Saturday, December 30, 2006

I've started building

I started out just building big twisted pieces of art. Now i'm into buildings. Multi-prim builidngs. Here's a pic of one of my first one's - i love the window textures

On my little plot of land - i can get one building at a time. So i build, put it in my inventory, build again.
Next I made a big gallery type space with 10 prims including a window wall and a frosted glass bump out room.
Here are some pictures of the glass bump out room - I put in a little rock garden with pink flamingos. I built a couple of chairs and put them there too.

One of the IC students came by to check out my work - and noticed that my house had no floor - whoops It doesn't have a door yet either but that's ok because it doesn't have a roof so you can just (literally) drop in. I'm going to build a dome to go on the roof. So i have got to figure out doors - they involve scripting. I'm thinking of making a flexi cloth door - i think you could just walk thru it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

bought the island

well - placed the order anyway - for the school of communication. We hope to involve lots of folks around campus.

I thought 16 acres was huge - but it is NOT. Oh man. I wonder how big our real campus is? Anyway - i think there's room for a couple of buildings, sandbox. We can build things in the air - that will be cool.

So i thought of hte first thing I want students to play with - what's the meaning of classroom in a world like SL where you can fly, you don't have to sit in front of each other to "hear" and where text is mostly delivered by text.

I've been playing on my own land too - i upgraded to a premium membership so i could own just the smallest chunk 512 sq meters. Talk about tiny. But i can build and leave stuff around. I found a beach house that fits on my land - turns out my land isn't flat so part of hte house is buried in the ground and part is hanging in the air. I like having part of the floor buried - the grass shows. If i can find a small tree and some plants i'm going to make an indoor garden.

I created 2 groups - IC Students and IC Faculty. I didn't make them open - so people need an invite - there has to be a better way but i wanted to be sure the people were actually from IC. We will use the lists to control access to the island while we play around and terraform.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

ok - now I"ve done it

I admit - I"m fixated on SL right now. And i'm probably driving folks around me a little batty talking about it.

So what's my reward/punishment? The school is going to buy an island and we get to play on it. I may get time off to play on it - free toys and paid play time. Man I'm in heaven.

I'm also terrified. I have to convince people from across the campus to play and to put in time to stage events and build cool stuff. And to work it into their classes. I went to Middletown - a build for a class at Ball State - I was so jealous. They did a great job! And I have to convince students they want to do stuff in SL - I hope they take to it as excitedly as the folks at Ball State.

What was I thinking??!@!

The island orders are way backlogged - so we have a little time. I'm going to buy some land with another little grant I got to play on - we can use that for some early projects. And we can leave stuff there - like a dispenser of notecards about upcoming projects or art that students build. My dream is to build an opaque ball wiht a door. Inside are images/movie screens. You can walk around, move the ball, and the pictures move. So you could walk one way and be standing on the movie screen - move a little the other way and the movie screen is on top of hte ball. Like a private screening room. Or we take the opague balls - make little transparent slits - and use them to play bumper ball(G)

I've got to get my hands on a server too for streaming media. We get lots of great speakers - i would love to have a SL spot for presnetations - stream video from the real world, have avatars for the speakers, take questions from the SL audience, port the SL view back into the real world. Not anything different than a lot of conferences has done - but a way to shae some of the really cool speakers from the real world wiht the secondlife world. Maybe alumni could come to the SL home and keep in touch.

Down the road it would be nice to take some of the stuff we learn about sl to the teen grid - it would be a great place to recruit prospective freshmen who are into technology. But that's down the road.

I can't wait!!!

lots of events

Maybe it's because there's so many more people in secondlife - or maybe i've just been more diligent at looking at the events list in hte Search Menut - - but....

there have been just tons of events and there have even been a lot of educational events in SL recently.

i think events are a good way to introduce new people to secondlife - lots of people to talk with and something to talk about (other than the typical intros). Like going to a movie on a first date (ha)

the big drawback to events tho - if ya have a good one and do good promotions - you get so many people that lag attacks and no one has a good time (like some recent Townsquare presentations by Linden Labs and the new shows at the SL Planetarium). Or you attract griefers (like at the recent big brother opening). So - now that i think/write a bit - - maybe events aren't a good way to introduce people to secondlife.

either way - i'm excigted about all the new fun things to do and see in the world - i'm not the most social person on the planet so thinking of SL as just a 3d chat room was never very appealing. As a destination tho - i think it has a lot of appeal.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

spent more time in the world lately

I haven't had time to play till recently. I just decided to make time and not do other things like grade papers

I started tgoing to classes to learn how to build things - i made a picture frame, a box that gives out notecards, and flowers. It's really cool - you can put scripts in objects to make them do things. Turns out there are tutorials on building and scripting at hte Ivory Tower so I'll be spenidng more time there this weekend.

