Dec 07

Tech Tools that Changed My Life in 2007

I’ll try to get to the 2008 Virtual Worlds predictions here in the next couple days, but I can’t move on to 2008 until I’ve given some thought to the grand ole year of 2007. As I mentioned earlier, in 2006 I set a goal to figure out this blogging business and I think I’m doing ok in that regard. But there were a number of tools that profoundly influenced the way I experience the web, Second Life, and even have changed how I think about people and communities and society in general. So here they are, my Top 10 Tech Tools of 2007:

10. Ning and AirSet and Google Groups – All three allow you to connect with communities of interest and provide a suite of tools to keep in touch, share resources, and network with one another. All three have some features I like, none of the three do it ALL for me, but one way or another, I’ve connected with a bunch of good people through these sites.

9. StumbleUpon – I hate the name, forget to submit stuff, and don’t have any friends there, BUT! When I’m in mega procrastination mode and want the internet to entertain me, StumbleUpon is like channel surfing with the the TV remote, but on the internet instead. Flip, hmm interesting, flip, that’s stupid, flip, neat video! Caution, stumbling videos can be addictive at 3AM.

8. HUDDLES Landmark Pal – Second Life residents, if you don’t already have a landmark HUD solution for your most visited locations, this little HUD is simple, easy, and fabulous. It minimizes (TRUE minimize, not phantom) to take up less screen real estate and I love not digging in inventory to go to frequently visited places.

7. Google Web History – I avoided this tool for a while because I thought ew how creepy, a history of everything I browse! Then as I kept losing links or forgetting to tag stuff or needing to find that one website I saw that one day.. it turned into oh how neat, a history of everything I browse! I figure, google already has the data, I might as well have it too. Also neat to see my surfing trends.

6. ScriptMe! – This Second Life scripting tool is the cat’s pajamas for newbies or those with no programming experience. Hilary Mason aka Ann Enigma coded this tool to make simple scripts for those who have no programming experience. It’s simple, intuitive, and opens up worlds of possibilities for those who have never explored scripting their own objects in SL. Thanks Hilary!

5. Scobleizer – Scobleizer isn’t a website or a web app or a tagging service but he does all those things, and no I am not calling Scoble a tool. Robert Scoble is a human processor of amazingly enormous amounts of information. I think he has a real job too, but he digests a lot of info and shares the good stuff on a number of platforms and I think has such a large following that he becomes a high-end-user test case for a lot of webapps that don’t scale well, so he can point out shortcoming and flaws that other people might not notice until it’s too late. I’ve become a big fan and thanks to @Spin/Eric Rice for introducing me to @Scobleizer.

4. WordPress – I tried a zillion blog packages and after all of the trial and error came to a simple conclusion: If you’re blogging and not using WordPress, you’re nuts. WordPress has zillions of themes, zillions of widgets, EVERY webapp with a blog tie in is WordPress compatible, if you host your own, upgrading is simple.. I <3 WordPress. Bye bye Livejournal, Blogger, Typepad and others. Oh, and if you aren’t blogging but want to, it’s free. Go do it.

3. Google Feed Reader – Google’s Feed Reader makes subscribing to blogs easy and portable. I was using Sage, then I tried Flock’s built in reader, but all of those are dependent on a local machine and I need to be mobile. It’s not perfect yet (get rid of duplicates pls!), but with the addition of sharing with your Gtalk friends just a few days ago, it beats the competition hands down. It also proves that Scoble really does read all those feeds. Impressive!

2. BlogHUD – My favorite Second Life tool of the year is without a doubt BlogHUD. I just can’t tell you how much easier it has made posting images and information from in-world to out. If you need examples, just check the BlogHUD category on this site. I think this is a terrific tool for educators in Second Life as well as anyone who keeps a travel log, reports on SL news, or just wants to share the cool stuff their doing. BlogHUD Pro has a bunch of other features, but the only one I use is the cross-post images to blogs and it is SO worth $900L. It is fabulous.

