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.


Religion and SL

I would like to hear your guys thoughts on religious groups in SL. I feel like SL could be a very strong platform for spreading all different types of religious views. Especially since people could even attend mass/temple/etc in the virtual world. I would say the one caveat to this would be that it would difficult to know which groups/islands would be teaching the true religion and principles. There could be a lot of fakes out there given different religions bad names, that they may not deserve. I haven't had too much of a chance to investigate because I just thought about it, but I will be investigating it more as time permits. All additional thoughts would be welcomed and appreciated.

Sports in SL

As I explore different avenues that would attract more users to second life, I am realizing that something must be started that stimulates interest. Then I thought about sports. Sports generate possibly more interest than anything I can think of. Politics, music, the arts, etc....all fall behind sports. Events such as the World Cup and the Olympics bring together the entire world like nothing else can. Even countries that are in the middle of major wars participate in events like these that take their minds off their other issues.

If there is a way to set up sports like video games in second life, I think that significantly more people would become involved. I'm sure issues such as the speed and "gameplay" would have to be improved. But, if possible, this could be a very large step in the right direction for SL.

Global Kids new International Justice Center

I think this provides linkage for a number of threads and topics we are considering this week. Global Kids is a major presence on the Teen Grid, working with secondary educators to provide a variety of content.

The fact they have partnered with the International Criminal Court is a bit of a surprise to me, and I will be interested in seeing what projects they undertake in-world as a follow-up to their major media events with the ICC prosecutor and with Kofi Anan.

Here's a link to another announcement about the event last Thursday that provides a website for the SLCN coverage of the day's happenings.


UF Law Library Presentation about SL

Last Friday I took my laptop to the UF Law Library and made a presentation on the educational possibilities for law schools and law libraries. The audience was UF law librarians and directors of law libraries from all over Florida. This was an informal joint presentation / tour put together by me and UF law librarian Jessica Wittman (Scout Harbour in SL).

We looked at the Library Reference Desk at Info Island, the NSU Cybrary, the new Steeehead small town Public Library, then toured Gator Nation Island. We then demonstrated some of the interactive learning activities we have planned in the CSI: Gator Nation project (taking crime scene photos, collecting/taking evidence, and role plays of court trials).

The audience was receptive and also could see the applications for law school faculty.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Procedural Exercise VS. Constructivist Learning

This is an interesting video reflection on learning in SL. Why have learning environments consist of traditional classrooms when so much more can be done? Where's the creativity?

A Gaming Example in Secondary Ed Example

I wanted to share a resource for a 3-D, immersive, virtual world style game that has been getting a lot of attention lately. DimensionM is by Tabula Digita ( and is a 3D FPS style game in which students use Algebra skills to complete missions and various tasks. As you know, most video games for education fall into the drill-and-kill category, but this goes beyond that model to provide an immersive game with a higher prodction value that is nearer to the games students play in their own time. We are going to be implementing this game in the Algebra classes at our school soon, as part of a research study with some researchers from the Ed Tech department at UF.

While this is not a virtual world in the sense of a persistent, social environment, it does provide an immersive world for exploration and experiential learning. The multiplayer version of the game is very intense both in terms of game-play and math skills. I have never played anything quite like it - .


Brain-computer interface for Second Life

More info here

Education? Pushing the Limits

As I read the articles for this week I was struck by a few thoughts...

Empathy Islands sort of lost me for a bit. The idea of traveling through the Yukon during the gold rush is one thing, actually being there, in the freezing, starving, feeding horsemeat to dogs so that you all might survive, eating the dogs that don't make it, is quite another. I believe that empathizing with people suffering as they travel great distances is difficult to do as you sit in your cushy chair, eating a snack, and clicking the teleport button. I see the idea of having empathy inducing islands as a good one, yet, not in the way described. I envision something better done, more artistic to be thought provoking, rather like the arrangement of exhibits at the Holocoust Museum in D.C.. One of the msot powerful displays is one in which you walk down astairway which appears to be in a house in the 1930s Europe. The walls are plastered in photos of individuals, like family portraits (only thousands of them). It is not until you've passed that you discover that those were the family photos from an entire village which was destroyed during the war. Not a single one of those people had survived. That is more powerful that a recreation of the Yukon which people can explore. While much can be learned by those types of set-ups, I feel it is not empathy inspiring in the same sense.

