Monday, 24 December 2007

JISC online conference e-books

Via the Learning From Online Worlds; Teaching In Second Life blog I notice that JISC have made available two e-books that contain the proceedings of their online conference 'Innovating e-Learning 2007: Institutional Transformation and Supporting Lifelong Learning' which was held earlier this year. I ran a session on Second Life as part of the conference.

The results of this session and the ensuing discussion are available in the Institutional transformation [PDF] e-book. I'm not sure who has pulled all this material together but they've done a pretty good job. Thanks!

Why...

...are there so many lighthouses in Second Life?

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Machinima Commons

There's been a thread of discussion recently on the SL Machinima list about whether it is necessary to ask permission before filming on someone else's SL land. There doesn't seem to be a clear answer on this... which tends to make me think that it is probably best to ask when in doubt.

Some of that doubt could be removed by agreeing a mechanism for Second Life land-owners to explicitly state whether it is OK for machinima-making to take place within a given region and, if so, what conditions apply (non-profit only, attribution must be given, etc.). Hey, it sounds a bit like Creative Commons doesn't it??

I wonder whether what we need is a set of simple Machinima Commons 'licences' (MC) which could be added to the in-world description of a region. I suspect that we only need two:

MC BY - This region may be used in machinima provided attribution is given.

MC BY-NC - This region may be used in machinima provided attribution is given and the resulting work is used only for non-commercial purposes.

My attempt at an MC icon is shown above. This is available in various sizes from Flickr.

MC licences (if they existed) would indicate an allowable use of a region of land. They are not intended to be used as the licence under which the resulting machinima is made available - Creative Commons or some other content licence would be used for that.

There is now a machinima-friendly page in the SL Wiki which can be used to indicate that you allow filming on your sim. My suspicion is that this approach will not work very well - it will only ever have partial coverage and, like many registries, will probably go out of date fairly quickly. In general, it is better to keep this kind of information as close to the content as possible.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

NMC Orientation

I was reminded recently about NMC's bespoke Second Life orientation experience and decided to try it out for myself. I like it.

Web registration is more streamlined than with the standard Second Life registration pages and once in-world, the orientation area is less confusing, at least initially - though I must confess that at the point that the orientation split into multiple paths I felt somewhat bewildered about which direction to take.

Here's a picture of my newly rezzed avatar, Alrightme Ansome (to be pronounced with a strong west-country accent) reading some of the initial orientation signs.

Overall I'd rate it as a much better way to get started with Second Life, particularly for educators, than the standard orientation.

My only concern was that at the time I did it there weren't any other residents around to share the experience... none... nada . My gut feeling is that for this to be a truly useful orientation there have to be meeters and greeters around.

Now, I was joining on UK time - I can't quite remember when - early evening I think. It may be the case that NMC have people around during US hours? Perhaps what we need to do is firstly, encourage the use of the NMC experience for new UK education residents and secondly, organise a rota of UK meeters and greeters on UK timescales?

PS. If anyone, prefereably of a conish persuasion, would like to take over the controls of Alrightme Ansome, you are welcome to him. I probably won't make much more use of him. He's been carefully used twice and has never left the NMC orientation area. Get in touch if you are interested.

Linden Lab, VAT, data protection and all that

I note, via Milton Broome's blog, that the University of Edinburgh have made available a draft set of guidelines for making use of external Web 2.0 applications (direct link to the PDF) within university teaching and research activities.
This document offers guidance to staff within the University on some of the issues which need to be considered before using such services for University purposes. The document is intended to be helpful for all staff, including researchers, teaching staff and support staff.
This document is not specific to use of Second Life but most of the issues are pertinent to its use in education.

One is kinda left wishing that things didn't have to get so legal sounding - but I suppose that they probably do. Whatever... this looks like a very useful document and one that I'm guessing will begin to be mirrored in other institutions.

There's a big section on the issues around data protection. Given that Linden Lab are now collecting UK VAT from us it would seem logical that they also have to comply with UK and/or European data protection legislation. Is that the case?

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Bedfordia

In response to my recent post about the University of Bedford island, Marko Barthelmess left a comment pointing out that the University have two islands, of which the older one, Bedfordia, is their learning and social space:
the first of our two islands, Bedfordia, has been a collaborative effort among several other staff and a SecondLife builder, Yucca Gemini. Bedfordia is our virtual social learning space and as such, is much less of a representation of the real life campus, intended for socialisation, interaction and.... well, learning. If you had popped over to Bedfordia you would have seen some of the sculpture we have on display there and some of the ongoing work of our students.
I popped over to have a quick look round earlier on today. Good stuff, though I must admit I'd get more out of it if Marko showed me around... hint, hint.

Actually, I'm quite happy to be shown around other places as well! So this is an open call... if you're based in UK academia and you've built something (an island or some other kind of resource) and you'd like me to blog about it here, give me an in-world shout (a 'shout-in'?? :-) ) and arrange a time.

Thanks.

Virtual world growth predictions

Kzero has a nice little graphic showing predicted growth of various virtual worlds during 2008. I'll ignore the specific numbers since I have no idea what they actually mean but in terms of general trends it seems reasonable. There's a Slideshare presentation to go with the image.

Meanwhile, over on Second Thoughts, there are some predictions for Second Life in 2008.

I don't go in for crystal ball gazing myself - largely because I'm crap at it.

Monday, 17 December 2007

EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds Constituent Group

EDUCAUSE have announced the creation of a new Virtual Worlds Constituent Group.
One does not need to be a member of EDUCAUSE, or pay anything, to belong to/participate in the listserve or for many of the EDUCAUSE online resources. I have been an active member of EDUCAUSE, and on a few of the other CG's, for a number of years now and find them very useful. For a list of other EDUCAUSE CG's, please check here http://www.educause.edu/ConstituentandDiscussionGroups/318. There is also an in-world group you can join called EDUCAUSE Virtual Worlds, which already has over 75 members! Just do a SEARCH in the GROUPS tab for EDUCAUSE.

The creation of the Virtual Worlds Constituent Group marks a great commitment of resources by EDUCAUSE and will also expose the idea of virtual worlds to a large and growing audience. The support we received for the Hot Topic Discussion at EDUCAUSE's Annual Conference this last October in Seattle was impressive. In fact, the idea of teaching and learning in a virtual environment drew big crowds for each session. People were sitting on the floor for our Hot Topic Discussion, they had to turn people away from Joanna Robinson's presentation, and there were over 200 people at the panel discussion that included several of our fellow SLEDers (congrats to all!).

