Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ask not what your community can do for you...

Social networking is big. Duh, right? That is what you might have just said to yourself.

“Duh, AJ, what rock have you been hiding under? Everyone knows social networking is big!”

What I’m suggesting though is, perhaps, social networking is bigger than just “big”, that perhaps it is historical. Clearly history will write a place for what is going on right now in that people are communicating in ways that have never been possible before. I’m sure I’m not the first person to suggest this (and if you know an author I can read on this, leave info in the comments), but I’m saying that social networking is foundational; it is laying the groundwork for the next big social global historical shift.

Humans are using technology to make up for something that time had started to take away, social interaction. The role of community has not changed, where we are going for that community has. This is, of course, not to suggest that social interactions via technology are better or worse then those that take place face-to-face, it simply means that an easy and accessible tool for allowing interaction with a greater number of people, over a large stretch of space, has stepped in to fill a gap where local interaction seems to have started to fail.

When the world was tiny, all we had to worry about were those in our village, or maybe a select few from neighboring villages we visited from time to time. Our social network was small, but intense.

As modes of transportation and communication improved, we began to spread out our networks. At this point, we knew more people, but we didn’t know all of them as well as when the group was smaller.

Not that long ago, in a world that became bigger and yet smaller, with people we know spread out all over it, it became harder and harder to maintain the depth of intensity to most of our relationships with others. Add to this the increase in the use of technology, and our busy schedules, and people started to feel isolated and distant.

Recognizing that community is essential to nearly all facets of our lives, this new use of the very technology that was keeping us apart started to spring up. Now, we are talking about social technologies and many of the same people who were lamenting that technology is isolating and marginalizing the human race are now pooh-poohing the social networking technologies that are bringing us back together. One could argue that this revitalizing of community through technology is actually better than way back when we lived in small villages.

If we tried to look at depth of relationship (a staple of community) on a chart, over time, the depth would be higher when the number of people in our circle was smaller and they were in a closer proximity. That line on the graph would curve downward over time as our contacts increased and were located farther apart, geographically. Now, that line is curving back up again because, even though we have much larger circles of contacts than every in history before, and they are spread farther out than ever in history, our depth of relationship with these contacts is more intense because a) it is easier to stay in touch thanks to the Internet and, b) we are grouping off with more people who have similar interests to our own.

So, to me, it seems all about community. Certainly, as a community (in all the senses that can be defined), we can accomplish so much more than a single individual can. I propose a goal for each of us. Think of all the “communities” you are a part of: parent, child, spouse/partner, sibling, co-worker, worshipper, neighbor, fan, chief cook, bottle washer, whatever…. look at all these communities and know that we each have the power to make those communities better. Do just a little bit each day to make your communities better and the world could not help but be a better place. And THIS is why I’m dedicating myself to the issue of community. Its time to talk about this, to try and make sense of it, but its also time to act.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Community - stay tuned

For some time now this idea of community has been rolling around in my head. I've wanted to write about it, but it just hadn't come together. Well, given a number of events over the last few weeks, thoughts on community have come flying at me. So I guess I better actually sit down and start to think and write some of this out.

The crux of my thinking is that many in society began to complain that technology was actually becoming a barrier to community, that people were more isolated. Then BAM, along comes social networking - society seems to have, organically, responded. This is a truly major shift in global thinking when you think about it. All over the world, people have started to say - we want to be connected, on our own terms (along the lines of Reed's Law, which Sarah Robbins blogged about a while back.

Are we at the dawn of a new age? Has society, unconsciously, or subconsciously, in unison, responded to a stimuli, or lack there of, if you see community as an essential part of existence.

There's probably more to come on this.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Florida Mall

I'm attending a wedding in Orlando and the hotel, wedding location, and reception are in The Florida Hotel, located within the Florida Mall. Just to give you some idea about the size of this place.

This would not be a bad place for a small conference.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Feedback is always good!

Laura Nicosia and I presented a 3-hour pre-conference session on Wednesday. Neither of us could stay for the rest of the conference, but one of our colleagues was there on Thursday. This is the note he sent us.


I was at NJEdge today and people were talking about your
presentation. You did a great job and so many people were
impressed. Even ********** was singing your praises!!!! She said that
you are on the cutting edge.

I cannot tell you how that made me smile and feel a great sense of
pride and happiness. Thanks for your great efforts and for leading
MSU in this work. The path has been blazed!

Here is our slide presentation:

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Holy Skitch, Batman!

I heard about this application from Sarah Robbins and put my name on the waitlist for a beta (must be really kewl if there is a line up for the beta).

Well, it does totally rock - but sorry all you PC folks, its Mac only.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Spot on, Beth!

Beth Ritter-Guth posted a video from YouTube of Suheir Hammad sharing something she'd written. I encourage you to visit Beth's blog and watch the video.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Education Fair on EDUIsland II

I already have plans for when this takes place, but if I were going to be anywhere near a computer I'd attend a few of these sessions.