The second article examines the use of SL in a highschool setting. While it's interesting to see someone explore the possibilities of use, I found the attitude very similar to what we've read before. It's almost as if the author is saying, "No, really, we CAN use VW in education - I swear, just give me time and I'll figure out a really neat way to do it!" While I know I've taken license, it appears that much conversation has been devoted to finding ways to use VW and VE in education of children. Why is it such a hard fit? Why must it be debated over and over if it is such an easy thing to see. My thought as I read was that it isn't easy to see how SL or VE can be used in education.
A few examples include - encouraging pro-social behavior. They base the idea that TV shows exhibiting pro-social behavior tend to have an effect on children in that they encourage pro-social behavior. The suggestion is made that the prosocial aspects of a VE will help encourage prosocial behavior in delinquents. This is a nice thought, but honestly, as much as these media forms can encourage prosocial behavior, by the time a child is labeled a delinquent, the problem is not that they don't see that type of behavior, but rather a rejection of that type of behavior. Playing in a VE will not change the social behavior of troubled children/teens.
There is also a suggestion that students whould be given weapons/armors/equipment for good preformance in education activities. While this is a seemingly good idea, my parental side had a knee jerk reaction. "What? Good grades aren't reward enough????" Then I took a deep breath and considered that for some kids, it's not. My husband was one of those people - he was literally an F and D student, who on his 18th birthday scored a perfect score on the GED. It wasn't that he didn't get the material, it's that he couln't have cared less about it.
A final thought was the idea of 3D design and graphics education. This I think is a wonderful way in which SL can be used educationally. Even as training for classical artwork - the ability to manipulate prims in anyway you see fit will certainly allow more understanding of how shapes can be molded and fit together.
The author also notes that Bender (2005) insists that students feel more comfortable in a VE. This I will believe (in fact the Avatar's as Masks group is banking on this) and I do believe this aspect of VW has possibilities which have not been explored.

I think so much time has been sp0ent on shouting rmo the rooftops that VE can do so much that there has been a lack of encouraged practice. It will take the groundwork to convince educators of the bennifits, but not a constant shouting and offerring of suggestions that send educational eyeballs skyward in the roll of the century.

SL impact in Education

This March 2008 report about responses that were received on the topic "Measuring the impact of Second Life for educational purposes" by John Kirriemuir (Silversprite Helsinki), is a transcript of a meeting held in Second Life to discuss the issues raised by a UK academic survey on the subject of developing, or teaching in Second Life.

The Eduserve Foundation ( check their Eduserv Island if you have not done it already) is evaluating "what is happening in SL, particularly with regards to its use in education, and partly with the intention of providing help and support to educators and librarians as they begin to make use of SL as part of thier service delivery to end-users." Very interesting and timely indeed.

You can find the pdf here.

Humans Need Lumens

The speaker tomorrow will be Pat Pagano. Mr. Pagano’s research in digital fine art has led to the development of a suite of open source tools for hybrid media performance, theatrical projection and electro acoustic soundscapes. Patrick draws upon a multidisciplinary experience working with the technologies of computers, video, audio, photography and the integration of these primary devices with digital praxis.

He is a versatile multi-instrumentalist, and plays over 10 instruments including Sitar, tamboura, Violin, piano, synthesizer, flute, clarinet including Tuvan overtone singing and has produced and appeared on over 50 audio recordings since 1987.


He currently teaches in the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of Florida. He will visit us via IChat and SL at 3p.m.

And what about civil law?

Several recent links and posts have discussed the blur between real and virtual in the realm of criminal acts. The link regarding "Ageplay sim eyes new grid," for example, explains that child porn may be available in SL (if it's not already). Porn is obviously alive and thriving in SL, which is not illegal.. but the idea of sex acts with children is very disturbing, even in a virtual sense. Obviously, no real child is being harmed... in this case... but, where do we draw the line of illegal behavior. It's like the people who have asked... is it infidelity if you have virtual sex outside of marriage? I have heard strong opinions from both sides. Even Dennis' comment about virtual rape raises many questions. We don't know the people involved and what their emotional state is. For some, it is not merely "lighthearted play" and such an act could be very traumatising and could carry into their RL just as some nightmares haunt us.

On a less dramatic note, there have been many issues raised recently about fraud and privacy, especially among social networking sites that have made it into the courts. It would seem inevitable that the same will filter into SL. Even with all sorts of consent forms at sign-in (which maybe that was the small print most us never read in the "terms of agreement") which release not only Linden but the players of any liability, legal questions will emerge and be challenged. As one final example, there are many people now offering "advice" in SL. In RL we have to have licenses to "practice" in certain fields, such as psychology, and usually for good reason. To do so without a license is a felony offense. Who are these people offering such advice in SL and what are their credentials? Or... do avatars even care? Should they care? In RL, Dr. Phil has made kabillions of dollars offering advice... without a license... for years. Is it simply entertainment and we should let it go at that? I guess it's just a case of "buyer beware" at this point.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


. ________________ Sir Arthur___ (AP photo files.)

Linkage represents power, status, success of one sort or another. Of course this has always been the case, particularly in the animal world, but I suspect in the uni-verse at large as well.

That is how our brain becomes conscious, how memories evolve and how life flows in the eternal dance of chaos and order, the breathing that holds the secret of our own existence.

When I think about the present state of technology, in this world of social networking, global communication, interplanetary travel, WWW,VR, SL and all these some basic, some quite indispensable parts of the life on planet earth, I remember, from the billions of people, one, whose influence and vision, some would say aura, inspired the creation of all that now we take for granted.