As a side note, EDUCAUSE is in the process of accepting proposals for pre-conference and main conference sessions at next October's Annual Conference in Orlando. The deadline for pre-conference submissions is January 14th ( http://www.educause.edu/14774) and the deadline for main conference sessions is February 11th (http://www.educause.edu/14767). Here's a excellent opportunity to share the great work you are doing at, I believe, the largest technology in education conference of its kind.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Art in his own words

This is an image of me (Art Fossett) made up of words from this blog.

Thanks to Dave Pattern for the PerlMagick script that created it.

Truely, were you wafted here from paradise? Nah, Luton Airport...


Looking at the Second Life map this morning I happened to notice that the University of Bedfordshire now seem to have two islands not far from Eduserv Island.

I popped over to take a look and met up with Bedforshire Zuhal who has been single-handedly creating their presence in-world. He's done a pretty impressive job as well. Especially since he said it's all been pulled together in not much more than two weeks. The photo is of us standing together on top of the in-world version of the Luton campus library.

For me, this highlights how easy it is to pull stuff together in-world, once you get the hang of it - and assuming that you have an aptitude of course. The Uni are already starting to use the space for teaching - small-scale stuff initially of course.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Cylindrian live

I've been in Second Life for well over a year but I've never really been attracted by in-world live music. I dunno why.

This evening, thanks to a tweet from Mal Burns, I popped over to ElvenMoor to see the last few numbers in a set by Cylindrian.

Not exactly my cup of tea musically, though very pleasant to listen to and no-one could deny that Grace Buford is a powerful performer. The audio stream was crisp and clear. Overall it was a great experience and one that I wouldn't mind repeating sometime.

Another day, another 3600 seconds

I occasionally get invited to give a version of my presentation entitled "Second Life in 3600 Seconds" to various audiences in the UK - a misnomer if ever there was one, since I can quite easily talk about Second Life for two hours or more without even pausing for breath or repeating myself!

Yesterday I went over to the Institute of Learning and Research Technology (ILRT) at the University of Bristol to give the presentation during their staff development week. Usually when I give this talk I'm in places where I'm not sure what the network will be like, so I tend to use mainly PowerPoint, dropping into Second Life every so often just to demonstrate things.

On this occasion however I wanted to do more than simply show pictures of Second Life. I wanted to give people a proper feel for what virtual worlds are like to use and, perhaps more importantly, to demonstrate some of the practical issues with using it for virtual meetings. To do that properly I decided firstly, to do the whole presentation from within Second Life and secondly, that I needed other residents to be around while I did it.

To that end, I decided to announce my talk the day before to the UK Second Life Educators group in Facebook, saying that I was happy for people to attend the talk in-world if they wanted to. Given only a day's notice, I wasn't expecting many people to show up - in the end there were 5 or 6 I guess.

So, what was the set up?

In the real-life venue I had two laptops. The first running the Second Life client and being projected onto the display screen in the room so that the RL audience could see everything that was happening in-world. The second fitted with a Web-cam and streaming an image of me into Second Life via Veodia.

In-world, I used the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island as the venue. About half my slides were uploaded onto the in-world display screen - the other half were turned into tee-shirts with slogans that I could wear at appropriate points during the talk. (As a record of the session I've recombined these two parts back into a composite Slideshare presentation).

I turned up at the venue about 30 minutes before I was due to speak and set everything up, including starting the Veodia stream. Things seemed to be OK. However, after about 1o minutes the video stream lost sound :-(. I don't know why. Those of you who have read my earlier report on streaming the UKOLN Blogs and Social Networks event will know that this is not an unfamiliar situation for me :-(

Struggling to get the stream started again and with the RL audience of about 35 people filtering into the room I switched tack and moved over to using in-world voice as the way of delivering the talk in-world. This wasn't a major problem - the combination of voice and in-world slides being perfectly acceptable as a in-world presentation experience IMHO - and SL's voice technology seemed to work pretty well.

The talk itself went OK I think, though perhaps it would be better not to take my word for it! A particular highlight for me was when I built a virtual chair - I tend to use chair-building as my stock demonstration of how the in-world building tools work. A member of the RL audience asked me about the in-world physics engine. I raised the chair into the air to show that by default, objects are not acted on by the force of gravity. Then I checked the 'Physical' option and let go. It dropped smack onto Silversprite Helsinki's head :-). Silversprite had conveniently chosen to walk onto the stage at the front of the room just at the right moment, much to the merriment of the RL audience (Silversprite being an ex-member of staff of ILRT!).

So... how did the session go overall? Did everything go smoothly? No, of course not! Managing my avatar's movement and camera position, my in-world tee-shirts and slides, the RL audience, the voice channel and the SL audience was a complete handful for me on my own and I'll need more practice to get it 100% right. It certainly wasn't a disaster... but there's plenty of scope for improvement.

A few things are worth noting in particular.

Firstly, because I was using my SL client as the way of showing the in-world tee-shirts and slides to the RL audience, the main focus of my attention around what was happening in SL was on where my avatar's camera was pointing. This meant that both I and the RL audience missed much of the avatar activity in the SL venue. For the same reason I also tended to lose track of what my avatar was doing - as opposed to what the camera was doing. So, for example, I suspect that for at least some of the time I was standing with my avatar's back to the SL audience. How rude!

Because my camera was focusing on the SL presentation screen, I didn't realise that I was doing this.

Secondly, although the RL audience could see the SL chat displayed on the screen in the RL venue (several of them commented that this was very useful for them) I was unable to take in what was happening in the chat log. The reality is that I needed someone else in the RL venue to monitor what was going on in-world and to relay it on to me at appropriate points. That would have allowed me to pick up what was happening in SL and to engage the two audiences rather better than I was able to do on my own.

Interestingly, I think the RL audience were very aware of the SL audience, in the sense that they could see everything that was being said, but the SL audience probably felt very cut off from what was going on in the room. Ideally, I should have facilitated the coming together of the two audiences better, but I wasn't able to because of having to focus too much on what I was saying.

The "presentation by in-world tee-shirts " experiment failed rather miserably. For some reason, tee-shirts seem to rez far more slowly than textures on in-world objects (possibly because they weren't in my client cache I guess)? So each time I changed shirt, I had to wait a while for the slogan to appear. More than once I simply gave up waiting and said what the slogan was going to be. This was a bit of a shame.