” Digital Storytelling” - In this session, Celestia Cazalet will give a brief overview of the different types of digital storytelling, explore its uses in the
classroom, share examples and reveal some of the many resources available to assist every digital sage. 15 people max.

“Things I Would Like to Learn: Tools and Resources for Teaching in Second Life” - This session will provide you with some of the necessary tools, resources and information needed to effectively teach or present in Second Life. As well as being given a list of items and landmarks, you will be able to find out about some of the interactive tools people are using in SL (what it is, how to get it, how it is being used). This is a hands-on workshop in which you will be able to explore teaching methods, presentation tools, and how to create visual aids . 10 people max.

“Your Inventory IS NOT Your Junk Closet” - Do you dread clicking on ^Inventory^ when you’re in SL? Can’t find those shoes that went with your ‘Look At Me’ outfit? Remember getting an educational tool, but don’t remember what it was called or where you put it? Then this workshop is for you. Learn some tips and tricks to manage your ^Inventory^ and actually start to organize all those objects. This will be a ‘working’ workshop, so come prepared to dig in and get dirty!

“Podcasting In Education” - Using Podcast People, you can learn the steps of setting up, recording, and hosting your own podcast online. We’ll explore the what, why and how to use a podcast in an educational setting. 10 people max.

“Multimedia Works” - Multimedia is proving a great way to engage students and enhance curriculum. Come see and discuss a variety of projects being created in elementary and middle school classrooms.

“Promoting Your Profession/Your Programs in Second Life” - This session covers how set up an educational center and promote a project on Second Life. This includes how to create and set up informational displays, how to create and run video, and how to build and modify objects that will enhance your center. We will also discuss ideas for “getting the word out” in Second Life. 20 people max.


"Vision is not how many things you can count; it's how many ways you can count."

I can't think of a good title (suggestions encouraged)

I think everyone should read the following blog by my incredible colleague, Laura Nicosia.

Laura strikes the nail square on the head with this. I was present to watch her work with seemingly techno-handicapped students who begin to learn something new while learning something new.

I had a similar experience this last Thursday in my Introduction to College Writing class. I have been talking about SL since the beginning of class and encouraging students to sign up for SL on their own. About 10 days ago I had everyone sign-up, or sign-in, in class. Unlike Laura, I only have 19 students and we meet in the writing lab, so access to the computers during class time is easy and there are far fewer students in this class to work with.

Following Laura’s lead I set down blocks of 30 minutes and posted the times in our blog on Blackboard. Students were asked to go to the blog and sign up for a time. I locked out the blog thread when the group hit two. I preferred more groups of fewer students. Like Laura says, it required a lot of extra time, but I will do it this way from now on. Watching the genesis within the students, coming to see and understand what a metaverse is (and what it isn’t), is worth the time dedicated.

Last Thursday I devoted the first part of our class to our usually opening writing exercise followed by some discussion on images, especially those produced by the media, and how they intentionally (or unintentionally sometimes) impact our lives. In class we’re talking (writing) about the creation and perception of identity and self. This is where the SL fit comes in.

Anyway, back to last Thursday. After our writing and discussion I wanted to meet with each student briefly, individually, to go over what might be missing, how things are going, etc. I told the rest of the class to sign in to SL, help each other, hang out, do things.

Nearly the whole class ended up in the Residence Hall area of the CHSS Island. That is when near pandemonium broke loose. It only too a few minutes before students were shouting across the room to each other, interacting, hanging on the beach, riding the jet ski, trying the first pieces of exercise equipment I put in the Student Center (more to come and some games, like darts, air hockey, and pool – interactive, avatars can actually play them!), comparing notes on avatars, and helping each other learn things.

I had to tell them it was time to go. Not one student had packed up his/her stuff a few minutes before the end of class. I walked out of that room with such great happiness and pride.

I will be at EDUCAUSE in Seattle from the 22-26th of October. Instead of canceling class I will be holding them from Seattle, in Second Life. I have to get up at 5:45am to do this; I told them I expect them to make sure they do what it takes to get online. We’ve had plenty of time to work out the kinks. I haven’t had to push too hard on this, each of them seems to be into it. We’ve been figuring out the technical problems together. And unlike that mysterious printer break down or hard drive crash or sibling that deleted the file, they are coming to me BEFORE the fact to get help figuring out how to do it. They are, well almost all of them, are genuinely interested.

I’ll report back after the two classes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An intersting exchange

I was glancing though a couple of the gazillion Google Alerts I get for my "second life" alert when I found this blog posting:

I decided I wanted to explain that I can see why a gamer could get bored with SL but still make the point that SL is an exception tool, when used properly and in the proper context. So I responded:

There are some additional responses after mine that were positive also.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Google's move

I posted a wiki about an apparent move by Google to get into the virtual worlds market. If you find any articles, feel free to pass them along to me for possible posting here.

A decent article

I've tried to keep up with the hits that come in my Google Alerts for Second Life, but it simply impossible - there are far too many. I said I was going to try, and I am, so here is a recent article I ran across.

I usually don't read all the way through these types of summary articles, but this one was pretty good. He does a good job of touching on the goods, the bads, and the uglys of SL without being partial. In other words, good reporting.