A person that inspired, through his writings, a Tim Berners-Lee to invent the World Wide Web in 1989. Who in 1945, proposed the idea of communications satellites that could be based in geostationary orbits around our planet, an idea laughed about by the official science of the time. After all he was only a writer.

A writer for whom spacecraft, asteroids and even a dinosaur has been named. A writer whose ideas, that is, the ones that have not been realized yet, are still considered far fetched even today, the stuff of dreams or sci-fi.

His hundreds of books and thousands of short stories constitute a cloud, a cluster or galaxy of links, of neuronal connections, of firing synapses that influence the world and will continue to do so for perhaps millenia, since his ideas travel as we blog, beyond our solar system into the universe he so lucidly dreamed about.

Who is this great human, whose passing through has barely been noticed in obscure obituaries as if we had nothing lost ?

Perhaps we have not, since he gave us more than we can take in generations to come. Besides, as he himself, quoting Rudyard Kipling said:

If I have given you delight
By aught that I have done,
Let me lie quiet in that night
Which shall be yours anon:

And for that little, little span
The dead are borne in mind
Seek not to question other than
The books I leave behind.

._______________________ From The Appeal

Thank you Sir Arthur, the world can or could be a better place because of you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Update on Avatars as Masks

Just a note to let everyone know that our group's work is progressing nicely. We had our second gathering for the week in our house on the island and have a faithful group of people that attend each oppotunrity. NOt only are we finding them active in our study, but they are actively enjoying SL, seeking out new places to go and trying different things.

Tonight we partied for a time in our house, then went to Frank's Place for some Jazz dancing where one of the participants led me in a nice waltz. We have one more week to go before we open our final portion of our study, then all data will be collected with the exception of phone interviews that I will begin post-study.

The main comments tonight related to new people met, neat places to go, and clothing options - in addition to conversation about roommates, spouses, men vs. women, and a single sentence that really brought things home for our study. "It really is different, isn't it. Second life."

See you all in class!

On AI Emobodiment in VWs

Embodiment is an old concept in general purpose AI, creating a dividing line between researchers, with supporters of good old fashioned AI stressing embodiment in a limited sense, while people like Rodney Brooks and others insist that embodiment is the key to a general purpose AI.

Current embodiment research focus mainly -with a few visionary exceptions- on robotics, with big names in the industry like Honda trying to emphasize humanoid robots. However there has been a growing number of AI researchers pushing for VWs embodiment. The concept can be traced back as far as 1968 when SHRDLU was invented and later by 1970 a virtual environment (SHRDLU's "world") was added.

Later color rendering (Univ. of Utah) SHRDLU's world with color rendering (Univ. of Utah)

The current state of VWs provide a much richer experience, and much more flexibility. Moreover, with the vast numbers of people connecting, playing and interacting in virtual worlds, it provides coupling between embodied AI and humans to allow the AI to learn about itself, the world, and others.

The coupling between an avatar and an automated general purpose embodied AI is not the only possible coupling. VWs alow for a coupling between physical properties and an embodied AI, where the automated avatar interacts with objects that possess some physical properties allowing it to formulate hyposis about the nature of the physica environment. For example in SL the sun rises and sets every 4 hours, gravity (things fall down and float up), persistence of objects, solidity of objects, ..etc.

Yet another possible coupling is between the AI avatars themselves allowing them to share their newly acquired knowledge and representation from interactions with the universe and the other avatars, creating a 'wisdom of the crowd' scinario.

In my oppinion, while embodiment should not be a goal by itself, VW embodiment provide for a contextual learning experience. Where objects can be accessed in the context of the environment, the collective knowledge and the interactions.

Second Chance Trees

Friday, March 21, 2008

Go Cross Campus

The massively multi-player environment has met a new twist. Go Cross Campus, an online game pitting dorm against dorm, school against school, or company against company, claims to be a MMPG and a “locally social online sport. “ As I understand, the local social component involves groups that can form, strategies, and play in a real world setting. For example, a dorm resident may recruit hall mates in person to join the online army and battle a rival dorm.

Apparently, UF already has an army leading the tournament against other Florida schools including FSU. I have yet to enlist for the Gator Nation army but I’m curious to know if anyone else is one of the 67 UF players and to hear about your experiences with this new game.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Useful Items in SL

While traveling SL, I have found some items that are helpful in more ways than one. While I have used them to help me travel around, they have also provided me with an easier way to help me build the sky amphitheater (which is 600 ft in the air, which makes falling a really big pain). So right now, I will present two items that can be helpful in your building and exploration of SL.

Chakra Focus

Location: !Naruto Ninja World - LPCS JUTSU, Insula Inferi Hills (149, 33, 401)

This little nifty item allows the user to walk on air or water (as seen here). What happens is that it creates an invisible base underneath you, so that whatever level you are on, it will create a base for you to stand on (like you are walking/standing on air/water). To use it, you have to equip the block onto you as well as activating both the focus and release animations. The only place that it won't work in is areas that don't allow building items.