1. Twitter – Twitter is the glue that holds everything together. Twitter is a steady stream of information, help, and camaraderie. Twitter is better than Jaiku or Pownce. Twitter has changed my web surfing habits, my conception of online communities, my Second Life experience, and my blogging habits. Twitter is the ultimate “just in time” information source. Twitter. How I Love Thee. Ok enough gushing! I think Twitter works best when you find a combination of Twitter add-ons that work for you. I personally use it in conjunction with GTalk, Twittermail, TwitterTools for WordPress, and SLTweets in Second Life.

Honorable Mention: Flock
– Flock is a Mozilla based web browser that integrates a number of tools to make social networking and browsing media online even easier. It’s pretty slick looking and has some great ideas, but it still seems really top heavy and a little crash prone when you get a zillion tabs going. But I’ll keep an eye on it in 2008 because it does some things really well.

Dishonorable Mention: Facebook – Facebook feels like evil to me. Maybe it’s because it sounds like the “creator” stole the idea. Maybe it’s because if you don’t pick a gender it assumes you’re a guy. Maybe it’s all the privacy breaching going on. Maybe it’s the cloudy chain of who all owns it and invests in it. Maybe it’s all the stupid spammy groups. I am there and I’ll add you, but I won’t accept any of your third party super poking super whatever invites, because I am not a Facebook fan.

And that’s it! Thanks to all who brought these great tools to my attention and thanks to the people who make them possible! So what did I miss? What tools make your top 10 list for the year?

Dec 07

Update: Open Letter to SL Skin Designers

Dear Skin Designers of Second Life:

I am writing to alert you to a problem that you may not be aware of, since it has likely been a very long time since you were a newbie. I and many other educators are working with faculty and student populations to make them aware of the benefits of Second Life for teaching, learning, and research. Many of these folks have little to no previous experience with gaming or virtual worlds, and find the Second Life learning curve pretty steep. This isn’t a newsflash, I’m sure, but what might be is this:

There are virtually NO fully transferable skins for folks who wish to have an african, latino, asian, or other non-white skin type.

I have looked. I have been to all the freebie barns, stores, islands, OnRez and SLX, and every other source suggested to me.

There are, of course, many such skins for sale, but for educators like myself who are attempting to ease hundreds of new users into Second Life, it would be awfully nice to also be able to offer them some diversity of skin choices in our freebie avatar packages.

What does it say about our community if there are dozens of male and female white avatars that can be given to new users for free, but none for non-white skin types?

I know that many of you DO offer freebies at your stores, and that is very commendable, but that also requires the skill level needed to use search or find landmarks in inventory, teleport around, purchase and unpackage boxes, AND the time it takes to hunt them down. Skills and time are the very thing that many new students and faculty do not have, and for all of us who are doing our best to bring new users in-world, this is something you could help us overcome.

Please consider donating a fully transferable non-white skin to the cause and help make diversity in Second Life an easy choice for new users. If you choose to do so, let me know, I will be all too happy to acknowledge your contribution here and in-world.


Fleep Tuque

PS I am glad to see I am not the only one thinking about these issues, just today Poinky Malaprop writes about Avatars and Prejudice and asks a very relevant question, via Ren Rennolds at Terra Nova: Do virtual worlds liberate us from prejudices, or reinforce dominant stereotypes?

I would argue that virtual worlds enable us to challenge dominant stereotypes, but it’s all in how we choose to use the tool. Perhaps I need to re-think my own avatar choices as a result of this conversation. Thanks Poinky!

PPS Thanks to Celebrity Trollop of Second Style Fashionista for a possible lead on a transferable skin, I’ll follow up and report back!

Dec 07

Fleep’s Take on the Virtual Worlds Industry Forecast 2008

Virtual Worlds Management released an Industry Forecast whitepaper for 2008 today, see the previous post for details to get your own copy.

The group asked 45 virtual world “industry leaders” to answer a series of 5 questions about the future of virtual worlds in 2008. These are fairly open ended questions, what are the top trend predictions, what are your goals, what challenges will the industry face, etc., and from all appearances they took the answers verbatim and pasted them all into a single document, which gives us some interesting insights into the personalities and writing styles of those who responded.

Most Interesting Responses:
Hui Xu, Founder & CEO, HiPiHi Co., Ltd.

