Take a walk around this idea: SL9B – Community in 3D

2SPS Gallery: Second Life SL9B
2SPS Gallery by Soul Yheng and Sandralee Palianta: SL9B (Second Life 9th Birthday)

Beau Hindman of massively.com has been exploring Second Life for eight years now, he observes  in his post “Free for All: Second Life, the little 75 million-dollar engine that could” that the virtual world was a ‘social medium before social media’ 

If I look back eight years ago, when I first joined Second Life, it’s neat to think just how ahead of its time it was. While the insiders of Second Life were participating in a smaller, self-contained social medium, the way they shared and collaborated was much the same as how we participate in worldwide social media now. (Beau Hindman)

Future Communities by noke yuitza
Future Communities by noke yuitza: SL9B

Beau makes the observation that Second Life pioneered various tools to assist communication amongst its users; his favorite is the SLurl (a hyperlink that allows you to land at a precise location in the virtual world. SLurls to this blog’s images at end of post below).

While I enjoy clicking on a friend’s Twitter link and checking out a picture of her favorite dog, I can click on an SLurl and instead find artwork inspired by her furry best friend or a virtual dog that I can interact with. Before Google made easy collaboration in documents, Linden Lab created the ability to create almost anything with your friends, chat via voice while doing so, and even possibly sell the creation for real life cash. (Beau Hindman)

Second Life's slurl locator
Above: Second Life’s SLurl locator.

Beau Hindman says of the SLurl “It’s one of the very few instances I can think of that allow someone to follow a link to visit a literal, three-dimensional idea — a thought in the form of an explorable piece of content.” That is pretty exciting to strongly visual types with a science fiction bent like myself. It opens up whole new realms of travel for the mind. Ah, but then entrepreneurs like Anders Gronstedt have also found that the men in dark gray suits (who pride themselves on being very solid and sensible) also find three dimensional meeting spaces useful for training and business purposes. (See: Immersive 3-D Worlds: Avatars at Work.)

Tree of Faces by Cherry Manga
Tree of Faces by Cherry Manga: SL9B

Second Life is a moldable, social experiment that can do things Twitter or Facebook cannot. Granted, its saddled with the performance issues that come with a world of streaming, three-dimensional material, but Linden Lab has already experimented with embedded players that shine light on a possible browser-based future. As PCs become cheaper and the magical tubes that carry our internet become fatter and more affordable, Second Life will benefit by becoming much more accessible. (Beau Hindman)

This particular social experiment is currently celebrating its ninth birthday. Now, for some (dark gray suit reason) Linden Labs decided not to celebrate the event as it has in past years. Previously the Labs provided land and resources for Second Life users and encouraged them to fire up their imaginations to celebrate with fabulous 3D creations. This year the Labs suggested that the various communities within Second Life should take the theme of community and simply celebrate amongst themselves. (Perhaps the Labs should consult Anders Gronstedt regarding the cut of their suits?) Recognizing that this would mean losing the sense of the greater community, a small group of Second Lifers set about organizing the giant birthday bash known as SL9B without Labs support.

Birthday cake stage by Mikati Slade
Birthday Cake Stage by Mikati Slade: SL9B

Within five weeks they found sponsors; trained volunteers; handed donated land over to builders; enrolled the help of code scripters; set up exhibit spaces for shop keepers, community groups and artists; they then promoted the whole shebang with the help of Second Life bloggers. The result is visible this week across 20 sims displaying 300 diverse exhibits and includes stages for musicians performing live music. Many different communities use the virtual world and with the help of hundreds of volunteers plus in-world social networking tools (as well as external social media) this amazing feat has been pulled off. Intriguing to consider that the virtual world is the perfect place to render the concept of community in three dimensions. The event ends on June 27th, 2012. Take a walk around the idea soon!

SLurls to locations featured in this post:
2SPS Gallery by Soul Yheng and Sandralee Palianta http://slurl.com/secondlife/FruitIslands%20SL9B%20Fun/29/189/21/ 

Future Communities by noke yuitza
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dreamseeker%20SL9B%20Nove/49/57/22/ 

Tree of Faces by Cherry Manga
http://slurl.com/secondlife/SL9B%20By%20Us2%20/86/164/21/ 

Birthday Cake Stage by Mikati Slade
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Dreamseeker%20SL9B%20Tisa/234/250/22/ 

Son of a MOOC! (Or, what happens when you swallow the red pill.)