There are two ways to get the item. First is to but the item for $5o lindens. It is located right by the camping chairs. The second way to receive it is to camp in the chair that says chakra focus for 1 hour.

Can walk on air/water
Easy to use
Can work almost anywhere you go

Have to equip the item (which takes up the right forearm space) and activate the two animations
Won't work in areas that don't allow building items

Intel's Jet-pack Location: Intel (124, 9, 134)

This item allows the user to exceed the limit that the person can fly (thus flying to the amphitheater at 600 ft is no longer a problem). To get it, you must go teleport to the island and go to the tower. At the base of the tower left click the jet-pack base to get the jet-pack. It then tells you to find two chips that are hidden in the tower. Once you find one, left click on it to receive power for the jet-pack. Once both chips are obtained, you can then fly as high as you want to (I have not checked how high you can go, but I think I went over 1000).

You can go as high as you want, anywhere you can fly (no fly zones won't let you unless you are already flying when you already entered the area).

The sound may get annoying to some people
Finding the chips can be a pain (that and the tower was causing me lag, but I was there when there was an event going on).

And those are two items that I found useful. I have a few others, but those can help you out for now. Post any other items that you feel are useful too if you want. I might even add a few more later on.

**Spoilers** **This section contains the location of the two chips in the Intel tower. Do not look at if you don't want to know where these chips are located and want to hunt for them yourselves.**

Chip 1:
The first chip is located in the core. Equip the jet-pack and left click the elevator. Select the core and go down. Along the top section of the core area (along the wall) is the first chip. Left click it (with the jet-pack equipped) to receive the first half of the jet-pack's power.

Chip 2:
The second chip is located directly at the top of the Intel tower, in the center of it. Go outside the tower (there is a roof at the elevator part) and fly upwards. You can't miss it (the only hard part is to get into its area without over passing it).

Scattered thoughts

I was reading ,recently, about Mercedes closing down their SL sector. Putting myself in the shoes of a Mercedes Benz driver, would I ever (as a possible professional/older male or female) venture into something as quirky and somewhat nerdy (at least how some perceive virtual worlds) as SL? I think that companies with markets similar to Mercedes can still benefit from A virtual world environment....just not one that resembles SL. In fact, spending more and more time in SL, I have come to feel that the range of products and companies that can benefit from SL is simply too narrow. Thus, while virtual worlds might progress and flourish, SL seems destined for eventual failure, that is, unless they make drastic changes to the nature of the experience. Any thoughts?

-Ryan "Dustin Siddeley" Weiss

Snap Shots

I just added a little utility that displays a thumbnail of the link target and usually some related info. You can disable it if you wish by clicking on the options at the upper right hand corner of the pop-up

"Criminal Law in Virtual Worlds"

Orin S. Kerr from George Washington University - Law School writes:

...Criminal law is a blunt instrument that should be used only as a last resort. The state's power to deny individuals their freedom is an extraordinary power, and it should be reserved for harms that other mechanisms cannot remedy. Online virtual worlds may seem real to some users, but unlike real life, they are mediated by game administrators who can take action with consequences internal to the game. Internal virtual harms should trigger internal virtual remedies. It is only when harms go outside the game that the criminal law should be potentially available to remedy wrongs not redressable elsewhere.

You can download the entire paper here


There has been some question about the theory of Masking my group (Avatar's as Masks) is using.

While we are very much aware that people use masks in thier everday lives, in the sense that our behavior and presentation changes with the situation. We do not curse at our bosses (well, most of us), we do not dress provocatively at church (well, some of us), and so on. This is a different form of masking than the one we are trying to get at. In the form of masking I'm talking about, the individual takes on another persona entirely. This is a case where behavior is not altered, it is unrecognizable as belonging to the person who is masked. The individual who takes on such a mask indicates the change with some outward symbol. It does not have to be a mask in the sense of a facial covering, but can be a band around the arm, or a specific color worn may indicate it. Part of this type of masking is that the mask itself (either tangible objects, or the behavior) uses symbols to indicate the persona being taken on. For instance, the use of paint to form stripes on the face may indicate the wrinkles of old age, or the use of a stick, decorated with strips of cloth may indicate authority of a ruler, or perhaps the manner of speech may indicate that the persona is of another country or class. These types of symbols are accepted by the community and it allows the persona to be immediately identified so that the audience does not have to wonder. The persona is likely to have another name entirely and is NOT is any form, that of the individual who is being masked. The masked persona has special authority and power within the community. There power comes directly from thier ability to portray what they intend to with thier mask. In this instance, think of masking more like an actor portraying a character than of a person who tailors thier behavior or appearence for a situation (even if it is merely for thier everyday life).