Physics has changed

Just when you thought it was safe to trust physics, you realize that in the virtual world, anything can change.

Linden Lab has, just the other day, announced the arrival of Havoc4! I know, an astounding moment in history, you must be saying to yourself. For those of us sitting outside the center of technology regarding virtual environments, this updated version may not seem like much. But a few people (you know who you are), are pretty happy about this. Apparently, it has been some time since the physics engine has been updated. What is the physics engine you ask? The simple answer is, its how things that move interact with each other.

Since seeing is believing, here is a short video someone has already made (in the last 48 hours or so) about the improvements.

Thanks to Gavin Dudeney for posting this to the SLED list. Are you interested in what is going on in Second Life regarding education? If so, you need to join the SLED list -

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why don't we post (thanks Chris)

Chris Hambly started quite the conversation over in his blog
when he asks folks to talk about why they don't leave comments in blogs.

As you can imagine, there were a number of response (how could one not respond to this), and there were a number of answers that cut across many instances. There are actually a few "top 5" or so lists...this is worth the read.

I also decided to chime in (of course), and here is my response.

What do you think? Comment on his blog or back here on mine, but I place before you the same gauntlet Chris threw down in front of those who read his blog.

You have something to contribute, what forces hold you back from sharing it?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Great day!

Well, today was a pretty amazing day.

• The Chronicle article came out today
• taught and started to bring my class into SL
• finished the Faculty Resource Room to the point it needed to be for the GoPrint installation on Tuesday
• A student finally came in during the open lab hours and I was able to help her get her account (thanks NMC) and also get her started.

One thing I thought was pretty amazing was how both in my class and in the open lab, those signing in took to the command structure pretty quickly (fly, walk, directions, etc…)

• went to the gym
• build the CHSS Beach
• joined and placed the CHSS Dorms (thanx SR)
• parceled off the areas so the name would appear in the title.

Where’s that can of whoop ass?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Does absence make the heart grow fonder?

I’ve been wrapped up in the vortex that is the start of the Fall semester. I’m teaching two classes this semester, a writing class and my usual New Student Seminar course. Both will be required to have accounts on: Second Life, MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, and I’ve just decided to add Skype. To what extent each of these is used will depend on the direction the courses take. Second Life will be the most widely used. More on that at is progresses.

While working on some prep for class I began thinking about what I would want from life. I went back to something I’d written not so long ago and found that I’d listed seven different items:
* Freedom with my time
* Eat well
* Be healthy
* Enjoy the company of others
* Travel frequently
* Live comfortably
* Laugh a lot

These are not listed in order. :- )

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion at the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle

I am thrilled to announce that EDUCAUSE has scheduled a Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion for this year's Annual Conference in Seattle. The conference will take place from October 23rd to the 26th at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center.

Details on the full convention can be found here -

The Virtual Worlds Hot Topic Discussion will be held on Thursday, October 25th from 12:45pm to 2:15pm (PDT) in Room 211. The description of this event is:

Will teaching in a virtual environment really be the next big thing? A number of institutions and faculty think so, and that number is growing. This session brings together those who want to discuss how virtual learning environments impact all facets of the institution. Given the position of Second Life in this arena, it will probably dominate most discussions.

I've made arrangements for there to be a laptop, project, and a static IP address which will enable us to stream SL into the conference location. Streaming the conference into SL is going to be up to us. More on that in a second.

If you are planning on attending EDUCAUSE, please make sure to include this event on your schedule. A good show this year could very well lead to a great commitment from EDUCAUSE ( i.e., I'm working to try and establish a Constituent Group, etc...)

If you have not decided if you will be attending, I hope this will push you off the fence. :-) Its usually a good conference, plus...I'll be there! :-)

If you cannot attend, I'm hoping you'll attend the in-world session.

I am looking for volunteers on two fronts:
1) people who can help work on the technology aspect of this with me
2) people who are willing to work as in-world organizers.

Please respond to me directly (

More on this as it comes together.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The crosses we all bear

I’m seeing press about the “wackier” side of SL crop up. What I am not seeing is mention that vampires, scantily clad females, and leatherfolks were not the only people attending this convention.

Of course not, who wants to read that an exceptional group of academics gathered to potentially change the way learning happens.

Instead, the people who read these stories, the people who pay the fees to make sure the magazine can print these stories, they all want to see pictures of a buxom girl pulling around a guy with a collar.

So how much are we to blame and how much is the media to blame. And I don’t mean “we” as in those who went to the conference or support Second Life – I mean we as a media-consuming public.

We accept these standards, well, some of us do, anyway

It just seems, though, that saying “stop paying attention”, but that seems almost as silly as the “don’t buy gas for one day” idea. Neither are silly in principle…application is another thing.

So what can we do? What do YOU think we can do?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Airplane Seats

Ok - this is so off topic, but its a great thing, so I'm sharing.