Sure, you expect the typical buzz words and market jargon in a report like this, but of all the respondents, Hui Xu’s remarks were the most human and in parts, downright inspiring and hopeful.

Favorite quote:

“Avatars are cute, so is a world with no limits on imagination, but we have to drill down to the essence of human nature and find out how virtual world technologies can really support real human needs.”

Bravo Mr. Xu, I agree.

Brevity Award:
Guy Bendov, Co-Founder, Journeys

How to say the obvious in 10 words or less! Only one really substantive response, the rest are no-brainers.

Favorite Quote:

“Mass market adoption of virtual worlds as a main source of online entertainment will grow.”

Gee, you don’t say?

Paying Attention and Making Sense Award: Erik and Erik
Erik Bethke, CEO GoPets and Erik Hauser, Founder/Executive Creative Director of Swivel Media

Erik Bethke raises the issue of safe spaces for those under the age of 14 and the growing sophistication of internet users who will have less tolerance for clunky interfaces and privacy invasions. He also mentions legal ramifications of EULAs that make promises to the userbase that aren’t being kept. Erik Hauser discusses the difficulty in investing in experimental media in the face of a US recession and creating content that adds value to existing communities. I like plain talk and no footsy around the white elephants in the room.

Favorite Quote: (from Bethke)

“Things like [user councils] are absolutely necessary when you’re talking about a social space, which all virtual worlds are, and yet we’re only starting to see them come about in a formal way very recently. .. If you let the users themselves take ownership for their governing, they’ll catch things and smooth them out before you get in trouble with the law.”

Most Forward Thinking + Fun To Read:
Jerry Paffendorf, Co-Founder and Normative Futurist, WelloHorld

Ok, so maybe it’s a gimme that the only futurist on the list gets the Most Forward Thinking award, and perhaps I am charmed by his direct and colloquial tone, complete with smiley faces, but he’s thinking like I’m thinking and I’m looking forward to seeing what this mindshift will bring, too.

Favorite Quote:

“Unleash the Wello and take over the Horld!”

This is a 36 page document and beyond the generalizations and “how do we make money” analysis, it provides a framework for thinking about what 2008 might bring for those of us invested in the virtual worlds concept. Add it to your Must Read list, for sure.

Thanks to Virtual Worlds Management for providing it, and gratis to boot.

Dec 07

Virtual Worlds Forecast 2008 Report

I’m reading the Virtual Worlds Management Industry Forecast 2008 whitepaper, see their website for details to get your own free copy, and so far the first thing that strikes me is that they took the replies from all of the respondents and apparently just pasted them all into a document without even making sure they were similarly formatted.

I guess I’m used to reading academic papers and research that uses anonymous or attributed quotes, rather than seeing exactly what so-and-so big wig from so-and-so company jotted down in an email one day. Some folks wrote formally, others seem almost offhand.

Definitely worth a read, just don’t expect it to look too much like a traditional “white paper”.

Dec 07

FCC, FISA, & The Enemies of Reason

On Saturday I drove through a snowstorm doing 20 miles an hour on the interstate. It was a horrible drive, my hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel so tightly, and the roads were in terrible shape. I must have seen 30 accidents along the way – tractor trailers jackknifed, cars over embankments, one car hanging on a guard rail over a steep and dangerous cliff. Without any CDs in the car, I was left to the tender mercies of the radio, and for quite a long stretch there was no NPR to be found. Egads. The radio airwaves are full of the most awful music and even worse talk radio. But I forced myself to listen as I slipped and slid and wished desperately for a salt truck or a plow to come and clear the roads.

When I got home, I fell into an exhausted sleep that lasted off and on for two whole days. At some point when I was awake to eat, I learned that a whole family had died driving on those slick roads, and many more had horrible accidents and were injured. I felt lucky to have made it home safely, I felt warm and cozy and snug in my house as the snow and sleet continued to fall over the weekend, and I began my vacation by being a complete slacker – no work, no email, no phone calls, no house cleaning. I parked on the couch in a blanket curled up with the kitties, and watched a bunch of TV. But not mindless TV, I watched a couple month’s worth of Bill Moyers’ Journal, NOW, Frontline, and CSPAN coverage of the FCC review of media ownership rules hearings in the Senate.