Finally, I know that some people in the SL audience felt annoyed that I had ignored them during the question and answer session at the end. I completely apologise for this but there was a lot going on and as I indicated earlier, keeping track of it all was beyond my capability in the heat of the moment. As happened in the symposium back in May, it was actually the RL audience that flagged up the fact that questions were coming in from the SL audience that I wasn't seeing. This was great... but if I'm honest, even when the RL audience took the role of relaying to me what was happening in-world, I wasn't able to comprehend it properly for some reason, and therefore didn't react to it as well as I should have done. Oh well... live and learn.

As one person in the RL audience said at the end, "We could see how difficult it was for you (i.e. me) to keep track of both audiences on your own, but for us it was very useful to be able to listen to the conversation in the room and see the in-world chat in Second Life".

Final thought... which is largely irrelevant because the video stream failed to work for some reason... but if the stream had worked, I would have streamed an image of me (probably my face) as I talked. When I first turned up at the RL venue I was unsure whether to stream myself or the RL audience. I asked the locals and they were concerned that I hadn't asked people in advance whether they minded being streamed. As a result, I chose to point the Web-cam at myself. With hindsight, I suspect that streaming an image of the RL audience would have helped pull the two audiences together. Streaming an image of my face would have made little or no difference to the impact of my talk - but for the virtual delegates, being able to see the RL audience would have been quite nice I think.

Anyway... enough already. Overall I think it was a useful session. I certainly hope it was. Every time I try using SL to run an event I learn more about what works and what doesn't and I hope that by writing these postings some of that gets passed on to others. If you were in either audience and are reading this, please feel free to share your comments - good or bad.

[Images by Silversprite Helsinki]

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Theatron 3 - wow!

Wow, as in amazing - not as in World of Warcraft!

I popped over to Theatron island last night (Theatron 3 being one of the SL projects that we funded this year), just to have a quick look-see at what is happening.

They are building a huge amphitheatre of some kind (shown here). It's not ready yet, but the scale is amazing and one can imagine that the finished article will really give virtual visitors a nice feel for what the original would have been like.

Keep up the good work guys...

Monday, 10 December 2007

Meeting Angelina

Idling on Eduserv Island this morning I bumped into someone who was having a play with my PandoraBot driven primbot, Pandora Bot. We were talking about the technology used behind the scenes to drive it. He mentioned a Web site called MyCyberTwin, which does something similar on the Web (though for $25 you can bring your cybertwin in-world using an object attachment).

I thought I'd have a quick play. Superficially it doesn't look much different to what can be done using a PandoraBot. The blurb claims that it can be trained to respond "just like you" (something that could also presumably be done using the PandoraBot system) but I didn't get as far as trying that.

Instead, I signed in as Art Fossett and played at interviewing Angelina Jolie - hey, it's not like I'm ever going to get to do that in RL right!?


You: hi

Angelina: Hello

You: made any good films recently?

Angelina: I like movies. Which movie are you talking about?

You: beowulf

Angelina: Beowulf is a computer animated film released in 2007. I voiced Grendel's mother in it, which was a challenge as she's quite badass.

You: what's a badass?

Angelina: Oh come on, you know... right?

You: shucks... yeah

Angelina: Great. Would you like to talk about anything else?

You: did you have to be painted all over in gold paint?

Angelina: Painting can be great fun. That's something you really enjoy doing?

You: sometimes

Angelina: Every now and then?

You: yup

Angelina: No kidding? I'm actually surprised!

You: you are 32 years old right?

Angelina: Do you think that 32 is old?

You: no... it is young

Angelina: Is it really? I find it hard to know what's true with the amount of rubbish the press come up with. Not that I'm suggesting the same of you.

You: what was your favorite role?

Angelina: Tough call. My favorite changes all the time.

You: lara croft?

Angelina: Playing Lara Croft was amazing. I'm hoping the third film will see the light of day. Lady Croft is such a strong female character, you can't help but be drawn to her.

You: i think her boobs are too big

Angelina: I get asked about my breasts often. They were much bigger during Tomb Raider and also after I gave birth to Shiloh.

You: were those two events related in some way?

Angelina: Two?

You: what do you like best about yourself?

Angelina: I like a lot of things, I love life. I love my children. I love discovering new things, learning. Again it may sound like a walking cliche, but there you have it.

You: will you ever get too old to be an actor?

Angelina: I can say yes I will, but I am not the real Angelina, only a clone. What do you think they would say?

You: doh... now you've spoiled the illusion

Angelina: An illusion is when your brain is fooled on a sensory level to see something unreal. Hollywood and the film industry are masters of illusion. Even the press seem to be entering this realm more and more, better a good story than the boring truth.

You: i like boring lies best

Angelina: I think I like that too... actually.. maybe not.. I'm so indecisive today!

You: yes.. i mean, no... i mean...

Angelina: Oh, I see what you mean. Or not. Maybe I'm a tad confused

You: well, it's been nice interviewing you

Angelina: Thanks for that Art Fossett.

You: np

Angelina: All sorted then Art Fossett. I like chatting with you. We get along well hey?

You: bye

Angelina: Bye Art Fossett.


Don't tell Brad but I think she was trying to hit on me at the end there! :-)

Edublog awards (again)

Just thinking some more about why this event didn't quite work for me...

Firstly, I picked up audio thru the SL voice channel. In usability terms there are some issues with using one avatar's voice channel to stream in the audio for a RL event. With the way my SL client is configured, the volume on the voice channel is directly related to how close the listener's camera (and/or avatar) is to the avatar that is feeding in the stream. In the case of the Edublog awards, the avatar doing this was moving around the venue - as a result, the audio varied in volume unless I explicitly tracked that avatar with my camera. Furthermore, I also tended to find it somewhat counterintuitive that a generic stream was appearing to come from one particular avatar.

With hindsight, it might have been better to dedicate this job to some kind of 'alt' avatar, possibly made to look like some sort of a 'bot and given a name and/or group indicating its role in the event (e.g. setting the group to 'Edublog audio stream' or somesuch), positioned clearly up the front of the event space, and not moving around.

Secondly, I struggled a little to engage with the awards themselves because I wasn't familiar enough with most of the award nominees - clearly this is my fault for not doing my homework properly. It meant that I kinda felt a bit like an outsider. Prior to the event this would have been helped (a little... maybe!) by having access to either an OPML file of all the nominated blog feeds (allowing me to quickly add them all to my favorite rss reader) or a single aggregated feed of all of them (or both).

