Gaming for Science

Jane McGonigal, creator of the Urgent Evoke game for the World Bank, posted a link on Twitter today to her latest project:

E=H2O

in which scientists will forecast the future of energy and water in a 24 hour experiment.

Part of  The Signtific Lab’s Massively Multiplayer Thought Experiments, the idea is to bring together scientists and thinkers to solve world problems using a serious games model.


					

What a Difference a Year Makes

Anyone reading this blog has probably wondered where I’ve been. It’s been almost an entire year since I posted. I intend to keep this blog active now that some other projects have developed enough that they are not consuming all of my time. Here’s a recap of what’s been going on since my last post.

I’ve been working quite a bit in the realm of virtual worlds and education. A conversation with others in the field brought up the point that there is a serious dearth of venues for publication of research in this area. A colleague, David Pascal, suggested we create our own peer reviewed journal. The wheels started turning, and I suggested we create an umbrella organization that would allow us to create other journals and publications in the field as they become necessary. A year ago today, the Center for Virtual Worlds Education and Research, Inc.  filed articles of incorporation. We began our effort to pull together experts in the field to start our first journal, The Journal of Virtual Worlds and Education.

I made a trip to Monterey Bay, California to attend the New Media Consortium’s Summer Conference. I learned an enormous amount about the changing face of education — not just in virtual worlds, but in all aspects of new media. Digital storytelling was a big topic at the conference. Virtual worlds and Facebook were topics. Challenge based learning was an eye-opener. I met some wonderful people who are working hard and working creatively to change the way education gets done.

Shortly after returning from this trip, we gathered up our editorial team and put out a call for papers. Our editorial team is currently comprised of faculty members from Rochester Institute of  Technology, University of Rochester, St. John Fisher College, and University of Nevada, Las Vegas. By the time we reached our November deadline, we had several excellent papers in hand. We sent them out for blind review and have just received them back. Now the editorial process begins, and we are planning for a May publication date.

This has taken up the bulk of my time in the past year. I have also been participating in Urgent Evoke. It’s an online social game created by Jane McGonigal for the World Bank to bring people together to solve very big problems.

I continue to work in Second Life, maintaining a small parcel which I have used for both CVWER and for my real life library system, where I held a Big Read discussion of Call of the Wild last month. I continue to be impressed by the librarians working in Second Life who maintain their real life jobs as well as their virtual world reference services and events. Recently, Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save us All, was in Second Life for a visit with the CVL group. It’s nice when someone outside the group “gets” what is being done by the in-world librarians.

Lastly, I’ve been spending time on Twitter and Facebook more this year than in the past simply because it’s so easy to make a fast post. I’ve been working my day job at the library and still loving it after 15 years. I’ve been learning martial arts and hiking with my dog. All of these things have been taking priority over my blog, but I do hope to get a little blogging done from time to time — so check back every now and then. : )

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

Game Design and Development: A Rapidly Growing Field

Game Design and Development is huge. It’s a field that is growing now and will continue to grow as gaming environments become more ubiquitous.

The Association for Women in Computing Upstate New York Chapter is sponsoring a talk on gaming technology and related career opportunities at Rochester Institute of Technology on Thursday, January 22.

Come learn about the fast growing Gaming Industry and the opportunities and technology involved. Presented by Andy Phelps, Director of Computing & Information Sciences for RIT. Bring your entire family – this one if for all ages!

Details:
Date: Thursday, January 22, 2009
Time: 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Location: RIT Building 70, Room 2400
Street: One Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623
Fee: $10 for AWC members, $15 for non-members – Includes a light dinner

Contact Email: programming@awc-uny.org

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.

Keeping Tabs on Santa via the Web

The State Library of Kansas pulled together all the important information for tracking Santa’s whereabouts and posted it on the web for your convenience:

Kansas Government Information

Be sure to check these resources later tonight so that you’ll be in bed before Santa’s arrival. You know the rules: “There must be no peeking or he might pass you by!”

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.

Program for the Future Conference

Here’s another event worth noting:

The Program for the Future Conference is “An Invitation to Innovation. An interactive conference inspired by Doug Engelbart’s vision of harnessing technology for human betterment. “

The conference takes place Monday (12/08/08) at The Tech Museum of Innovation and Adobe Headquarters in San Jose, and then on Tuesday (12/09/08) at Stanford University. And for those of us who are not on the West Coast, we can attend both days in Second Life. Register now before all the FREE virtual tickets are taken!

Featured speakers include

  • Professor Thomas Malone, Founding Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
  • Professor Hiroshi Ishii, Associate Director, MIT Media Laboratory
  • Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google
  • Andries van Dam, Professor, Brown University
  • Alan Kay, President, Viewpoints Research Institute
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer, Inc.

Plus an impressive list of other speakers that is essentially a “Who’s Who in Computing.”

This should be an extremely valuable two days for anyone interested in where technology is heading. I’ve got my virtual ticket and my avatar, Rebekah Cavan, and I will be there both days.

 

 

 

 

She’s Geeky: A Technology Conference for Women

Will you be in the New York City area this weekend? Make a point of getting yourself to She’s Geeky.

The cocktail party begins tonight at 5:30 p.m. and the unconference runs through Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

Here’s the blurb I received from Renee Lloyd. It looks like this will be a great opportunity to connect with other geeky women and share some ideas, do some networking, and have some fun!

“She’s Geeky is a neutral, face-to-face forum for women who like to geek out about all kinds of things: computers, science, math, design, robotics, web 2.0 etc…

The purpose is to bring women from a diversity of technical sectors together to:
1. Exchange skills and learn from women in different fields of technology
2. Discuss issues that affect women in the technology industry
3. Connect with other women in technology, computing, entrepreneurship, funding, hardware, open source, nonprofit and any other technical geeky field
4. Build cross generational relationships.

Two up-coming events:

EAST COAST: New York City – December 5-7 (with the 6th being the main day)

WEST COAST: Mountain View – January 29-31

Unconferences are a great way to exchange and learn from one another and this is how they work.

At the beginning of the day, we create the agenda. Everyone meets in one room and posts topics they would like to present, see or discuss. This creates a rich assortment of agenda items and makes for an exciting day of learning.

From there, we go to separate areas or rooms assigned to each topic. The session can be a presentation, inquiry about a question or discussion about an issue or technical field. or. One participant volunteers to record the proceedings.

The notes from each session are collected in the newsroom, then a book is compiled with all the notes from the conference and distributed to everyone who attended.

When you come to She’s Geeky, you benefit from the opportunity to:
1. Build relationships and even partnerships across disciplines.
2. Learn something new from other geeky women.
3. Find answers to the questions that matter to you.
4. Consider business issues related to the technology industry.
5. Be exposed to new ideas for making and keeping technology relevant.”

What? You’re on Twitter but Your Houseplant is Not? Tsk Tsk

I love ThinkGeek.com.  It’s chock-full of great tee shirts, gadgets, toys and electronics that are sure to fill your geek heart with lust and envy. They seem to have first dibs on some great new technologies and they put them out there for the rest of us to buy. Reasonably priced, too.

This caught my eye today:

Who wouldn’t want a plant to post its status to Twitter so you know when to water it?

I know this sounds like a fun toy, but keep your eyes open. We’re going to see a lot more of this sort of thing. Getting status updates delivered to our inboxes and cell phones in real time will be commonplace before long. So go ahead – be the first one at your office with a twittering plant! : )

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