Got Social?

The crosses we all bear

I’m seeing press about the “wackier” side of SL crop up. What I am not seeing is mention that vampires, scantily clad females, and leatherfolks were not the only people attending this convention.

Of course not, who wants to read that an exceptional group of academics gathered to potentially change the way learning happens.

Instead, the people who read these stories, the people who pay the fees to make sure the magazine can print these stories, they all want to see pictures of a buxom girl pulling around a guy with a collar.

So how much are we to blame and how much is the media to blame. And I don’t mean “we” as in those who went to the conference or support Second Life – I mean we as a media-consuming public.

We accept these standards, well, some of us do, anyway

It just seems, though, that saying “stop paying attention”, but that seems almost as silly as the “don’t buy gas for one day” idea. Neither are silly in principle…application is another thing.

So what can we do? What do YOU think we can do?

Svarga

http://slurl/secondlife.com/Svarga/128/128/0
svarga_002
This is a must see for everyone! If you haven’t been there, go there as soon as you finish reading this blog. Once you are there, wait for everything to rez, and to the right of the telehub is a small cart you can sit in to take a tour. If there isn’t one there, wait – its worth the 6 minutes or so the tour takes.

This island is as amazing as it is beautiful. I’m certain that this is going to take several trips back just to scratch the surface. Like Spaceport Alpha, there were a number of people visiting, showing that it is not JUST events that draw people in Second Life, although this island is, itself, somewhat of an event. UNLIKE Spaceport Alpha, the lag was minimal.

One thing that is important to note, I believe those who manage Svarga limit the number of avatars that can enter. So it is possible that you might try and get the “Could Not Teleport”. Try again, if that happens

The second time back I hopped out of the telehub and headed for the giant metal doors. Clicking the welcome sign opens this huge door, with a great accompanying sound.

The big problem with Svarga is not knowing where to look first. The second big problem is not wanting to miss anything.

svarga_003I headed to the northwest along the first path I saw. The thunder rolling is a great addition, total atmosphere. I eventually found myself at a building with Elven musical instruments in it. After entering I right clicked one set of drums and selected PLAY ME. The picture says the rest. I only wish I could have found others to come with me so we all could have played. I’m going to wander back around at my leisure, coming back more times than I’m sure I’ll care to recount.svarga_004
[note. – while I was writing this blog, and playing the drums, I shouted out to some of the folks within 96m. A super friendly person named Mellifera Slade came and found me and played the drums with me. We learned how to interact with the environment together, enjoyed playing the drums, and had a great time. Here’s a picture of us (thanks Mellifera!).]

So, what does this have to do with education? Simple – someone built something of interest and people come to see it and experience it. I liked these musical instruments and figured out how to play them. But someone has to anticipate that I might want to play them. These drums, the alcoves, all the other wild experiences, someone had to sit down and think about what it was that would interest people. They (the Svarga Gods) figured out how to make this island “sticky”, using web terms. People come, they come back, they enjoy, and they tell others.

So how do we do that with our material. How do we get away from simply recreating the “chalk and talk”. How do we create the environment in which our students want to learn, want to explore, want to figure things out for themselves? How do you do it in real life? How do you, or do you think you would, do it in Second Life? Each day, something else about all this amazes me.

It might not be as good as sex, but…

One of the things I have on my never-ending to-do list is to add something to one of my blogs each day. I try to keep to that. I determined that I should take a mere 10 minutes out of my day and write this to-be-posted item.

Well, it seems as if I can write an awful lot in five minutes. I don’t like to read really long blogs. Its not that I don’t want to see what others have to say, I just don’t have the time. Now, some blogs need to be long – but my daily rant isn’t one of them – at least not all the time. So, I’ve decided to cut my allocated time for this in half, to five minutes. Lets see what comes of it.

Well, it might not be as good as sex, but having my first paper published feels pretty damn good. After weeks of work, and a last minute revision to update statistics, my EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin was published yesterday. The Title is “Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning” and here is the description.

Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning
by Alan J. Kelton
Volume 2007, Issue 17
13 pages

Abstract: This research bulletin examines the current state of Second Life in relation to the educational environment. Although literature about virtual worlds dates back many years, this bulletin reflects on more recent publications that discuss both technological and pedagogical issues. Content is drawn from interviews with educators and innovators who are already involved in building campuses, teaching classes, and providing resources to those using Second Life.

Unfortunately for many, ECAR is a pay-for service, so unless your institution subscribes to ECAR, this document won’t be in the public domain for 18 months.

So, I decided to write.