I located the MOOC Guide with an introduction written by Stephen Downes today. It is a very helpful potted history of MOOCs.

Screen shot of MOOC 2011 introduction
Screen shot of MOOC 2011 introduction
Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig's AI Course run from Stanford University
Section 13 of the MOOC Guide introduces the successful AI-Class run by Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig at Stanford University.

Below you can see a video of Sebastian Thrun describing his experience of co-teaching the AI class with Peter Norvig, over 100,000 people pre-registered for the course. Sebastian Thrun has received a lot of press for resigning his position at Stanford University following this spectacularly powerful teaching experience. He has turned away from the traditional teaching methods of academia so that he can concentrate on his new educational venture at Udacity.com where he states:

“We believe university-level education can be both high quality and low-cost. Using the economics of the Internet, we’ve connected some of the greatest teachers to hundreds of thousands of students all over the world.”

The talk in the YouTube video is about 24 minutes long but it is well worth listening to (especially if you are an educator). The talk gives a quick glimpse of the future of education and it makes you realize that education is going the way of the music and newspaper industries (to name just two fields irrevocably altered by the web). Here is a quote (somewhat paraphrased) from near the end of the talk by Sebastian:

“I feel like there is a red pill and a blue pill and you can take the blue pill and go back to your classroom of 20 students. But I have taken the red pill and I have seen Wonderland where we can change the world with education, if we can make education free for the world, accessible everywhere, we can help the developing world to become much better, much stronger… Along with using the digital medium I really want to stop empowering the professors, I want to empower the students.”

Is your Facebook account like a forgotten pair of socks (that fell behind the washing machine?)

My 12 year old son has just set himself up on Facebook and nabbed 20 friends in 20 hours to add to his all important (especially when you are 12 years old) Friend’s List.  He is delighted and keeps walking off with my new iPad to send messages to his buddies. Personally I have problems with Facebook but my criticisms are far from original so I won’t bore you with them here.

Have you noticed that Facebook generates a strange energy? For instance, if someone mentions it in any kind of meeting, however great or small, they better forget what they planned to discuss because the gathering will degenerate into a ‘how do you manage your Facebook account?’ anarchic free-for-all. A small number of FB aficionados find themselves coaching the large number  who feel completely frustrated by it. This makes me wonder: Out of the reported 750 million worldwide Facebook users how many really use it versus how many signed up and then left it gathering dust like a forgotten pair of socks that fell behind the washing machine?

Virtual washing machines
Virtual washing machines designed by Jasmine Digital at the Designers Edge Furniture Store in Second Life

Perhaps the world is gradually dividing into two social network factions? Extroverts will head for Facebook to externalize their experiences and use the application to know they are having these experiences. Introverts are destined to head over to Google+ because that app has some sweet tools that will filter the digital noise caused by gathering all our friends and acquaintances into one big online contact list. I am quite certain that 12 year olds will have a blast pulling faces and giggling at each other whether it is in Facebook’s Skype video chat or on Google’s Hangouts.

That said, if you by any chance missed the Google+ announcements take a look at the following posts:

The Google+ Demo page – Google’s soothing solution for those of us who go loopy when we hear the word facebook… looks good… love the ‘Circles’.

What is Google+ ? – Libby Plummer on Pocket Lint. If you can’t fathom out what is going on with that cool Google+ demo page this might help you.

An Introduction to Google+ – Joel Falconer on SitePoint.

If you want to read up on the latest Facebook/Skype/Microsoft video feature check out:

Why Facebook’s ‘awesome’ Skype announcement is terrible – Alexandra Petri on The Washington Post. This is a hilarious rant accusing Facebook of betrayal (because video conferencing will force people to speak to each other, really be social and have to interact with each other and worst of all they will have to be dressed to go online).

Finally, after reading all that plus your Facebook page you may find this last article helpful for your ensuing headache?

How Do I Prevent Eyestrain at My Computer – Alan Henry on LifeHacker

For avatars with dirty clothes head over to: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Furniture%20land/203/37/516/ This is the Designers Edge Furniture store which houses Jasmine Digital’s washing machine.