And I got angry.

Angry with myself more than anyone else, for being so busy with the demands of job and family that I stopped paying attention and stopped talking about issues that matter. I wasn’t just sleeping for a couple of days, I think I’ve been sleeping for a couple of years, maybe since the 2004 election as I mentioned in a previous post. Well, I’m awake now and I am determined to stay that way.

Today the FCC will meet to consider changing the rules to allow greater consolidation of media giants, as well as competition in the mobile services market and minority participation in broadcasting – and unless something happens, it appears that the chairman, Kevin Martin, intends to go in the face of public opinion and Senate concerns and change the rules in ways that will favor the media conglomerates. Which means on the next long drive, I can look forward to even more drivel on the radio, and less diversity of opinion on the TV, and fewer newspapers with concentrated editorial control.

A brief clip from the hearings:

You can watch the FCC meeting live on CSPAN today at 10AM EST.

You can contact the FCC and contact the members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation which held the FCC hearings on December 13th at http://www.committeecaller.com/ (just pick the right committee on the left).

You can do these things, and you should. I should have before now, but I didn’t until maybe it’s too late.

You can also pay attention to the FISA changes that the Bush Administration is asking Congress to grant. I tweeted about that yesterday too, and over 2500 people called the Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and at the 11th hour he pulled the proposed legislation from the floor and postponed it till January.

You can call your representatives about that bill, too. And you should.

I think we all need to wake up. I don’t care if you’re right, left, center, independent, progressive, conservative, or WHAT label you prefer, there are certain things that surely we can all agree are dangerous for democracy, and more media consolidation and warrantless spying on American citizens has to rank right up at the top of that list.

Apathy is as much an enemy of reason as anything else.

Dec 07

Digital Immigrant Bookworm Goes Native Butterfly

Perpetually behind on my blog reading, but today I caught up with Intellagirl’s Ubernoggin and got sucked into her Response to Jenkins, Prenskey Regarding Digital Natives post.

Intellagirl’s analysis points to two key phenomena that differentiates the Digital Native from the Digital Immigrant – exigency (need) and medial hauntings (previous experience with earlier technologies that lingers on). Now “medial hauntings” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue and until I read further, evoked images of severed limbs screaming BOO! from dark closets (oh MEDIAL not MEDICAL), but I think she’s onto something there. Certainly she addresses the kind of fear that I’ve seen in so-called digital immigrants, who already have a community of people to share thoughts with at church or the bowling league or whatever, and who are afraid to press a button in case it breaks or click a link in case there’s no way to go back, that sort of thing. And it brings to mind my own complete aversion to all things web based for years – my command line BBS works just fine thanks, I don’t need any of this newfangled blog crap! I BBSed from 1994 to 2006 and largely ignored blogs and blog culture because I had an interface that I was comfortable with and a community to share my thoughts with and what _need_ was there to change? So in that example, Intellagirl’s analysis hits it right on the head – I had no need and the few attempts I’d made at blogging were painful because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and I kept saying to myself, “Pushing the spacebar to get new content is so much easier!”

This Digital Native/Immigrant dichotomy has been sticking in my craw because it doesn’t quite explain ME. By age demographic, I should be an immigrant. By socio-economic background and access to technology and gadgets, I should be an immigrant. By all sorts of measures and characteristics used to describe the two groups, it seems as if I should fit squarely in the immigrant category, but clearly I do not. Intellagirl’s post is the first I’ve seen that begins to get at an explanation that makes sense, not just on a macro level, but on a personal level. My adoption and wholesale immersion into the BBS/MUD community in the mid 90s was born out of great need, I was away from home, poor as a church mouse, out of my social element, and desperately seeking to connect with other people, and that technology provided something that my limited social and financial circumstances could not – COMMUNITY. I was moving constantly, like a bag lady, from apartment to apartment and state to state, but with the magic of the intarnets, my friends traveled with me wherever I went. Further, limited experience with previous technologies left me with no old habits to break, at the time I discovered email and UNIX talk and telnet, I was a fairly clean slate and picked it up quickly.

