Media in Transition Conference (via Second Life)

mit5sl1

I managed to make a couple of sessions at the MiT5 conference being streamed into Second Life (I had to stay awake til 4am to do it though!).

What was  more interesting to me than the actual session was that of the conversations of several of the Second Life audience members who were actually physically there at the conference. It was like getting a whole back story to who the speakers were, what the general mood of the conference was, and criticisms and critiques that would likely never be aired in the physical public space.  There was also discussion of some disturbing misconceptions about Second Life, criticism that the majority of speakers and commenters were “wise men” (in the sessions I went to there were two women speakers [out of nine people], see above image for proof, and two women [out of about twenty people] who asked questions or made comments).

I also disagreed with some of the comments – one was that we should treat technology as invisible and concentrate on the people, but I think that’s very dangerous, because each technology shapes discourse and constructs us as certain types of media subjects, and I think if we don’t critically think about that we’re only serving to reify stereotypes and marginalise certain groups in society.  I was pretty shocked to hear some guy spouting that and even more shocked that nobody challenged it.  If it hadn’t been 4am for me I would have said something myself.

In one way I am thrilled that more and more conferences are including virtual streaming of sessions, but I wasn’t so thrilled trying to work today after so little sleep!

Thinking Blogger Award Meme

How exciting! This is the first meme I have ever been officially tagged withand it’s the thinking blogger award! Many many thanks to Jerry for tagging me – Jerry’s work has been an inspiration to me since way back in 1995. I’d announced on my website that I was thinking about doing a PhD but at that stage the area of virtual worlds and identity was very under researched and I was fumbling around wondering how to go about it. Jerry emailed me and encouraged me and gave me links and references and although it still took me a while to get started, this was the very beginning for me.

So, here are 5 bloggers (or blogger groups) that make me think:

  1. Henry Jenkins: Thoughts of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, is addition to being one of the most prolific bloggers I read, writes on all of my favourite subjects: fan fiction, pop culture, new media literacies, youtube, gaming, virtual worlds. He is an inspiration and barely a paper goes by without a mention of his work.
  2. Terra Nova: the group blog that write about all aspects of virtual worlds. This group is made up of some of the most well known VR researchers (though they don’t have many females) and their work is sometimes controversial, mostly academic in nature and always thought provoking.
  3. Jill Walker: jill/txt. Jill Walker’s work on digital fiction, blogging and new narratives really expanded my own thoughts and scholarship in these areas.
  4. Julia Davies: DrJoolz Snapshotz on Life. Julia has amazing insight into new literacies practices and a real flair for the visual and aesthetics of new media.
  5. Jess Laceti: Jess. Jess is doing some really cutting edge work with multimodal new media narratives and I love the enthusiasm she conveys about her work.

Well, that was fun!  I am going to locate the award banner on my sidebar now.

Can’t Keep Up!

I have so many things happening offline right now that I can’t do everything I want to online, like:

the MiT5 conference sessions that are being streamed into Second Life;

the Ars Virtua Conference that’s being held in Second Life;

The improvisational theatre workshops in Second Life.

I’m hoping to make some sessions but unfortunately they mostly happen in either the wee hours (when I need my beauty sleep) or during my working day, which is full of teaching, grading hundreds of assignments, developing course material, reviewing articles, writing book chapters, meetings, grant applications, visiting schools and you know… the usual academic “stuff”.   I really love every aspect of my job (well, except for the admin) but there’s just so much of every aspect that there isn’t enough room to fit everything in.  And when I try to, I end up giving entire lectures in a foggy haze.

Machinima as Multimodal Digital Storytelling

Finally, the wordpress.com management have enabled the embedding of slideshare slideshows!!  Yay!!!  I’ve been hanging out for this.  So here is *drum roll* the slideshow from my talk about machinima.  If you attended my keynote last year or came along to the seminar presentation earlier this week, then the slides will hopefully make sense :)   I never make slideshows that stand alone as I like to waffle on and ad lib a lot and hate having too much text on the slides.  So without the audio, you’ll just have to wait til the book chapter based on this talk is published.

My June Plans

I have quite a busy schedule planned for June, with talks, presentations, panel discussions, and research network meetings.

I will first be arriving in San Francisco where I’ll be meting up with colleagues to discuss some joint research project plans (and going to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory, let’s not forget!)

Then its a very busy week in Indianapolis at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference. At this conference I’ll be speaking about my favourite subject:

Pleasure, Play, Participation and Promise: Socio-emotional dimensions of digital culture which are transforming the shape of new media literacies.