Masking ahs many functions within societies. It can be used for entertainment (very rarely), it can be used for "policing" the community, particularly a tight knit community in which accusations may backfire. It can also be used for calling the help of other spirits/dieties to heal or protect. Masking can be used to hide the identity of an individual who must preform a painful ritual upon another - so that the pain is not associated with the person under the mask, but rather with the mask itself. Many other reasons also exist, depending on the culture one is examining.

Masking is common (less so now in recent times) in non-western areas. Anthropologists have debately extensively about the purpose of masking, the use of masking, the method of masking, etc. There has been debate about its decline and about its popularity prior to said decline. The one aspect not questioned is that within a community to allows for masking either through masking societies that are dedicated to it, or through passing masking from generation to generation through bloodline, it plays a significant role in the smooth operation of the community.

There are 3 methods of masking accepted at the moment academically - the first is the use of bright, flashy masks/costumes/actions to focus attention on the personality of the mask, not the person beneath. The second method involves, plain, simple, and often minimul mask/costumes which focus attention on what is being concealed. The third is a combination of the two, where the mask is the focus, but BECAUSE of the manner in which is conceals the persona of the individual.

So what does this have to do with SL and avatars? Our theory (which has not been suggested before now) is that an avatar is a mask, in a very real, ritualistic type sense. Avatars are not representations of the individual creator specifically (if that was the case, then we'd not see any difference between the avatar and the creator's personality) but rather that the creator is making a mask - a new persona to inhabit this virtual world. With this project, we are using personality profiles to show that a distinction between the Avatar and Human creator not only exists, but is very, very, real. Once we are able to show that the avatar is not merely a digital representation of the person who created it, then we will be able to look further into reasons the human creator made the choices they did.

In a personal example. I am not an organized individual, I do not have the ability to keep my house straight constantly. I envy those people who do. I am outgoing, and often start conversations with strangers to learn more about them. I am observant, but an active participant in the world around me.

Terapyn (my created avatar) is very organized. She does NOT start conversations with strangers and while being very observant, she tends not to participate fully in the world around her, content to see what others are doing.

My personality is nothing like that of my avatar. While occassionally my personality does come through in SL (for instance, with those that have met me in RL), I can see a difference between my behavior when in the RL and my behavior (through the avatar) in SL. This type of personality breakthrough is also common in masking in which an individual in mask, may "break character" to shout at an annoying animal or shoo a child away.

This is not to say that I am not a part of this - I actively choose to make my avatar the way she is. I choose this, as a masked individual chooses to portray the persona of the mask (through use of said mask). I choose for my avatar to be a bit shy and a bit more laid back because it is how I want to fit into this virtual world. I do not want to be the center of conversations in SL, I would rather hear what others are saying from a distance. I find also, that when approached, the attitude of others towards me is very different - they are gentler, kinder, and more considerate. People tend not to swear as much around me (even though I can stand within earshot and hear every word in the book) - once I'm part of the conversation, the swearing is reduced. I also have noticed that my avatar's shy personality is like a magnet to others to offer suggestions and help, as well as to take an interest in the life of the avatar. It's as if I've chosen to mask not by flashy, bright colors - but rather by concealing the underlying personality - well, despite the wings, I just think those are neat.

I hope this has helped explain what type of masking we're talking about. We are not saying that Avatars are the same type of mask as used by Kachina's of the Hopi, but we are saying thier thier purposes and use may be similar in that it allows the individual a completely different persona - unrelated to thier own. The reasons for this may be varied. I am exploring SL as an anthropologists and I have learned more information about those using it by sitting back quietly and letting them talk.

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask. You are also encouraged to examine Claude Levi-Strauss, A. L. Kroeber, JohnPicton, and Leslie White. They are some of the people I've drawn information from. A search for Kachina, Masking Societies, or African Ritual will also give you much information about masking traditions if you have further interest. The best psychological information relating to masking occurs in the late 80s and early 90s - prior to that time you will mostly find ethnographic descrition of masks, how they are used, who's using them, etc. After the 90s, there is little new information about masking - mainly because the number of groups using masking has dwindled so significantly.

SL CEO - His thoughts....

This came out this morning and my Father sent it to me. Check it out.

One-On-One With Second Life Creator Philip Rosedale

By Mitch Wagner InformationWeek March 18, 2008 02:15 PM

Is there a second act for Second Life? That's the challenge that will be faced by Linden Lab's new CEO. Philip Rosedale, the company's founder, stepped aside as CEO in a surprise announcement on Friday, and said the company is beginning a search for a replacement.
Rosedale said he will focus day to day on the technology and strategy of Second Life, and leave running the company to the new CEO. The changed role was "100% my idea," he said. We talked with Rosedale in a telephone interview this week...

...He said the virtual worlds industry as a whole is in its infancy, and cautioned against attaching too much significance to fluctuations that are basically random noise. Virtual worlds will be hundreds of times more popular than Second Life is today, Rosedale said.
Everybody Will Be In-World

Read the entire article here.

Rosedale in the mirror

gimme a break!

