Saturday, August 11, 2007

Request for test users please!

by Jennifer Young

My name is Jennifer Young (SL jmy Writer), 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 - at- herts (dot) ac (dot) uk. The SL address is:

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

CITASA Mini-Conference in SL

by T. Kennedy

Hi Folks!

The American Sociology Association Conference kick off time is only hours away - and the Communication & Information Technology Section of the ASA (CITASA) Mini-Conference 3.0 is almost here.

This year we are having our Mini-Conference in the virtual world - Second Life - and this years Conference Title is "Web 2.0 and Beyond: The Sociological Significance of Virtual Worlds Supplanting Cyberspace"

We have a great line up of presenters who will share their research and we will discuss what Web 2.0 - 3.0 means to us as Sociologists in the ICT field and the interdisciplinary aspects of this area of study.

Whether you are enroute to NYC and attending the ASA in person or not - please join us in Second Life for the Mini-Conference on Sunday, August 12th 2pm (PDT/SLT) or 5pm (EDT). We will have voice enabled presentations (so bring your headset/mic to NYC), complimented with Powerpoint Slides (these will posted to Slideshare after the conference).
(Program is posted now)

For those of you (and your avatars) who plan to attend the CITASA MC 3.0 in SL - please send me your name and your Second Life avatar's name so we can put you on the Guest List. We have T-Shirts for your avatar and a gift bag of goodies, including a tech-treat from Telus - and of course stimulating conversations!

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Tracy Kennedy
Second Life - Professor Tracy

Web 2.0 and Beyond: The Sociological Significance of Virtual Worlds Supplanting Cyberspace Event: CITASA third Mini-Conference to be held in the Metaverse – Second Life
Date of Event: Sunday, August 12th, 2007
Time: 5:00pm – 8:00pm (EDT) 2-5pm (SLT/PDT)
Location Details: The GNWC Virtual Centre for Digital Media in Second Life
University Project (150, 84, 23)

Timetable & Session Details

2:00 pm (PDT/SLT) 5:00pm (EDT):
Welcome Address

Jim Witte - Clemson University & CITASA Chair

2:15 -2:50 pm (PDT/SLT) 5:15 -5:50 pm (EDT):
Session 1: Social Networking Sites

Dan Trottier
Queen's University - Kingston, Ontario

"Social Networking Sites: A Surveillance Studies Primer"
In recognizing social networking sites as sites of sociological concern, this presentation will offer a surveillance studies perspective to this topic. Using Facebook as a case study, a review of key surveillance material as well as preliminary findings will underscore directions for future research. In particular, the popularized and controversial practice of 'Facebook stalking' will serve to illustrate how lateral (or peer-to-peer) surveillance not only supplements, but may also amplify conventional forms of monitoring.
1) Can practices such as deception or dissimulation on social networking sites be regarded as ways of resisting surveillance?
2) What kind of connections does Facebook enable between peer-based forms of surveillance, and practices such as employee screening?

Peter Timusk
University of Ottawa - Ottawa, Ontario

"Exposed Edges and Tighter Nodes: A Suggested Social Networking Hypothesis For Web 2.0 As Seen Through A User Of Facebook A Web 2.0 Social Networking Site".
The author explores previous studies of social networking by pioneers such as Barry Wellman to develop a hypothesis for further empirical studies of the networking properties of websites such as Facebook. It seems to the author, that there is more privacy exposure between persons, and at the same time these same persons are brought closer together by networking on Facebook. Thus edges between nodes in this network structure are exposed revealing these edges to other nodes, while nodes themselves potentially learn more about each other as nodes only not just as edges. It is hoped that this hypothesis and other various hypotheses will help either social network analysts, or those who will be data mining websites such as Facebook, to understand the implications of a network's social structure. Legal and ethical considerations resulting from these hypotheses will also be considered in this presentation.