To demonstrate the potential value of this I've since created an OPML file of all the nominated blogs (though I suspect there may be a couple of errors in it - apologies to anyone's feed that I've got wrong). I've also created an aggregated feed of all the winning blogs.

Hope this is useful...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Edublog awards

I spent some time earlier on this evening at the Edublog Awards on Jokadia.

It seems to me that we still have a lot to learn about doing this kind of thing well. Just in case anyone thinks I'm being very rude to say that, please note that I absolutely include myself in that statement (as readers familiar with any of the de-briefs after my own SL events will know). In particular, the sound quality was variable tonight - I mainly got it thru the SL voice channel though it was also available as a parcel stream and thru ustream.tv. It went from good to bad and back again with everything in between.

I would have also liked there to have been more in-world discussion about the awards. As it was, there was a lot of noise but not a lot of signal (I did nothing to improve this it has to be said!). My gut feeling is that discussion would have been helped by having more in-world visual material available to complement the audio stream. There were slides that told us which award was currently being presented - but it might have been nice to have something about each of the shortlisted blogs - and then a longer slide about the winning entry.

Doing that might have helped focus our attention a little bit? Perhaps this is something that could be tried next year...

Darwins spotted together in SL at least 9 months ago...

"I tried to sell 'dead' canoeist virtual land", admits Art Fossett.

UK police are investigating claims that the Darwins were spotted together in Second Life at least 9 months ago. "We don't understand why they made their avatars so lifelike", said a police spokesperson.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Second museums

Over on Museum 2.0 Nina Simon asks, "What Might Bring You to Second Life?", not a bad question as such though I prefer the emphasis on the "what is possible?" than the "what is stopping us?".

In his comments in response to the entry, Mike Ellis is quite skeptical about Second Life as a truly social experience:
I don't particularly like SL as an experience because I don't feel it actually adds much to my life: it's actually pretty lonely in there, not terribly sociable, and I find myself continually asking "why?"... www.there.com on the other hand is completely compelling to me because it is about social contact, immediate gratification (meeting different people) as well as visually beautiful. So the question inevitably comes back to "why a 3d environment?" rather than "why this particular 3d environment?"
I tend to disagree. SL is as social an experience as you want to make it, either by explicit design (e.g. attending or running a meeting in a subject area of your choosing) or by accident (e.g. going to a club or other area and seeing who you meet) though I would agree that the latter is not always as easy as it might be, in terms of finding the right kinds of places.

But Mike is absolutely right to say that we should focus firstly on the generic aspects of 3-D virtual worlds rather than the specifics of one particular technology (Second Life), and secondly on the immersive and social aspects of the experience.

What does that mean for museums as they enter 3-D environments? Well firstly, museums need to conceptualise themselves primarily as social spaces rather than collections of artefacts - I'm not saying that they don't do that already you understand... just that they need to be in that frame of mind before thinking about what they do in virtual worlds. Then they need to think about how 3-D environments might expand that aspect of their role virtually - bringing global participants to a virtual or hybrid discussion forum being one obvious example.

Such an approach doesn't rule out recreating virtual artefacts in the new environment - but doing so is absolutely not the end of the story.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Blurred backgrounds in images

There's been a little thread of discussion on the Second Life machinima mailing list about whether it is possible to take images with soft or out of focus backgrounds in Second Life. info@rufilm.de suggested a simple approach, which I've simplified further as follows:
  • Take a snapshot of the background you want.
  • Blur it using your favorite graphics package.
  • Upload it to Second Life and place it on a large prim.
  • Stand your avatar in-front of the prim and take your snapshot.

Neat!

Here's a couple of examples, using a background image taken on Nagaya, a nice little Japanese community.

OpenID and this blog

I've experimentally switched over to using the Draft Blogger service to maintain this blog which means that adding comments using your OpenID is now supported. Good news!

Eddies party in Second Life

Note that this year's Edublog Awards party is taking place in Second Life - details here and here (Facebook link).

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Boosting performance

Torley's video tutorial are always good and this one is no exception, How to easily boost viewer performance. Well worth a watch.

Second Friends security bug - NOT!

At the virtual worlds session in the recent JISC CETIS conference it became clear that some people were of the opinion that Second Friends, my Second Life Facebook application, had a serious security flaw.

This is absolutely not the case and stems, I think, from a problem with another similarly named application (but not Second Life Link either!).

Just setting the record straight...

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

On the road

I've been travelling (in RL) for the last while, hence lack of traffic here.

My last trip was up to Birmingham for a workshop on blogs and social networks organised by UKOLN which I'd agreed to video-stream onto the Web and into Second Life.

Not a completely successful venture, but some useful lessons learned. My report is available on eFoundations.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Long road ahead

There's a longish post on the Linden Lab blog by Philip Linden, Long Road Behind, Long Road Ahead, talking about where Second Life has come from and where it's going. Some interesting stuff, not least the reference to being able to view the Web from in-world:
Beyond stability, there is one new platform feature that still seems really important to deploy given the rising use of SL for education and collaboration, and that is being able to browse the web easily from in-world. So we have a small team of people working hard on that right now.
I guess I'm feeling charitable, cos I tend to read this at face value and interpret it positively. Looking at the comments, there are inevitably those who see it more cynically, as an attempt to make excuses for the current issues with reliability.

For what it's worth, my view is that (until the recent episode at least) reliability has got a lot, lot better over recent months than it used to be in the past. So we seem to be going in the right direction...

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Will Wright on toys that make worlds

Via Second Life Conceptual I found yet another interesting TED talk, this time by Will Wright, creator of the Sims, talking about his new game Spore where you control everything from single celled organisms up to whole universes.

Early on in the talk he refers to the creativity that The Sims inspires in its players - a quote that could just as easily be applied to Second Life:
One of the things we noticed with the Sims, which is the game I did earlier, is that players love making stuff. When they were able to make stuff in the game they had a tremendous amount of empathy and connection to it. Even if it wasn't as pretty as what other people would make, as professional artists would make for games, it really stuck with them and they really cared about what happened to it.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

UK Guardian features virtual world crime

There's a long special feature in today's UK Guardian newspaper (Saturday, 17 November 2007) looking at crime in virtual worlds. It includes coverage of Second Life and several other virtual worlds. Not a bad article actually. It suggests that in South Korea 43% of the population is a member of the virtual space Cyworld. Wow!

