Simpsons Avatar


Nice marketing ploy – create your own Simpsons avatar. Everybody wants one – and even though there isn’t an automatic way to embed, I’ve seen screenshots all over flickr, a flickr group dedicated to them and they’ve started filtering into my daily blog feeds.  Aren’t memes fun!

**** NMC to Offer Symposium on Creativity in Second Life August 12-18

Press Release from Larry Pixel

NMC to Offer Symposium on Creativity in Second Life August 12-18

I write today to announce an upcoming event that you may find of interest. As you know, immersive virtual environments offer possibilities for teaching and learning that the NMC community—and others—are exploring. This August, NMC will host a one-of-a-kind event: a week-long online symposium on the topic of creativity, held entirely inside the virtual world of Second Life.

The week-long symposium will feature self-paced, hands-on studio sessions in machinima, fashion, sculpture/modeling, and virtual photography, including access to expert instructors; breakout sessions on topics like basic and advanced building concepts, avatar design, scripting, machinima, and photography; discussions of educational aspects of virtual worlds; creative teaching techniques; and more. Participants will benefit from in-world instruction and interaction, resources on the flat web, and plenty of practice time. Featured keynote sessions will open and close the symposium, and the week will include social and arts events, tours, and a showcase where participants can demonstrate their new skills and show off their projects.

The event will take place August 12-18, 2007, at the new NMC Conference Center sim in Second Life that adjoins the original NMC Campus.

The call for proposals will open on Monday, July 2 and will be announced broadly. We invite you to save the dates and make plans to attend this unique event! More details about the conference will accompany the Call for Proposals.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this information with others who may be interested.

Larry Pixel

CFP: Discourses and Cultural Practices Conference

Later this year I will speaking at the Discourses and Cultural Practices Conference (in the discourses and pop culture strand) and here is the CFP. Look at the list of invited speakers:

  • Professor Claire Kramsch, University of California, Berkeley
  • Professor Ruth Wodak, Lancaster University
  • Professor Frances Christie, University of Sydney and University of Melbourne
  • Professor Theo van Leeuwen, University of Technology, Sydney
  • Professor Alastair Pennycook, University of Technology, Sydney

What a fantastic line-up!  I am tossing up whether to speak about Second Life (been done to death?) or lolcats (much more fun).   I guess Second Life is what everybody wants to hear about but culturally and linguistically and as a new cyber-social-pop-culture phenomenon… who else thinks lolcats would be a fascinating study? and the “Age of the Avatar” is an online community incorporating forums, private messaging, friends and basically a community targetting younger users (with defined spaces for 13-15 year olds). From the site:

A Meez is your 3D I-D which you create and use to represent yourself everywhere you go on the Internet. You can personalize your Meez to look like you do in real life — or try on a completely new look. It’s up to you.

Interestingly the most important thing you do to begin is to create your avatar – and the “fashionista” part of the forum seems to have more hits than most other categories apart from music, personals and roleplaying. I keep reading all over the place that: the avatar has become the new big thing; 2007 is “the year of the avatar”; avatar is “the buzzword of 2007″; “the age of the avatar has arrived” and so on (multiple sources).

So, I don’t much like the meez avatar options – I’ll be happy when my SL avatar can be exported out of SL and used everywhere I want to have an avatar.  Plus, since I have invested a lot of Lindens into my SL avatar, I don’t much feel like spending any money on a meez avatar and so I have to have a freebie look.  And what costs the most “coinz” on meez?  Shoes!!!

Proposed Video-Game School Gets $1.1 Million Boost

I just came across this press release …

All Things Considered, June 21, 2007 · The MacArthur Foundation board announced Thursday it will fund a $1.1 million grant for a brand new middle- and high school in New York. The curriculum revolves around teaching kids to make video games.

The MacArthur Foundation says video games and the dynamic systems they use will be key to information management in the future.


the”Great Firewall”: China and New Media

I first became aware of the “Great Firewall” some time ago, and then more recently when I saw several bloggers doing a comparative study of the results of google image for the search term “Tiananmen Square”. Here’s the image that made the rounds:

(image sourced from here)

Recently I’ve been working with a PhD student who is doing a fascinating study of blogging practices in China and how they are beginning to break down this firewall (or not, as the case may be). And in my efforts to find a few sources to support him, I came across this amazing post from Whats New Media?

China & New Media: guanxi, QQ, cyberwar preparations and the “Great Firewall”

This post has links to all sorts of discussions about Chinese culture, censorship and the internet.

More Travel Tips: SF I’ll be back!