OK, so finally an explanation that begins to make sense.. Hm.

But there’s something else about my own personal experience that has been ricocheting around in my head and always comes to the forefront when I listen to one of Philip Rosedale’s speeches about how navigating 3D virtual worlds is innately more intuitive than navigating word-laden webpages. I think there’s truth to that and it seems to me that we’re entering a new .. phase, era, whatever word you prefer. But let me go back for a moment to the ricocheting thought, which is that I think my digital native behavior was/is extremely influenced by my lifelong addiction to reading. I was the kind of kid that would rather read a book than do just about anything else. If I was in the middle of a good story, nothing short of prolonged shouting could break the spell, to the annoyance of friends and parents alike. Somehow I transcended mere “literacy” and I’m sure there’s some academic term for those of us who become immersed in the written word and visualize it with such clarity that the “real world” ceases to exist while we’re in it. (I bet Henry Jenkins knows that word.)

So, being such a reader, the world of BBSs and MUDs and entirely text based virtual worlds wasn’t just an easy transition to make, it was like the holy grail – an interactive story that I was part of, that I wrote and changed and played a role and wow, what a dream come true. Webpages didn’t interest me quite as much, except as an information source, because they were like magazine stories, way too short and eventually full of too many pictures, when what I prefer is a nice big meaty novel that will take at least two or three days to read. And so I stayed in my text based virtual worlds for a very long time. Long after other BBS friends adopted LiveJournal and Blogger and reveled in posting pictures and links and video clips that could never appear in the old telnet window.

Until EverQuest, that is. MMO + RPG + 3D = love at first sight. I still remember the thrill of it: the beautiful scenery, the long walks across unexplored territory, the adrenaline rushes, the late nights, the empty Mt. Dew cans. Then DAoC and WoW and various single player games in-between (NWN, Deus Ex, Sims, etc.). And somehow, between 1994 and 2006, I transformed into a Native butterfly, an advocate for technology in education, a creator of digital content, a camera, mp3-player, cell phone carrying junkie, a 1337 translator with some old skool credibility, tivo equipped and subscribed to so many blogs, and now tweeting my life away for all to see. Indistinguishable from a so-called Native, except that my text messaging thumb dexterity is woefully inadequate.

I hate these terms, Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, because they imply all sorts of connotations that do more harm than good, and because my Women’s Studies 101 classes taught me to _always_ be suspicious of false dichotomies. It is not an either/or choice, rather there are continuums of related skill-sets and proclivities and if you look deeper under the skin of a Digital Native, you will find more complexity than a single word can possibly describe. Sure the 17 year old chained to his cell phone can text message while eating, driving, and talking, and sure his ipod seems to have grown fully formed out of his skull, but can he use a search engine effectively? Can he write a coherent paragraph with correct spelling and grammar to save his life? Increasingly, I think that answer is NO and that is worrisome.

Jenkins writes:

At one time, the digital immigrant metaphor might have been helpful if it forced at least some adults to acknowledge their uncertainties, step out of their comfort zone, and adjust their thinking to respond to a generation growing up in a very different context than the realm of their own childhood. As Prensky concludes, “if Digital Immigrant educators really want to reach Digital Natives – i.e. all their students – they will have to change.” Yet, I worry that the metaphor may be having the opposite effect now — implying that young people are better off without us and thus justifying decisions not to adjust educational practices to create a space where young and old might be able to learn from each other.

So, what would digital multi-culturalism look like? Can we come up with a different set of metaphors to talk about these issues?

I say we MUST come up with a different set of metaphors, because to circle back to Philip Rosedale’s point about the intuitive navigability of 3D virtual spaces, if we don’t figure out a better way to talk about these concepts, the so-called natives will run so far ahead into the virtual world, that the wisdom of the text-based and physical world might be lost altogether. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this chilling report from the National Endowment for the Arts about current literacy rates. It strikes fear into the heart of this digital [whatever], because the power of all of this technology is tremendous, and while those who have accepted the term “digital immigrant” feel cut off or dismissive or frightened or too old or whatever it is are sitting around reading newspapers and drinking coffee at church and thinking that things like Second Life is just a game, the world is going to change around them, so fast it will make their heads spin if they’re still around to see it, and the certainty that this is coming fills me with such urgency, I just can’t shake it.