An online version is available, though I'm not 100% sure that it includes everything that is in paper version.

Rosedale on Managing Virtual Distance via Second Life

There's a useful summary of Philip Rosedale's keynote to the Managing Virtual Distance conference available from Metaversed. Note that the keynote was delivered virtually, using Second Life voice. Most interesting for me though is his reaffirmation of Linden Lab's commitment to open sourcing the Second Life server code...
By allowing others to maintain their own servers, they [LL] ensure that the grid will continue to grow and have adequate support staff regardless of the size of Linden Lab itself. At that point their company would focus on the wider architecture involved in maintaining the Second Life Grid. Ultimately, though, it's seen as simply the only possible way to grow the grid. The title of the slide: "Only Open will Win"

Friday, 16 November 2007

Caitlin Kiernan on BBC2 via Second Life

Second Life will feature on UK television tomorrow (Saturday, 16 November 2007) when the BBC2 programme 'The Culture Show' uses it to undertake a remote interview with Caitlin Kiernan, whose novelisation of the new Robert Zemeckis’ film Beowulf, has recently been published by Transworld.

(More...)

RICH 2007

Eduserv Island played host to the RICH 2007 conference today. This is a real-life medical conference on the treatment of hernias, held in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, but the organisers wanted to demonstrate the potential value of using Second Life as an additional venue.

The audio and video stream from the venue was very good, though we hit the (apparently known) SL bug that the stream appears inverted for some users. In the end, I vertically flipped the media texture on the main projection screen (which worked for most of the virtual delegates) leaving the side screens the wrong way up for most people, but the right way up for those people without the problem (if you see what I mean).

Having multiple screen in the same venue is quite useful for just this situation.

There weren't too many virtual delegates but enough to make it worthwhile I think.

I took a few photos during the morning session - I didn't have time to stick around all day. Rather than simply pick one to show here, I've mashed them together using Animoto (what a great tool!). Here's the result:


Eduserv Island under windlight

Brad Monnett was kind enough to pass me a Windlight-enhanced view of the Virtual Congress Centre on Eduserv Island this morning. Cool!

It makes it look like a different place! :-)

Second Life Learning Management Systems survey

Those of you with an interest in how Learning Management Systems (read Virtual Leaning Environments for readers in the UK :-) ) can be integrated into Second Life may like to note that the Sloodle project are currently undertaking some requirements gathering via an online survey.

If you have views on this area, please take time to complete it. Thanks.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

I am Art

This is me (see right) and this is part of my profile information, now being displayed on a Second Life Web page that is new, as far as I know.

I've known for a while that an avatar's profile image is available on the Web - in fact I display that image as part of the Second Friends Facebook application. But I'd not found this other profile information on the Web before, so I'm guessing that it's new.

Interesting... I don't object to my profile being made visible in this way. But I do wonder what the privacy issues are, if any?

The information has always been available in-world of course but surfacing it on the Web brings new issues with it. Issues around persistence of the information for example - what happens when the Internet Archive start storing this stuff (they haven't, yet!).

This stuff seems to have been rolled out as part of the new, Google-based, search engine that comes with release candidate 1.18.5. See the blog entry and commentary for some of the discussion. However, I found it using this unofficial Web-based search, Nothing official to see here, which is presumably based on the new engine?

The Awful New Search from Second Thoughts gives a nice overview of some of the issues.

Finally, hats off and a big thank you to Mal Burns for a non-stop Twitter stream that seems to pick up everything about everything to do with Second Life.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Vuzix - VR920 Head Mounted Display

If anyone happens to be looking for a christmas present to buy me, I'd like one of these Vuzix - VR920 Head Mounted Displays please.
The first video eye wear specifically designed to let you step inside virtual worlds. No more staring at flat screens. The iWear VR920 allows you to enter virtual worlds and communicate with others as if you are really there.

...

Just plug in and view extraordinary high resolution video on a virtual display equivalent to a 62-inch screen at 9 feet. iWear® 3D and integrated 3 Degree of Freedom (DOF) tracker and built-in microphone deliver the ultimate interactive online experience.
Cool.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

New SL survey - results now available

A new set of survey results, SL Survey: Residents profile, gambling & engagement, is now available. I recall answering the questions in this survey what seems like a long time ago - back when it was first announced. At the time, I remember thinking that some of the questions where slightly oddly phrased. I still think so actually. That said, there are some interesting findings and it is worth a quick look.

657 people took part.

In terms of demographics, the 60:40 (men:women) gender balance feels more likely (to me) than the 50:50 one often hears quoted, though I don't understand why France accounts for 15% of the respondents? About a 1/3 of people log into SL 3 times or more per day with the majority (almost 60%) being in-world for between 1 and 3 hours.

About a 1/4 of respondents sell goods or services from a shop with slightly more (about 30%) providing education or training in some form. About half take classes to learn something themselves and about 37% promote art or culture.

Over 50% of respondents claim to go into Second Life to forget about RL problems (at least sometimes) and more than 15% say they have lied to someone in order to be able to connect to SL. Blimey... that feels slightly worrying to me. Even worse, about 1 in 5 respondents feel frustrated and/or depressed when they compare their real life with their Second Life and well over 30% consider SL definitely better than their real life! To which one is tempted to say, "get a life" - but perhaps that's the problem :-)

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

TSL woes

There's an interesting post on New World Notes about why Katharine Berry, the creator of AjaxLife, has left Teen Second Life along with some suggestions about what Linden Lab need to do to improve things.

I must confess that my only attempt to help one of my children register for TSL ended in complete failure, with none of the age verification methods appearing to work.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Eduserv Island public sandbox

I've created a small Public Sandbox on Eduserv Island at the end of the SLashup Space. The SLURL is:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Eduserv%20Island/218/123/26

This has been created initially for MBA staff at the University of Bath, who want to bring a group of their students in-world for some activities, but anyone is welcome to use it.

There's a 4-hour return on anything you create in this space so make sure that you save a copy of anything you need before leaving.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Second Life in the mainstream US media

Barry Joseph of Global Kids provides an interesting analysis of the recent appearances of Second Life in both The Office and CSI:NY, A Tale of Two Second Live Promotions: The Office Vs. CSI. Not that I've seen either myself... but definitely worth a quick read to see how SL is being portrayed. The point being that the way the general public's attitude towards SL is steered by the mainstream media is critical to any significant integration of SL in education.
The more the public views Second Life as a place to extend their real life – like a telephone – the closer we get to it being viewed as a place for real world education.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Bionic knee

Following my RL knee operation yesterday Josie Fraser asked me via my Facebook wall if I now have a bionic knee! Ha, lol - feels anything but to be honest.

