Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Rose by Every Other Name

Yes - I am still cyber-benched. BLAH.

My good friend, Jenn, called. I have known Jenn a long time - longer than either of us care to admit - and have seen her go through stages of names like Jennifer, Jenny, Jennyfer, Jennie, Jenney, and, most recently, Jenn. As a product of the early 70s, everyone had the same names. Ask any number of my friends named Amy and Christine.

Well, my dear friend Jenn/Jennie/Jennyfer is pregnant with either a baby boy or a cute little girl with a kick stand. Since pregnancy always made me a little loony (just move out of the way...and get me a chocolate milkshake), I try to take her daily calls-of-desperation with a grain of uber-salt.

Today's topic? Names.

Normally, I chuckle as we chat because I half listen to her while I sort my inventory in SL. She babblers on an on about the evil husband, the swollen feet, and the odd urge to eat two dozen twinkies, and I acoustically nod. But, seeing as I actually had to listen to her today, I was rolling over with laughter.

It appears that someone stole her unborn child's name.

Dial 911. This is a true pre-identity crisis.

Since all of the men and boys in our family have the same name (David or Paul), it seems to me a little odd that a name can be stolen away in utero. But, alas! It sure can be, according to Jenn/Jenny/Jennapher.

Well, apparently, the name Adam is a hot ticket these days, and bad neighbor, Lisa, stole the name right from Jenneye/Jennee/Jenn's clenches and named HER baby boy that VERY SAME name without even a WORD of mention of her plans....and...OMG....what will happen with TWO boys named Adam in the hood?

I tried to be a good friend. REALLY. I muffled my laughter; I tried to show true compassion. But it was a little hard since my husband, son, father-in-law, brother-in-law, and nephew are all named David. We seem to manage OK.

In SL, I have never met anyone with the same first name. That struck me as I tried to empathize with the victim of this wretched crime. I suggested she choose a name no one else could possibly imagine like Existential or Horace or Audio Zenith. She was not amused. She may have cursed me.

Names are important, but it really is OK if there are plain names or duplicates out there. Beth wasn't a terribly popular name in my generation, and I never had to deal with the stress of confusion, but, apparently, this name business is Jenni/Jenny/Jeni's therapy for a childhood-gone-wrong by having a common name.

I am often asked where Desideria comes from...and how to pronounce it. The name is Latin for passion and is also the name of a poem by Wordsworth (and Adrian was the only one to figure that her gets lots of bonus points and rewards). You will have to read the poem in the Brit Lit classroom to know why I picked it ;p

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Crash of 2007

You are not allowed to read this until you first read my article over at Stingy Scholar called Beth’s Top 10 List of Kick-Arse SL Movies. Then you can come back and peruse my tantalizing prose.

Seeing that I am benched from Second Life (yes, yes, you see me on and then I fall off…I am trying, as a true addict, to get in and function), I thought I would try to make some good use of my infinite free time (what DID I do before SL???). My college gave me a loaner laptop, but, um, no one bothered to check the graphics card….I am not sure what is more frustrating…having a deep fried computer or a nice one with no ability to run SL. I think I might need a 12-step plan, as I am having serious withdrawal.

Since I can at least blog on this antique laptop, I shall update all my blogs and read my bloglines for a change (OH!!!! THAT is what I did before SL).

First, I have been meaning to congratulate my good buddy, Jean-Claude Bradley, down at Drexel University, for his recent interview on National Public Radio. Jean-Claude is an Organic Chemist with a mission and drive to open source scientific code. He also won a Blue Obelisk (which might be green, I am not sure) from the open chemists. In English, we have the lovely Gutenberg Project that has opened up a lot of texts for us, and he is trying to do something similar with chemical data. He is a visionary, and it is why I named the Bradley Science Center (Edu Island II) after him. Open Notebook Science is an answer to expensive and lengthy cures for diseases that no one gives a rip about (except people like us, for course). The Jean-Claude Bradley Center for Open Notebook Science will soon be moved to Nature Island (thank you, Joanna Wombat). The Orgo Chem mazes will be built there as well as the simple quiz games designed by the gorgeous and brilliant Eloise Pastuer.

Second, Adrian and I have been all a-flutter in our spare Knightsbridge home (actually, it is called the Student Gallery of Knightsbridge…but it is sooooo posh to say “spare home” in a sentence with Knightsbridge). JJ Drinkwater, amazing librarian and all-around-gentleman, of Caledon graciously offered us some loaner displays, and we are in the midst of placing the London Exhibit in the Gallery. When we are done, we will have a grand opening formal party, so you must clear your social schedule and attend.