Well, my work blog was up but now it seems to be back down again. I didn’t post a note about it because I knew that the tech was working on it. There were only three people who had active blogs on that server, so, being short staffed from vacations, this is rightfully falling to the periphery of the radar. Once it comes back up for good, it will probably be just long enough to get the data and transfer it over to the new service and new server. The program we are currently using is Mac based and the new one will be PC based.

Before sitting down to write this I struggled with a topic for today. I thought to myself that I shouldn’t just sit down and write something for the sake of making an entry. But then I thought, I need to keep to my own advice, and that is to be a part of the communication and part of the process – add to the network.

Who knows if something I write here hits somebody just the right way, that it was just the right thing they needed to see at just the right time. So, I decided to write.

How about exemplifying the need to write on a regular basis. I always talk to my students about the need to write, to practice writing, and that is how we get good and stay good at it. So, I decided to write.

An athlete doesn’t just do warms-ups and practice when they feel particularly inspired. In fact, the few professional athletes (and an assorted trainer or two) tell me that the most important time to practice is when we do NOT feel inspired. So, I decided to write.

Today, I did not feel inspired to write. So I decide to write. Is this just fluff taking up 1’s and 0’s? Maybe. Were the few minutes you spent reading this blog better spent elsewhere? Maybe. Why am I posting this? Because I wrote it. And also because if one person reads it and decides to write every day, to practice, and to get better at writing, it was worth the 10 minutes it took me to write it.

Do you write on any regular basis? What about a journal or diary just for yourself? When we had to do it by hand, we had excuses – no time, bad handwriting, etc.. – but now, with the computer, it only takes a couple of minutes to jot down a few short notes about what is going on in your day. So, why not write for 5 minutes a day – about whatever comes to your mind when you are sitting there in front of the keyboard. Nobody else is going to see it – so what’s stopping you? If you don’t want to write a journal or diary, how about take a minute to post a note in a friend’s blog – I’m sure you read a few of them each day.

Intellagirl’s Web 2.0 Event

I’m sorry this has taken so long to post. I had a full weekend and really needed to edit my notes. It was hard to take good notes and run the event at our location.

web20sarah_003On Friday, August 10th, Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins gave a presentation on Web 2.0 and business secrets. We streamed it into the CHSS Amphitheater and the event was announced in a few groups and lists.

Most of you either know Sarah or know her work/of her. For those who don’t, she is smart, funny, and a leading authority on Web 2.0 and emerging technologies.

This is the second time I’ve seen this presentation and learned as much this time as last. Following are my notes, comments, thoughts, etc.. If they seem disjointed, please forgive – I was trying to be attendee and viewing site organizer at the same time.

One thing that is excellent about all of these networked based technologies is that the information is in one place, so there is no need to worry about what computer it is on. If it’s up on the network, it is on any computer you are on – as long as the computer has Internet access.

Some of the following came from some of the slides being used. A link to those slides is up somewhere and I encourage someone who knows where to post it in a comment. (I don’t have it handy as I write this)

Some of the online applications she talked about:
• You Tube – produces over 3250 hours of content every day, which is equal to 135 always-on TVs. 91% of that content is new.
• Flickr
• Twitter (I added an entry to my Twitter account ‘ /sorry-afk ‘ as she was talking about this.
• Attendr (my note – I wrote to Attendr at their main email address four separate times over a 30 day period and never even got a response, so the customer service and support, for me, is suspect – and it was a basic question, too.)
• Second Life
• 71 Million blogs
• 60 billion emails each day!!!
• Wikipedia – 18 millions English articles, 800 million words, and nobody is getting paid to write a word of it.
• Wiki – a web page anybody can edit. [side note: Someone at our location said they thought Wiki meant "What I Know Is…" So then someone went to Wiki and looked up the word and gave the information to everyone (its a Hawaiian word). I noted that we are actually exemplifying what it is Sarah is talking about.]

During the break there was good conversation. People in-world were doing the same thing people on-site were doing, talking to each other, finding out about each other, talking about what was said so far, etc.