The flowers were fun - but hte ideas carry over to making other things. You make a transparent very thin box, put the texture on first hte front and hten the back (not hte sides). Then ya copy that shape, rotate it, copy the new shape and rotate it so you end up with 4 copies of hte original flower all interlocked. When you wlak around it it looks 3D and solid. I wonder if that would work with other things. I"m going to try it with some other images

I also made a clear glass ball - actually i made it transparent and put stained glass on it as a texture. I dimpled it to make an entrance. I wanted ot make like a gerbil/hamster ball so i could run around the world inside it. But it is really amazing to stand inside looking out. I made a box with a transparent side, hollowed it out and got to stand inside it too - i floew up and then down the hollowed out spot - with boxes it hollows out fromt eh side, with the ball it hollowed out from the inside. Weird different. I'm going to keep working on the gerbil ball idea - that would be a lot of fun - could make it like a diving bell to go under the water! That's my goal.

Like a dummy i didn't take any pictures. But i put stuff in my inventory - so look for photos really soon.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Spent a lot of time in the world yesterday

Longer than normal for me. I went to a lecture about a project called Global Kids. They have an island on the teen grid. THis summer they held an inworld summer camp to teach leadership and political activism. The kids looked at the issue of other children being sold into the sex trade. They created a maze to teach kids on the teen grid about the plight of these slaves. It was an impressive presentation and an even more impressive project. I learned a lot about the Teen Grid - and realized there's a lot more to find out. Adults can't go there and wander around. If you have an island you have to stay there and kids come to you.

If we were thinking of having an island in the world to reach out to prospective freshmen - we'd need to have regular events, things for them to do, reasons for htem to come and to come back. I think the only way it will owrk is if we get some freshmen who are not 18 yet to join and sort of act as ambassadors - to help other students organize events on our space. SO it's not just grownups talking at them. SOunds like the kids on the teen grid want to DO - build, talk, organize. They want to learn things. They also want to be violent and provocative - play acting maybe?

And serious lag - I could hear the talk fine. The audio stream was a neat addition tohte talk. At one point tho - when we were all supposed to get up and do something - my screen froze. more literally my avatar froze - i could turn the camera left and right but i couldn't walk or fly. I quit SL and came back in. The lag was bad for a couple of minutes and then i was ok but all the people that had been there before were gone (I"m talking just a couple of minutes) or their avatars didn't draw.

Then i went to the TeaZers Island looking for a class on how to make an apple. I could see a whole bunch of people on the mini-map. I just knew that was the class. But when i went to that location - loiterally walked over the people on the map - no one was there. SOmeone else looking around suggested i fly up to look over hte roofs - maybe the class was in one of the other buildings. As I flew up i noticed a lot of things int he air - buildings and green areas. I kept flying - and hovering above the land I had just been walking on was a grey cube with a big green open area and a class full of people eating their apples. Rats. I had missed the class but found hte classroom. I waited around awhile for hte next class. We learned how to make Devo hats. I realized i don't know how to do the camera controls right. The layers of hte hat were small (my head is small - duh) and when I linked my layers I missed the top one. Arggh. I eventually got them together and attached them to my hand (I didn't want to mess up my pretty hair) Whew.

The students in my class are supposed to be going to classes this week. I realize now I want to go to more because building stuff in the world is a lot of fun. It also makes me really really appreciate all the work that goes into some of these huge builds. I realize they're probably making htem in graphics packages and importing htem but they have to assemble the pieces and test them and get them just so on the property. Man oh man. A lot of work.

If we get a piece of land for this project with Rachel W. and Austra we'll need to do a little building for the presentation. it would be cool to have some chairs in a semicircle. And even cooler to plan something for people to get up and do - not a straight lecture but some activity. Even a poll. Gotta look around at what kinds of things are available to buy to add to our presentation. I bought a cool whiteboard - gonna try it in class next week - you supposedly just drag textures (pictures) on to it for everyone to see. I'd like to have easels with pictures on them of cool things we've seen. And you touch the picture to get a notecard of information about the project.

More later

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I went to a talk in world about space tourism. Good slides and i'm getting used to the text lecture style. Good comments from the crowd too.

Monday, October 02, 2006

playing along

So we're playing the game - people don't seem as excited as last semester. I wonder if it's because I'm not discovering new stuff along with them like last semester when it was all new and shiny. there's still plenty i don't know of course but the basics aren't as exciting as before. And right away we had the big security hack and some folks (me included) lost our avatars. that was kind of off putting. And the game isn't giving them money like last semester so they aren't buying stuff. I think we'll have to require putting some money into the game next semester - if they do it when hthey sign up they get free money. They're kind of frustrated by not having clothes.