Thanks to Ed, I now have even more tempting reasons to plan my next trip to begin/end/include SF. I have to keep blogging these suggestions so when the time comes I can click the SF tag and find all the tips I’ve been give all in the one spot.

Thanks, Ed :)

Any other suggestions? Please let me know :) I really will be trying to plan a US trip in 2008 which passess in and through and then stops at SF for some time!!!. So all tips most appreciated. Thanks! Continue reading

Teaching Genetics in Second Life


Today I discovered an amazing teaching sim in Second Life focussing on Genes, Genomes and Genetics. There were not only 3D models of chromosomes and DNA sequences but there were simple experiments set up so that even a beginning learner could see the cross fertilisation outcomes of dominant and recessive genes in flowers.

There were quizzes and prizes at the end if you were successful but I have to confess I did not win my DNA striped t-shirt because I didn’t do all of the necessary tutorials to understand about the proteins :( But the links to notecards, websites, and practical 3D experiments have me totally in awe of this teacher, (SL name: Max Chattnoir), who says she has been working on developing the sim for almost two years.

Here are a few pics – you need to go to the large size to see the details though.


Dominant and Recessive Genes






Blogging and Gender Issues


Lately on the AoIR list there’s been some useful discussion about gender and blogging, so I figured I would compile some of the links together here so I don’t lose them.  I wrote about this area of research in a book chapter in 2005 but the book hasn’t been published yet.  It’s actually frustrating how long some things take before going to press.  By the time it comes out people reading will go – huh, that’s old news!  But it wasn’t when I first wrote about it :)   I really think blogging should be recognised more as a new form of scholarly writing but then I said that a few years ago too.

Henning, Jeffrey. “The Blogging Iceberg.” *Perseus*. 4 October 2003. Perseus Development Corporation. 11 November 2005

Herring, Susan and Inna Kouper, Lois Ann Scheidt, and Elijah Wright. “Women
and Children Last: The Discursive Construction of Weblogs.” *Into the
Blogosphere: Rhetoric, Community, and Culture of Weblogs*. Ed. Laura J.
Gurak, Smiljana Antonijevic, Laurie Johnson, Clancy Ratliff, and Jessica
Reyman. June 2004. 11 November 2005

Papers from the 2006 Blogher Conference

Book chapter – Posting with Passion: Blogs and the Politics of Gender
by Melissa Gregg in Uses of blogs

Papers from AAAI 2006 Symposia on Computational Approaches to
Analyzing Weblogs

- The Identity of Bloggers: Openness and gender in personal weblogs by
Scott Nowson and Jon Oberlander -

- Effects of Age and Gender on Blogging by Jonathan Schler, Moshe
Koppel, Shlomo Argamon, and James Pennebaker -

- Gender Classification of Weblog Authors by Xiang Yan and Ling -

(By the way, does anybody know the original source for that image so I can attribute it?)

Australasian Second Life Conference


Despite jetlag and a bad case of the sniffles I managed to make it yesterday to a great selection of speakers at the Second Life Australasian education conference.

This conference was run by my long time SL friend, Jokay Wollongong, and her colleague Sean Fitzgerald. I had met and heard almost all of the speakers before but the surprise for me was hearing all about the work of NZ educator, Isa Goodman, who is doing just incredible things with groups all over New Zealand.

Jokay and Sean have also put together this fabulous SL newbie tips video:

With so many new and non-gamer users streaming into SL, these tips are invaluable for getting past the culture shock of the somewhat complicated gaming interface.

The Simpsons and my “Today Tonight” Interview

The Simpsons Family

Hey, I was on Australian television again! Did anybody see me on the current affairs program called Today Tonight? I think the show aired while I was away in the States. This time I was talking about “The Simpsons”, media and pop culture, and fan fiction. Below is a cleaned up version, more or less, of what I said.

Continue reading

Second Life Educational Resources – courtesy of Ed Lamoureux


If you are an educator in Second Life you simply must join the SLED (Second Life Educators) email list. It is full of incredibly helpful people who have done a lot of hard work compiling guides and lists and links to video tutorials and more. Courtesy of the very kind Ed Lamoureux (isn’t that absolutely the most fantastic surname ever!), here is one such list:

Mark Pepper’s Annotated Bibliography of Second Life Educational Online Resources

Under the grid: excellent technical posts by Tateru Nino

YouTube location of Torley Linden’s instructional videos. Very helpful collection

the _SLED Builders_ mail list.

Second Life: The Educational Possibilities of a Massively Multiplayer Virtual World.

MSN/Encarta Online Degrees:

Mike Pepper SL bib

Angel learning island on SL

SLED Picayne (online and inworld paper)

University of Cincinnati resources for SL educators

SLED list archives…

Basics of Linden Scripting Language.