2:55 – 3:30 pm (PDT/SLT) 5:55 – 6:30 (EDT):
Session 2: Videogames & Gaming

Tracy Kennedy
Communities & Technologies Research Group, Microsoft – Redmond, Washington

"Women's Online Gaming Communities: Don't Hate the Game, Hate the Players"

Pervasive stereotypes such as 'women don't game', 'women don't know how to game' and 'women don't play violent videogames' have long saturated the media as an explanation of why there are not more women gaming. The purpose of this presentation is to address these stereotypes and examine the online gaming experiences of women in Xbox Live that may explain why women appear absent in online gaming spaces. Using data from the GamerchiX Forum, I will discuss issues of harassment that women experience, and how the GamerchiX community (consisting of 2700 female gamers) offers different types of social support to address and overcome these negative gaming experiences, and how GamerchiX creates a safe, secure and encouraging community of female gamers. Moreover, I will explore the role GamerchiX plays in the lives of these women outside of gaming, which often encompass forum discussions that are not related to gaming at all, face-to-face meetings and associations in such spaces as Facebook.

Jeff Preston
The University of Western Ontario - London, Ontario

"Disabilities and Gaming Environments"
Children are encouraged to start playing sports from a young age as competition help build confidence, social skills and physical ability. For a child with a physical disability, there are few opportunities to play
competitive sport, as children are often not strong enough to physically compete or the sport is simply too dangerous, forcing many individuals to begin playing adapted sports with other disabled athletes. Recently, a new solution has emerged that is rarely considered as a source of competitive sporting; video games. For years, computer/console systems have given users the opportunity to take control of computer-generated avatars, the virtual bodies used to interact and manipulate synthetic worlds, and play out excited simulated experiences from the comfort of their own homes. With faster Internet speeds, individuals who play video games are now capable of competing in synthetic worlds with friends across the Internet or on Local Area Networks, leading to the manifestation of competitive leagues like the Cyberathlete Professional League. Online video games, like Counter-Strike, offer youth with disabilities a viable solution to transcend their physical limitations to gain important social skills that most children develop through physically competitive sports, but in a safe and integrated digital environment. This paper considers the possibility of video games as legitimate substitutes for, or complements to, sports currently available to the so-called "disabled" and the benefits of these synthetic experiences.

3:35 – 4:35pm (PDT/SLT) 6:35 – 7:35 (EDT):
Session 3: Virtual Worlds

Michael Reese
Johns Hopkins University – Baltimore, Maryland

"The Potential for Digital Field Assignments in Second Life"
Digital field assignments are course activities in which students collect and analyze data from the field using digital technologies. However, what happens when the field is a virtual, 3-D environment? This presentation will explore the possibility of using Second Life to conduct course research assignments. Case studies being explored at Johns Hopkins and other institutions will be described.
1) What is the value of teaching qualitative research skills in Second Life instead of the Real Life?
2) What are students' perspectives on using Second Life as a situated learning experience?
3) How does identity formation operate in Second Life (and how does it transfer to Real Life)?

Michael Roberts
North Harris College – Houston, Texas

"A Scanner Darkly: the death of authenticity under conditions of media-saturation"
A Scanner Darkly, the movie, is a cartoon created by filming live actors and then drawing over them. This is not a new technique. Snow White was Gene Tierney. Bela Lugosi was the Devil in the Night on Bald Mountain segment of Fantasia. I will use Philip K. Dick's fiction and the popular films based on those fictions as a template for reading the motives behind mass migration into SL in quest of escape from limitations imposed on the identities such migrants can perform with validation in RL. I will focus on the idea of virtual space as rehearsal space for identities which, while initially constructed in virtual spaces and initially only possible to construct based on virtual resources, might, after construction, migrate into RL. This potential for identities to form in virtual worlds and then migrate to RL renders ambiguous the distinction between role-play and identity, between lives and representations of life, to the point of making the value of the distinction itself dubious.

