First MySpace book will promote youth activism about the environment

Are you a young person on MySpace wanting to contribute your thoughts about our environment to a book? Now is your chance to be active in social issues, as the first book to be developed from the contributions of MySpace users is open and waiting. A report about the project states:

The book will feature ideas from MySpace users, who through Nov. 7 can post environmental tips on http://www.myspace.com/ourplanet. Bowen says about 40 such suggestions, their length ranging from a sentence to a paragraph, will be woven throughout the text. MySpace contributors who end up in the book will not be paid, but will be credited by their usernames and geographic locations.

“The main idea we want to get across is that teenagers are not only contributing to this book, but are being provided a blueprint on how to help the environment,” Bowen told The Associated Press.

I’m not sure a paragraph or a line is enough to provide a blueprint or demonstrate activism, but any opportunity to have ideas more widely distributed is worth it.  Writing ideas on a blog is great but for many kids, their ideas are lost in the “long tail” and their voices are not heard.  This book at least offers the space for some to be heard.

CSI: NY in SL – default avatar selections

CSIAvatars

Wow, I am really loving the default avatar selections at the direct to CSI in Second Life log-in screen. They reflect ethnic diversity, some very well done skins, and a nice range of fashion choices. None of them are overtly exaggerated in sexuality, but also reflect a range of different ways of doing “female”. I guess these are targetting whoever the CSI demographic is deemed to be. I am surprised so many of the people I bumped into complained about their clothes! They should have seen Ruth, the single default for over 2 years, before any choices were possible.  I’d love to get hold of any statistics of which avatars were most popular and how many of each were selected over the past 24 hours. I went in as a newbie to test things out and to experiment with the onrez viewer Alja mentioned in the comments on my previous post. It’s a nice, slick viewer though some things are annoyingly relabelled or difficult to locate. But the in world web access is fantastic. I also managed to find the special CSI fashion centre thanks to Alja, who directed me to where to find the tp link. It had some very nice freebies, and shops from some well known designers. I think that the link to the fashion centre should have been a big button on its own in the special CSI HUD given the talk and questions about it I experienced earlier. Anyway the other point I wanted to make about the avatar selection is that regardless of the fact that I prefer this set, I am wondering why there is no goth girl, furry girl, cybergoth, and so on to reflect different subcultures already inside SL. Has anybody written about the decision to create this set of selections? I’m really interested!

CSI: NY in SL – first impressions

CSI_002

I spent some time this afternoon checking out the CSI: NY sims in SL, which just opened officially after months of build-up and excitement and controversy and speculation. The show has not aired yet in Australia of course but I didn’t want to wait and miss out on the initial excitement. I found a lot of people wandering about not really sure what to do, even though there were two official greeters at the spot I landed helping out as people first entered. I spoke to several people but I was caught between wanting to be helpful and not having much time, preferring to explore the space and how the crimes were supposed to be solved. The people I did speak to were more concerned about their avatars and the ugly clothes they had been given than getting into the crime puzzling detective role. I think this says a lot really about the significance of identity and the avatar, and wanting to fashion a unique sense of self. Clearly people were entering out of curiosity and not solely as a fan of the show or with the desire to be CSI Investigators.

CSI_012

Having said that, I found the space fun and easy to manage with the HUD toolbar – I imagine the first few crimes are designed to be very simple so people can familiarise themselves with the world. I hope there are some more challenging crimes to solve though as time moves on. There were links to websites for help and additional info – actually I found it irritating to flick back and forth from SL to the web – maybe its a sign of my age! SL takes up so much processing power I don’t like to multitask too much when I am using it because it slows things down or makes me crash out. It was already a bit slow – clicking on objects to collect clues and files is fun but they seemed to take a long time to actually be transferred from the scene to my screen.

CSI_013

So…. so far I am piecing together clues and thinking its all quite fun and wishing I had a) had the chance to see the episode of CSI, and b) had some more time to play right now (its crazy busy right now for me). Meanwhile I wonder if there is a replication of the main four sims in teen second life so the kids can play with it. I bet they’d enjoy it.

Participatory Theatre / ARG about Video Game Influences in Society

Zen Zen Zo is a physical theatre company based in Queensland and there’s already a huge buzz about how they incorporate participation from the audience into their theatre. Next year’s performance is Sub-Con Warrior 2.0. The screenshot above explains it all. I love the concept and am definitely hoping I can find space to go to a performance.

“Just imagine the fan fiction now” (JK Rowling)

funny cat picture

Well, the fans had already speculated about this, but yesterday JK Rowling confirmed it, last night the pop culture blogs were buzzing about it, and today its been lolcat memed. From the Leaky Cauldron comes this:

“If I had known this would have made you this happy, I would have told you years ago.”

The question was: Did Dumbledore, who believed in the prevailing power of love, ever fall in love himself?

JKR: My truthful answer to you… I always thought of Dumbledore as gay. [ovation.] … Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald, and that that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was. To an extent, do we say it excused Dumbledore a little more because falling in love can blind us to an extend, but he met someone as brilliant as he was, and rather like Bellatrix he was very drawn to this brilliant person, and horribly, terribly let down by him. Yeah, that’s how i always saw Dumbledore. In fact, recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair… [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, “Dumbledore’s gay!” [laughter] “If I’d known it would make you so happy, I would have announced it years ago!”

Jo also said after revelation: “I had to give you something to talk about for the next 10 years…Just imagine the fan fiction now.”

