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.

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

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.

SRO at SL Science Events

Luckily, avatars don’t get tired of standing. The fantastic events put on by the Science Center in Second Life have been standing-room-only lately.

At a recent lecture at Second Nature, Nature magazine’s island in Second Life, a very large crowd gathered to hear Dr. Phil Holliger of the Medical Research Council Molecular Biology Lab in Cambridge, England speak about new ways to rescue damaged DNA from ancient samples (specifically, a 60,000 year old cave bear.)

NASA events continue to draw crowds. I missed an event put on by CSIRO (Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organization) because I overslept and tried to log in to the 5 am event about four minutes late. The sim was full — it had reached the maximum capacity of avatars it could host — and I could not get in.

Second Life appears to be a wonderful medium for this sort of thing. And this is not only due to the platform-independent, interactive approach with a global reach, but also because of the world itself: the ability to build 3D models to explain complex ideas in a visual format makes SL especially enticing.

Edutainment is big. Just look at the popularity of The History Channel or Discovery, even C-Span. People want to learn in an environment that feels like entertainment. Second Life or other immersive environments are ideal for this.

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways SL is being used for science education:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfsSGBraUhc

Justifying my Playtime

I’m having a blast in Second Life. Working, collaborating, meeting interesting people. Flying, building, exploring. But am I just playing? Is Second Life just another video game?

I’ve created a list of reasons to justify my time spent in this alternate world:

I’m watching technology trends.
Second Life is essentially the next version of the internet. Remember when the net was text-based? And how exciting it was when our computers finally had enough memory and processing speed to start including pictures on our websites? In the early days, you had to be a Photoshop god to put graphics on your site. Later, we added sound and video. As our machines get better, the web becomes more and more like real life, and Second Life is the obvious next step toward putting usable content online and creating a life-like way for users to find that information.

I’m learning to work in a 3D environment.
Maneuvering in 3D takes some practice. At first I was walking into walls, falling off stairs, and having a difficult time reading signs. It gets easier with practice. As library staff, being able to help newbies get around in this world is a key factor in getting these new users to come back and see what we have to offer. We ourselves need to be comfortable in virtual reality if we want to be able to provide service here.

I’m helping to create “what’s next” in terms of library (or web) services.
Putting information into a virtual environment is quite different from putting it on a 2D website. You have an opportunity to communicate with your users in a new way. Thinking through the possibilities of how to present information has changed the way I look at my static website. We don’t need to create an environment that is identical to real life (i.e. brick and mortar library building); we can use the endless possibilities in VR to enhance real life, not copy it. It’s a valuable thought experiment.

I’m creating relationships in my field.
I’m enjoying this part of Second Life most of all. I’ve been working with library people from all over the world and from all kinds of libraries: public libraries, academic libraries, medical libraries, engineering libraries, arts libraries… We collaborate and build friendships. We work with museums. We work with astronomers. We work with historians. Second Life has taken down the walls between information providers and has given us a place where we can all meet and share ideas.

Am I playing in Second Life? Yes. Am I having fun? Yes. Am I positioning myself for the future of information sharing? Yes. It is real-life work; but it’s work that is extremely enjoyable and rewarding.