Oculus Rift Second Life Viewer Has Been Released

It’s here! Second Life announced their new viewer specifically for the Oculus Rift is now available for download. This means users of Oculus Rift will be able to get a full, immersive experience in Second Life. Second Life has been in the virtual world business for over 10 years, so there is solid community and an enormous amount of rich content. Being able to view it as a fully immersive environment is going to be amazing.

Here are some of the features, according to Second Life’s news release. Check out the video below.

The Project Viewer features:

  • Full Oculus Rift Hardware Support – includes automatic hardware detection and display calibration for quick and easy setup.

  • Full UI Support – users can access the entire Second Life UI and HUDs while in Oculus Rift mode, so there are no limitations on what a user can do inworld while using the headset.

  • Customizable UI – users can tailor the settings for Oculus Rift mode that work best for their needs.

  • Avatar Head Motion – Oculus Rift head-tracking data is mapped to the avatar, so users’ avatars look where they do.

  • New First-Person View – allows users to enjoy the immersion previously available with mouselook mode, but thanks to the Oculus Rift, the mouse is free again to control the cursor, allowing for interaction with the UI and objects inworld.

  • “Align to Look” – allows users to quickly start moving the direction they are looking.

  • “Action Key” – interact with objects by pressing a key, works great in mouselook mode.

Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education

After close to a year of planning and another year of reviewing, editing, proofreading, and more editing, the Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education is now published! Volume 1, Issue 1 is available as a free download at the JVWE website, or click the image below to download the pdf:

Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education

Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education

This groundbreaking journal is the first to be devoted exclusively to the use of virtual worlds as education platforms, and is rich with research in this emerging field. The inaugural issue contains more than 200 pages of research on the pedagogical uses of virtual realities, featuring works by educators and scholars from around the world.

As we begin work on the second issue, I am excited and intrigued by the growth of virtual worlds and look forward to research into the educational use of Second Life, Open Sim, Blue Mars, Open Wonderland, Cobalt, Active Worlds, and others. Please check the submission guidelines for more information.

Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education and Museums Conference – April 24-25

The second annual “Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education, and Museums (VW LEM)” Conference will be held in Second Life on Friday and Saturday, April 24 & 25, 2009. The conference will provide a gathering place for librarians, information professionals, educators, museologists, and others to learn about and discuss the educational, informational, and cultural opportunities of virtual worlds.

More information is available here: http://www.alliancelibraries.info/virtualworlds/index.html

In-world Wednesdays: Lois Gresh to Speak on March 25

In-world Wednesdays: Monroe County Library System’s Monthly Author Visit in Second Life

March Visiting Author: Lois Gresh (Bobo Fromund in Second Life)

Date: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 8 pm Eastern Time (5 pm Pacific Time)

Location: The MCLS Amphitheater in Second Life

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Cybrary%20City%20II/68/100/22

The Creative Process: Writing for Different Audiences

New York Times Best-Selling Author Lois Gresh, author of 19 books and dozens of short stories, will discuss how to write different types of material for a variety of readers. She’ll read excerpts from some of her novels, short stories, speculative science books, and pop culture books.

For each excerpt, she’ll explain the creative process behind the writing. How does writing a novel differ from writing a short story? Is it more difficult to write humorous stories or dark stories? How does writing fiction differ from writing speculative science books, pop culture books, and other forms of non-fiction? Following her talk, Lois will be happy to answer questions about the creative process, as well as questions about agents, contracts, editors, and other matters related to the business of writing.

Bio:

Lois H. Gresh is the New York Times Best-Selling Author of 15 pop science/culture books and 4 science fiction novels from John Wiley & Sons, Random House, and St. Martin’s Press. She’s also the author of dozens of short stories. Her books have been translated into many languages and are in print worldwide: Italy, Japan, Spain, Russia, Germany, Portugal, France, Brazil, Thailand, Korea, China, Estonia, England, Canada/French, Finland, Poland, Czech, etc. In addition, they are often featured in the New York Times Book Review, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Science News, National Geographic, Physics Today, New Scientist, and US News and World Report, as well as by National Public Radio, the BBC, Fox national news, the History Channel, and many other television and radio programs. Lois’ teen novels have been endorsed by the American Library Association and the Voice of Youth Advocates. She has been nominated for national fiction awards six times.

What is Second Life?

Second Life is an online immersive environment, or “virtual world”, which allows people to interact in real time with people from all over the world. Libraries have played an important role in this environment since 2006.

New to Second Life? Here’s How to Get Started

Be sure to set up your user account prior to the event. The process will take about half an hour or so to create an account and download the free software. Doing this a day or two before our event will ensure that you are ready on time and don’t miss the discussion!

To get started, go to this web address: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Cybrary%20City%20II/68/100/22
You will have an option to “teleport” to this address if you already have a Second Life account, or you may click on “Sign up now for free” if you are brand-new to Second Life. You will be prompted to create and account, including your virtual persona, or “avatar.” You will be prompted to download and install the free software, and then you will log in.