Finally, I am TOTALLY and UTTERLY excited about the 2007 International Technology Expo. That is a picture of my booth up there (thanks, Digger, for sending me a photo).

The Blue Screen of Death

We all know that no one can die in Second Life.


As the cyber gods would have it, I have been digi-benched. The Blue Screen of Death appeared, the screen went black, and POOF - my cyber life was over. I was in the middle of quality SKYPE time with Adrian...we we were working on a London exhibit on loan from Calendon. Soooooooooooooooooooooo frustrating!!!!!!

ATM, I am using my 4 year old son's SKYPE. I tried -frantically- to DL SL...but the graphics card can't handle it :-(


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Bridging Technology and Academics: The 2007 ITE

I am soooooo excited!!!!

Why? (you ask)

Cuz (I reply)

Last night was one of those powerful SL nights that reinforced my beliefs about using SL to teach. As most of my faithful readers know, I pay for everything in SL - my college hasn't coughed up any financial support. Since I completely believe in open access. I refuse to charge for any of my workshops or class packs. Since most educators are in the same canoe, my system of good-will tipping is, well, not that effective. Thus, I sometimes need a little push to say....yes., this is all worth it. Last night was one of those nights.

The night started as a bit of a disaster...I couldn't log on for hours and hours, and I was scheduled to give a tour. As I dutifully tried to log on every few minutes, my frustration increased. This not logging on business has happened to me a few times...and ALWAYS when I had to be somewhere in world. It is like some inter-galactic traffic jam when my cell phone won't work. You can's call or anything, so you just hope that the people on the other side know that you are a chic of your word and that SL is "being buggy."


I finally got on, and immediately went to my new site on Edu Island II. I am really excited about this new plot-o-virtual-land. This is where I will be housing the American Literature Classroom, the Women's Studies Classroom, the Bradley Science Center, the Information Station (links to other good content), and the Community College without Borders Headquarters. My gorgeous friend, the magical Eloise, has created a game using Jean-Claude Bradley's Organic Chem game , and we played a bit with that. It is exciting to see academic content emerge (even if I have absolutely NOOOOO idea about chemistry). And, of course, my Adrian was there to help me laugh about it all.

After a few rounds of boot-the-Desi (log on/log off - say it in the rhythm of the Karate Kid - wipe on, wipe off), I was able to get over to the Literature Alive! building to host my 8:00 class on using the commonplace book method to teach journal writing. In case you don't know, commonplace books are journals that are specific to literature and religious study. Essentially, you log passages of texts and write about them. They are similar to diaries of the normal sort, but, in a commonplace book, you only really write about texts that you are reading. In SL, this can be done be creating a simple object with a very simple script (if you are interested, fly over to the Literature Alive! HQ and pick up the free course pack).

I had a nice crowd (especially since I only announced it an hour before). The feedback was positive, as well. These workshops help me to present material to my own RL students, so I am glad to have the practice, AND I am glad to help the teaching world think about ways to actually deliver content. We briefly discussed Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 as part of the lesson.

After I was done there, I floated around the world a bit (as I do every day) to search for new edifying content. In a world that changes daily, I like to keep up on the good stuff so that I can recommend it in the Information Station. I am particularly interested in humanities goodies, but, alas, there is little of the literary stuff going on outside of my multi-complex project (which, if you don't know, includes The British Literature Classroom and The Student Gallery of Knightsbridge, The Composition Classroom, The Garden Classroom for Professional Development, The Literature Alive! complex at Leukini Island, and now the American Literature Classroom, The Women's Studies Classroom, the Bradley Science Center, and The Information Station).

As I was floating around and checking out the new Verum's Place discussion place, I came across a sign for the 2007 International Technology Expo. I wandered over to the island, met a nice little chap that was half furry and half robot, and inquired about the expo. He helped me get around a bit, but, alas, I was dumped into the sea. After peeling off my soaked Mysti Tool, AO, sparkly earrings, shoes, and all other sorts of attachments (um, no, I don't wear Xcite), I STILL couldn't get in. The owner, Liam Kanno, had to come fetch me.

First of all, I just want to say that this Liam fellow is just brilliant. The Silicon City is GORGEOUS and he was very kind (offered me a towel and got me to the right place). The ITE inworld event showcases all the techno-goodies of SL. As an educator (that does not build or script), I rely on these tools to teach. Sooooo...I begged this poor man for a wee little spot to set up my Literature Alive! board. He got me all set up, and, even though I don't sell anything, I can sort of represent the technology needs of the academic community at the Expo. I am truly excited about ITE 2007, and I hope ALL of you will stop by the Literature Alive! booth while you peruse the groovy new stuff coming to SL.