It keeps me burning the candle at both ends, and now we’re at the end of 2007 and my resolution in 2006 to figure out this blog crap, to bring Second Life to my campus, to work even harder to be the translator between the “immigrant” and “native” camps has been one of the most exhausting and stressful, yet wonderfully fulfilling years of my life. I’ll save the reminiscing for a different long rambly disorganized thinking-out-loud post, but at the end of all of this, I’m thinking we have a lot of work to do and we can’t do it fast enough. I don’t know if Digital Multi-Culturalism will cut the mustard, either, because that implies some acceptance of the status-quo that I don’t want to accept. I want to be intolerant of intolerance in the digital sense. I don’t want to just talk about it, I want to smack the hand that reaches for the phone book instead of a search engine. As I reach the ripe old age of my early 30s, I finally have come to understand that not all old people are wise, but there is wisdom in age and experience, and frankly, I fear we’ll lose that wisdom when the “natives” put down their video games and start harnessing this technology to change the world around them.

I think, moving forward, that we need to challenge those words wherever we see or hear them, because they are perpetuating a concept that we can’t afford to continue.

Dec 07

Pausch’s Last Lecture, Dreams and Dying

I wrote a bunch of things, but I think I’ve shared enough about me today. Thanks to whomever sent this over twitter, it was very timely.

Dec 07

Eight Things Meme

I never do blog memes, but when Hamlet Au of New World Notes tagged me, I had to give in.

If you’ve somehow escaped this one, here are the rules:

1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

And now eight random things about me..

1. I grew up on a horse farm and lived in a log cabin in the woods. I’ve bailed hay, chopped firewood, milked a cow, and hand farmed gardens that were bigger than most people’s lawns. We had an outhouse and carried our drinking water by hand from a natural spring out in the woods. We had a zillion cats, and dogs and horses, cows, chickens, and even some goats once, and with 90 acres of fields, woods, and creeks to play in, and an endless supply of books (not so good TV reception out in the sticks back then), I think I had a pretty good place to grow up.

In fact, urban and suburban life still seems unnatural and crowded, yet isolating and lonely to me. It seems like you should know everyone within a few mile radius of where you live (even if that isn’t really feasible in a city) and that kids were meant to run and play for hours at a time unsupervised (even if they do get hurt). Seventeen years after leaving the country, I’m still trying to reconcile all of these contradictions for myself, and it’s why I bought a house right next to a huge, 1500 acre park – it’s the closest I can get to the country without having a ridiculous commute.

2. My first SL avatar was Mara Brightwillow, and I remember being totally befuddled by the navigation interface – especially flying. The first resident created object I remember seeing was a giant hair spray can. (!)

3. I bumped into Emilio Estevez (literally) at a farmer’s market in downtown Minneapolis. I nearly dropped my bags and by the time I realized who I’d run into, we’d already exchanged excuse mes and he was gone. I was quite crushed considering I’d had a crush on him since.. what was the name of that ice skating movie?

4. I made it to the national spelling bee rounds in 7th grade and lost on the very first word of the very first round – xenophobic. I spelled it with a z. What a bummer that was.

5. I’ve been a priest or cleric in every D&D or RPG game I’ve ever played. Something about saving the hero’s ass at the last minute.. Actually, I think it comes from the early days when video games were largely single player. My brother was the type to open the box and go right for the controls, while I dove for the manual and bossed him around. He was the fighter, I was the planner, and when we got to multiplayer games, the hoarder of potions since he always wasted his. It ruined me for soloing ever after.

6. The only book I’ve ever seriously attempted to read and couldn’t was Infinite Jest. I don’t know why, all my friends liked it, but the second I open the cover my eyes glaze over. Maybe I should try again, it’s been a few years since the last attempt.

7. I once gave a tour of SL to a bunch of educators with no virtual pants on. I could see them on my client, of course, I still don’t know how that happened, but about 15 minutes into the presentation someone asked me if I was supposed to be wearing something on my bottom half. I’ve never been so grateful for virtual underwear! Taught me to always check with someone else to make sure my avatar is rendered properly before a presentation. That’s something they don’t teach you in Presentations 101.

