Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sloog - A Great Tool for Users of Second Life

Tomorrow I will be leading a discussion in Second Life (SL), which I posted earlier here. I'll be talking about a number of in-world tools and ways that information professionals can use these tools to assist with teaching and learning in SL.

I want to share a bit here on one particular tool, the Sloog HUD. For those of you who are familiar with the very popular social bookmarking tool,, Sloog works in a similar way, only it's used for in-world resources - to tag places, and avatars from within SL. Later on, from the Sloog website, you can easily search your saved data based on those tags (keywords). The website can also be accessed from within SL by clicking on the Sloog logo on your SL screen and having the website open up in-world.

I am using this tool for myself in-world in much the same way that I use for all my bookmarks. And as with, there are many ways one can use this tool to assist with teaching and learning. Users of Sloog will soon see connections to others who are tagging the same types of places in-world - users with the same interests, which those familiar with Web 2.0 understand oftentimes lead to opportunities to find people, research and places that one may not have found otherwise.

This summer I will be assisting a prof from my university with his class in Second Life and I intend to create a list of SL in-world resources for his students using a unique tag for his course. So along with the tags I use to describe the places and avatars I recommend or the prof requires the students to visit, I will also include a unique tag of GFUEDFL, which I created based on my university and the course program.

Since most of the students in this class will be new to SL, and since SL takes a while for new people to feel oriented and comfortable, I believe this tool will end up being useful in many ways. When students access the sloog website link I provide them, they will be able to click on the GFUEDFL tag on my Sloog page of SL places, and the entire list of places they need to visit for their course will appear. And there is a nice simple button for them to click on for them to easily and directly teleport to each place within SL.

Now here's the best part- Sloog is still very much under development. Very soon their website is going to be transformed (within 1-2 weeks). It will be much, much better, and will include some very smart features, such as notes and comments. This will allow for a number of other possibilities as students begin to tag their own resources and share and collaborate in new ways. Each user will have a user profile where they will be able to access their tagged places, avatars, comments and much more.

Finally, the Sloog team has been great (btw - Sloog was created by MosiMosi World out of Barcelona). They have been most helpful and seem genuinely interested in working to make Sloog a most useful tool. One of the staff, Anibal Shui, has gone above and beyond in helping me both in-world and via e-mail. Anibal went so far as to travel with me to different regions when I ran into a problem at one point, and helped me to understand more about how SL works and what was happening. I can't tell you how great that was and also how well that demonstrates one of the advantages of SL. As in the real world, the person helping can actually take you there and show you!

I am including here a snapshot I asked the Sloog team to take along with screenshots they kindly provided me to share with others about their, very soon to be made public, new Sloog website. BTW - if you are using SL, the next time you are in-world, you must check out the Mosi Mosi build. That is where the team meets, and where the snapshot of the team was taken, and it's a very cool and wonderful place. And it's where you can obtain the latest copy of the Sloog HUD yourself. So give Sloog a try- grab your Sloog HUD and start slooging!

An Academic Librarian - Leading My First Discussion in Second Life

Here is the event announcement from the SLED (Second Life Educators) calendar (click to enlarge). I am excited about this opportunity. And though it is an informal discussion, I have been regularly attending these weekly information literacy discussions in SL for some time now and always learn something useful to my work as an academic librarian. And most enlightening for me, in some ways, has been that the majority who attend are not from the USA. These discussions have helped me to consider information literacy with a broader perspective. I'm thankful for that alone.

About Sheila Webber,(the Infolit iSchool Island owner) - She is a Senior lecturer (i.e. a faculty member - most faculty in UK universities aren't called professors!) in the Department of Information Studies at the University of Sheffield, where she has taught since 2000.

Sheila has been a wonderful role model for me and gracious enough to invite me to lead one of her discussions. I am learning a great deal from her - not only about information literacy, but about teaching and learning in Second Life. Here is a link to her shared information literacy blog, and here is a link to a bio, which includes some of her many publications. And that doesn't include her work in SL. You will want to take a look at her "Adventures of Yoshikawa" blog for that.

I do not know how she finds the time to accomplish all that she has. I am inspired by what Sheila has done as both an information professional and a SL resident. She saw the potential in this wonderful virtual world to take teaching and learning to the next level, and she is giving it her all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beautiful Music - Akito Kuramoto in Second Life

I don't know much about classical music. And why one would want to attend a live concert in SL may be hard for some to understand. All I know is that it was a wonderful time. The music, the lovely setting, the audience - everything was perfect. I will do this more often.