When Sarah came back on she started talking about Web 2.0 application we can start using right now:
• Google GMail
• RSS Reader (like Google Reader) – pull technology
• Del.icio.us
• Firefox – although not an actual Web 2.0 technology, Firefox is, in Sarah’s opinion, and in mine, one of the best (if not the best) browser currently available, especially given all of the plug-in and other extras that are available for it that tie to Web 2.0 apps.
• Facebook
Someone in the audience at our location brought up “viral marketing”, and my only question was, why is it called that – who wants a virus?
• Mologogo
• SecondLife

After the presentation ended I stayed around until everyone had left. The last person to leave was Tyrr Leavitt. We had a great conversation, both on and of topic, but the one thing she said that stuck with me is that she avoids use of Zero Ware. I had never heard that, so I asked, and she explained that Zero Ware is an application that ends in a zero – such as WidgetWear 2.0, or Gadget 1.0 – always better to go with a version beyond X.0

As I see it, the only way this people communication network will work is if people are listening. What that means is that we need to add to those who are already listening and of those listening we need more people speaking. This means we can all do our own little bit by being more active in the process.

What Web 2.0 applications are you using? Why do they work for you? What doesn’t work for you? What is missing that you’d like to see? Are these making us more productive or simply more glued to our computer, mobile device, etc..?

Google Reader – get yours today!

RSS Feeds. I’ve preached about this one so many times but folks don’t “get” something new until there is a need for them to have it. My favorite thing to say is, once the “why” is apparent, the “how” usually falls into place.

Recently (thank you Sarah) I discovered Google Reader. Now, those of you out there that are NOT using an RSS aggregator (or perhaps have no idea what I just said), you know what Google is….and you know what a “reader” is. But you might be scratching your head and saying “why would I need something that is going to help me read Google. Well, its not exactly like that.

Many information outlets (news, other media, blogs, web pages, etc…) change the information on their sites, some rather quickly. News outlets are only as good as the current information they provide and blogs are updated regularly. Some, more so than others. :- )

Now, you want to get information from these sources, they are of interest to you. Lets say you are into basket weaving and widgets. You are surfing the web and find four or five sites about basket weaving and widgets (not together, of course, since you would never need a basket woven widget). You notice that there is a place no a few of the sites that have current news and even one or two that allow anyone to leave a comment. Instead of having to remember to check back with these sites every so often to see if the information has been updated, wouldn’t it be great for them to let YOU know when the information is updated. THAT is what RSS is all about. RSS tells YOU when information on sites you are interested in are updated.

Best way to figure out what this is all about, just do it (sorry, Nike). Go, right now, http://www.google.com/help/reader/tour.html – it will explain everything to you there. You’ll need to set up a Google account to use it, but that’s ok, you should have one anyway. With 3GB of storage space, I’ve found I’m just forwarding all of my other email accounts to here and I have everything in one place. But that’s another blog.

Go check our Google reader. When you do, if you have, or if you use it, post a comment here about your experience.

Metaversed’s Tue. Geek Meet

This week’s Tuesday Morning Geek Meet from the folks at Metaversed is a presentation with Biz Stone, co-founder and creative director of Twitter. The session was moderated by Ziggy Figaro.

The format to start was Ziggy asking some questions and Biz providing brief answers. Here are my notes:

Stone explained that the limits on characters is set pretty much by SMS standards and that, although most people are posting fairly innocuous things (what I had for breakfast, etc…) it has also proved useful in getting information out fast, and the recent bridge collapse was an example. It’s a quick and simple way to get brief information to the folks in your network.

There are a number of Twitter bots that will do things like remind you to do something (by sms) give the weather, subway schedules, etc….

The future – they are following how people are using the service and trying to make improvements based on that. Search and groups are both often requested.

After just under 30 minutes the floor was opened to questions.

Apparently someone who uses Twitter is called a Tweeter. I was calling my self a Twitterer – which I like better.

I asked “If you had to pick the number one area you are focusing efforts on right now, what would it be?” The first answer was hiring. The second answer, more hiring.

There was conversation about an SL/Twitter item called Twitterbox, I’m trying to find out where to get one.

The event lasted 45 minutes and then a bunch of folks stood around and chatted, which is a part of each meeting.

Biz Stone has a blog – bizstone.com

This was a very well attended event, more so than the Metaversed Live event I went to last Thursday. My guess is that SL geeks are also Twitter geeks (like me).

MetaversedTwitter070807_001This picture proves that there ARE people in Second Life. These people either heard about this event and planned to be here or, like me, got a notice while I was already in-world and decided to rearrange what I was doing to attend. Of course, being a Twitterer, I was interested in the guest. But this shows that Second Life is well served as an event based medium.

A nice event, informal, informative, and a good networking opportunity. I added a few new folks to my Twitter, which is http://twitter.com/sorry_afk

If you want to find out about these events, you can join the Metaversed group (which you can find from the SEARCH function in the GROUPS tab) or by joining the group THINGS TO DO, which covers more than just Metaversed stuff – although it does generate a lot of activity.