How many times have you booked a flight and wondered if your seats are going to suck? Wonder no more, for there is

Pick your airline, pick your plane type, and tells you a whole bunch of great information about the plane and your seat.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


This is a must see for everyone! If you haven’t been there, go there as soon as you finish reading this blog. Once you are there, wait for everything to rez, and to the right of the telehub is a small cart you can sit in to take a tour. If there isn’t one there, wait – its worth the 6 minutes or so the tour takes.

This island is as amazing as it is beautiful. I’m certain that this is going to take several trips back just to scratch the surface. Like Spaceport Alpha, there were a number of people visiting, showing that it is not JUST events that draw people in Second Life, although this island is, itself, somewhat of an event. UNLIKE Spaceport Alpha, the lag was minimal.

One thing that is important to note, I believe those who manage Svarga limit the number of avatars that can enter. So it is possible that you might try and get the “Could Not Teleport”. Try again, if that happens

The second time back I hopped out of the telehub and headed for the giant metal doors. Clicking the welcome sign opens this huge door, with a great accompanying sound.

The big problem with Svarga is not knowing where to look first. The second big problem is not wanting to miss anything.

I headed to the northwest along the first path I saw. The thunder rolling is a great addition, total atmosphere. I eventually found myself at a building with Elven musical instruments in it. After entering I right clicked one set of drums and selected PLAY ME. The picture says the rest. I only wish I could have found others to come with me so we all could have played. I’m going to wander back around at my leisure, coming back more times than I’m sure I’ll care to recount.
[note. – while I was writing this blog, and playing the drums, I shouted out to some of the folks within 96m. A super friendly person named Mellifera Slade came and found me and played the drums with me. We learned how to interact with the environment together, enjoyed playing the drums, and had a great time. Here’s a picture of us (thanks Mellifera!).]

So, what does this have to do with education? Simple – someone built something of interest and people come to see it and experience it. I liked these musical instruments and figured out how to play them. But someone has to anticipate that I might want to play them. These drums, the alcoves, all the other wild experiences, someone had to sit down and think about what it was that would interest people. They (the Svarga Gods) figured out how to make this island “sticky”, using web terms. People come, they come back, they enjoy, and they tell others.

So how do we do that with our material. How do we get away from simply recreating the “chalk and talk”. How do we create the environment in which our students want to learn, want to explore, want to figure things out for themselves? How do you do it in real life? How do you, or do you think you would, do it in Second Life? Each day, something else about all this amazes me.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It might not be as good as sex, but...

One of the things I have on my never-ending to-do list is to add something to one of my blogs each day. I try to keep to that. I determined that I should take a mere 10 minutes out of my day and write this to-be-posted item.

Well, it seems as if I can write an awful lot in five minutes. I don’t like to read really long blogs. Its not that I don’t want to see what others have to say, I just don’t have the time. Now, some blogs need to be long – but my daily rant isn’t one of them – at least not all the time. So, I’ve decided to cut my allocated time for this in half, to five minutes. Lets see what comes of it.

Well, it might not be as good as sex, but having my first paper published feels pretty damn good. After weeks of work, and a last minute revision to update statistics, my EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) Research Bulletin was published yesterday. The Title is “Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning” and here is the description.

Second Life: Reaching into the Virtual World for Real-World Learning
by Alan J. Kelton
Volume 2007, Issue 17
13 pages

Abstract: This research bulletin examines the current state of Second Life in relation to the educational environment. Although literature about virtual worlds dates back many years, this bulletin reflects on more recent publications that discuss both technological and pedagogical issues. Content is drawn from interviews with educators and innovators who are already involved in building campuses, teaching classes, and providing resources to those using Second Life.

Unfortunately for many, ECAR is a pay-for service, so unless your institution subscribes to ECAR, this document won’t be in the public domain for 18 months.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

So, I decided to write.

Well, my work blog was up but now it seems to be back down again. I didn’t post a note about it because I knew that the tech was working on it. There were only three people who had active blogs on that server, so, being short staffed from vacations, this is rightfully falling to the periphery of the radar. Once it comes back up for good, it will probably be just long enough to get the data and transfer it over to the new service and new server. The program we are currently using is Mac based and the new one will be PC based.

Before sitting down to write this I struggled with a topic for today. I thought to myself that I shouldn’t just sit down and write something for the sake of making an entry. But then I thought, I need to keep to my own advice, and that is to be a part of the communication and part of the process – add to the network.

Who knows if something I write here hits somebody just the right way, that it was just the right thing they needed to see at just the right time. So, I decided to write.

How about exemplifying the need to write on a regular basis. I always talk to my students about the need to write, to practice writing, and that is how we get good and stay good at it. So, I decided to write.

An athlete doesn’t just do warms-ups and practice when they feel particularly inspired. In fact, the few professional athletes (and an assorted trainer or two) tell me that the most important time to practice is when we do NOT feel inspired. So, I decided to write.

Today, I did not feel inspired to write. So I decide to write. Is this just fluff taking up 1’s and 0’s? Maybe. Were the few minutes you spent reading this blog better spent elsewhere? Maybe. Why am I posting this? Because I wrote it. And also because if one person reads it and decides to write every day, to practice, and to get better at writing, it was worth the 10 minutes it took me to write it.