Part of my mission is to bridge connections between the academic community and RL and SL businesses. Many educators feel that they have to create or build their own stuff. In RL we wouldn't feel this way...we would go to our Deans...grovel for cash....order our stuff from a book...and jump up and down with glee when it arrived and the tech support staff set it up and passed us the remote. Why should SL be any different?

I am fortunate enough to work with a brilliant builder and scripter (Neoznet Watts). I pay him only 1% of his worth in Linden, and his designs are amazing and efficient. I also rely on all the products made by others in SL and support their business initiatives (Eloise Pasteur, AngryBeth Shortbread to name a few). I have a sort of Desi-Seal-of-Approval going on at the moment...if I test the product and use it, I invite the creator to host a vendor in my wee little gift shop. I make no commission from the sales, but my visitors (an average of 30 a day) know that the products are worth the Linden.

I think it is a great idea to bridge these two communities. Sure, I can spend hours and hours learning how to build and script...but those are hours and hours that prevent me from teaching. I would rather shell out the Linden and support the brilliance of others. Of course, this is getting a bit expensive, and I pay for it all myself. But, my hope is that some RL or SL businesses (PG only) - that have spare Linden to toss about in exchange for shameless promotion - will reward my valiant efforts. Again, I am not looking to make a profit - I just want to cover my rental fees (which now equal about 100 USD per month).

So...a bad day turned out to be a GREAT day in SL!!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bits, Bobs, and Other Such News

Ok, so I NEVER knew what Bits meant in other parts of the world. Now I do. Bob told me.


I have posted up a little ditty about some useful tools for those of us using SL to teach over at the Stingy Scholar. Go over yonder and check it out. Once you are done perusing my crafty prose, scroll down and check out allllll the leads to free goodies in this wonderful weberland.

Here is an extra credit question...the first person to answer gets a gold star and some Desideria loving...who is this dude over here and why is he griefing my blog?

Friday, March 23, 2007

News from the Trenches

I have been a flurry of business lately, but have come by some awesome concepts and ideas.

I am pleased that MIT is finally getting into the groove with SL by hosting a design competition. MIT has always been one of my favorite schools, and I was a bit suprised that they weren't here yet...but, alas, they are working on it.

I read this awesome article by Sean Egen about the history of avatars. Pretty cool stuff.

Another awesome place recommended by Chris Hambly at Audio Courses is the lovely and inspiring Boycott Blackboard blog.

Stan Trevena hooked the SLEDers onto this incredible documentary on SL from Four Corners.
Stan had a nice write up about his tireless education efforts, as well.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

These are the Days...

I posted this twice, but here it is over here :-)

These Are the Days...

The 10,000 Maniacs had no idea how prophetic they would be on March 16, 2007.

There are days when there is NOTHING educational and edifying going on in SL. But, those days are getting to be few and far between. Today, there was SO MUCH going on that I actually had to rank and choose.

I missed out on the awesome live speech at the New Media Campus by Dr. Daniel Reed, Vice Chancellor for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, on Computing the Future: The 3-D Net. But, because of the future...I was able to listen to the podcast, and it was like I had never missed it!

I missed it because I was at the ACHUB conference listening to Exploring Opportunities in Second Life for Health Education and Medical Training by Pauline Woolley & Dr Damion Young, University of Oxford. I am so excited about the sharing of ideas that took place there. Pauline and Damion have an excellent vision, and I am confident in the pending results.

So, then my event notifier clicked on, and I was reminded of the faculty discussion at Greenbush...but, alas, it was listed with the wrong time, and I missed it. Even though they focus on K-12 education, I am impressed by their resources and commitment to faculty development.

Well, then I had a little break, and was off to hear Jeremy Koester talk about gaming in SL. It was a great experience, and his voice chat offered an awesome dimension. We are going to work together to get Edufrag in SL.

After Jeremy, I presented my talk on Barbie with Brains: The Second Life of a First Life Nerd. This was an awesome experience. I have presented many times IRL, but it is a whole new experience inworld.

Today was an amazing SL day; I felt energized like I do when I go to RL conferences. There are some brilliant folks in SL, and I hope to meet each and every one of them!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Foot in Mouth and Other Twice Told Tales

Right...soo....remember how I said I was going to be a marble wall of stone and not have ANY friendships or relationships in SL?

