Virtual Environment – Is One Life Enough

How interesting life is, as a mature student in DIT in Dublin,  I chose the “Virtual Environment – Is One Life Enough” module to discover how education and personal interaction was being facilitated in Second Life (SL)  http://www.secondlife.com.  Second life (SL) is an online interface with unlimited spaces known as worlds where people interact with each other.  In these worlds people can create their own avatar which is a computer generated image created by the user to represent them in the online world in SL.  The user can appear how they choose in SL, the tools for creating your avatars appearance are excellent and the animation facilities to give your avatar non standard movements are only limited by your imagination (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/How_to_create_animations).

The module started online  in a lecture theatre in DIT in Dublin in SL where students and lecturers attended weekly .  The format was relaxed with the bulk of time and effort being spent exploring SL and creating blogs discussing internet interaction, image and multimedia in various forms.  Using SL, the realisation of the potential for SL in the world of education(and many other worlds) is obvious and there is no doubt that in time we will see more and more education modules delivered in SL.   As part of the module, the students were given the task of delivering a group presentation live in SL.  The group agreed on the presentation being a poem suggested by Myk(student).  Myk and Effa(student) recorded  the poem with music and the help of Elfay.  Kkav(student) became the sound engineer and with the help of  Ham Rambler and Elfay Pinkdot streamed the play into the amphitheatre (location kindly provided by Ham Rambler).   While the poem and music played the rest of the students danced to the music showing their newly acquired animating skills.  The presentation could have been better but everybody learned a lot.

Additionally we had online lectures from a variety of SL users which proved invaluable as the students required the assistance of  visiting experienced SL users to learn how to deliver their presentation with live audio and animation in an online setting.

Our first guest speaker was “Ham Rambler” the founder of Virtual Dublin in Second Life, and a well travelled pilot in real life spoke about his original inspiration: the search for the ubiquitous Irish Pub. The only city he couldn’t find one in was Brasilia, capital of Brazil. He decided SL should also have an Irish Pub so he built the Blarney Stone. It proved very popular from the start and proved to be a particular attraction to the American community. Gradually he introduced live music and other attractions and began to build a community. This led to taking a whole sim(online space in SL) and beginning to build a virtual Dublin city. At its height Dublin ranged over three sims, it is now contained in two sims and continues to be one of the most visited places in SL. Virtual Dublin’s reputation for good fun, community spirit, a range of activities along with a warm welcome has grown over the years.  “Ham’s” virtual Dublin is an incredible space to visit and there is always somebody in the “Blanrney Stone”(from somewhere in the world) chatting, dancing or  listening to music.  The potential for the growth and use of this online Dublin is unlimited and “Ham” should be complimented for his innovation and dedication to SL and for his help to the students of this module to deliver the sound and location for the class presentation.

Our next guest skeaker was “Elfay Pinkdot” who is a well-known SL dj and hosts the weekly jazz show Coffee & Pajamas at the Sunset Jazz club live in SL. Originally from the US Elfay has travelled widely in the real world as well as SL. Her radio show has been running for over five years and platforms her formidable knowledge of jazz. Based in SL the show has built up a loyal following and a strong community of interactive listeners.  “Elfay” has two shows this weekend: Saturday from 8AM-10AM PST (16:00-18:00 GMT) and Sunday from 10am to Noon PST (18:00-20:00 GMT).  To listen, simply go to the Sunset Jazz Club in Second Life or launch this URL on your media player: http://38.96.148.16:4168/ .  Elfay taught the students how to produce sound in SL and her experience and help was wonderful and forthcoming.  Producing sound can be done with the built-in voice facility in SL but Elfay taught the students to use external software to stream(produce) voice and music sounds directly in SL which enhance the quality and reliability.

Our last guest speaker was “Sitearm Madonna”.  Site (for short) is a strategist and expediter for virtual worlds projects and is manager and coordinator for Virtual Dublin in SL.  Site spoke about his experience on team projects and shared his knowledge of team working tools.

In conclusion, the module was brilliant, I personally and selfishly would have liked to build something for the project but I learned a lot.  At the start of the module I did not know what to expect, I had resigned myself to the fact that the career I loved was finished and that I would design and build no more.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I could design, build and create in SL to my hearts content.  I had expected in this conclusion to be reflecting on the end of the module but incredibly find myself at the beginning of a new adventure in SL.

.

Advertisements

The importance of etiquette, convention and regulation in online communities

It’s nice to be nice and that applies to all in every circumstance. It also follows that communications on the internet should be no less courteous and in general the majority abide by the unwritten laws of internet etiquette.  Typically internet host sites such as linkedin or facebook etc have terms and conditions that you are required to sign up to for permission to use the site.  These terms and conditions usually include directions in relation to acceptable and unacceptable behaviour for communicating on the internet while in their communities.

In consideration of internet etiquette, as in life the rules of common courtesy are expected to be observed. There are also etiquettes that you would not normally associate such as “copyright”, rules of which also have to be observed and permission sought for reproduction at every level.  To take and use something that is not yours and reproduce it as your own is theft and that applies no matter which world you are operating in.

Emotions online as in life have to be controlled and even if provoked, sending heated messages is not recommended. If involved in a heated debate, it is always best policy to let time pass and review your response in a calm frame of mind before sending.

Chain mail should not be considered and deleted directly as should all malicious mail.  The use of uppercase letters is seen to be shouting and so tone of voice needs to be considered when composing a mail.  Smileys and emoticons of facial expressions can add emotions to a mail and are useful for conveying different tones of voice.