The program: - Concerto No. 8 in A minor for two violins, by A. Vivaldi (1678-1741)
- Sonata #1 for 2 violins by J-M Leclair (1697-1764)
- Adagio in G minor, by T. Albinoni (1671-1751)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm An Official Second Life Librarian!

On May 11, 2008, I began serving as volunteer reference librarian for the Information Island International reference desk in Second Life. I serve there on Sundays from 7-9:00 A.M.

My first week's shift was pretty quiet. I had a great helper- a veteran on the Info Island ref desk, a nice guy, and major techie from the UK, Karl Nostram.
The next week was busier and quite a learning experience for me. I was on my own most of the first hour and it was pretty quiet. Karl stopped by to see how I was doing and we were having a nice chat when suddenly we had three visitors all with challenging questions. I started working with the first person, an academic from the UK looking for government and non- profit organizations in SL. Karl worked with the second person who had a SL technical question. Karl eventually sent out an IM to our Alliance Library Staff group to get help with a question. In no time at all three more librarians arrived to help. The questions were soon answered, we all visited a bit, and it was time to go.

By the end of my 2nd shift I realized that I have a lot to learn about working with this challenging global population. Working and learning in Second Life has already been a great experience. And quite different from my real life reference librarian experiences. Volunteering here and spending time in SL in general, has motivated me to learn more about the people with whom we share our world. And I know my abilities and understanding in SL will improve as I seek to answer challenging questions.

Stop by and see me if you're ever in-world! I'm Robin Mochi, the tall blue man :-) It really is a whole new virtual world - come join us!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator - Premiers on Cinemax

A Second Life machinima video titled, "Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey"premieres Thursday, May 15 at 8pm/7C Check this link at Cinemax Reel Life for viewing information.

What's remarkable is that this is creating a fair amount of buzz on the web and I suspect will draw even more mainstream interest in Second Life and other virtual worlds. I can see college students being interested in this series, many who may not yet know what SL is about. We'll see. But these machinima videos are very good and Cinemax has posted their own copy of part 1 and part 2 on YouTube already.

Here is the version of the first episode posted on YouTube in April 2007

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wide-Range View of Second Life/Video & Review

In my last post I shared a link to CEO Philip Rosedale's congressional presentation video on Second Life (SL), which admittedly shows the very best of SL. I will attempt to present some balance by posting a link to a wider ranging view of SL.

This link is to a Four Corners (Four Corners is Australia's premier television current affairs program) freely available episode on SL, first broadcast in March 2007, titled "You Only Live Twice." This is a quality site with links to additional information.

Note: This film is also available for purchase through Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Films Media Group (FMG) and available on many college campuses titled, "You Only Live Twice: Virtual Reality Meets Real World in Second Life" The FMG version comes with a warning: "Contains mature themes and explicit imagery." (The "sex" section is a small part of the report and was, in my opinion, well done and I thought helpful for people to understand how the "rampant sex" that is often mentioned regarding SL, is a very separate, optional part of the SL experience. If it would offend you to see a cartoon-like penis then you may want to skip this section.)

My review of "You Only Live Twice" - I thought it was well done. The reporter worked hard to present a rounded view of the types of users and activities taking place in SL. However, two areas that were not emphasized much were education and non-profits. Of course this report was produced a little over a year ago and those two areas have seen significant developments during the past 12 months. That brings me to the Clay Shirky interview in this report. I'm a fan of Clay Shirky, and have read many of his publications. His viewpoints on SL were shared by many a year ago. I would be interested in how he feels about SL now, and whether his views have changed any since the number of active SL users has increased since his interview in this video. (I log in daily and can not remember the last time I saw less than 50K logged in simultaneously and as high as 63K. And the number for the last 60 days is always above 1,200,000. Again, it's been over a year since the interview, but definite growth as far as active users is the point.)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

What is Second Life?

Last week two people told me they had never heard of Second Life, nor the phrase "virtual worlds." So for those who are not familiar with Second Life, the link to the video below is the best introduction I have found thus far.

The first-ever Congressional hearing on virtual worlds took place on April 1, 2008 in Washington, D.C. Linden Lab® CEO Philip Rosedale testified before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

"Second Life®: Making the Real World a Better Place" is the title of this 7 minute professionally produced video that Rosedale showed at the hearing. Some will say Rosedale is idealistic, while others will argue that he sees and understands the potential of innovation and imagination. What do you think?