Do you write on any regular basis? What about a journal or diary just for yourself? When we had to do it by hand, we had excuses – no time, bad handwriting, etc.. – but now, with the computer, it only takes a couple of minutes to jot down a few short notes about what is going on in your day. So, why not write for 5 minutes a day – about whatever comes to your mind when you are sitting there in front of the keyboard. Nobody else is going to see it – so what’s stopping you? If you don’t want to write a journal or diary, how about take a minute to post a note in a friend’s blog – I’m sure you read a few of them each day.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Intellagirl's Web 2.0 Event

I’m sorry this has taken so long to post. I had a full weekend and really needed to edit my notes. It was hard to take good notes and run the event at our location.

On Friday, August 10th, Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins gave a presentation on Web 2.0 and business secrets. We streamed it into the CHSS Amphitheater and the event was announced in a few groups and lists.

Most of you either know Sarah or know her work/of her. For those who don't, she is smart, funny, and a leading authority on Web 2.0 and emerging technologies.

This is the second time I've seen this presentation and learned as much this time as last. Following are my notes, comments, thoughts, etc.. If they seem disjointed, please forgive - I was trying to be attendee and viewing site organizer at the same time.

One thing that is excellent about all of these networked based technologies is that the information is in one place, so there is no need to worry about what computer it is on. If it's up on the network, it is on any computer you are on - as long as the computer has Internet access.

Some of the following came from some of the slides being used. A link to those slides is up somewhere and I encourage someone who knows where to post it in a comment. (I don't have it handy as I write this)

Some of the online applications she talked about:
• You Tube – produces over 3250 hours of content every day, which is equal to 135 always-on TVs. 91% of that content is new.
• Flickr
• Twitter (I added an entry to my Twitter account ' /sorry-afk ' as she was talking about this.
• Attendr (my note - I wrote to Attendr at their main email address four separate times over a 30 day period and never even got a response, so the customer service and support, for me, is suspect – and it was a basic question, too.)
• Second Life
• 71 Million blogs
• 60 billion emails each day!!!
• Wikipedia – 18 millions English articles, 800 million words, and nobody is getting paid to write a word of it.
• Wiki – a web page anybody can edit. [side note: Someone at our location said they thought Wiki meant "What I Know Is…" So then someone went to Wiki and looked up the word and gave the information to everyone (its a Hawaiian word). I noted that we are actually exemplifying what it is Sarah is talking about.]

During the break there was good conversation. People in-world were doing the same thing people on-site were doing, talking to each other, finding out about each other, talking about what was said so far, etc.

When Sarah came back on she started talking about Web 2.0 application we can start using right now:
• Google GMail
• RSS Reader (like Google Reader) – pull technology
• Firefox – although not an actual Web 2.0 technology, Firefox is, in Sarah’s opinion, and in mine, one of the best (if not the best) browser currently available, especially given all of the plug-in and other extras that are available for it that tie to Web 2.0 apps.
• Facebook
Someone in the audience at our location brought up “viral marketing”, and my only question was, why is it called that – who wants a virus?
• Mologogo
• SecondLife

After the presentation ended I stayed around until everyone had left. The last person to leave was Tyrr Leavitt. We had a great conversation, both on and of topic, but the one thing she said that stuck with me is that she avoids use of Zero Ware. I had never heard that, so I asked, and she explained that Zero Ware is an application that ends in a zero – such as WidgetWear 2.0, or Gadget 1.0 – always better to go with a version beyond X.0

As I see it, the only way this people communication network will work is if people are listening. What that means is that we need to add to those who are already listening and of those listening we need more people speaking. This means we can all do our own little bit by being more active in the process.

What Web 2.0 applications are you using? Why do they work for you? What doesn’t work for you? What is missing that you’d like to see? Are these making us more productive or simply more glued to our computer, mobile device, etc..?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Google Reader - get yours today!

RSS Feeds. I’ve preached about this one so many times but folks don’t “get” something new until there is a need for them to have it. My favorite thing to say is, once the “why” is apparent, the “how” usually falls into place.

Recently (thank you Sarah) I discovered Google Reader. Now, those of you out there that are NOT using an RSS aggregator (or perhaps have no idea what I just said), you know what Google is….and you know what a “reader” is. But you might be scratching your head and saying “why would I need something that is going to help me read Google. Well, its not exactly like that.

Many information outlets (news, other media, blogs, web pages, etc…) change the information on their sites, some rather quickly. News outlets are only as good as the current information they provide and blogs are updated regularly. Some, more so than others. :- )

Now, you want to get information from these sources, they are of interest to you. Lets say you are into basket weaving and widgets. You are surfing the web and find four or five sites about basket weaving and widgets (not together, of course, since you would never need a basket woven widget). You notice that there is a place no a few of the sites that have current news and even one or two that allow anyone to leave a comment. Instead of having to remember to check back with these sites every so often to see if the information has been updated, wouldn’t it be great for them to let YOU know when the information is updated. THAT is what RSS is all about. RSS tells YOU when information on sites you are interested in are updated.