SPIEGEL ONLINE: The growth of Second Life, though, has subsided dramatically. Firms are pulling out …

Rosedale : The real business use of Second Life centers around collaboration and that is continuing to grow quite rapidly. There are more than 400 universities in Second Life and there are more than 4,000 teachers on our education mailing list. There might have been more enthusiasm and stronger growth in the first two quarters of 2007, but I think that the core growth in utility and in applications is still very strong. There's been a media focus on marketing …

Rosedale : We have to profoundly open up the system. We've opened up the client, and we'll continue to open up formats, protocols, standards, and code. I think we can serve a function as a company that coordinates the activities of many companies and individuals within this system and by doing that allow Second Life to grow by two or three orders of magnitude. Ultimately, the use of virtual worlds will be greater than the use of the Web. Because the Web imposes a language barrier that a virtual world -- once it's perfect -- will not impose.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Intel x3100 or gma965

Do you have a brand new pc or mac with a x3100 integrated graphics card? This integrated mobile graphics card needs special settings in the settings file for second life to operate. If you log in to second life and it crashes right before it should load, then this fix could be for you. In the settings file under your windows username, and follow the path from the picture you can access the xml file. You might have to unhide folders if you are using vista. Google that process first. After you have reached the settings xml file add the following entry

This should let you in, hope this helps and sorry about the delay Donna. Your Viao should work now. Also this post may be useless if one of the new builds of second life, that has just been released, automatically configures for the x3100.

UF wins IEEE virtual reality 2008 best paper

Mixed Reality Human. An Initial Exploration with a Virtual Breast Exam Patient was named was named IEEE Virtual Reality 2008 Best Paper. the Virtual Experiences Research Group ( works on integrating passive haptics with highly-interactive virtual humans to train medical students on communication skills during simulated breast examinations.

Age of avatar and the likelihood of spending money in SL

"If valid, this graph has interesting applications when it comes to marketing and support. If you still show up after reaching the ripe old age of a year and a half in Second Life, you are an avatar where businesses should focus their attention. After all, nearly everyone in your age range is spending money in Second Life. Also, if you have a problem report for Linden Lab, perhaps they should give you more attention being a near-guaranteed paying customer."


Monday, March 17, 2008

Rosedale stepping down!

Looks like Rosedale is resigning as CEO of Linden Labs:

Do you think this will hurt or help LL? Sometimes organizations struggle when a visionary leader steps aside...


Just in case you didn't see this on the SL Researchers listserv email, there's some talk of some AI going on in SL:

Apparently a team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is using SL to develop AI.,childlike-intelligence-created-in-second-life.aspx

The team is led by the head of the cog sci department, Selmer Bringsjord

There also seems to be a bot called, "
Jezebele the Talking Phantom" at a castle called NEMESIS in Agravain. It is supposedly pretty convincing.

It would be helpful if those who are more well read on AI would comment on these bots and their capabilities in light of the state of AI in general.

Welcome back - and thoughts on civic engagement

Hope everyone had a wonderful break... and welcome back. To get back into the rhythm of things, I wanted to share some thoughts on a discussion I attended last night at Thotica (in SL - every Sunday night, on evolutionary psychology). This group is very engaged and many are very much of the post-humanist school of thought. Last night's discussion included many opinions shared about the evolution of human as "cyborg" via advances in technologies and programs such as SL. As they posed the question regarding the pro's and con's of transitioning to "life" in virtual realities, the discussion moved to the idea of community. Certainly there are many communities forming in SL, as they have via social networking sites, blogs, and interest communities on the Internet. Yet, civic engagement in local communities continues to wane in our culture. Will people choose a virtual community over their neighborhoods, towns, civic organizations, etc? (it appears some already have) And if so, why? And at what consequence? (we still need to raise our children and provide food, clothing -in theory, and shelter in the rl) I have many thoughts on how to answer these questions both from positive and negative perspectives, but thought I'd throw it out to you...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Educating the Masses?

The recents posts and news of universities using platforms like SL to hold classes began to make me wonder about the new chapter of education. We currently sit at a university that is sorely underfunded (at least I know CLAS is) and are finding that more and more people will be prevented from attended college as financial situations become grimer, less scholarships are given, and programs like Bright Futures are cut. I was told as a child that education was a privilage, not a right and I should take my education seriously. It was explained to me that every class I cut was a waste of roughly $78.00 - tuition paid and not used. As a result, I was actually sent home from multiple classes when ill. I once had a prof ask me exactly how high my fever was, and I said, "Not much over 103," - that prof didn't send me home, she had security escort me to the infirmary. Apparently pnuemonia is a good reason to miss class, who knew? lol. When universities such as Pheonix Online came into existence, I dismissed them as not having real educational potential (yes, small minded I know), but now the value of that degree is increasing and people are beginning to accept that you don't neccesarily have to give up your job and home to go to school. In today's world, finding work without a degree is becoming harder. My husband has a GED by choice and even he who often picks on me for making almost no money while he's the breadwinner (in terms of my number of years in school vs. his few) has admitted that had he not fallen into the position he holds he would never have been successful without a college degree. So what are those without means of supporting themselves to do? I can currently purchase a nice trailer on a small plot land with my student loan debt (I prefer to think in terms of what I could get with it, not the dollar amount, that scares me lol).

