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ARVEL launch party on Second Life

For those of us who will not be at the AERA conference in New York City, we can join the Applied Research in Virtual Environments for Learning (ARVEL) special interest group’s launch party via Second Life:

Monday, March 24, 7:00 to 9:00 pm

slurl.com/secondlife/EDTECH105/132/24

Or, in person:

Hilton New York – Petit Trianon, 3rd Floor
1335 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
(212) 586-7000 – http://tinyurl.com/2bttwd

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Virtual worlds colliding

Two interesting pieces of news emerged on virtual worlds:

  1. At the Virtual Worlds Conference, IBM and Linden Labs announced plans to develop a set of open standards that would allow avatars to traverse from one virtual environment to another.
  2. Multiverse Network is building tools that will allow virtual world developers to access and incorporate elements from Google‘s rapidly expanding warehouse of 3D models, based on real objects.

This appears to be trending toward an open standards-based grid, which allows for the rapid development of virtual worlds based on the real world. As society increasingly prefers virtual reality over “real” reality, what can impacts in education, the workplace, and other knowledge-producing environments can we expect from this de-realizing?

"My World" rumors persist

From Ars Technica:

Rumors of Google’s plans to create a virtual world that rivals that of Second Life have popped up once again over the weekend. The company could now be collaborating with Arizona State University to test the 3D social network, which may be tied into Google’s current applications of Google Earth and Google Maps.

By targeting the higher education social networking crowd (at least initially), can we expect this to take education by storm? Whereas Second Life is based on an invented (and inventable!) world, My World appears grounded in the real world –and more purpose-driven. Would such a grounding help to bridge virtual learning environments with reality?

Games in the Classroom (part three)

Twenty years ago, playing games over a distance might have meant that you played turn-taking games like chess over email, and you were cutting edge. I remember people playing chess through snail mail! You would make your move and wait for a reply.

What is happening now is taking place in real-time in virtual environments that are interactive and look better than many films. Decisions, actions, and communications happen like they would in a face-to-face conversation, but they are done through a proxy, that is first and second-person perspectives with an avatar: a graphical representation of yourself in the game space.

grandmasterfoo.JPG

Here is my avatar in Second Life.

He is a mix of Yoda, Pei Mei, Zatoichi, Master Po, and Real Ultimate Power. I would have liked to have made him old, but this is only possible if you learn to use some tools outside of the game to create more specialized characters. There are many who do this custom avatar creation, and the cool thing is that you could make your avatar something other than a person. Maybe a virus or a mailbox.

In fact, many people are already creating a comfortable living creating products for in game use. If you have not seen it yet, there are already success stories of people capitalizing on the new economies that virtual worlds have created.

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In this Business Week article, one school teacher in Germany has made substantial gains flipping virtual property!

Imagine that you have the tools and access to build in these environments. In Second Life you do. You can visit models of the Sistine Chapel, Yankee Stadium, or even visit government agencies like the Center for Disease Control. You can build what you like on your virtual land.

What make this kind of play appealing is the ability to play and communicate when you want, and the possibility of meeting people from all over the planet. The prospect of building models and interacting in this environments should be very appealing to educators. This is an extension of the diorama. (Tomorrow I will talk about a project using these ideas in the classroom).

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Top ten list #6: Tech tools and Web resources to start leapfrogging now

ten-days-sm.pngWe’re back this week with the final five top ten lists! Today’s list contains tools and Web resources to help people start leapfrogging now.

Note: It’s hard to create an innovative tools top ten list while omitting services from Google – but, for the purpose of this list, Google is left off because everybody wants to be like Google. Why be like Google when you can leapfrog the industry?

  1. GNU/Linux: It’s open. It’s free. It works. And, it’s very well supported.
  2. Tom at Sky Blue Waters believes no leapfrogger can get by without a proper RSS feed to quickly digest and disseminate information.
  3. WordPress: Get your message out and solicit reponses with the best blogging tool out there.
  4. Wikimedia or other open knowledge-based software to quickly publish your stuff and open it for public additions, corrections, or (if necessary) deletions. Wikimedia is the platform that powers Wikipedia and Wikiversity.
  5. Second Life, World of Warcraft, Croquet and other virtual environments for building new social contexts, experiences and for trying out things you can’t get away with in the real world.
  6. Skype: You’ll want to talk a lot to others around the world. Why not do it for free or almost free?
  7. Old skool media (also available on the Web): New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, etc., etc., etc…
  8. Social bookmarking (e.g., del.icio.us): Find new ideas and resources, share them with others, and learn more along the way.
  9. Creative Commons licensing: Mark your creative work with the freedoms you want it to carry.
  10. Finally, if the resources you need aren’t out there, create your own. Need help? Consider building a team online.

Future of media: A projection toward 2050

Echoing the spirit of Robin Sloan and Matt Thompson’s EPIC 2014, Casaleggio Associati has produced a short video on the Future of Media, where Google, Amazon and Second Life dominate the media world through business acquisitions, reality replication in virtual spaces, and reality design.

Does the Eye of Osiris at the end of the video suggest the rise of a New World Order via transformations in media production and consumption?

Technology Evangelist: Kurzweil at Killer App Expo

The folks at the Technology Evangelist blog did a remarkable job in recording Ray Kurzweil‘s talk at the Killer App Expo and feeding video to the net. Benjamin J. Higginbotham writes:

Ray Kurzweil is a pioneer in the fields of optical character recognition, health, artificial intelligence, transhumanism, technological singularity and futurism. At the Killer App Expo in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Ray gave the evening Keynote speech. We were fortunate enough to have two HD cameras at the conference and grabbed the entire keynote with house audio. Whereas we would normally cut this 80 minute presentation into a 10 to 15 minute chunk, Ray’s material was so good, so inspiring that we have decided to leave it complete. If you’re an Apple TV user, this is a great bit to watch in full 720p. I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Speaking on innovations in education, Kurzweil stated: “Telepresence is really on the cutting edge of this sharing of information. It is form of virtual reality and it is really a harventure of what’s to come. I think it is a tremendously powerful thing to be able to have a world renowned medical expert to be really present with you if the patient is may be in Africa or something. Education to really feel like you are with an educator and just the ability to meet with each other, human communication is one of things that makes us unique, but Telepresence is on the cutting edge of our being able to meet without being limited by geographical limitations and as broadband gets higher and higher quality all these other display technologies get higher and higher resolution to the reality of Telepresence in a virtual reality is getting more and more compelling. Ultimately you will all compete very well with real reality, so in the case in the universities that students not necessarily got a class they can watch it using video conferencing on the Internet archived, it is perhaps looks crude compared to real reality today, it is actually quite satisfactory, but ultimately it will be just as realistic as being there and the ability to really meet including all of the senses without the people using Telepresence, I think it is quite revolutionary, things like Second Life as a whole another virtual reality environment, now looks crude today, but think how crude video games were when they started pong with stimulation of tennis, but it is was pretty crude, these games have become quite realistic. Things like Second Life will be a whole virtual reality environment that’s ultimately be as competing with real reality with many advantages.”