Second Life: The Official Guide (Paperback)

by Michael Rymaszewski, Wagner James Au, Mark Wallace, Catherine Winters, Cory Ondrejka, Benjamin Batstone-Cunningham

Virtual Reality (MOO & MUD): Second Life (QuickTime Player required)

Second Life: How to build a chair in Second Life

Second Life: How to create an interactive sign in Second Life

Second Life: How to embed an image (texture) onto an object in Second Life

Second Life: How to embed a notecard onto an object in Second Life

Second Life: How to link an object to a webpage in Second Life

Second Life: How to create links within a notecard in Second Life

Second Life: How to create a dropbox in Second Life

Second Life: How to create a teleport link in Second Life

The Unofficial Complete Fool’s Guide to Second Life [summary of machinima about SL] [nmc machinima] [be sure to watch this. it is SO cool]

A lot of the visual guides (screencasts, pdfs) are aggregated here –

Torley Linden has done an excellent video tutorial on how to use the camera controls –

You can also do a keyword search for ’second life’ –

Second Life videos are also starting to be aggregated here –

Making things in the Virtual World: Second Life Primer –

Voice chat just got a lot easier in Second Life.

Managing disabilities in sl:

New land owner questions:

try the archives – –

which can be searched using this –

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Tony Bennet and these images say it better than me!

Am home now, and have just woken up after 16 hours (!!!) of sleep – I was totally exhausted and barely slept for more than 4 hours a night over the past two and a bit weeks. The NMC conference was fantastic, the ECAR panel session went well although I was pretty run down by that stage from all the flying and lack of sleep and I barely made it through my section coherently (note to self: presenting at one conference per overseas trip might be all I can manage in future).

It was wonderful to meet so many people I had only known in Second Life previously (Larry, Heidi, Nick, Alan), and to catch up with a lovely colleague/friend I hadn’t seen for two years (Barbara). I also met the lovely Joanna, the wonderful Lyr Lobo (who has already invited me to a SL Renaissance-style party in SL!), Reuben, Craig, Intellagirl (who sat next to me on a SL panel and answered hundreds of questions so eloquently), and best of all, I met the FAMOUS Second Life artist, Stella Costello whose art work I have admired since starting in SL!!!! I met a whole lot of other new people (some who are coming out to Australia so I will see again soon!) and saw a lot of other famed SL personalities in the distance (but was too shy to intrude and say hello). I’ve forgotten everybody’s names – but I hope I will get more opportunities to speak to people in Second Life that said hello to me in passing at both conferences!

But the best part of my trip by far came at the very end when all the work had finished and I had a few days of R&R in San Francisco before flying back to Sydney. What a magical, gorgeous, fun and exciting city San Francisco is!!!! Plus I had *the* most amazing tour guide ever (my favourite mysterious blog commenter) who took me to absolutely every corner of the city and beyond (thank you DDD, in fact I really cannot thank you enough!!!!!).

I so totally fell in love with San Francisco – I didn’t think any city would rival Paris as my favourite, but SF would at least be on par if not better!!! I adored it!!

So, I am definitely planning to travel via SF to any other conference I ever go to in the US in future. And here are my tips for travelling and getting around in SF to remind me for next time – I’ll put this under the fold so as not to bore anybody! Continue reading

Pleasure, Play, Participation and Promise: the audio to my conference talk

Thanks to the wonderful Alan Levine, I now have the audio recording to go with my NMC talk, here:

Alan’s write-up of my talk is on the NMC blog here – thanks so much!

NMC Conference – Hello Indianapolis!

I haven’t seen much outside the hotel room yet but I’ve made it safe and (relatively) sound to Indianapolis for the NMC conference!   I was allocated the Vice Presidential Suite which is just breathtaking and I am being treated like I am famous :)   I’ve finally met Heidi, Nick and Alan -Heidi and Nick are exactly like I expected (delightful!), but since Alan cavorts around Second Life in a slightly scary looking dog avatar I had no concept that he would actually be soft and friendly (hehe).

I am enjoying complimentary broadband access from the comfort of my suite which is fantastic because I am now working on last minute edits to my talk for tomorrow.  If anybody wants to listen to my talk the audio is being streamed into Second Life.  I will be speaking at 2:45 – 4:00 pm Thursday June 7th Indiana time, and the streaming will be into the NMC campus (just look for Corwin Carillon or CDB Barkley in SL and ask them for a landmark as they will be live in the session and in SL simultaneously.)

Otherwise my slides I already blogged below, so feel free to leave comments or questions here.


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