Yes education is a privilage, not everyone has equal access to it. But why shouldn't they? Technically, they can get as good an education through a source like SL - does it really matter that the slide show is on SL, not in a lecture hall? What do you guys think? Is this the new wave of education? Will it devalue our own educations? Will it make our thousands of dollars of education seem foolish? Will Universities demand 20k in Lindens a semester?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

On the mm-mmove

All major cellphone game publishers -- including Electronic Arts Inc , Gameloft and Glu Mobile have signed up for the new Nokia's N-Gage platform that will allow developers to offer a single version of a game to more than 10 million phones.

This is a major shift from previous years in which mobile games and particularly "social networking" was largely disregarded by all major players in the mobile game industry. Which is quite curious, since the telephone is the obvious social medium "portal". This is of course the result of the boom in social networking which is finally calling the attention of the behemoth telcos.

Nokia's move alone is expected to increase mobile game revenues by 23% this year to 4 billion.

Is our avatar going to move on and take advantage of this new sim? It reminds me of that great British TV series from the 80's, the ubiquitous cyberpunk icon Max Headroom, the voice of a dystopian future that doesn't look too far from our chaotic present.

The show which apparently was either too good or too advanced for the taste of the general public (meaning Nielsen viewers) was taken off the air supposedly for low ratings, but its huge fan base is a testament to the contrary. I believe the move was more of corporate politics that did not like to be questioned.

Social spaces are taking the shape of an atomized MaxHeadroom, where there is room for more than one head to make a difference. (I know, that was bad :-)

UCD takes first steps as Second Life university

I'm starting to wonder if I am behind the times or ahead of the power curve. Another university is starting to conduct activities in Second Life. So what are they famous for doing? Conducting a lecture with PowerPoint slides in SL, as the first Irish universtiy to do so.

Granted, this is like MIT's open courseware that opens the intellectual knowledge to a broader audience,

but it is not an innovative advance that pushes the envelope of new educational best practices. Where is the student engagement?


HBO Acquired Second Life Documentary

Apparently the documentary has been created completely in-game.

Chat Logger and Surveys

Ive finished my chat logger and survey scripts, if anyone in the class needs this I will be glad to provide them to you. A little info on what each specifically does:

  • Survey Script: You touch a specified object, and it brings up a dialogue asking you a series of multiple choice questions. The questions and answers are stored on a notecard. Once the user completes the survey it sends an email with the person's avatar name, location in world, and the answers to the survey in a neat format. A neat feature is that if a user times out or for some reason decides not to finish the survey it will send the incomplete survey after a couple of minutes.
  • Chat Logger: You click a specified object to start the log. Every x messages (user specified), it sends an email with a nicely formatted chat log, including the name of the person and what the said. It's neatly formatted by new lines for every line spoken in world. I can add support to color coded names, but I don't think it's necessary for our project.

Monday, March 3, 2008

To Advertise Life

"I like totally tried to get into First Life and those dudes were like, sorry man, you're totally not old enough. I was like, WTF! Then I found out about Teen FL, and everything's cool now." --Aaron, 15

Sarcastic as the website is I think it is making a very valid point.

Which VW will reign supreme?

After reading an article about Showtime's persistent presence in SL (You can read it here-
, I came across another article about Coca-Cola moving their SL presence to a competitor, This got me thinking about other SL competitors, and how Second Life intends to stay ahead of the competition. In addition to direct competitors such as IMVU, There, Active Worlds, and Kaneva (list taken from Wikipedia's article on SL), how many others can be considered indirect competitors? Does SL see itself as a business competing with MMORPGS, such as World of Warcraft? What about Sony's Home environment on the PS3 (thanks to another poster for info. about Home), or the Sims Online?

How popular are any of these virtual environments, anyway? I've seen articles boasting the number of registered accounts on SL, but to my knowledge nobody knows how many accounts are active or how much time the average user spends in-world. I'd wager none of the virtual environments (SL and its direct competitors) are as popular as WoW. Could this be a reflection of the preference for goods consumption over creation? Reflecting back on some of our past readings about virtual worlds representing human utopia, what does this say about our ideal world? Perhaps we feel more comfortable with rules and restrictions rather than an open environment. Sure, we like to try to bend the rules sometimes, but just like children, perhaps we prefer having boundaries in place.

question - Can SL be classfied under web 2.0 technologies or should itb be part of multi player gaming world?

