Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Reference Services Review - Esther Grassian on Second Life

Grassian, E., & Trueman, R. (2007). Stumbling, bumbling, teleporting and flying … librarian avatars in Second Life. Reference Services Review, 35(1), 84-89. Retrieved March 27, 2007, from http://proxy.lib.wayne.edu:2436/Insight/ViewContentServlet?Filename=Published/EmeraldFullTextArticle/Articles/2400350106.html.

This paper by Esther Grassian (UCLA) and Rhonda Trueman (Johnson & Wales) takes the form of questions and answers to provide an overview of the benefits and challenges for libraries in Second Life.

At NMC this week: EDUCAUSE Focus Session on Immersive Learning Environments

This session is taking place in real life in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will be streamed into Second Life at the NMC Campus. If you can only catch one session, I'd recommend the 10:15 (1:15 EST) session with Sarah Robbins (Intellagirl).

Tuesday 3/27 -
11am to 12pm (SLT)
Generation G and the 21st Century
Richard Van Eyk (University of North Dakota)

3/28 -
5 to 5:45am (SLT)
Cognition, Learning, and Literacy in Virtual Worlds, Constance Steinkuehler (U of Wisconsin-Madison)

6:00 am - 6:45am (SLT) Cyberinfrastructure-enabled Learning Environments for Gen-Z, Gary Bertoline (Purdue)

7:45 - 8:30am Virtual Learning Environments in 3D, Phil Long (MIT)

10:10 - 10:55 (tentative): Immersion and Engagement in a Virtual Classroom: Using Second Life for Higher Education, Sarah “Intellagirl” Robbins (Ball State)

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm The Bar May Not Be As High As You Expect: Considerations in Implementing an Immersive Learning Environment

More information is available at the NMC Campus Observer blog.

Info Island this week

Last week, Kitty Pope, Director of the Alliance Library System, announced that the ALA has given it the Information Today Inc. Library of the Future Award.

Tuesday 3/27 -
8am SLT (11 am EST) -
at Eduisland 2

3/29 -

8am SLT: Info Island Tour by Jilliana Susei - meet at the Welcome Area

6pm SLT
Discussion: Catch the Librarian Buzz
Discussion of services and programs for teens at Eye4You - location to be announced
There is also a discussion here about the new Eye4You Alliance Island, and what it will have to offer.


Thursday, March 8, 2007

American Libraries Online: Internet Librarian says Second Life needs libraries

Joseph Janes suggests that librarians should be involved not just in collecting, organizing and cataloging objects in SL, but also "part of the conversation about what those objects are and do and ought to be."
Like everyplace else, Second Life needs libraries
By Joseph Janes
American Libraries Columnist

Information Week Article: A look at the technology

This article describes what happens under the hood, as well as how Linden Lab is planning to handle hundreds of times the traffic.
Inside Second Life's Data Centers
As Second Life strains to keep up with recent popularity, InformationWeek looks at the real-world technology foundations of the make-believe world, and developer Linden Lab's plans to stay on top of growth.
Mitch Wagner InformationWeek
March 5, 2007

Even while Second Life struggles with its explosive growth and new popularity, the developers of the service, Linden Lab, are redesigning the service to handle hundreds of times as much traffic as it's dealing with today.

Second Life is seeing 20% monthly growth in the number of concurrent users, going from a then-record 18,000 users logged in at once in December to a record 36,000 on Sunday. The maximum capacity of the current network is 100,000 simultaneous users, Miller said. (the rest)

Lansing State Journal article on Second Life

My own home town paper did a nice article on Second Life today that mentions the Michigan Library Consortium among local users and entrepreneurs. And, refreshingly, not one mention of SL porn, Anshe Chung, or Prokofy Neva.
Second Life bring virtual, real life together
Barbara Wieland
March 8, 2007

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

IT Week article: David Tebbutt, Information World Review

This article has several paragraphs on the Second Life library.
"Is Second Life a brave new world?

A playground for geeks but an irrelevance for information professionals? You couldn't be more wrong about Second Life. David Tebbut explains the very real benefits of virtual reality."

05 Mar 2007

Having a Voice in Second Life

Last week Linden Lab announced the beta release of their new voice technology. Not that voice communication wasn't possible already; last month I experimented with Skype and blogged about it (Voicing Concerns in Second Life). Beta testing is starting this week, with an official launch to start sometime in the second quarter. Text based communication will still be an option, and avatars who choose not to use voice can display a "speech not enabled" indicator. Speech will be "proximity based" with sound changing to indicate position and distance. There will be three usage options:
  • General speech audible to anyone within hearing range
  • Group conference calls that include anyone in a group regardless of their location
  • One to one personal communication
They are also working on speech animations that trigger the beginning, ending and intensity of speech.

