating how to use Second Life and other such communities as platforms for cyber weapons that could be used against terrorists or enemies, intelligence officials said. One analyst suggested beginning tests with so-called teams of cyber warfare experts. "

The IARPA paper concurred: "What additional things are possible in the virtual world that cannot be done in the real world? (italics mine)The [intelligence community] needs to 'red team' some possible scenarios of use."

As you remember that is the basic question that I posed to the teams I was able to talk to yesterday.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Myst Online no more

Just days prior to the one-year anniversary of the launch of Myst Online: Uru Live, the publisher responsible for bringing Cyan Worlds' MMO to the masses (well... ) has announced its termination. GameTap's Vice President of Content and Creative Director Ricardo Sanchez broke the bad news to fans on the game's official forums, writing that the MMO has 60 days to live, at which point the game servers will be shut down and tears will begin to shed.

Just goes to show you that if you are not World of Warcraft, you wont succeed in MMOs. Or something.

Graeme Davis, MMORPG talk


Graeme Davis will be talking about life in VR to our class today from Denver, Colorado.

Graeme dropped out of an archeology Ph. D. (Bronze Age burials of northern England) in 1986 to join Games Workshop as a tabletop RPG designer, and has been in the games industry ever since.

Among other things,he worked from 1996-2002 at VR1, a developer of MMO games for clients like AOL, Microsoft, and So-Net Japan. He has worked on 20-odd published electronic games, for platforms ranging from PC to consoles to handhelds to cell phones, as well as a lot of tabletop role playing material, including several historical sourcebooks.

He has also created interactive fiction for entertainment and education, "edutainment" CD-ROMs, and a wide range of other media. He contributed a chapter to the forthcoming book by the Game Developers' Association Writers' Special Interest Group, "Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing", due to be published by A K Peters later this year.

He is also a member of Virtual Worlds Connect, The community for professionals involved in the metaverse and virtual worlds industry.

He prepared a list of MMORPG resources for the class that you can download here

Virtual Worlds - Part of the solution or part of the problem?

I just pulled this article off the web saying that nature-based recreation has dropped 20% since the 1980s. This is true in the US and Japan, and appears to be related to the growing popularity of video games.

So, are Second Life and other virtual worlds a way to expand cultural and knowledge horizons, or part of the plot to make us even more out of shape and sedentary?

My wife and I will be doing an environmental presentation on manatees on Monday, February 18 in SL for Second Nature, the SL branch of Britain's Nature magazine. We will reach an international audience of environmentally interested avatars who show up on that island. Many of them will never get to Florida to see a live manatee.

For the health of Florida's kids should we shift our focus to trying to persuade local schools to let us give our manatee presentation in face to face classrooms, where at least the kids may have a chance to visit a Florida state park and see a manatee?


Monday, February 4, 2008

Group 2 project v. 2.0

Hey, everyone -

For those who read this blog late or early in the morning, here is an abstract of Group 2's revised project. We've made a lot of progress on it this week. You can find a much longer (though still incomplete) version of our proposal on a wiki page in our Google Group.

Here's an abstract:

Our project uses technical improvements in the way content is retrieved, stored and presented in SL to explore (and potentially improve) how libraries are being translated into Second Life. The technical elements of our project will (we think) improve the experience of virtual books as well, allowing for dynamic information exchanges between an outside server and the interface in SL. (The content improvements we envision could apply not only to libraries, but also to bookstores (ie Amazon as a store) and, further, to the multiple uses of structured data combinations we see in Web 2.0 applications now.) To test out our ideas and get feedback from SL users, we will build a library building in Second Life based on existing RL library structures as a place to explore the interface and experience of our improved content.

Ethics of SL Research

I was thinking about the reading for this week - I know, my post is a little late in the game, but keeping up with life is tough these days. The ethics of chatlogging go me thinking about internet ethics in general, not just SL. One of the things that's been drilled into me is that there is no expectation of privacy in any location where other people exist, virtual or otherwise. To me, it would be the same thing as writting down what someone said on thier cell phon while walking in front of me. I wouldn't do it simply because I don't really care who's doing who or who got drunk, or what color the new shirt from the Gap is, but it's my understanding that anything said publically is fair game for research purposes. No, you can't record them and play them for others to see, but is a transcript of chat so different from eavesdropping. I suppose the difference is in the fact that it will be used for research which does require informed consent.
So what's your feelings on this? Is there an expectation of privacy in SL. Even in Anthro we often use data and change the name of the individual for quotation purposes, especially in a public/group setting where expectation of privacy is diminished. Do you feel there should be an expectation of privacy? How do you think this plays into the change in behavior between the human and the avatar?

Well, there are my rambling thoughts, any thoughts on them?