On your first trip in to Second Life, there is a very short tutorial which will help you get comfortable with the environment. Once you finish, you will find yourself at the MCLS Amphitheater – the location where our event will take place. The night of the event, click on the above link again and you will be teleported directly to the Amphitheater without going through the tutorial.
Questions? Contact rebekah.cavan@gmail.com

Stepping into Science: Education in Virtual Worlds

Here is a press release sent by John S. Howard about an event that takes place next week:

“Stepping into Science” Next in Popular “Stepping into Virtual Worlds” Series

Using virtual worlds to teach and promote a love of science is the topic of the next installment of the popular “Stepping into Virtual Worlds” conference series, to be offered January 16th, 2009 in the virtual world of Second Life. Hundreds of people have attended this series, which began with “Stepping into History” in June and has included conferences focusing on literature and on healthcare. The series is sponsored by Alliance Library System and LearningTimes. The day-long conference is open to the public, with more information available at www.steppingintovirtualworlds.org. It will take place entirely in the virtual world of Second Life.

“Many believe that the next step for the Internet is going 3-D” notes John Howard, conference director. “These workshops are intended to give people a glimpse into the possibilities available when people can actually “step into” the web, rather than just reading about it.”

During this conference, participants will make virtual “field trips” to some of the best and most creative locations in Second Life that are using virtual worlds to promote science. During these field trips, they may be able to speak with those responsible for creating the simulations, and have time to explore them on their own. One field trip for this conference is Genome Island, a simulation where visitors can learn about genetics in various ways including actually entering a giant cell. Another will allow participants to experience a life-size tsunami as it crashes ashore, destroying all the buildings on the beach.

Some other features of this conference will include:

· A keynote presentation by Troy McConaghy. Troy’s educational background is in physics, applied mathematics, space exploration, and astrodynamics. He’s been involved with science-related projects in Second Life for over three years and was a founding member of the SciLands, Second Life’s science-themed continent.

· Breakout sessions presented by scientists using virtual worlds for collaborative work, and teachers using virtual worlds as a teaching tool.

· A panel discussion, allowing participants to question and interact with a variety of experts in the use of virtual worlds in the promotion of science.

“Second Life is a great communications tool for scientists and science educators,” according to Troy McConaghy, keynote speaker, “because it combines audio, video, 3D models, simulations, and real-time interaction under one immersive interface. It’s changing the way science is advanced and taught. This conference will give you a glimpse at the cutting edge of this new technology.”

Those participating in the conference will also be invited to be part of a live audience for “Science Friday,” the popular NPR radio show that is hosted in Second Life and broadcast live to radio stations across the United States.

The participants at a virtual world conference participate from their own computer, while an ‘avatar,’ or virtual representative of them, navigates through the 3-D environments and interacts with other avatars. Howard points out, however, that there is nothing virtual about the interactions at these conferences. “Behind every avatar is a person” he says. “And the networking and learning that can happen, with people from all over the world, is very real.”

Alliance Library System, co-sponsor of the “Stepping Into” series, is a multi-type library system headquartered in East Peoria, Illinois. Alliance has been a leader in developing ways for libraries to expand their missions and serve patrons in virtual worlds. Alliance is on the web at www.alliancelibrarysystem.com.

LearningTimes, is the leading producer of online communities and online conferences for education and training. Their clients and partners include educational and cultural institutions, non-profit organizations, associations and membership groups. LearningTimes provides the training, platforms, applications and expertise these organizations need to make their conferences a success. More information about LearningTimes can be found at www.learningtimes.net.

The cost for this day-long conference is $65, and participants may register for the conference at www.steppingintovirtualworlds.org.

RIT’s Virtual Ribbon Cutting

I attended Rochester Institute of Technology’s “official” launch of it’s virtual island in Second Life yesterday. It was a well-attended event: about 40 avatars were at RIT Island when I logged in and RIT staff members said there were a lot of Real Life visitors as well.

RIT has been using Second Life as another vehicle for its online education component, with much of the build being created by students. It’s expanded since my first trip there last May and will continue to grow with plenty of 3D models of student projects in areas like economics and mathematics.

They not only have excellent resources, but also dedicated staff and enthusiastic students.  Expect big things to come out of this project.

Tour of the Metaverse Tonight at Fairport Public Library

Interested in a guided tour of Second Life? If you’ve never been in-world and want to see what it’s all about, or if you’re a seasoned pro and just want to see some new sights, join me tonight at the Fairport Public Library for a presentation on Second Life. We will tour some non-commercial areas including science, art and music as well as libraries, museums and universities.

Second Life is a free, online world created entirely by its inhabitants. Come explore this world and see how it is being used to create an interactive, 3D interface to the web.

Find out how easy it tis to join millions of people worldwide interacting, in real time, in this virtual space.