Drawing on several inter-related ethnographic studies of multimodal virtual worlds, this session will examine the significance of affect on transformative moments in people’s online lives. These moments, whether filled with great joy and hilarity or laden with angst and sorrow, are all moments which crystallize experience, provide a privileged locus for the creation of knowledge, and have a significant impact upon identity. From younger adolescents who embrace online communities as part of their normal socialization, to the silver surfers, the older generation of converts to digital culture, I will explore the motivations and emotions of a range of individual cases in order to illuminate the key factors which are driving the changing dimensions of new media literacies.

I hope to see a lot of colleagues at the NMC conference that until now I’ve only met in Second Life or via online conferences. It is sure to be the highlight of my year :) Oh and I will get to hear Edward Castronova give a keynote! :)

Next is a panel discussion I’ll be on at the ECAR (EDUCAUSE Centre for applied research) Summer conference in Boulder, Colorado.

At this conference I’ll be speaking about teaching in Second Life. Here are the details:

This ain’t your daddy’s classroom, that’s for sure! Serious(ly fun) living and learning in the virtual world of Second Life

Is serious learning possible in a virtual world? The panelists in this session have each mounted significant and sustained efforts in the virtual world of Second Life™ to explore that question first hand across a variety of disciplines and settings. Collectively they have amassed years of experience in such settings, and clearly measurable successes. Join them as they discuss their projects, the challenges they’ve faced, the insights they have gained along the way, and their recommendations for institutions and faculty considering a virtual world presence.

Larry Johnson, aka Larry Pixel, The New Media Consortium
Phillip Long, aka Radar Radio, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sarah Robbins, aka Intelligirl, Ball State University
Angela Thomas, aka Anya Ixchel, University of Sydney

Then I head back to San Francisco for a little R&R for a few days before the long flight back to Sydney.  The minute I get back I’ll be heading up north to Armidale for a two day mega session with teachers, talking about machinima, digital fiction, and virtual worlds.  And then June will be over.  Phew!  If you are at any of these conferences do come and say hello!

Youtube’s Geriatric1927 Featured in “My Generation” Video

I love this! Earlier this week I watched Geriatric1927′s latest youtube video and he announced that he had been involved in this music video of the famous song, “My Generation”. In this version, a whole bunch of musical seniors have been used to create an amazing music video to raise awareness of aged care issues. It’s so wonderful – watch it! You will smile all day :) (There’s a Myspace page as well, of course).

Update:

I just found the following information about the forming of this group:

The oldest and greatest rock band in the world – meet The Zimmers and their amazing cover of The Who’s “My Generation”.
Lead singer Alf is 90 – it’s quite something when he sings “I hope I die before I get old”. And he’s not the oldest – there are 99 and 100-year-olds in the band!
The Zimmers will feature in a BBC TV documentary being aired in May 2007. Documentary-maker Tim Samuels has been all over Britain recruiting isolated and lonely old people – those who can’t leave their flats or who are stuck in rubbish care homes.
The finale of the show is this group of lonely old people coming together to stick it back to the society that’s cast them aside – by forming a rock troupe and trying to storm into the pop charts.
Some massive names from the pop world have thrown their weight behind The Zimmers… The song is produced by Mike Hedges (U2, Dido, Cure), the video shot by Geoff Wonfor (Band Aid, Beatles Anthology), and it was recorded in the legendary Beatles studio 2 at Abbey Road.

I’m in Vogue!

The May edition of Australian Vogue Magazine, that is…

See the front cover headline there “Is your life better online?” – that’s the byline for an article called A Life Less Ordinary written by Cathrin Schaer.

I don’t have permission to reproduce the article, but it begins thus:

Imagine being given licence to completely reinvent yourself with a new name, a new body, and even a new personality. We all have days when that might sound like an appealing idea. Enter Angela Thomas, a lecturer in English education at the University of Sydney, and her alter-ego Anya: A glamorous brunette who frequents jazz clubs, has a wardrobe that “would rival Sarah Jessica Parker’s”, owns land and a flash house, and edits an arts and culture magazine…..” (page 198)

And what follows is a lengthy and thoughtful piece (sprinkled with lots of fabulous quotes not just from me but a number of other Australian academics) about identity, psychology, community, web 2.0 and relationships (business and personal) in virtual spaces. This author really did her homework, and it shows. Far from being reactionary and sensationalist, she talks about the subtleties of virtual spaces and the way they are becoming a normal extension to social interaction.

So, run out and buy Australian Vogue right now and read more!! It’s one of the best journalistic accounts of Second Life I’ve ever read.

Happy Easter!

Eggs

The lead up to Easter has been crazy, with conference talks, trips to Melbourne, grading hundreds of assignments, meetings and oh yeah twice as much teaching as usual – it’s been exhausting! But now a few days to catch up – phew! Happy Easter all.

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