Leslie Jarmon
The University of Texas - Austin, Texas
Co-Presenter: Joe Sanchez
The University of Texas - Austin, Texas

"The Educators Coop Experience in Second Life"
This presentation discusses the pedagogical value of the teaching and research experience in Second Life based on one case: the Educators Coop Experience in Second Life (SL). The goal of the Educators Coop Residential Community is to provide educators and researchers with a unique residential environment from which to begin exploring, collaborating, teaching, and conducting research more easily and seamlessly. The coop in SL is designed to cultivate new cross-disciplinary relationships and collaborations. Residents are also participants in research exploring the emergence of this kind of experimental SL residential community.
Effective communication requires developing skillful mental flexibility and an understanding of diverse communities of practice, their underlying worldviews, and their material artifacts, including technology and virtual space in particular. In SL, residents can quickly access and interact with educators and researchers from multiple disciplines and countries, without traveling. As Latour noted, "[I]f you want to understand what draws things together, then look at what draws things together" (60; original emphasis). The SL sim "draws things together" in powerful new ways, and its convergence of mediated forms of social interaction offers opportunities for enhanced collaboration in the construction of new knowledge. The ways we are trained to think, talk, read, and write about knowledge are behaviors that affect the kinds of knowledge we construct. Ways of thinking about how knowledge emerges enhances students' ways of thinking about their own disciplines. This presentation poses the question around which the Second Life community is centered: "Are you ready to imagine knowledge differently?" (Fox, 136).

Geoffrey Edwards
Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Geomatics - Université Laval

"Embodiment, Identity and Presence in Second Life – New Wine or New Bottles?"
Nick Yee has written "our insistence on embodiment in virtual environments structures social interactions in these worlds in ways that we may not consciously be aware of… this implies that virtual worlds may be useful platforms for studying things even as visceral as the rules of physical interaction". Identity has been defined as the set of strategies, beliefs, values and representations that are organized for the survival of the entity concerned (Dornic and Edwards, 2007). Presence has a variety of meanings, but here I am concerned with the sense of someone being present, even though their actual physical body may be absent. These three concepts are interdependent on each other, and each of them manifests within the world of Second Life.
Within the field of education, a form of learning called "transformative learning" has gained interest. Ashe et al. (2005) have stated that "transformative learning involves a change in personal feelings, beliefs, and values known as meaning perspectives". This concept of meaning perspectives, introduced by Mezirow in 1990, is very close to current definitions of identity – indeed, the transformation of meaning perspectives
seems to involve change in personal identity. It is proposed that the concept of transformative learning provides a framework for understanding how our conceptualizations of the self, our bodies and our interaction with others are changed in Second Life. The process of transformation ensures that what emerges is, indeed, new wine not just "old wine in new bottles". Within Second Life, identity is multiple, body is performative and presence is determined by the quality of our interactions with others. These ideas are illustrated by drawing on work with scientist and artist collaborators within Second Life.

Joanna Robinson
Great Northern Way Campus – Vancouver, BC
Co-Author: Tracy Kennedy
Communities & Technologies Research Group, Microsoft – Redmond, Washington

"Participatory Pedagogy: Challenging 'Real Life' Practices of Educational Institutions in Virtual Worlds"
This presentation discusses virtual spaces as participatory pedagogy in which student learning is formulated through exploration, reflection and collaboration (Hobbs et al 2006) both individually and as a group. Importantly, we argue that virtual environments such as Second Life have shown educators that we need to rethink existing learning strategies and enhance them with innovative tools that encourage creative thinking and promote technical skills that foster communities of knowledge and practice.
1) How can virtual worlds effectively challenge the ways we sociologically frame education and educational practices?
2) What are some of the obstacles educators face when converging real life and virtual worlds into their pedagogical style, and in the classroom?