SL as the Internet

Our group was talking the other day about SL eventually becoming the Internet itself. Will Linden Labs eventually relinguish their control and allow for a more open format? Will the scripting language be something that will be adopted by more people or will SL move to a more widely used language? Will there be less blocks on how much you can upload or how much it costs to upload? What are all the things preventing SL from being the main interface with the Web and how will (if, at all) will those barriers be taken down? Just pondering, my thoughts have not run their full course on this one.

Conference for your projects?

As you work on your projects, you may want to consider presenting what you are doing at a scholarly conference. Below is a call for papers that might be helpful to some of you:

-- CALL FOR PAPERS - Deadline for submissions: 25 February 2008 --

IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems

(MCCSIS 2008)

Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 22 to 27 July 2008


* Conference background and goals

The IADIS Multi Conference on Computer Science and Information Systems 2008 (MCCSIS 2008) aims to being a forum to gather researchers in the core areas of both Computer Science and Information Systems.

* Conferences part of the MCCSIS 2008 multi-conference:

e-Learning 2008 - EL2008

Intelligent Systems and Agents 2008 - ISA2008

Wireless Applications and Computing 2008 - WAC2008

Gaming 2008: Design for Engaging Experience and Social Interaction - G2008

Visual Communication 2008: Creative Industries, Photography and Culture - VC2008

ICT, Society and Human Beings 2008 - ISHB2008

Web Based Communication 2008 - WBC2008

Interfaces and Human Computer Interaction 2008 - IHCI2008

Data Mining 2008 - DM2008

Telecommunications, Networks and Systems 2008 - TNS2008

Informatics 2008 - I2008

e-Commerce 2008 - EC2008

Computer Graphics and Visualization 2008 - CGV2008

* Keynote Speakers (confirmed – in alphabetical order):

Ananth Srinivasan, Director of the Centre for Digital Enterprise, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Axel Küpper, of the LMU Munich, Germany

Bernadette Sharp, Staffordshire University, UK

Carlos Flavian, University of Zaragoza, Spain

Constance Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA

David Guralnick, Kaleidoscope Learning, USA

James Hendler, Tetherless World Constellation Chair, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, USA

Jan van Dijk, University of Twente, Dep. of Media, Communication and Organization, Netherlands

Jon Dron, Athabasca University, Canada

Juan M. Corchado, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain

Lucia Rapanotti, Department of Computing, The Open University, UK

Margaret Tan, Deputy Director, Singapore Internet Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Matthias Rauterberg, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Michael Hann, Director of ULITA, University of Leeds, UK

Qusay H. Mahmoud, University of Guelph, Canada

Teun Velders, Saxion Universities of Applied Science, USA

Tom Gross, Faculty of Media, Bauhaus-University Weimar, Germany

Ulrike Hugl, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Václav Snášel, Vice - Dean for Research and Science, University of Ostrava, Czech Republic

Zhengyou Zhang, Microsoft Research, USA

* Format of the Multi-Conference

The multi-conference will comprise of invited talks and oral presentations. The

proceedings of the multi-conference will be published in the form of a book and

CD-ROM with ISBN, and will be available also in the IADIS Digital Library

( The best paper authors will be invited to publish extended versions of their papers in the IADIS Journal on Computer Science and Information Systems (ISSN: 1646-3692) and also in other selected Journals.

* Types of submissions

Full and Short Papers, Reflection Papers, Posters/Demonstrations, Tutorials, Panels and Doctoral Consortium. All submissions are subject to a blind refereeing process.

* Important Dates:

- Submission Deadline: 25 February 2008

- Notification to Authors: Until 31 March 2008

- Final Camera-Ready Submission and Early Registration: Until 21 April 2008

- Late Registration: After 21 April 2008

- Multi Conference: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 22 to 27 July 2008

* Postgraduate Summer School

The multi-conference will be organising a postgraduate summer school aimed at PhDs and Master Degree students. Please check for full details.

* Multi-Conference Location

The multi-conference will be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

* Secretariat



Rua Sao Sebastiao da Pedreira, 100, 3

1050-209 Lisbon, Portugal


Web site:

* Program Committee

General MCCSIS Conference Co-Chairs:

Piet Kommers, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Pedro Isaías, Universidade Aberta (Portuguese Open University), Portugal

Nian-Shing Chen, National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan

Program Chairs of the MCCSIS conferences (in alphabetical order):

Ajith P. Abraham, School of Computer Science, Chung-Ang University, South Korea

Antonio Palma dos Reis, ISEG - Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal

Eleonore ten Thij, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Gunilla Bradley, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden

Hans Weghorn, University of Cooperative Education, Germany

Jairo Gutiérrez, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Jörg Roth, University of Applied Sciences Nuremberg, Germany

Katherine Blashki, Deakin University, Australia

Maggie McPherson, University of Leeds, United Kingdom

Miguel Baptista Nunes, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

Piet Kommers, University of Twente, The Netherlands

Yingcai Xiao, The University of Akron, USA