** You must register for this program by calling the library at 585-223-9091 or on the library website.

This free event takes place at the real (brick and mortar) Fairport Library on Wednesday, October 8 at 7 pm.

Location:

Fairport Public Library
1 Village Landing
Fairport, NY 14450

Second Life Just Got Better for Newbies

Linden Labs announced today the new Direct Slurl. This is fantastic news for people who are trying to encourage people to try Second Life and to help newbies have a pleasant experience so they come back.

Direct Slurl enables a location-based url that allows a newbie to teleport directly to a Second Life space without having to go to Help Island first. Help Island has been a turn-off for quite a while. There are less-than-polite avatars hanging around and harassing people in these newbie areas. Not a way to make a good impression. People were turned-off before they had a chance to see the vast world that Second Life has to offer.

Direct Slurl will still take a new user through the process of setting up an account, but now they can be immediately directed to someplace useful, like the Alliance Virtual Library archipelago where they will find friendly, helpful library staff to ensure their first trip into Second Life is not their last.

Here’s the Slurl for Info Island International, the main hub of the library region:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Info%20Island%20International/116/237/34

Set Your Mind on Fire! The Big Read Goes Virtual

The Big Read comes to Cybrary City II on Wednesday, May 14 at 5:00 pm (SLT). Join us as Rebekah Cavan leads a lively discussion of Fahrenheit 451, censorship and the value of books at The Monroe County Library System Amphitheater in Second Life.

The discussion starts at 5:00 pm SLT, but get there early to save your favorite books from the bonfire before it’s too late!

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Cybrary%20City%20II/69/106/21/

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Psychological Upswing of Virtual Worlds

This article from Wired goes back a few months – it’s from January. But it’s still relevant.

Anyone involved with Second Life is likely to know that NASA has made a large commitment to virtual worlds and their potential for reinvigorating public interest in the space program. I’ve attended and blogged on some of NASA’s mixed reality events. It’s a fantastic medium for open discussion.

What’s particularly heartening about the Wired article is the fact that NASA sees the huge potential of connecting lonely astronauts with their loved ones through virtual worlds. If you’ve been in-world, you know how real it feels to have a conversation with another avatar, compared to sending an email or even using the phone. It feels like you’re really in the same space, in real time, sharing a moment with another person. For long-distance relationships, this really is the next best thing to being there.

Virtual World Hits the Road

Is your first life getting in the way of your second life? Does your avatar get cranky if left unattended too long? Are real life meetings a bore compared to in-world events? Pop into Second Life whenever you want, using your mobile phone.

Vollee has just released a video demonstrating Second Life running on a mobile phone. The application is still in beta, but you can sign up at http://www.vollee.com/secondlife

The app is free, but you’ll need to know a) if your phone is compatible (check the website) and b) what your phone service charges for airtime. If I can get my phone to run the program, I’ll be reviewing the usability of the application in the very near future.

Online Community for Library Staff

Lori Bell from Alliance Library System forwarded this notice to the SL Library groups today. Rachel Singer Gordon has created an online community for librarians and other library staff. Here’s the post:

LISjobs.com Launches Online Community

New discussion forums now open

LISjobs.com, the largest free library career portal on the Internet, is pleased to announce the launch of its new online community for librarians. Devoted entirely to career development and job hunting, these forums provide a space for librarians, LIS students, library workers, and information professionals to discuss professional development issues: http://lisjobs.com/forum/.

“I’m excited to be able to offer this space for collaboration and discussion,” says Rachel Singer Gordon, webmaster, LISjobs.com. “As librarians, we know that we work and learn best in community — I look forward to watching the forums grow.” Current forum moderators include:

  • Michael Stephens, LIS schools
  • Jess Bruckner, Jumpstart your career
  • Meredith Farkas, Professional development and participation
  • Susanne Markgren, Talking tenure
  • Kim Dority, Professional writing
  • Sophie Brookover, Work/life balance

In recent related developments, Info Career Trends, LISjobs.com’s professional development newsletter, has moved to the WordPress platform to better serve its subscribers. Its long-time career Q&A columnists, Tiffany Allen and Susanne Markgren, have moved to their own blog, and author/entrepreneur Kim Dority joins in with her new monthly column on “Rethinking Information Careers.”

Info Career Trends continues to fill an underserved niche, devoted entirely to career and professional development issues for librarians and information professionals. The newsletter and column content are accessible at: http://www.lisjobs.com/career_trends/. Rachel Singer Gordon shares: “I’m so pleased to bring Kim on board, and to watch the Library Career People column evolve in its new blog format. I look forward to hearing others’ opinions across the LISjobs.com online community.”

LISjobs.com, launched in 1996, provides free library-related job listings to both employers and job seekers, as well as related services from resume postings to career development blogs.

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LISjobs.com: http://www.lisjobs.com

Online community: http://www.lisjobs.com/forum

Info Career Trends newsletter: http://www.lisjobs.com/career_trends/

Contact: Rachel Singer Gordon, rachel@lisjobs.com