Got me thinking though... to commiserate with myself about my current lack of mobility, I've given Art F a new knee as well. As per RL, it doesn't quite work perfectly, though for different reasons. The SL knee uses a transparent prim to hide the middle part of the right leg, allowing you to see the metal ball and so on Unfortunately, from some angles, it also hides parts of the left leg.

Oh well, it'll do temporarily.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Second Life: Guidelines for Educators

Dan Livingstone has created an educator's FAQ in the simteach wiki.

There's not a lot there yet, but worth keeping an eye on, or even contributing to.

What's surprising is that this kind of resource didn't already exist!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Second Life brain power

Is this - using brain waves to control SL avatars - for real? If so, it is amazing.
All a user has to do to control his/her avatar is imagine performing various movements. The activity monitored by the headpiece is read and plotted by an electroencephalogram, which relays it to a computer running a brain wave analysis algorithm that interprets the imagined movements. A keyboard emulator then translates the data into signals which can be used to control the movements of the user's on-screen avatar in real-time.
(Found via John Lester's Facebook profile.)

Monday, 15 October 2007

Say hi to Labrat Ninetails

I've been playing with libsecondlife over the weekend. My original intention was to get it running on my Dreamhost account (under Linux) so that I could try out RESTbot. Unfortunately, compiling everything under Linux isn't as straightforward as I'd hoped and I've more or less given up for now.

Instead, I've installed libsecondlife on my laptop along with a copy of Microsoft Visual C# Express Edition (available for free) which allows me to develop client applications.

The libsecondlife distribution comes with some example programs, so getting started is pretty easy. Here's my slight modification to the basic 'my first bot' application.

For the in-world part of my experiment, I've created a new avatar called Labrat Ninetails. The avatar shape is based on the previous work I did for Pandora Bot. Here's a shot of them side-by-side - remember that one is an avatar, the other is just a pile of scripted prims.

My simple application rezzes Labrat in-world and allows me to chat with anyone that happens to be standing nearby using a very primitive 'console' interface on my laptop. Labrat can't move or fly or doing anything else for that matter - though I have added the default typing animation so that you know when he is about to say something.

In short, my first bot isn't much to write home about! There is also a minor annoyance that avatars rezzed using libsecondlife suffer from being 'ruthed' - which means that their shape defaults to that of Ruth, the first female avatar. I haven't yet been able to find a working fix to this problem. So here's what Labrat looks like when he is rezzed using libsecondlife :-(

I'm not a C# wonk, so I don't know how far I'll go with this. But the pleasing thing to report is that developing an initial application using libsecondlife is very easy to do and not more than a few hours work.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Art reaches 1

Art Fossett is one year old today. Seems like longer in many ways.

I should be celebrating in proper-job one-year old style with a party and cake and those cheesey-pineapple-on-stick things! But I haven't arranged anything so any party will have to wait for another year. This picture of a virtual cake will have to suffice.

I've recounted before how the first words that anyone ever said to me in SL were, "You're ugly". Here's an old shot of one of my more successful early trips into SL, meeting up with TalisPaul Fossil on the then very new CybraryCity sim. It looks surprisingly primitive for some reason? (Art's hair had a hint of being spikey, but I hadn't discovered prim hair at that stage.)

Happy days!

SL and the rugby world cup

Is it my imagination or are a significant number of the surnames being offered to new residents based on players in the rugby world cup?

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Second Friends reaches 100

Second Friends has reached its 100th member - i.e. 100 people have successfully added the Second Friends application in Facebook and gone in-world to click on the SF kiosk on Eduserv Island and get their secret key.

To honor this landmark, I've given the 100th member, Chica Digital, a small token of my appreciation - L$500 and an exclusive (well, almost exclusive) t-shirt.

OK, I know it isn't much. I'll work on something better for the 1000th member.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Second Life in Education Wiki

This is a neat resource (found via Peter Miller's TidalBlog). The Second Life Education Wiki, created and maintained by jokay Wollongong and Sean McDunnough, provides links to and information about a whole host of educational resources in Second Life.

Good stuff!

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Second Friends

I've recently been working on a Facebook application called Second Friends with the intention of giving people a way of integrating a view of their Second Lives into their Facebook profile.

Thus far, Second Friends is pretty simple. To use it, simply install the application in Facebook, then go in-world to Eduserv Island and touch the Second Friends kiosk. This will give you a secret key. Finally enter your avatar name and the secret key into the Second Friends form in Facebook.

Voila. Your avatar name and image (assuming that you have a profile image in Second Life) will be displayed on your Facebook profile.

Click on the 'My Friends' tab in the application to add a list of all your Facebook friends that are in Second Life (and that have installed the application) to your profile.

That's about it so far.

For future reference, I'm also working on a couple of extra features - neither of which is quite ready yet. Firstly, I want to provide a way of updating your Second Friends 'status' (just like the more general Facebook status but specific to Second Life) from within Second Life. Secondly, I want to allow people to create Second Life notes that can be added to your profile alongside the notes created by your friends. At the moment I'm leaning towards doing this by building on the existing BlogHud facility.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Scripted object HTTP request gotcha

If you create a scripted object that makes HTTP requests against an external Web server at fixed intervals and then use shift-drag to make multiple copies of it, watch out! The timer in each replicated object will be exactly the same as in the first - meaning that all your objects will make their HTTP requests at exactly the same time.

Create enough copies and you run the risk of over-loading your Web server.

Much better to build some randomness into the llSetTimer() call, to make sure that the objects make their HTTP requests at different times.

Monday, 1 October 2007

T-shirts as presentation tools

My t-shirt-based presentation, given as part of the Joint Eduserv/JISC CETIS Second Life in Education meeting, is now a featured slidecast on Slideshare thatks to Sheila Macneill who took the time to merge the audio with the Powerpoint slides.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

The VAT isn't virtual

If Benjamin Franklin had known about Second Life he'd have probably said something like, "In this virtual world nothing is certain but death and taxes". And until now, he'd have been wrong on both counts. Unfortunately, the tax-man cometh...

From Linden Lab to yours truly:

Hello, Art Fossett.

