Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Year in Review on Second Life

So, I signed up for my SL account a few months back; it was all the rage. But, when I went in, all I found were strip clubs and escort services. Everything cost money, and, well, I just didn't see the advantage.

A month back, I decided to give it a go again, and signed up for the SLED discussion group. OMG! The ideas are overwhelming; the advice is incredible. Educators are doing some really great stuff in SL. I had no idea.

This time around, I decided that my Avatar would have a real "life" with a house, a job, and friends. I also decided that my Av would be nothing like the "me" of RL, as I don't want an identity crisis any time soon.

My first task was to find a place to live. Well, that was something of a task. You can't really rent anything if you don't have money, so I shelled out what I generally shell out for my other computer games. 20 bucks can get you a long way in SL. Plus. I founds loads of freebie stuff that wasn't too bad (including a harp that actually plays music...go figure). I searched the ads and decided that I couldn't buy land, as I didn't know how to build. So, I looked at rentals. Holy smokes! Some are really expensive!!!! But, I found a modest little cottage that allowed me 100 prims of space, and, well, I set up the harp (my connection to RL, haha). I have had some trouble moving objects; it is likely that I am a bit daft. But, my SL friend has been helping move stuff for me, and the cottage is looking pretty cute.

Next, I went out and found a job. The job search was EXHAUSTING. I went everywhere. I tried the camping chair go. I can't sit still in any reality. I tried professional gambling. Some guy named Potogogo has all my hard earned camping lindens.

So, I got a job (and no, you can't know where it is). I was actually interviewed. I was sooo impressed. Two people interviewed me and asked really good interview questions. They gave me the rule book to make sure I understood all of the policies (again, very impressed). And, they sent me a schedule. So, like, I have a RL job that is exhausting and a SL job, too!

I picked the job I am in because it gives me a great perspective for my research. I am interested in communication, so I wanted to be in place where others would be. I also wanted a place that was upscale. I also wanted a place where there were real bosses and rules like a RL job. I didn't want a newbie operation. I am pleased with my position, and wouldn't trade it for the world. Daily, I am surprised by how nice the people are and how much they help each other out. I am also impressed by the owners, as they seem to have it really together.

So, my newest thing is making friends. I forced a RL good friend to play, and she and I pal around shopping and whatnot. I hate shopping in RL and wouldn't buy hair for all the anythings in the world. But, in SL, I LOVE IT. Where'd you get those cute shoes? Where'd ya get that hairdo? Oh, ETD!? Let's go! If ANYONE ever said that to me in RL, I would burst out laughing and roll about on the floor. In RL, I am sorta anti-glam, but in SL I am all into shoes and hair and clothes and jewelry. In RL, I don't buy jewelry because of the whole blood diamond business in Sierra Leone. In SL, no one is hurt by the diamond trade, so I can have as many as I want.

My education friends obviously know me in RL and in SL. My neighbor knows me. My furniture friend knows a little bit about me from this blog. And, ethically, I feel bound to be honest with my employers. It is funny how ethics transcends; they seem to operate an honest operation, and, in turn, I feel bound to be ethical, as well. It was, after all, why i chose them (and I even tested it to make sure it wasn't bunk, and, I am pleased to say, it isn't bunk).
I found the furniture guy in the snow, and we have become SL friends. We decided to partner so that people would stop hitting on us. In SL, you have to pay to partner and pay to divorce. That is kind of interesting.

I have also tried to build a social life. I have attended a few lectures, discussions, and cultural events (including religious services of all kinds). I have gone to charity events, music events, and other cultural things.

I have explored the darker sides, too. I have found that people generally want to explore and SL is a safe place for them to do it. I think it wears off after a while, as I generally only found newbies in those places. The better places are the ones with rules, and those people have been on for a while.

At present, I keep my RL identity kind of private in SL. I feel ethically bound to include a bio in my SL profile; if people care to look, they will know that I am doing this game (right now) for research. My hope is to write about communication between men and women. My theory is that SL allows for a truer sense of what Jurgen Habermas called "lifeworld" communication. I don't have enough info gathered, and I am not doing interviews yet. So, really, it is casual research, but it will turn into something magical at the end :-)

So, overall, I think the year has been pretty good in SL.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Second Life Discussion Group

Thanks to Verum V, I will be hosting a Monday night discussion group in SL. It is titled "A Woman's World: Feminism in the Age of SL" and is open to men and women. We will discuss issues pertaining to women "in world." It will take place at 3 pm SL time, and I will post the coordinates as soon as I know them :=) Of course, it will be listed in "events," as well (under Discussion).

It's a Wonderful World

Gary Hazlitt put together an awesome SL video and is hosting it off of YouTube. It is worth the look see!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Tour of Second Life - Berkman Island, Austin Hall

This is a brief tour of Austin Hall on Berkman Island. This is where Harvard hosted their Fall 2006 CyberOne:Law in the Court of Public Opinion course.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thanks, Stuart Ewen!

Stuart Ewen sent me an incredible link called "Stereotype and Society." I plan to use this in my class. They aim to educate others about the problems with stereotypes. THANK YOU!!!

Assignment 1: Stereotypes

In real life, and in Second Life, we are influenced by stereotypes. The first assignment will ask students to create a biography for the avatar in the picture above. This will be used as the writing sample for the class, and we will use the writing to discuss stereotypes of women.

The Plan

So, here is my plan:

I want to gather materials for my upcoming classes (tech writing and women's lit). But, I need to combine any inworld activity to the actual learning of course objectives.


One of things we cover in Women's Studies is the concept of cheating (in RL), and how using technology is or is not considered "real" cheating (cyber/etc.). I just found this interesting post, and I think I will have them read it! I had no idea about SL detectives!

Welcome to my Second Life

So, I will be using SL to teach this spring, and thought it would be cool to post my thoughts about it as I go along. In the same way my buddy Jean-Claude Bradley uses an Open Notebook system for organic chemistry, I am going to keep progress notes here on my Open Notebook.

Check out my first screencast in Second Life (and meet my avatar).