Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The new top Linden

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


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

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

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

Education & Capitalism

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

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

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

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

Anyone know much about modern-day train hopping? (

HiPiHi: China's Answer to SL

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

BTW Anyone understand Mandarin?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tired of Reality?

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

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

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

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

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

You can apply at

The Oneiric Universes

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

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

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

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

SL posts strong economic growth on dwindling enrollments

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

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

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

Disabilities and Second Life

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

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

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


Ancient Avatars

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

Just for fun

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What to do

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

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

Apple in Second Life?

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

Get a First Life

Face it, we all need to from time to time

Is Second Life worth saving?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yet Another Bashing

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

Read the full story here

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

Announcement of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many thanks.


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

Friday, April 18, 2008

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

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

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Baby Step Digital Design for theatre and dance

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

Come check it out!!!

clip from The Office

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Black Holes in Cyberspace

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

So, are there black holes in SL?

Social behavior in virtual environments

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

Church on SL

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

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

Interesting Summer B class

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Monday, April 14, 2008

going green

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

life like avatars

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

Real Life Shopping

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

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


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Competing Virtual Worlds

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

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

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

UF Graduate Student Council 2008 Research Forum

To our Class:

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paper on Wii interface for SL

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

Resources page

Virtual Marketing

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


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


Arctic Region SuperComputing Project

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

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Daily Show pokes fun at SL/Congress use of SL

Additionally, here is an article about it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Scripters and Builders on Second Life

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

[book] Platform Second Life

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

Havok Engine Released for Free

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

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

Purchasing Property through SL

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

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

The Last Lecture: A Must See

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

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

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

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

Observations and recommendations

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

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

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Alternate Reality Gaming

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

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

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Logins disabled until further notice

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

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

Friday, April 4, 2008

Congress in Second Life

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

Multi-touch interface design

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

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Who's Joining Me?

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

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

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

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

Tuesday's Speaker

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donna D, on behalf of Team 3

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Virtual Reality and the Treatement of Paranoia

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

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

Team 3 Event TOMORROW (April 3rd)

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

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

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

Hope to see you in the Swamp on Thursday!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Politics in World

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

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


Random Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

a few thoughts on non-seq learning

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

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


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