Friday, March 23, 2007

Sarah "Intelligirl" Robbins Lecture simulcast in Second Life

Got a line from Uskala in Second Life that the upcoming lecture by Sarah 'Intelligirl' Robbins will be simulcast in Second Life over in Cybrary City. More details on this over at the Real Paul Jones.

I may opt to go over to Cybrary City, maybe if these wavelengths probe your hut, we could meet up over at the SILS building in Second Life?

Here's what the virtual bird told me...

Mark your calendars - Second Life researcher Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins will be visiting UNC to lecture on March 26, 2007. The lecture will be simulcast in SL as well.

"Creating Authentic and Engaging Community-Oriented Learning Spaces: Using Second Life in Higher Education Classrooms"

Who: Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins, Ph.D. Candidate, Ball State University
When: March 26, 2007, 11AM-12PM EDT. (8AM-9AM PDT)
Where; Cybrary City Amphitheater (129,148,24)

This will be an audio streamed lecture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dr. Reed on his own 2L Presentation

Dr. Reed blogged here on last weeks presentation. There was a small bit on this in the 'Hub', and Willi Schulz had a few things to say.

Willi and I were working up some cool ideas for the UNC campus, we'll try to pitch 'em...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Trying to put it all together...Dan Reed in Second Life

Looking back, last Friday was probably some sort of milestone where I work (in ITS at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). The event was a presentation in Second Life by Dr. Dan Reed, presented on the virtual campus of the New Media Consortium.

CDB Barkley, the canine host of the event, blogged on the event on the NMC blog. CDB also uploaded some images and screen caps from the NMC campus, from the UNC Forest theater, and from ITS-Fraklin, where some folks congregated.

The deal is this, we had a virtual presentation, where Dr. Reed was on the UNC Campus, appearing virtually at the NMC campus, with a virtual simulcast to the UNC Second Life campus, which was broadcast to a live audience, some of whom also had avatars in the virtual space. That's freaky, man...

Now, the folks who were watching this thing from the big screen might have only received the impression that it was a power point slide show with a bunch of 3D cruft, and that gives a somewhat skewed impression of what the '3D Internet' might become. The real value is the participation, and the feeling of interaction before and after, somehow, a sense of place is acheived. The 3D Internet is not really an emulation of real life. Rather, the virtual world is something that's neither a simulation, nor a web conferencing tool. The NMC campus provides a setting, and a tone. The relative position of avatars to each other, and within a space, as well as basic postures (hanging out, standing behind a podium, sitting together) adds a lot of information to any exchange. It's hard to explain, other than participation, but I feel like these sorts of interactions engage portions of the brain that other forms of remote communication don't reach. There's a certain dynamic there that is qualitatively different than a chat or web conference.

I predict that this presentation will be viewed as some sort of milestone, at least for UNC, perhaps for other higher education institutions as well. UNC is not the first campus to have a presence on the 3D web, but the university is full of creative, imaginative people that will probably pull off some unique things. I was around when Mosaic first appeared, and I feel like I'm going through the next cycle. These spirals of internet development seem to move at an accelerated pace, so I predict that two years from now, we won't recognize this place anymore.

For myself, the next steps are to dig into scripting. I was able to do a few things last week, including writing scripts for the Power Point at the Forest Theater. This was a pretty modest thing, but I got my feet wet. I'm hoping to dig into LSL, especially to look at the facilities to hook LSL to resources in Web2.0. The Second Life mash-up is not something I hear about yet, I'm sure it's been done, and that seems like the next logical step. We'll see.

For anyone who was there on Friday, be sure to try this for yourself, you have to participate to understand the dynamics! See if you agree... If anyone from UNC, or any other campus tecchies make it out to SL, be sure to drop me a line so we can hook up virtually!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Hello Cleveland

So my first little stint at SecondLife building is done. Really I just helped together with KayDeeKay, Lief, and Willi on this little corner of the UNC Campus. I had some fun with lighting and then whipped out my sweet tobacco sunburst Stratocaster for a bit of Little Wing...It's a cool place to hang out, especially at night. I hope to see a lot of campus tecchies and geeks hanging out somewhere around the virtual campus. The effect of virtual worlds is, somewhat counter-intuitively, having a positive impact on getting to know some of my professional peers better in real life, and in making new connections as other higher-ed technology types drop in from the sky. Anyway, thanks go to Yohiro, Uskala, and KayDeeKay for giving me the chance to participate!

I went to see a talk on campus by Bob Sutor, the IBM Vice President for Open Source and Open Standards. This was sponsored by ibiblio, SILS, and IBM, and hosted by the ubiquitous Paul Jones. The tie in is that for the second time in a short span, I'm hearing, from serious industry people, about Second Life as a harbinger of change. Recall that RENCI had Dr. Wladawsky-Berger on campus a few weeks ago, which I blogged here.


Bob Sutor's talk was an interesting wake-up call about the role open source is playing in the industry, and not just in small start-ups. IBM seems to be taking the tack that open source participation is a way to help promote open standards across the industry. Open source changed IBM's game, and now IBM is learning how it can steer technology towards open standards by being a good player in the game. Eclipse, and open office formats were two examples of open source and standards as game-changers. How will Visual Studio and Office compete against free (and really good) software in the future? It was observed that the newest generation is much more comfortable with free software that comes down from the web. In fact, the newest generation is getting pretty comfortable with keeping and editing documents on the web, a-la Google Documents.

The open-sourcing of Second Life came up in the IBM presentation, and helps tie this all together. While Second Life is engaging, it really, really needs to grow into a pluggable architecture, such as Eclipse. Instead of uploading images and scripting a prim to view a PowerPoint, why not have open documents plug into the virtual environment? That's just one example. Open API for things like identity (OpenID) for example, and good support for interacting with web2.0 and SOA services, Jabber, you name it. Just imagine what this place could be like! Was the IBM lecture implying that the forces that shaped Eclipse will play in this virtual space? We'll have to see.

And, oh yeah, wouldn't it be great to have SecondLife LSL and animation tools in Eclipse?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

I'm bleary eyed

I've been staying up way too late in Second Life. I've looked at it in the past, but it really seems to be taking off now. In many ways, this reminds me of how things felt when Gopher and finally Mosaic appeared on the scene.

I'm hanging out on the UNC Island at night (it's not ready for prime time), and helping pitch in to build a representation of the Forest Theater on campus. Talk about biting off more than you can chew! So I'm trying my hand at building, with the help of people like Uskala and Yohiro. I've already made some new friends, and had some interesting experiences. If you are around UNC, and doing things with second life, drop me a line and we can meet up over there! I'm finding that building is really time consuming, my java quotient has gone way up, but I'm determined to learn about building and scripting. I think these things will be useful, plus it's fun, darnit!

Anyhow, here's a shot of me in front of the Forest Theatre (under construction, as you can plainly see). Behind me are some really nice representations of Wilson Library, and South Building, done by builders much better than I! This is cool stuff, and it's going to change how we use the web in some interesting ways as this sort of environment evolves.