The biggest consideration about making voice part of the platform is how it will effect the performance. Second Life is struggling to cope with the 30% growth it is experiencing each month, but this feature should not effect performance on the grid since the voice is provided by 3rd party servers. It will however use more bandwidth, so quality will depend on each person's individual connection. It seems to me that it could even result in better performance on the grid since less text messaging will occur as voice takes its place.

More information and points of view:
ZDNet: Integrated voice coming to 'Second Life'
Who's On Second - podcast: Episode 16 - Everybody's sister Jeska Linden

Monday, March 5, 2007

Info Island this week – March 5, 2007

March 9, 6:30 PM SLT – The Caledon branch library co-sponsors an evening of story-telling at The Falling Anvil Public House in Caledon Tammrannoch. The theme is Tales of Love. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caledon%20Tamrannoch/233/113/23/

March 11, 2 PM SLT – Caledon branch library book discussion for the month of March is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caledon%20VictoriaCity/66/190

March 11, 12:00 PM – ebook and Podcast authors, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will appear at the Info Island Open Air Auditorium to discuss publishing in electronic media.

March 5 – 8 is YALSA’s Teen Tech Week in Second Life. Activities will be at open auditoriums at Info Island and Cybrary City, and include presentations and a panel discussion.

March 15, 2007 – 8:00 AM SLT – There will be a tour of Info Island. The SLURL for the Welcome Area is http://slurl.com/secondlife/Info%20Island/99/123/33/

Info Island this week

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Purpose, community and virtual reality

Events in my own life and community this week have submerged me into a time of mourning and reflection.

A long-time friend, Robert Busby was murdered last week. The impact of his death ripples far beyond the loss to his family and close friends. He worked for nearly 30 years to realize his dream of creating a center for culture and arts in Lansing’s Old Town district. When he bought his first building on Turner Street in Lansing’s decaying original downtown his first gallery, Two Doors Down, was named based on its proximity to the infamous the Mustang Bar, which set the tone for the neighborhood.

His gallery became a non-profit community endeavor, supported by the work of a group of artists who worked to bring real art, music and poetry to Lansing. Robert subsidized this in large part with his own labor and day job working as a model builder at GM. He had the same resources most of us have and had, but somehow he managed to be a patron of the arts. Arts and artists were not an interest or priority for the majority of leaders in Lansing (the then mayor, demanded the removal of a nude drawing at a Lansing Community College student art show to protect his wife’s sensibilities), so Two Doors Down was more then just a space to hang pictures. It was the place where the conspiracy to feed the soul of our community took root and grew into the place it is now.

Two Doors Down was laid to rest in 1989, but another gallery sprouted up down the block, then another, and another. Meanwhile, Robert continued to adopt dilapidated buildings, uncover their beauty, and turn them into working, living and playing spaces. The last building he bought was ready to be condemned after a fire gutted it. He loved it back into life, creating the Creole Gallery and his home there. His retirement from GM allowed him finally to concentrate all of his attention and energies on his gallery and the Old Town community.

Last Wednesday night hundreds of us gathered outside of the Creole to hold a vigil for Robert. Each person could remember many shows, concerts and performances they had been to there, and always, Robert in the center of it, inviting people in to the circle and making them feel part of it. In this way he made many, many friends, who continued to build, patronize and enjoy Old Town. Now it has become ours to carry on.

Robert’s death brings to a point a long internal debate I have had with myself over Second Life, its value and meaning, and what it says about us. Second Life is a virtual reality, an immersive experience, a complicated and time consuming exercise that only contains the meaning you bring into it. I admire and enjoy the landscapes and buildings created by its residents, and I value the friendships and connections I have made there. I think many residents are doing meaningful work there. But I wonder how many of SL’s residents are participating less in their real lives in order to learn and explore it? At what point are we contracting because we are mesmerized by our digital lives? Participating less in our own communities, seeing less of our friends, not supporting our local art scenes, in favor of a digital existence?

Second Life is only good for me to the extent that it serves my purposes in life. There are many ways in which I think SL is an improvement over television, or even reading a romance novel or mystery. But virtual reality is far inferior to almost anything my real life can offer. I would far rather meet my Second Life friends in the flesh for a real beer, concert or gallery tour. The technology, and therefore the seductiveness of the medium will only improve over time. So those of us who are exploring its uses need to keep the bigger picture in mind before we lead others into it, and surely that means first learning to use it in a skillful way ourselves to expand our own lives, relationships and communities.