Best way to figure out what this is all about, just do it (sorry, Nike). Go, right now, – it will explain everything to you there. You’ll need to set up a Google account to use it, but that’s ok, you should have one anyway. With 3GB of storage space, I’ve found I’m just forwarding all of my other email accounts to here and I have everything in one place. But that’s another blog.

Go check our Google reader. When you do, if you have, or if you use it, post a comment here about your experience.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Metaversed's Tue. Geek Meet

This week’s Tuesday Morning Geek Meet from the folks at Metaversed is a presentation with Biz Stone, co-founder and creative director of Twitter. The session was moderated by Ziggy Figaro.

The format to start was Ziggy asking some questions and Biz providing brief answers. Here are my notes:

Stone explained that the limits on characters is set pretty much by SMS standards and that, although most people are posting fairly innocuous things (what I had for breakfast, etc…) it has also proved useful in getting information out fast, and the recent bridge collapse was an example. It’s a quick and simple way to get brief information to the folks in your network.

There are a number of Twitter bots that will do things like remind you to do something (by sms) give the weather, subway schedules, etc….

The future – they are following how people are using the service and trying to make improvements based on that. Search and groups are both often requested.

After just under 30 minutes the floor was opened to questions.

Apparently someone who uses Twitter is called a Tweeter. I was calling my self a Twitterer – which I like better.

I asked “If you had to pick the number one area you are focusing efforts on right now, what would it be?” The first answer was hiring. The second answer, more hiring.

There was conversation about an SL/Twitter item called Twitterbox, I’m trying to find out where to get one.

The event lasted 45 minutes and then a bunch of folks stood around and chatted, which is a part of each meeting.

Biz Stone has a blog –

This was a very well attended event, more so than the Metaversed Live event I went to last Thursday. My guess is that SL geeks are also Twitter geeks (like me).

This picture proves that there ARE people in Second Life. These people either heard about this event and planned to be here or, like me, got a notice while I was already in-world and decided to rearrange what I was doing to attend. Of course, being a Twitterer, I was interested in the guest. But this shows that Second Life is well served as an event based medium.

A nice event, informal, informative, and a good networking opportunity. I added a few new folks to my Twitter, which is

If you want to find out about these events, you can join the Metaversed group (which you can find from the SEARCH function in the GROUPS tab) or by joining the group THINGS TO DO, which covers more than just Metaversed stuff – although it does generate a lot of activity.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion in Seattle

The announcement should be posted shortly, there will be a Virtual Worlds Hot Topics Discussion from 12:45p to 2:15pm on Thursday, October 25th, in Room 211 of the convention center.

More details to follow as we get closer.


Just wrote this in Twitter, liked it so much I decided to put it here, too.

"Ignorance is bliss, but only for the one who is ignorant."

Awesome Experience with a Hosting Company

As you know from my last post I just register a few domain names. I already have two others registered for other projects but I didn't like the experience I had with my existing company. So I went back to a page Chris and had visited last night.

The company is

I compared them to my existing company and whois and they were the lease expensive by far! I had some questions after the sale and wasn't finding what I was looking for. I realized that I had done something wrong in the order so I called their 800#. Yes, that's right, they have an 800# where a human being answers the phone.

I was connected to Winston and he did a superb job helping me out. If the whole experience is half as good as what it has been so far, this will be a long and happy relationship.

Master of my own domain!

Yes, thats right - I'm not talking about THAT domain! I'm talking about THESE domains:

Mine, mine mine! down, down, down! go, go, go! I'm rich, I'm a wealthy mizser.

get it?

Double Dose of Good News

Two big news events to talk about, one educationally related and the other not – both SL related.

I have an alter ego in Second Life, two avatars. There are two main reasons for having two avatars. The first is that I have things I am doing that are educationally related and other things that are not. The second main reason is that I must keep my work related account separate from all other things financial, since it is the University that is paying for the CHSS project.

AJ Brooks is my work related educational avatar. Everything I do within Higher Education is via AJ. AJ is the leader of the AcademicCIO Group; he belongs to almost two-dozen educational groups, including two NMC groups and a MacArthur Foundation group. AJ is very active in the higher education community and a regular follower of, and sometimes contributer to, the SLED listserve.

Wealthy Mizser is my non-MSU related avatar. Everything I do in Second Life that is NOT related to higher education is where you will find Wealthy. Some of those efforts include The Center for Learning in A Virtual Environment, various real estate investments, and The Gallery Beleza at Avendale.

Wealthy Mizser has been working with Chris Lynch, a New York City photographer (, to bring his work to SL via the Gallery Beleza. A customer would buy a photograph and not only get the virtual version for SL but would get an original signed version delivered to an address of their choosing - in real life. The opening for this should be soon, which is good news in-and-of itself. Chris is a very talented photographer and I’m looking forward to seeing his work in the Gallery.

