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Reporting or Readers, which matters more to Jeff Young?

Jeff Young is the technology writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education.  In an article not that long ago he asserted that people were leaving Second Life in droves for opensim options.  Actually to summarize the article that way is unfair, there was a lot of other information there that was not entirely accurate and poorly researched.

Wait, come to think of it, I’m not so sure it was poorly researched.  In fact, it seemed as if the article was designed to do exactly what it did, attract readers and make his article the #1 most read for a few days.

Mr. Young was brave enough to face a quite hostile crowd as my special guest for one of our Virtual World Education Roundtable meetings.  You can read the transcript here.  Please, do read it, it’s quite interesting in how Mr. Young defended what most visitors considered shabby reporting and even worse research.  I was part of Mr. Young’s research, in that I talked to him for almost 45 minutes as he was preparing his article.  In fact, although not by name, he mentioned the VWER and our recent name change.  I’m sure that Mr. young, like most reporters, cherry picked what he wanted from our conversation.  Not that he quoted me directly on anything, but I could see in his article what he was looking for when he interviewed me.

I was willing to give Mr. Young the benefit of the doubt, as you will plainly see in the transcript of the meeting.  I tried to keep it fair and balanced (and NOT in a Fox News way) and tried to make sure our members treated him with some respect.

I remember seeing another short a few weeks ago where, after reading it, I thought to myself that it was clear Young was fishing for readers and not reporting.  I don’t recall the article, I could find it I’m sure if pressed, but I do remember thinking that the title was very misleading.

Today, Young puts out another article about Woodbury University being banned, AGAIN, from Second Life.  I was in SL during the first banning.  A griefer group was using the Woodbury Campus to stage its attacks around SL and, from all reports, Woodbury would do nothing about it (like simply banning the griefers from the island).  SL was forced to take the island down.  It was a controversial decision at the time but most of us, in the end, felt like they handled it as best as they could.

Well, apparently the same thing has happened again and once again Woodbury has been banned and their virtual campus taken down.  Now, Second Life, and the company that owns it – Linden Lab – is in business to make money.  One does not make money by tossing out paying customers willy-nilly.  They also don’t make money when people are talking about THIS crap instead of all the positives of using virtual worlds in education.  So, it must take some real consideration to make a decision like this.  I certainly don’t know, perhaps they just made a dumb decision, but I’d err on the side of wanting the supposed $1000 a month, unless what was being done wrong was so egregious.

This is not my point.  My point is that Jeff Young is clearly trying to get more readers than get the story right.  He’d rather have the most talked about article, even if its got terrible inaccuracies (by omission), then produce good journalism.  When did journalism become about getting attention instead of getting the story right.  Perhaps Young attended the Fox school of journalism – it doesn’t matter if it is right or twisted, it only matters if they read it and talk about it.

As one for instance, Young quotes Edward Clift, dean of Woodbury’s School of Media, Culture & Design, as saying
“The professor said he felt that the virtual campus did not conform to what Linden Lab wanted a campus to be—with buildings and virtual lecture halls.”

Ok, so, Clift may have said that.  Now, wouldn’t it be the job of a good reporter to find out if this assertion is true – that this is what Linden Lab wants a campus to be?  Mr. Young was a guest on the Montclair State University island.  If he had looked around, he would have seen that, although we do have some buildings, we have no virtual lecture halls, and – in fact – our campus looks very little like an actual world campus.  I’ve been involved in the education side of Second Life for over three years and I can tell you that most educators, and institutions, in SL, may have some buildings, and a high-profile lecture hall or two, but the MASS MAJORITY of educational builds in SL are not mock ups of the actual world institutions.

Aside from the very silliness of that thought, Linden Lab is not in the business of telling its customers what their virtual worlds should look like.  The Lab is most concerned with the terms of service and to make sure others do not violate those.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I have my gripes with LL and how they are moving forward with the SL product, but never, not once has a single person from Linden Lab even suggested what our campus should look like and, in fact, we’ve received quite high praise from the educational team in Linden Lab for our creativity and originality.

Anyway, this latest example is not really such a big deal.  When coupled with the other reports that use similar language, similar tactics, and, in my opinion, similar tabloid reporting, it shows a pattern that I had hoped-against-hope was not the case when I interviewed Jeff in February.

Dear Chronicle of Higher Education, if you are looking for someone to write National Enquirer type articles about Second Life, keep Jeff Young on the spot.  Let him continue to put into print these one-sided, badly reported snippets that are doing more harm than good.  Those of us in education, working in virtual worlds, are struggling with this new platform and working hard to help it find the legitimacy it deserves in education.  By printing, and supporting, half-baked articles like this, you are unnecessarily alarming some with accounts that are not accurate (by omission) and you also undermine your own legitimacy as a new source as opposed to of an entertainment outlet.