The in world small group discussion worked pretty good. Small groups went to one of 4 places I found and discussed some questions i gave them. They weren't good questions however - didn't take people long. I mostly just wanted people to get used to talking which they did but it didn't take as long as i thought it would.

I need to post some pics of my new character. CHanging to a guy is tough - i miss my old male character from before the security hack. Oh well - i'll get over it - ha ha.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

So many changes over the summer

Over the summer secondlife changed - a lot. There are a lot more people with accounts and a lot more people logged on simultaneously. Still not as many as World of Warcraft - but it's growing.

A lot of real world brands are moving into the game. A PR firm, Toyota Scion, tennis shoes, a hotel chain - and that's just what I remember. The projects are giving inworld designers a lot of visibility which is cool.

Another thing that happened this summer is that some big names from other parts of the internet established a presence in the game. Robert Scoble. Adam Curry. and Joe Jaffe.

The last thing I noticed over the summer is all the conferences and meetings that were held simultaneously in world. It was very strange to see my avatar sit (they sway ever so slightly in their seats) and watch a live video stream on an inworld screen in a room full of other swaying avatars. We could chat and have side conversations while we watched without disturbing others. The people on the screen could ask and answer questions from the inworld crowd too.

There was more media coverage of the game too - including a podcast from Business Week.

How will that affect our experience inthe game? I'm not sure yet. There is more to do . There are more brand names that students will recognize. The new developments may make the game seem more legitimate. It might also seem less wild and wooly and so students will be less willing to play around. I will be interested in watching their reactions.

Friday, May 05, 2006

the class went well in the spring - now over summer break I have time to make some changes. I also have to figure out what ITS did to make it impossible to get the game to run in our computer lab in the last week of school (arggghhh). And I have to see if i can run it at all in a new lab in a different building (it sucks being the low man on the room reservation totem pole since I"m new in the department)

ideas for qual in the fall
- collect data for a magazine article about educational possibilities of SL - collaboration, draw of "fun" for new researchers
- readings about some basic topics we want to discuss in the game - place, time, gender, fun, flow, games - organize by topic, mix of academic and popular articles
- need more writing practice, more editing practice, more specific practice with bibliopgraphy stuff - finding articles, writing bibliography, intext citations. 
- need some specific practice exercises in the game, need some notecards, collection of stuff to play with, specific locations

- writing requirements - gonna be strict about a bibliography style, no right justify, more writing on the wiki

Sunday, April 16, 2006

One of my students wants to create a version of the Family Feud television game show on our student-run television station. He needs to gather up data to make the questions for the first episode.

If you have a minute - could you take the survey?

One of my student's is doing an independent study of television viewing habits. She has a short (2 minutes approximately) survey online. It would help her out if a wider variety of people took the survey. Please giver her two minutes and take the survey.

The URL is


Friday, April 07, 2006

I think the students have finally gotten comfortable enough in SL to do some interesting projects. They started out with observations of their own reactions to time in the world. Those were good papers for the most part. Their second project (due Monday) had htem analyzing content around the game - forum posts, blogs, websites, things for sale on SLexchange. They seem really excited about all the conversations. They seem fascinated by all the people who spend a lot of time and money and energy in the world - the designers, the people debating whether players should keep getting allowances from LL, why people build things in the sky. They seem excited about doing interviews int he world - that's their third people. We practiced IM'ing and saving chat histories today. And went tothe welcome center to talk to noobies to ask them some questions just for practice. Lots of chatter in the room about what folks were typing to them. Still some folks wandering around off task. But most people were getting things done. I'm pretty happy about the game for class right now.

Friday, March 24, 2006

at GDC

The folks from Linden labs had a session about giving the users creative control and ownership. Cory Linden did the talk. He pointed out how many SL-ers create stuff and write scripts - even tho the script language was very difficult to use.

I really liked when he described how a user figured out how to make a kite - and the developers had to go ask the user how they did it.

Philip Rosedale - head of LL - had one of hte keynotes on Monday. It's gotta be a scray position right now - do away with subscription revenues, give away basic accounts and hope people convert to property owning accounts that cost money each month. I think he said they take a little cut out of the linden buck exchnages.

And - in the other MOnday keynote - Jesper Juul talked about goal less games - Ithink SL might fall into that category. They hav eto have lots of things and lots of actions - the user creates those "nouns" and "verbs" anyway they want. and the more combinations that are possible the better. I need to read his book Half-Real

He pointed out that GTA and The sSims have some things in common - including that both are playable as goal-less games - you can just wander around GTA - practicing your bike skills, driving to see scenery - with no penalty. You sort of make your own goals. He talked about how he wanted his Sims avatar to eat a lot - but instead the kitchen caught on fire and his avatar went kind of crazy so that the doctor came. He "failed" nominally since the avie didn't eat as much as he wanted, but the failure was interesting. A lot to think about in his speech.

then - as my students tell me - it's weird to try to define games - they just are and ya know them. Maybe that's true. Gonna make for an interseting final exam question.

press coverage

There's a story about SL in Wired magazine - actually about the Second Life Herald - a "newspaper" that covers SecondLife and other MMORPGs. The writer is sort of an embedded journalist. He covers the good, the bad, and the very pretty (check out the Post 6 Grrls)


The herald is a good source of news and would be good to analyze over time.