The entire transcript of the question and answer session with fans can be found at the link about, and as usual I am astonished at the depth of the questions about every minute character detail and plot twist, and the connections they made about the sources and influences Rowling used. It makes my head spin to try and map and track all the intertextuality between plots and characters and fictional mythologies and real histories and pop culture and high culture and everything in between. The power of fandom. Amazing.

CSI in Second Life: YOU can help solve the crime

Back in August there was a lot of buzz about how CSI are incorporating Second Life into one of their episodes.  Virtual Worlds News announced:

In the fifth episode of the upcoming season, TV Guide reports that a murderer will escape into Second Life and not return until spring. Users can help solve the murder in the meantime.

“The campaign will be something like, ‘Your first life begins at 10 o’clock. But your Second Life begins this weekend.’ You’ll be able to go and download and get in the site and play in the ['CSI'] lab.”

The Sheep are working to build a virtual lab where users can recreate the experiments and tests from the show. There will also be contests through a Zuiker Blog, allowing users to view a dead body and formulate an opinion on what happened. Zuiker will then rank the responses

Now the teaser has been leaked to youtube and over the past few days its been the focus of many twitterings and blog postings. Christy wrote a really thoughtful critique on this already. It’s going to be interesting to see whether Second Life can cope with a million CSI fans pouring in when the episode airs. Meanwhile, this all comes in perfect time for my lecture about drama and roleplaying in and around digital spaces for varying purposes that I’ve been working on over the past month. (yes, some lectures take me weeks to write!! Is that normal?) And I can’t wait til we see it here.

Choose Your Own Adventure on Facebook

Following a lead from Writer Response Theory, I started reading Sugarcane, a “choose your own adventure” application on facebook.  At first glance it looks a bit tiresome, with pretty closed choices to click on to follow one of several pre-planned paths.  But on closer reading, it actually includes options for editing the story and adding in new pages through a wiki-style editing system.

Sugarcane is a collaborative writing system. Wander through the world of Sugarcane, choosing from multiple paths and contributing to not, as yet, extant locations.

There’s a story map which is clickable so you can enter at multiple points (so the narrative is more like a puzzle to unravel), and you can link your narrative threads to other people’s. You can also see who is reading and responding to your contributions.  The writing is described by one reader/writer as:

Sugarcane is obviously new, but already it is hosting eclectic writing styles. Some writers have opted for a surreal, Alice in Wonderland world, others for (somewhat!) realistic adult fiction, and still others for sci fi or fantasy.

I’m enjoying what I am reading so far and I really like the way writers are thinking and writing about how to make individual threads link together in this genre, e.g.:

If you have a situation where the character has a run-in with the law, you can now send them to “A Night in the Cells”.

For example, your character is doing something bad and someone catches them (this may or may not be the police). You have one idea where they talk their way out of it – but that leaves you with a linear storyline. Instead, you can give the reader a secondary option (eg start an argument, resist arrest, hand yourself into the police, push the shopkeeper out of the way and keep shoplifting etc)

Although it’s not finished yet, the storyline after “A Night in the Cells” will be deliberately broad – the story can apply to male or female characters, and all sorts of prior circumstances.

This is really lovely framing for writers new to the genre. I suspect it will catch on because its collaborative and interactive and game-like. But beyond the actual story is the fact that its on facebook, so you can friend other writers and learn about their life stories, kind of creating mini meta narratives in a way that hasn’t been quite so possible in other forms of digital fiction. A Million Penguins (which I wrote about in February) had a looooooot of meta-fictive melodramas, so it will be really interesting to follow Sugarcane. Perhaps with all the narrative path choices and the visibility of the thread links through the map it will be more about groups of writers creating multiple genres from the original UR story (why isn’t UR in the scrabulous dictionary by the way?) – rather than a competition to get your own thread heard.

Anyway, if anybody else is writing in Sugarcane, let me know so we can link threads. I’d like to explore it a little more from the inside!

Sex and the City Movie: filming, spoilers, and the extratextual conversations

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been logging in every day to my favourite gossip blogs to catch up on what’s happening with the filming of the movie Sex and the City. I’ll put the rest of this post under the fold, but beware, all the major spoilers buzzing around the blogosphere are there! Continue reading

The Extratextuals: the Mediation of Media

Fascinating new blog find (via Christy) – the Extratextuals, a group blog defined as the following:

This is a blog about the media. However, with other blogs on television, film, and the media in general, we wanted to carve out a specific niche. So our blog will focus primarily on the extratextuals that surround the media. By this, we mean everything but the show itself: previews, merchandising, industry buzz, branding, interviews, posters, spatial context, temporal context, related websites, ARGs, spinoffs, spoilers, schedules, bonus materials, transmedia extras, games, YouTube clips, etc. But we’re interested in these things not to be arcane or eccentric; rather, we believe that the extratextuals often make the show what it is. Hence this blog is about the mediation of media.

In hunting for the term extratextual I also came across a wonderful study by Marianne Cantwell, all about fan knowledge and participation in the extratextual.

Lonelygirl15 dies, Kate Modern becomes International spinoff

I’ve been completely snowed under this past month with lots of extra teaching (that’s the fun part) and literally hundreds of papers to grade (definitely not so fun). But I managed to take a break today and catch up a little…

only to discover I missed the dying hours of Lonelygirl15 in the season finale:

Of course, the conspiracy theorists say that she isn’t really dead…

And the latest spin-off to appear using the same writers is Kate Modern, starring an Australian girl located in London.

I’ll be following the commentary with interest whenever I get the chance.

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