4:40 – 4:55 (PDT/SLT) 7:40 – 7:55 (EDT):
Closing Remarks

Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins
Ball State University - Muncie, IN

5:00pm (PDT/SLT) 8:00pm (EDT):
Participants and Presenters are welcome to stay and discuss their interests further at the conclusion of the presentations. seeks volunteer SL coordinator

by Dan Winckler

Just passing this on...
Second Life Coordinator (Volunteer Positions)
About TakingITGlobal
TakingITGlobal is an international organization led by youth, empowered by technology that connects youth from around the world to find inspiration, information and get involved in improving their local, regional and global communities.
About TIG in Second Life
TIG is in the process of developing two spaces within Second Life: an island recently donated by Starwood Hotel and Resorts (SURL) and an office in the Non-Profit Commons (SURL). Once they are up and running, both spaces will provide our members with new and innovative ways to interact with each other, will showcase youth projects and youth-created artwork and will help us draw new audiences to TakingITGlobal's work.
Roles and Responsibilities
• Help TakingITGlobal staff design and implement their presence in on both the Aloft Island and in the Non-Profit Commons office.
• Coordinate live events include open discussions and featured speakers on the Aloft Island.
• Maintain regular office hours within the TIG office in Second Life.
Experience Sought
• Advanced knowledge of the Second Life platform
• Basic design skills
• Interest in global issues and youth engagement
• Detail oriented and well organized
• Good communications skills (both written and oral)
• Ability to work both collaboratively and independently, including within virtual teams
• Significant interest in youth-related issues and experience working with young people from a wide variety of cultures
• Fluency in Spanish, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian or Italian an asset
Additional Information
This is a virtual volunteer position(s), and as such is not tied to a specific geographic location.
Why work at TIG? Working at TIG is an opportunity to improve professional skills, and gain work experience in a positive environment with dedicated young people who want to make a difference. Alumni have gone on to work for leading global NGOs and community organizations, as well as to pursue advanced degrees at top universities around the world.
Human Resources - jobs -at- takingitglobal (dot) org
The application period for this position will be closing on Aug 17, 2007.

Archeology in virtual environments

by Rolig Loon

UC Berkeley. Info from their campus web site …………….

Two UC Berkeley undergraduate research apprentices are recreating an archaeological excavation site in Second Life as part of the Remixing Catalhoyuk project. Come visit Okapi Island in Second Life. I'm pleased to announce [3/6/2007] the purchase of Okapi Island in Second Life (coordinates forthcoming). We will use our 65,000 square feet of virtual property to

  • Advance OKAPI's overall mission to pioneer new tools and practices for learning and sharing information,
  • Capitalize on several months of exploratory work last semester,
  • Apply the research of UC Berkeley Anthropology professor Ruth Tringham in remediating places
  • Contribute an innovative remix of archeological data as part of the Remixing Çatalhöyük project, and
  • Provide a venue for future research, learning and public outreach.

Program Manager for Open Knowledge and the Public Interest, Noah Wittman is an award-winning interactive media producer with ten years of experience developing multimedia websites, exhibits and curricula. Noah is currently managing the FIPSE Scholar's Box project, developing a new Center for Digital Scholarship, and other projects relating to public scholarship, outreach, and K-12 education.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Second Life metrics for the masses

by Eric Hackathorn

Hopefully this doesn't come across sounding too much like a sales pitch, but for those willing to splurge a whole Linden consider picking up a proximity sensor. It keeps track of the number of unique avatars visiting a land parcel, total time spent on a land parcel, and average time spent by an avatar over the last hour, day, week, and month. More information can be found here:

Upcoming SLED events

by Bruce Sommerville

1) Open House: Marlboro College Graduate Center, August 10.
2) Educators Coop Open House, August 8.
3) NMC Symposium on Creativity in Second Life, August 12-18, updated.
The above events have been added to the "SLEDevents in SL" public Google calendar, which may be viewed in your web browser at:
This site shows the event times in SL time.
Google subscribers who add the SLEDevents in SL calendar to their calendar list will see the event times converted automatically to their own local time zone.