Web 2.0 - Web 2.0 is a trend in World Wide Web technology, and web design, a second generation of web-based communities and hosted services such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies, which aim to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users. (adapted from Wikipedia)
Second Life relies heavily on Social Networking but with the play of Avatars it mimics the gaming world. Educators are looking at SL as an alternate means to reach their learners, who experience challenges learning in the RL classrooms.
Since SL is relying on social networking and allows for its residents to demonstrate their creativity one can argue that this can be added to the web 2.0 technologies list, however the direction some educators are taking this makes one strongly believe this to be a part of MMORPG world.
Also after visiting several sites to learn more about Web 2.0 technologies none of them have added SL as a Web 2.0 technology. So if some of you can shed some light into this dilema that will be great.

Disabilities and SL

One of the potential participants in our study is a paraplegic. As I was investigating how he could participate in SL and in our study, I found some interesting information. So far in this class I have only looked at the use of virtual enviroments as a method for bringing people who are not physically co-located together. If we look at virtual environments simply as a way to bring people who are far apart close together for a presentation or meeting, you can see how it would increase the opportunities and cost-effectiveness of such activities. Virtual environments provide a tool to allow people to virtually gather and share information, ideas and experiences.

Beyond that, virtual environments are providing new options for those who have physical disabilities. There are currently several groups who have started using Second Life to meet and support each other. Further research and development of virtual worlds may open up entirely new experiences for those who are not physically able to go and do in the real world:,25642,22835200-5014108,00.html

I have asked the student to share with me his experiences in SL and I will report back here when he does. I am very interested to hear what he thinks.


Court systems within SL

I'm listening to a podcast-esque recording, from a guy named Nick Wilson, concerning a court system in SL with enforceable rulings. He talks about the development of tools to ensure that enforcement would be possible. Additionally he is questioned on universal judgement (of behavior) and possible accusations of extortion (after fining is discussed) I attached the link....check it out if you have a few minutes.

-Ryan Weiss

Sunday, March 2, 2008

On Second Life, nobody knows you're a dog

Back to the FUTURE

ubrowser is being developed by LL in association with Mozilla.
In my opinion this is technical innovation at its best.
Just think of the possibilities, interactive web APPLICATIONS that are written in javascript, php, or someother language, applications that are developed as common gateway interfaces....etc, that are accessible from the web would soon be accessible from SL.
As a developer myself, I would be very interested in programming web applications that are not designed to be viewed in a regular browser but to take full advantage of the next and coming Havok 4 physics engine in SL.

I guess Gary would be happy to know that it would be possible to get interactive news in SL.

The Corn Field

I know that the topic of law and order in SL is kind of a taboo but since there is a prison in Second Life with a one way teleport terminal, one should expect ,that there is a legal system that is separated from the legislative and executive systems; And since we know this is not the case I wonder if Linden Lab can maintain a stable social and economical environment that would encourage major "foreign" investments in Second Life.


Like we have discussed in class, second life is not the only platform out there for social networking across a virtual environment. Sony has created their own system, Home, which is on their infamous PS3. yes you have to fork out over 500 bucks just to jump on board however you do not pay a monthly fee to have your own your space. Also because its based on one type of system with amazing graphics capabilities it can look much cleaner and operate in HD in your home. Also instead of sitting at a computer in a single environment thats always crashing you can seamlessly transition between multimedia, other users spaces, and games with multi player capabilities. This could be the beginning of the home synergy around a multi faceted device that is your one source of entertainment. This idea of one stop entertainment was introduced with the Xbox, PS3 and the Wii. The next generation of consoles due out in 2-3 years should take this a step father. So i guess this could be two topics. But the idea that these devices and virtual worlds might pass for something new, is not true. We will see this market grow and expand as people reach for more of a global unity instead of their local community. Click on home on the top.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Business Interface of the Future, Today

Emgeetee Island 131.75.2 Get a free t-shirt and make sure you take your swimsuit:-)

Our guest lecturer for next Tuesday, March 4th, will be Dr. Charles Wankel.

He is the leading founder and director of scholarly virtual communities for management professors, currently directing seven, with thousands of participants in more than seventy nations. He has run online international Internet collaborations in teaching and research for more than a decade.

Dr. Wankel, is Associate Professor of Management at St. John's University, New York, holds a doctorate from New York University where he was admitted to Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honor society for business disciplines. He was awarded the Outstanding Service in Management Education and Development Award at the Academy of Management
's 2004 meeting.

One of his interests is to establish virtual team collaborations with diverse educational institutions so this is an excellent opportunity to establish a relationship with this distinguished and internationally recognized expert.

Two teams from Bucknell University's Foundation Seminar

He was a Distinguished Speaker at the E-ducation without Borders 2005 Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the keynote speaker at the Nippon Academy of Management Education 's Tokyo meeting, Visiting Professor at Banking University in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, Vietnam.

He has been an invited lecturer at the University of Malaysia, the National University of Singapore, the Czech Management Center, the University of Warsaw, the Polish Academy of Sciences, and the University of Toronto. U.S. universities that have invited him to lecture include Harvard and Columbia.