Well, I am dislodging my foot from my mouth as we speak...

As people have commented here, SL relationships - of any kind - are just like RL relationships. They require some time for building; they require tenderness, compassion, and genuine emotions.

I am happy to report that I am reformed, and now believe that all SL relationships are a good idea. Ok...I don't believe that...I still have a hard time dealing with the Gorean slave crap, oops, scene.

I have met some really great people in SL. From my days as Barbie, I still count Angela and DJ as two of the coolest SL chics I have ever met. And, thus, real friendships, albeit digital, have emerged. In education, I have met scores of wonderful people, and have established friendships with some hefty-cool people. I can't even begin to name them all, as I would miss someone and swallow my leg.

In London, I have my very good friend Ligeia. She is just brilliant, and saves my newbie-can't-build-count-or-design butt at least 54 times per day. We have bonded over re textured walls and flying carpets. She has rescued items from Chelsea, and awed me with her ability to find little teensy weensy 56 prim items in my carpet. Truly, she is a star among stars (and, she spends a lot of time in the house...woot).

The two strongest relationships I have in there are between my builder, Neo, and, um, well, Adrian (you know...the chap I swore off a few posts ago).

Neo is, by far, the most brilliant builder and scripter I know (running in close with Ligeia). He is dedicated, committed, and creative. He is rather quiet, but he does amazing work. I like him because I understand his passion; he creates visually what I wish to create on paper.

Finally, there is Adrian. Adrian is magical, and he makes the building of a home in SL worthwhile. He reminds me to enjoy the "game" because, like in real life, I would work myself to death and forget to watch the sunset. He wisks me away from framing YET ANOTHER picture of Byron to fly off in hs helicopter...he takes me ballroom dancing...and he stll loves me when my shoes land in my butt after a bad teleportation. aaahhh..true SL love.

It does help that the RL hub is amused ;p goes the foot...toes to heel.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sexy Pixels v2.0

A nice pile of pixels told me that I don't write enough on this blog....

I am gearing up for the Spring 2007 ACHUB conference being held inworld on March 16, 17, and 18. I will be unveiling the riveting results of my 30 day exploration as an undercover adult entertainer in SL.

Oh, stop. It wasn't that bad.

I felt a wee bit like Johnny Depp on 21 Jump Street. Well, ok, he has a lot more money than I do, but, conceptually, it was kinda the same. For 30 days, I watched text chat to see if gender discourse patterns could be connected in any way to the communication theories of Jurgen Habermas (see...I told you...once a nerdy chic...always a nerdy chic).

I hunted around SL to find one club that was adult but not TOOO TOOO adult (if ya know what I mean). And, after careful "research" (um, breaking rules to see if the club enforced them) and watching the chat for a few weeks, I finally selected Aerolite Dance Club.

I was actually interviewed for the job (it was entirely too much like applying for a position in a college...there was a committee...can you imagine?). I received training. I had scheduled hours. I had specific duties. I had to tip the house 20% of my Linden.

In a vacuum, it might seem like it was a silly escapade, but, I certainly learned a lot. I wanted to know if better text chatters received better tips. This was true. I wanted to see if women chatted better than men with clients and with one another by relying on Lifeworld communication strategies. Seeing as I couldn't verify REAL gender, this point was hard to prove from the start. I also didn't see a connection to Lifeworld strategies. It was, really, the same old-same old system style.

The Barbie with Brains project taught me some things I hadn't set out to learn. For example, I had always assumed that the "dumb blond" myth was perpetuated by the working class; inworld, I discovered that no one in the virtual working class ever treated Desi poorly (one of two customers, but that had less to do with hair color than their view of women playing that role). In fact, the only ones that treated Barbie (Desi) poorly or "stupid" were professionals (shop owners, academics, etc.). While I am not credentialed to say this...and certainly this exploration isn't grounded in standard research theory is that the Barbie myth is perpetuated by the affluent class...not the working class.

So, my 30 day study ended, and I didn't want to continue it. I don't have the resources to turn that exploration into real research, but I do hope someone can. If you want to learn more about the project, come to the ACHUB conference or watch the movie presentation.

I officially resigned at Aerolite, and now my wee little avatar has come to a place where she has to choose. Do I keep the Barbie avatar? Do I ugly her up?

Any thoughts?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spa Day Version 1.0

Today was our very first spa day on SL. Whew! We survived...Beth and Desi. Here are some before and after shots :-)

To the left are the team of artists for the day...Jeanne, Desi, Lara, and Edward.

What fun!!!!