Sometimes forgotten are common courtesy’s when communicating with others from around the world.  There is significant importance in understanding the time zones and business and cultural practices of people we are dealing with in the different time zones.  For example business people in China are typically very courteous and upon receiving a mail out of office hours feel honour bound to respond even at unusual hours,  this is an imposition on them and should have been avoided by due diligence on behalf of the sender

Netiquette[1]. Was probably the widest form of community regulation in cyberspace in the 1990’s.  It was written by an Intel employee and never updated but provided guidelines for others to adapt to their own particular circumstances to serve their own internet communities.

Internet communities today develop their own standards using some of the rules from the 90’s guidelines and some are adapted to accommodate today’s users.  The internet has now grown so large we are observing our guidelines from communities we visit such as “ebay”, facebook” etc

In online communities the facility to moderate is a practice for preventing impolite behaviour online and in lively communities this is a demanding and time-consuming occupation controlling groups and participants.

As the internet expands it becomes obvious the need for ensuring good etiquette online and we all must play our part as role models in our own communications


[1] Hambridge, S, Netiquette Guidelines,, 1995, RFC1855, available at http://www.ietf.orgirfelrfc1855.txt

Prosumer to Produser

In consideration of the above concept, this excerpt from Dr. Alex Brun http://slidesha.re/cqQ0LQ questions the term produser and asks if the term produser is appropriate for what we see online in web2 and other spaces where people are actively creating content and actively participating and moving away from being more conventional members of the audience who are not necessarily creating content in their own right.  He asks if it is really only about, production that consumers initiate or is it only about certain designs that a customer has submitted or at least modified or customised, is the involvement in the design process?  and is that all there is?  Is that as far as you can go he asks.

He suggests you look at the literature in various industries, posumers are seen much more as the high end consumers and nothing much more, the prosumers being addressed by the literature of the high-fi industries, car companies offering custom modifications, computer nerds can be described as prosumers from that point of view.  Dr. Brun thinks there are a number of ways of describing these people but does not think it is capturing the reality of participation in online environments, web2 environments, in collaborative context creation environments and asks if the prosumer remains dependent on the existence of a producer who is simply working to the whim of content producers and asks if that is all there is ?  He does not think so and suggests that really high end consumers who know a lot about what they consume are not necessarily active in content creation.

Dr. Brun thinks we have to look beyond the idea of the prosumer and the idea of production and the value chain that we have all grown up with which has been established since the dawn of the industrial revolution if not earlier.  This idea that there are producers, distributors and consumers and that they are really quite distinct elements within the chain but he thinks it is all changing and the idea of the prosumer really just adds a better feedback loop to this chain so consumers advising producers of what they really want.  He considers consumers perhaps providing some ideas for what these products should be looking like but ultimately still depending on the producer to manufacture their goods.

Interestingly, Dr. Brun does not think this is quite enough, he does not think that it captures the reality of the spaces like Wikipedia and many others that we might identify as going beyond the Producer-Distributor-Consumer model.  He tells us that there are a number of ways of describing this emergence in recent years and upon reflection he wonders if the term production itself is the appropriate term for what’s happening in these environments, particularly online in content creation is really production in any conceivable, identifiable way as we know from the past because he say’s really what’s coming out here is not to do anymore with the creation of finished products but is actually much more an ongoing process of revision of recreation of existing knowledge.  Wikipedia is a perfect example as its not about producing some sort of marketable commodity like Encyclopaedia Britannica, open source is another example as its not simply about creating a piece of software that can be used but it is the ongoing revision of these things, of the non-products of these things that are really quite distinct from conventional products.

Dr. Brun thinks its the continuous revision of existing content by people who might come to it in the first place as users, as all of us go to Wikipedia and see the content that exists there and then are also addressed as potential contributors, as potential produsers of this content, or hybrid produsers who are in the middle somewhere, not quite users and not quite produsers but are in a hybrid role somewhere in the middle between extremes and so it is the ongoing revision of this content that is identified and happens across a broad range of different contexts of different spaces and all of us have come across examples of this and it goes all the way from open source to Wikipedia through Citizen Journalism and any other spaces of creative production.

Destinations

In secondlife I visited the following five virtual environments.

The first was Comptons pub in Soho in London where I met 2 avatars in a spacious bar setting with lots of seated and standing/dancing areas.  It appears that it is an exciting spot when lots of avatars appear ….. worth another look

The second was Red Rock Mesa – Native Indian & Southwest acts, Native lands where I encountered two indian avatars looking for Mustang horses.  It is a prarie setting and the place to go if you like the wild west.

The third was Two Moons Island which was a cloudy, desert space with no signs of life or anything to tempt me back.

The fourth was Cloudchasers ‘Tomaisk’ Duck which even though there was no sign of life had lots to explore and a great small animation of waves rocking a boat with the reflection of the boat rocking in the sea below.

The fifth was The Abyss Observatory which has a lot to explore with five tours on offer, I took a tour which included lots of signposts in Chinese.  It is an island setting and worth a return visit

2nd Life

Hi,

My name is Bill Carton and I am currently in DIT as a mature student on MSAP .

Interestingly enough, back in the late 80’s I worked on a number of projects modelling the built environment in Autocad and 3d studio.  I remember having to hook up lots of pc’s to slave render a walkthrough or flyby which would take days of rendering for 2 minutes of animation.

I am be interested in this course to explore the virtual environment but also interested to find out about the engine, software etc as I was surprised to discover the current virtual environment model renderings not as advanced as I had expected after over 20 years of time