Cleaning a white board

I have this white board in my office.  About 2 years ago I’d posted some information there, a list of people attending a big meeting.  The information needed to stay up there for a while so it ended up getting “stuck” on.  We tried EVERYTHING in the book to get this white board clean.  We tried buying the “cleaning” solution, it failed – miserably.  We tried water, windex, I even tried writing over the old ink with new ink – and that worked, a little.

Well, today I am starting a project (or rather, a part of a project) that requires the use of my white board.  Now, I needed to get the whole thing clean (except for the squinchy face Elisabeth drew on it many years ago).  I had nothing in my office bu Purell.  I though, hey, its got alcohol in it, maybe it will so something.

Lo-and-behold, the board is now sparkling white.  I’m not sure if pure alcohol will do the same, but from now on, I’m cleaning my white boards with Purell.  Clean AND germ free.  LOL

UNC TLT Conference Plenary

The University of North Carolina Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference will be held entirely in Second Life and is free to all those who register.  I will be the plenary presenter at the opening of the conference on Tuesday, April 13th, at 9:00pm Eastern Time (6:00am Second Life Time).  The conference lasts for three days and has over 50 scheduled sessions in a well-rounded and well-informed schedule.

You can find general information about the conference here:

The conference sessions are listed here:

And registration is here:

Here is the description of my session:

Big wheels generally move slowly and formal education can be a fairly big wheel. For many years, how we taught did not change. More recently there has been a shift from the “sage on the stage” methodology to a “guide on the side” approach. This constructivist approach has been at the heart of Montclair State University’s (MSU) nearly 3-year adventure in Second Life. AJ Kelton (SL: AJ Brooks), Director of Emerging Instructional Technology for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will take session attendees through the three phases of adoption MSU has gone through since opening their first of three islands in April of 2007. Included will be detailed highlights of some of the most popular and pedagogically sound locations on MSU’s Second Life presence. The discussion will conclude with a brief look at what could be next for education and virtual environments. Following this presentation Mr. Kelton will take question from the audience.

Academic iPad Wiki

I’ve been seeing many resources floating around already regarding the use of the iPad in education. I decided I wanted to start keeping track of those. Then I thought that it might be a great idea to get other to help, with the benefit that they would be able to see the resources also. So, I decided to start a wiki – which allows anyone and everyone to edit and add their resources.

The site address is:

It is open for everyone, to see or edit, so please share the link with folks. If you have any resources you’d like to share, please do – I’m sure everyone will be most appreciative (especially me. :> )

Once again I amm laying in bed watching the d bulls play and working on things that I woud normally need to be sitting at my defsk to do. I was never one to feel comfortable using a laptop in bed.

Facebook krocks on the iPad

SLOODLE Moot Conference in SL this weekend

A great friend of mine is working on the SLOODLE Moot conference that is happening this weekend – FOR FREE – in Second Life.  Here are some of the details.

SLOODLE Moot 2010 is approaching!

This weekend SLOODLE Moot – a free, online conference will be taking place in Second Life. A range of presentations, discussions and demonstrations will take place over the weekend including:

  • Devil Island Mystery. Learn how freshman students in S. Korea were stranded on a virtual island – and had to develop their English skills to survive – and solve the Devil Island Mystery!
  • Hacking SLOODLE tools. SLOODLE is open-source – in this sessions learn why you might want to change SLOODLE to suit your own ends – and how you can do so.
  • SLOODLE at the Open University. With around 250,000 online students, and individual courses with student numbers in the thousands, the OU faces some significant challenges in using virtual worlds to support its courses. Learn how the OU has been using SLOODLE to meet this challenge.
  • Cypris Chat demonstration. After a very successful set of demonstrations earlier this year, Mike McKay gives another demo of SLOODLE and the Awards system.
  • Saturday night social. Lights, music, dancing!

Timetable yet to be finalised, but get all the details at the SLOODLE Moot pages.

iPad – Day 2

Has my world changed?  Well, yes and no.

I think this is going to do exactly what I expected and wanted it to do.

I’m not writing these blogs to try to convince anyone to get or try an iPad.  However, please don’t be such harsh critics, some of you, until you actually work with one.  I’m not saying its going to be for everyone.  Its a tool.  It serves a purpose.  If you have not call for this particular tool, nothing I can say will changed your mind – nor would I try to.  If you need a saw, my telling you have great a screwdriver could do the job is not going to make the screwdriver as good at the job as a saw.