In October Chris will most likely be doing a show in Chelsea (NYC) and he wants to tie that show to Second Life, having a mirror event in both places. He’s got some great ideas and I spent nearly 4 hours talking to him about those ideas last night. He clearly sees the impact SL can have, and its benefits (without being blind to some of the challenges) and he is looking forward to moving this forward with me guiding the Second Life part of this effort. Woot!

In educational news, EDUCAUSE seems fairly confident that there will be many people interested in the Virtual Worlds topic so they have canned the Birds-of-a-Feather and turned this into a Hot Topics Discussion (formerly Current Issues Roundtables). I will be leading this effort and I am also hoping to work with them to form a Virtual Worlds Constituent Group. A good turnout in Seattle will seal this deal.

Yesterday was a good day.

Monday, August 6, 2007

EDCAUSE Annual Conference

I am all set for the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Seattle.

My busiest day, ironically, is always the date BEFORE the conference officially starts. I have the Constituent Group (CG) Leaders Meeting in the morning followed by the EDUCAUSE Quarterly Committee lunch meeting. After that I head over to the last hour of the CIO CG meeting.

This years the Distributed Technology Support CG Meeting will be on Wednesday at lunchtime. On Thursday, I've arranged for a Virtual Worlds Birds-of-a-Feather. The BoF meetings are held at lunch and usually they allocate two tables in the lunch area. More on this as it comes up but if we have good showing I hope to spearhead the effort to start a Virtual Worlds CG. It looks to me as if things are moving in that direction. Again, more on that as I have it.

So I'll be leaving for Seattle on the 20th, Saturday. This will give me some time to see the city as it is one of the major US cities I've never been to. I'll be coming home right after the conference on the 26th.

Are you going to EDUCAUSE? If so, let me know and we can meet up.

Blogger Toys

I just added a survey functionality to the blog, check it out (to the right) and vote!

Have a questions you'd like to see asked? Drop me a note here in the blog or by email.

Multiversed Live - notes

On Friday, Thursday, August 2nd 2007, I attended the Metaversed Live at 12pm PDT (3pm EDT) on Bertaggia. The guests were 57 Miles, Goedeke Messmer (John Lopez), and Navillus Batra (Jacob Sullivan) along with a few other people who were part of the voice stream. This is being staged in Second Life and also being streamed through Talkshoe. This Metaversed Life is the first of what will become a weekly event.

An operational note from 57 Miles, starting tomorrow (8/3 – I had planned to attend but was not able to due to a scheduling conflict) will be First Friday, which is the replacement of the Geek Meets, and will actually happen every Friday. 12pm PDT at Dr. Dobbs island At this meeting there will be a discussion and debut of the Linden Scripting Language (LSL) Harness.
Below are the topics that were discussed and the notes I took while the meeting was going on (and while I was trying to multitask).
  • Multiverse – a new multiuser virtual environment by some of the original founders of Netscape. They have created a platform for building virtual worlds. They give you the tools to build your own virtual worlds and they ask 10% of the revenues in return. Avatars created in one Multiverse world will be able to travel to other Multiverse worlds.
  • SL Grid Meltdown – After the recent serious problem starting on the 27th and running into the following week, rumors were flying, but no matter what happened it had an impact on us all. There was discussion about the fact that the rumors seemed plausible and that in the absence of real information are what is being talked about. The rumor involved griefers (virtual world hackers and those who interrupt events, operation, etc…, some times to prove a point and some times just because they can) exploiting a know flaw to create serious database problems.
  • Voice – Apparently it is really tough to get good voice from the native SL voice chat so it might not be so good for events. There was discussion about needing to pan the camera to keep the voice level, otherwise the 3D voice technology created problems. The media stream seems better for events right now but requires additional equipment and a level of expertise. There are those who are “old fashioned” who like text chat, especially since there is a transcript to go back to. The options need to still exist that allow for chat, audio stream, or voice chat if one prefers. During the presentation someone passed along an Information Week article indicating that as of 3pm today, an optional viewer with voice built in will be offered for logins. Someone talked about the idea of developing a script that can be stored into an item (such as a virtual microphone) that one holds and then where the voice gets recorded into can be determined. Voice events are enhanced when the audience can use chat as a back channel.
  • Priorities – there was a discussion about where LL is putting their efforts and why devote time to voice when there are other, much more critical issues that need to be addressed. Some disagreed that LL really had that many problems and that the time spent developing voice is ill placed.
  • Linden Scripting Language – there was a rather heated (but civil) discussion about whether the LSL is a great tool or not.
My note – I am sitting here watching a bunch of avatars sitting around watching other avatars that are not really talking, while we listened to the media stream. So, a question that was once asked of me was what makes this better than, say, video conferencing. With the products that are out there, what IS the benefit of this type of events in Second Life.

I don’t have an answer except that SL a a vehicle JUST for this type of activity would be senseless. Using SL as one vehicle, a tool, to do other things as well as deliver content in this manner is much more appropriate. Case in point, if this had been offered by video conference I may not have attended.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Showing off

Hey gang. I'm here at home with my friend, Chris Alvino. [he says "Whad's uppppp?"]. Anyway, Chris and I are heading over to Giant's Stadium for the Police Concert! [Did I mention, Chris really Rocks!]