8. Speaking of dumb things, I once ran over my own foot with my own car all by myself. How is this possible, you ask? Well, it takes the right combination of gravity, slope, long black coat, and idiocy. I’d left my headlights on over night and was late for a meeting (of course) and so when my neighbor offered to give me a jump, I was in a rush to get things moving. I decided to push the car down the driveway myself so we could hook up the cables, and while he was moving his car into position, I opened the driver’s side door and was steering with my left hand and pushing on the door frame with my right hand. What I didn’t know was that my flat drive way wasn’t actually flat at the end, and as soon as I hit that little slope, wow the car started moving at quite a clip. Before I knew it, the long black dress coat I was wearing got caught under the front tire and then I was trapped. The car didn’t actually run all the way over me, it just drug me along for a good while, grinding off shoes, tights, and flesh until it came to a rest at the bottom of the hill. Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch.

All things considered I was quite lucky, broken ankle and the proverbial “it’s just a flesh wound!” that eventually healed over. The only thing more painful than the event itself was having to explain what happened every time someone asked while I was on crutches. Moral of the story? Pick one: Don’t wear long loose clothing when working with heavy machinery. Don’t be in such a rush that you do really dumb things. If you hurt yourself in a dumb way, think of a good cover story before word gets out that you ran over yourself with your own car, yes really. *sigh*

And there you have it, eight things you probably didn’t know about me.

There are a bunch of people I’d love to tag, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated either, so if you’re reading this and have a blog and haven’t been tagged yet, you’re now IT. Link back here and I’ll post a follow up to your site!

Dec 07

Virtual Worlds/Walled Gardens, SL-Dev, and UC State of the University

[Edit: Good grief, it’s the State of the University, not State of the Union. (!!) Recovering political junkie reflex.]

Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about big business and Second Life. Tackles the interoperability-slash-walled garden issue, and quotes Metanomics series host Professor Robert Bloomfield of Cornell University, who I recently met during the discussion on Higher Education in Second Life for the program.

The article states that 20 major technology firms, including IBM and Microsoft, have agreed to explore ways to connect virtual worlds. My thought, is Google on that list?

On another note, I was talking with a couple of long time SL residents who didn’t know about the existence of the SL-DEV listserv. Now I am not a scripter or a coder or any label that would imply I could program my way out of a paper bag, but if you want to know where the technology behind Second Life is heading, there’s no better source for info. Sure half to two thirds of the posts zoom right over my head, but even scanning the subject lines tells me what’s the Hot New Topic with the opensource/dev community, and that’s good to know.

President Nancy Zimpher delivers the 2007 State of the University address

Next up, I finally got a chance to view University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher’s State of the University 2007 address. Since she came to UC, her focus on how the university integrates with the local and regional community has resonated with my own sense of priorities, and I am pleased to see that continue to be her focus, in addition to the Master Plan and UC|21 goals for academic achievement. I lived in Clifton for 6 years, and while I miss the convenience of walking to work very much, I don’t miss the noise, the crime, and the grit nearby. As long as economic redevelopment doesn’t just mean shifting vulnerable populations further away from a walled-garden campus, then I am all for finding real, sustainable solutions. She also mentioned the Strive project, which aims to create an educational pipeline to ensure that students complete the _entire_ educational process, from pre-school through to college degree. Good stuff!

Also from President Zimpher’s speech, the Brookings Institute: Blueprint for American Prosperity: Unlceaning the Potential of a Metropolitan Nation. I confess, I haven’t read it yet, but her talk seemed quite apropos considering the recent conversations I and others have been having about what makes a community work in the virtual world, and I think there is much to be learned from real world examples too.

Finally, any SL residents, I beg of you to please vote for the JIRA issue to increase the 25 group limit in Second Life. Even if you haven’t hit that ceiling yet, it is a major major obstacle for those of us who have, and I can’t believe it has less than 400 votes. Sheesh.

Dec 07

Geek Meditation

Too cute not to share, thanks @Roadup!

Geek mediation comic