I’m writing this because I want to share with you what I’m going through.  Perhaps one or two of you will be able to make a better decision from what I’m learning.

I brought the iPad to an Easter gathering today.  Everyone was, of course, interested in seeing it.  Two other guys there said right away, after holding it, turning it on, playing with it a bit, that they were going to buy it.  Boys and their toys – so that does not surprise me.

I was able to go through all the pictures I took in Brasil with my mom, who had only seem them on the small camera screen before.  Have them to flick our way through, on a nice screen, with an amazing resolution, was a great experience.

Many people have made hay about this being a consumer’s item and not a producer’s one – in other words, there is no creativity, just consumption.  Right.  And.  Thats the point of the tool, at least at this point in time.  It took a while for cut/copy/paste to come to the iPhone, so I’m guessing there will be great things added over time.  And if any of those things are deal breakers for you, then wait.  That only makes sense.

Right now, as I write this blog, I have it sitting next to me slideshowing through my pictures from iPhoto.  I’ve not toyed around with how to set this up, but I can tell you it is nice to see many of this pictures dissolve in and then give way to another.

I know I said it yesterday, but I’m going to say it again today.  Get yourself the Apple iPad cover, if you get an iPad.  Its classy looking, sleek, nothing fancy, and converts to a stand that tilts the unit on a good angle for typing.

Today I started to move around some of my icons on my desktop.  As I mentioned, I was able to quickly move all my applications from my iPhone to the iPad.  When they first showed up, however, they had been reorganized alphabetically.  Actually, thats no big deal.  Some of the apps I use on my iPhone I won’t use on the iPad.  Some apps that have a lower profile in my iPhone use will get more use on the iPad, so I’m going to have to make decisions on which to put where.  For now, I’m waiting to see which I use most.  I did, however, run into a wierd problem tonight.  I was trying to move a desktop icon to a different screen (to the right) and it won’t let me move it.  I’m not sure why some can and some cannot be moved.

I used Skype to be part of a conference call.  It is one of those apps that are really iPhone apps but have been scaled to the iPad, but not customized to it yet.  I’m sure they will come out with an update soon enough.  So, even through there was plenty of screen real estate, I could not do many of the things that can be done on the full version but not on the iPhone version – like initiating a conference all.  Once I was invited it, it works like a charm.

I am NOT writing this blog from it.  I could, but I’ve chosen not to.  I have a laptop hooked up to a second much bigger monitor and that has a keyboard.  As easy as it is to use the iPad and its keyboard, why use that when I have a full keyboard and computer right in front of me.

If you have any burning questions about the Ipad, post your thoughts in any of the comments fields.  I’ll try to find the answer.

Happy Birthday – to both me and the iPad

I mus apologize.  I first wrote this yesterday but posted it into the wrong blog.  I am reposting it here, with my regrets for the delay.


Today is my birthday, which only some of you knew, but it is also the release day for Apple’s iPad, which I’d be surprised if any of you didn’t know! :-) Sensing a bit of destiny there, I reserved one and picked it up this morning at the Apple Store in the Garden State Plaza in Paramus, NJ.

It was a great experience to be part of a product launch, especially one that could potentially have a great impact on the industry. Apple has a pretty amazing record, in this regard. The iPod and iPhone both revolutionized industries. Yes, they’ve also had one or two forgettable moments, but recently they’ve been on a pretty good streak.

Kudos, in a huge way, to the incredible staff at the Garden State Plaza Apple Store. These guys were having fun, they were enjoying putting this item into people’s almost as much as the people enjoyed getting them. I said almost.

It’s going to take a while to really know if this is going to work and how well but the initial response is positive.

I like the form factor. It is easy to hold, at least for me – some with small hands might think otherwise. Take a net book and remove the bottom keyboard part. Now, all you have is the screen. That’s about the size of the iPad. I am far happier carrying around half the size and weight of my net book! Which was already nicely portable. Starting Monday I will take it to school and see if it works for me.

The interface is totally Mac – clean, simple, easy to use, and very familiar.

I am using it right now to write this blog entry. When all my iPhone apps downloaded quickly once I connected, my WordPress app came with it. When i first went to use it it prompted me to update my iphone version, but that took all of two seconds and then I was off and running, using a familiar, but much more usable version of what I was doing on my iPhone. I’d say I’m more likely to do a blog entry using the iPad then the iPhone. It is so much easier to type on the iPad.

Speaking of typing, I’m amazed at how well this keyboard works. Some of the nuances will take a little getting used to, but I’m flying along pretty good here.

I was impressed with the photo framing feature. It turns this into that digital frame I’ve just not bought for myself because i couldn’t understand why the charge so darn much for them.

More later.