He and I are talking about web 2.0 and stuff like that so I am showing him how easy it is to post a blog.

Everyone, say hi to Chris.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Push v. Pull

And now, ladies and gentlemen - let's get ready to rumblllllllllllllllleeeeeeee!

In this corner, the current champion and the way most people do things.....Pull Technology. In the other corner, the challenger, and the friend of those who are deluged with digital media, Push Technology.

A recent discussion on the SLED list, started by Sarah Robbins, centers on "a mailbucket site that is archiving our list" making the "archives public on a non-member website."

If someone wants to know what conversations are going on on the SLED list they can join and then search the list. What is happening now is that this compiling is causing email to be posted publicly, outside the list, and that is being picked up by other services like Google Alerts (which is how I found out about it)

I'll be honest that I am a bit concerned. Not that I would ever say anything that, as one member on the SLED list said, I wouldn't want to see posted on a highway billboard. But how the SLED list deals with this is something that needs to be handled by those on the SLED list.

Here is what I see as more of a meta-question this issue brings up....when is push and pull technology appropriate? Is this even a relevant question, meaning, it doesn't matter if information is pushed down to us or we have to go pull it up.

I believe that there ARE times when push and pull technology needs to be used prudently. What do you think?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

A quote about writing and grammar

I am not sure when this was written, I just found it on a piece of napkin - but I obviously liked it when I wrote it and I still like it now.

"Thinking of writing just in terms of grammar is like thinking of painting just in terms of paint brushes."

Handwriting Analysis

Ok - I didn't think much of this when I former student sent it to me, but I went through it myself and it was spot-on accurate!

You must check this out, it does rock!

Newton has been hit too hard on the head with an Apple

The blog I post to for work is called Newton. Newton is an Apple server. Well, it seems as if every time we do a security update required by Apple, it borks the server. So, subsequently, my work blog is off line.

We've been talking about switching for SharePoint for some time and this has provided the onus to do so. So, I'm not sure at the moment how long Newton will be off line and the url for my work blog will be changing in the future anyway. I'll post the information here once I know more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

NMC Fellowship to SLCC

I would like to thank Larry Johnson and all the folks over at NMC who considered my application for the NMC Fellowship for the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC)
and awarded me the Fellowship.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with NMC, general information can be found here:
Information on their involvement in Second Life can be found here: and here:

NMC is the lead sponsor of the SLCC Education Track

I will be blogging here from the Convention, so make sure to check back.

Are you planning on going to this year’s convention? In Chicago? Did you go to last years? If so (to either), feel free to add your thoughts here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

RSS and my memorial to Safari.

Since getting involved with Second Life I’ve found myself following a slew of blogs. I was staying with Safari because I really liked how it managed blogs. I did NOT like how Firefox dealt with blogs. Then, someone turned me on to Google Reader (Thanx, SR!). Well, once I found Google Reader, there was no need for me to stay with Safari anymore, so I have migrated to Firefox, which is a FAR better web browser, IMHO.

So now I have all of my email…every single account…forwarded to my Google Mail account ( I use Firefox for web, and Google Reader for my blogs. I feel like I’m much more in control of the data that is coming in and can better manage what I need to read and react to right away. Now all I have to do is get caught up from the backlog caused by a few weeks of madness both personally and at work.

If you are not familiar with RSS, what it is and what it does, I recommend you spend the next 3 ½ minutes and watch this video:
The folks over at Common Craft are amazing, I encourage you to hit up their site and check out the other great videos they have produced.

I’ve also recently discovered Twitter (thanks, again, SR). I like Twitter because it is limited – 160 characters on the web page and only 140 if you do it through your cell phone. That’s another thing I like about it, I can go through my contact list and select those for whom I want postings sent to me as a text message. Don’t try this at home without a good text message program as part of your cellular service – it can get rather costly!

I hope to try this out with my class in the fall, although it will not be a formal part of the class. In fact, I just re-wrote part of the syllabus to include “Web 2.0” items that will be optional, like FaceBook, MySpace, and Twitter (plus any others the students find and share.)

I hope to link up with them using my own accounts (which I’m in the process of setting up and will post here when I do). This will allow us to share both during the class and perhaps afterward. I’m not looking to do this as a “friend”, but as a part of their network. I’d be pleased if I could help students along as the move through college, even those who leave MSU. I recently had someone come back to me with a question even though she had transferred to another school.

So, what has come along new for you in the last few weeks or months that has been good, bad, or in between?

Friday, July 20, 2007

A journey of ... of... of, I forgot what I was going to say.

Greeting and welcome to the official opening of the blog for sorry.afk. Of course, the (.) is not allowed, so it has been substituted with the every popular (-). Sometimes, we use the (_) when possible, as a second choice. The (-) does not feel jilted or slighted by this, it is simply happy to be in the line of succession. It is a very compassionate punctuation mark and feels badly for the (!), (,), ("), or any of the other punctuation that could never get this chance.

We all look forward to hearing from you here in this blog.