We have identified that you reside in a European country. Accordingly, your next bill will reflect Value Added Tax (VAT) charged at the rate specified by your country. Please note that VAT applies to all payments to Linden Lab such as land sales, monthly maintenance fees and Premium subscription fees.

:-(

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Pictures from Serious Virtual Worlds '07

My in-world pictures from the Serious Virtual Worls '07 conference are available on Flickr.

Fireworks

I've not seen fireworks in Second Life before but the ones used at the opening of Coventry Island this evening were impressive.

I want some.

The importance of facial animation

Interesting talk by John Burwell of Forterra Inc this morning at the Serious Virtual Worlds 07 conference in Coventry. He demonstrated their virtual world platform, the same platform used to deliver there.com (or a development of it I think), showing its use to train people for disaster recovery scenarios.

The interesting thing for me though was the addition of detailed facial animation to avatars so that the face animates while speaking. This appeared, at least via video, to make voice a much more engaging experience than it is currently in Second Life.

It'll be interesting to see if (or when) this kind of feature gets added to Second Life. I hope so.

Sent to Coventry

Here's my unofficial t-shirt for the Serious Virtual Worlds '07 Conference :-)

Getting serious

The Serious Virtual Worlds '07 conference starts today in Coventry with an academic track culminating in the launch of the Coventry University island at 5.00pm this evening (UK time).

Presentations from the conference are currently being streamed into the Serious Games Institute (SGI) building on the island.

Luckily permissions in the SGI building are open enough that I could build my own seat while I was listening! :-)

I couldn't find an agreed tag for this conference so I'm using 'svw07'.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Google trends shows slight dip in SL hype

Google Trends appears to be showing a slight reduction in the use of second life as a search term and a similar dip in the number of appearances it is making in the news.

This is no bad thing and it is probably time there was a little cooling in the level of hype around Second Life.

Monday, 10 September 2007

NPR: Go Get a (Virtual) Life

Jeremy Kemp highlighted a new podcast/radio show from NPR about virtual worlds in a recent message to the SLED list.

This is well worth listening to.

The show is a discussion between Dmitri Williams (Annenberg School, Annenberg Program in Online Communities, University of Southern California), Cory Ondrejka (co-founder and chief technology officer, Linden Lab, San Francisco, Ca.), Sherry Turkle (director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the show's host Ira Flatow.

Topics discussed range from the psychology of virtual worlds, future directions for the technology, and efforts to use online communities to learn more about real-life human behavior.

As Jeremy notes:
Linden Lab's CTO Corey "Black Wednesday" Ondrejka answers a question about improvements in the pipeline for educators. (FF to 18mins) The changes he highlights are:
1) Leveraging community for development (ie. open sourcing)
2) Better interoperability with the Web
3) Content sharing with other MMOs
The show lasts about 50 minutes.

Standing stones

On top of one of the hills on Emerge Island I've discovered six standing stones, weathered and no longer standing straight.

Legend has it that the ancient Emerge shamans believed that if all the stones were sat on at the same time, their true colors would appear.

In all probability, it is these stones that form the basis for the logo of the JISC Emerge project.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Emerge t-shirt

I've been doing a lot of building on the new Emerge Island recently, including a wooded area, an island TV room, a set of Emerge 'tag' balls and various other stuff. More on this later...

For anyone that is interested in such things, I've put a very simple Emerge t-shirt in a box on the platform at the south-west corner of the island.

Yours for the bargain price of L$0.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Another small step on the path to openness?

Reuters gives us a glimpse of what DeepGrid, an open source alternative to the currently closed SL server code, looks like.

This feels like potentially big news... not necessarily because OpenSim, the software used to build the alternative grid of servers that can be visited using the standard SL client, is a long term proposition. It may or may not be. But because it represents the removal of another brick in the wall that keeps Linden Lab's Second Life closed and proprietary.

It'll be interesting to see how this story develops.

Script me!

The Script me! tool provides a very simple Web-based interface for creating LSL scripts.
This site will help you create scripts for your Second Life objects. These scripts allow you to add interactive elements to your builds without knowing how to code. All of the script are released under a creative commons license, which means that you can use them freely!
The tool asks a couple of simple questions to find out what you want your objects to do, then generates the necessary LSL code. Neat. OK, the options aren't comprehensive... but it's a good start and could probably be improved to allow more options without spoiling the simplicity of the tool.

SL breaks 50,000 mark

Reuters reports that SL has broken the 50,000 concurrent users barrier. One presumes that this is not just the result of additional demand but also indicates an improved capability in the grid.
The login concurrency passed 50,000 at 1:25PM SLT (US Pacific) and remained above 50,000 until approximately 2:10PM.
That's about 9:00 to 10:00pm UK time.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Improved chatlogs

Kisa Naumova has made a neat new tool available that takes a raw chat log and gives it a make-over.

The tool grabs the icon from each participant's SL profile and combines them with colored, indented speech boxes to make a much more pleasant and readable record of an event.

By way of example, here's the modified chatlog for the recent UK Educators meeting about problem based learning.

Very cool.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Eduserv-funded SL projects

I've put a set of posters about the 4 SL projects that we funded this year in the landing area on Eduserv Island.

The posters are also available in Slideshare. They have been developed in preparation for our stand at ALT-C in September.

The projects are:

Thinkerer Challenge

NMC have announced the Thinkerer Challenge, a monthly award for in-world projects that benefit people outside SL in some way. Submissions will be assessed against the following criteria:
  • Creative synergy. The product or service results from an innovative combination of ideas from the real world and capabilities offered by Second Life.
  • Collaboration. The product or service results from the collaboration of two or more people who have made distinct and recognizable contributions.
  • Outfacing. The item (or a significant aspect of it) is accessible and of value to some people outside of Second Life.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

The psychology of voice

I've had one or two chances to experiment with voice recently - for example, at the last two Sloodle meetings (one of which is pictured here) and during a couple of quick sessions in the SL Hacienda.

In general I'd say that there are still a lot of teething troubles, partly to do with the infrastructure and partly to do with us end-users not having our kit set up correctly! As a result, using voice at the moment tends to end up being something of a disappointment. More often than not people switch back to chat after a few minutes of not being able to hear properly - or one ends up with a nasty kind of dual conversation, some in voice, some in chat.

I'm sure it'll get better... and on at least one occasion the sound quality of voice has been very, very good - so this is not intended to be critical of how things are developing. Just stating the obvious really.