Friday, March 17, 2006


the avatar dressing and modifying - seems to be an important part of the game for the students.

Yet - some are finding that they want their avatar to look like them as much as possible. That was their first assignment and they didn't like it at hte time. Now they have total freedom with how they look. They tried out different hair and skin color and clothes and shapes - it was overwhelming for some of them with all the choices. Then they're slowly going back to the original look.

I wonder how true that is overall. If the people flying around in Jedi soldier uniforms or pikachu costumes are relatively new and over time they slowly change back to normal too.

And then do people stop playing? Once the character is "normal looking" - is the excitement of the game over?

That's the question for the rest of the semester...

Friday, March 10, 2006

arggh - slow hardware

I know how some of the students have been feeling - they have slow comptuers or slow connections.

And now so do I. My laptop died so I had to fall back on my desktop machine - which is about 5 years old. It's a G4 but i'm seriously lackng RAM and processor speed. SL starts but - oh my goodness it is slow - gray rectangles everywhere, avatar won't move. Man it is irritating.

Especially when I really wanted to kill some time playing the game, looking for Robert Scoble's volcano and softwre company, and the peach computer store.

Oh well - guess I"ll do more homework. I wonder if the students ever say that!

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Observation Papers

My students wrote their first papers about SL - based on tehir own personal observations. We'd been reading personal ethnographies and they were supposed to write in that style. Most did a great job.

We're all wondering why people spend so much time building houses and neighborhoods and yet most areas of the world are so incredibly empty. One person commented that early members had to pay to join and so SL might have attracted people who wanted to build. They also noticed that people have different views of what SL actually is - a sandbox to build and create, sex, gambling, chat.

We ran into some technology problems - slow connection speeds in the dorms and apartments, slow wireless connection in the lab; the frequent updates meant I had to tke the lab over for an hour several times to load all the machines; avatars reverting to default modes; and the strange fact (g) that students don't want to read the notecard instructions sprinkled liberally around the world but rather want to just do (and want things to just be transparent and obvious - a want that I think might make the game a bit less fun).

And we're having an ongoing discussion about whether it's a game or not. One take is that it isn't. ANother that it provides space for people to play games. It's a discussion we'll be having hte rest of hte semester - it will probably be a question on our midterm and final to give them an opportunity to apply what they're reading about definitions of games.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I added a dashboard widget from Google that supposedly lets me post right from my desktop - this could be cool.

Monday we're going to go play games in the world. The students have an observation paper due Friday - their observations of their time in SL. 

The biggest problems so far - hardware, hardware, and hardware. Some kids don't have the newest machines. Some have slow internet connections. And our labs - with faster connections and needed drivers - aren't open that much. Annoying. And we discovered that our wireless network is too slow to run the game. That kills that plan for hte future.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Can ya sell drugs in SecondLife?

That's what a student asked today in class? After they'd discussed briefly one students idea to become a prostitute to make Linden bucks. Another student lost all his money at blackjack and another played Slingo for 3 hours. Going to be a fun semester.

next time we play - we go to the museums and library - gotta show off the cultural side of the game.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

ok - now i know what they mean by herding cats

you remember that commercial a bunch of years ago for EDS (Ross Perot, Superbowl - - -but I digress) about cowboys rounding up a herd of cats - house cats, not big ol' jungle cats. The cats were all over the place.

Or there's the phrase nailing jello to a wall

In other words - things that are just not easy to organize or accomplish

That's how i feel after a week of tring to get a group of students started with SecondLife. They are all eager to get started - how do i do this or that, look at that guy - where did he get that cool shirt. And so on. In a lab where it took us about 30 minutes out of a 50 minute period to download hte software the first day! In a PC lab when I have experience using hte game on a mac - i forget about right clicking stuff.

But i think we're over the hump. They are playing with their avatars - all named for the most part something-or-other Fluffy. They are learning how to teleport and fly. We went to the junkyard to look for free stuff. I gave people some of the free stuff I had - wings and clothes and sparklie bits. Good chat comment - I get college credit for playing video games - how cool is that.

Next week we can actually do something I think - that will get them going on what they need for their research papers (which they don't know about yet.) We're moving beyond playing a game to studying playing a game. Hopefully it will stay as much fun. ANd the SL servers will stay up. ANd there won't be a new version ever 30 minutes.

Keep your fingers crossed - we're going in!