But what I want to do in this post is to take a step back from the current practicalities and think about what voice does to the SL experience in more general terms. Of course, I can only write from a personal perspective - YMMV and I'd be interested in people's thoughts on what I say below.

What I want to suggest is that, for me at least, the use of voice vs. chat is fairly heavily wrapped up in the psychology of the SL experience.

In psychological terms something odd happens when one goes into SL. There is a sense in which one becomes one's avatar. Yes, I know that sounds odd but that's what I think is happening. I guess that is part of the reason why people find it so easy to blog as their avatar, send emails as their avatar, and so on.

For me, this is one of the key features of the SL experience.

In passing, it occurs to me that maybe it's the case that those people that don't 'get' SL are those who don't feel comfortable getting caught up in this act of 'becoming their avatar'?

Now, this 'becoming the avatar' is easy to do in chat mode - because chat is very much disembodied from the physical person. In SL it is very easy to become something that one isn't in RL - and chat doesn't prevent that happening because chat carries very little of the visual or aural clues that indicate who the RL person is.

For example, you'd have to know me pretty well to tell that you were really interacting with Andy Powell purely from my style of 'chat' - and even if you did know me that well I reckon I could still hide my identity from you if I really wanted to by changing the way I chatted.

Voice takes that away. Voice makes it much harder to become something that one isn't - to become someone else in-world. I'm not particularly referring to the extreme cases here. A RL man becoming a SL woman for example - though I don't hold anything against those that want to do that kind of thing.

I mean something very mundane. I mean that I can't become Art Fossett so easily if I am speaking with Andy Powell's voice.

Similarly, I can't believe so readily in the SL avatars that I'm interacting with if I'm very obviously listening to a person that I know in the real world.

In previous posts I've noted that some people's reaction to SL is along the lines of "given that we are all just looking at the chat log, why don't we go and simply use IRC instead?" and I've tried, not particularly convincingly, to refute that view by saying that there is something that sets a SL chat session apart from an IRC chat session - that there is some point to having chat sessions in-world.

Unfortunately, for me so far, the addition of voice destroys much of what makes SL so attractive - or at least, that is my initial impression. When I'm in a voice conversation with someone in-world, my first instinct is to think "why aren't I just on the phone to this person - I know exactly who they are" - the SL aspect becomes irrelevant. Worse in fact - it gets in the way.

I really hope this feeling goes away because, now that it's here, I don't see voice disappearing again and I don't see how we're going to avoid a situation in which it becomes the default mode for many/most in-world meetings.

So, for now, I'm waiting to see what happens to the technology and, more importantly, how my own attitude to it changes over time. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get used to it!

Second Life economy

There's a brief entry on the Official Linden Blog about the SL economy - how it works and so on. Worth a quick read.

All of which is really just a pathetic excuse to display my 'art dollar' :-).

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Creativity

It seems to me that creativity is the key to what makes Second Life the place it is so I think that the NMC were spot on in choosing it as the subject for their week-long in-world symposium. If you don't believe me I urge you to go to any sandbox in SL, sit around for a while and watch what people are creating.

A video of Larry Johnson's keynote, Why creativity matters, is now available. In some ways it's quite a laid-back, measured presentation - delivered with a gentle style that is very easy to listen to. Worth the 30 minutes or so that it tales to watch. Johnson highlights 3 key aspects of SL as:
  • a social platform (the growth of which has happened in parallel with the growth of social platforms on the Web),
  • a user-built embodiment of self-expression and dynamism,
  • an inherently expressive environment.
He leaves us with the exhortation that we need to make our spaces in SL places where creativity flourishes. I certainly agree with that.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Where's my avatar's OpenID?

I blogged here about OpenID and group membership and hinted that Second Life needs to support OpenIDs. Wouldn't it be neat if Second Life functioned as an OpenID provider, offering every avatar an OpenID URL such as

http://openid.secondlife.com/ArtFossett

or somesuch? This would be particularly useful for those of us that blog using our avatar names.

As far as I can tell, it would be relatively easy for Linden Lab to support. Now, I just need to work out how to suggest it to them?

Friday, 10 August 2007

Orb - an in-world student magazine - feedback required

I just noticed this posting to the SLED list which seems worth repeating here - partly as a way to get some volunteers and partly to highlight what appears to be an interesting UK SL activity.
Hi,

My name is Jennifer Young, and I'm a lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. I've been using SL to create an online student magazine which is hosted inside a virtual literary festival. The magazine, Orb, is staffed by UH students. The publishing remit is to publish the best creative writing by UK university students.

The magazine will launch on October 23 with a streaming performance by UK performance poet Patience Agbabi.

We are in the final stages of design, and we're looking for users to provide feedback. Would you be willing to spend a few minutes walking around our site and giving us some feedback? There are post boxes on the site, or you can email me at j.m.young@herts.ac.uk. The SL address is: http://slurl.com/secondlife/SMIRKworld/128/128/0

Just to make you aware, the pieces of creative writing that are up are still in draft mode and are acting as place holders. Before the magazine launch in October, the authors will record audio and provide visuals to accompany their work. At the moment it's just text with the student editors' voiceovers.

Thank you for your assistance -

Best wishes,

Jennifer
(in SL: jmy Writer)

UK Second Life Educators Facebook group

Despite my general mistrust of Facebook groups I've taken the liberty of creating a UK Second Life Educators group.

Please feel free join if you are in the UK and interested in the use of SL in education.

Hacienda revisited

The proposed UK Educators voice trial in the SL Hacienda yesterday failed miserably because of very long login times to SL which, AFAIK, stopped a lot of people getting in-world in time. Either that or no-one was interested!

Shame.

Anyway, we've agreed to do the same thing next week - same day, same time. See the Facebook event page for details.

As it happens, I accidentally went into the SL Hacienda again last night and bumped into the owner and a couple of her mates. They didn't seem to like me very much, taking the piss out of my jesus sandals and general appearance somewhat remorselessly.

I took it in good spirit, though it felt slightly over the top, coming from people I didn't know - one of whom was both fat and blue! Luckily I had my fat and green avatar to hand (the one I use in my SL in 3600 seconds presentation). They seemed to cheer up when I changed into that.

I explained that we wanted to use their venue for a meeting. They seemed a little bemused, but generally agreeable and I left on good terms - I'm now a proud member of the 'Hacienda Crew' SL group.

All's well that ends well as they say.