Dec 07

Need Second Life News?

I get obsessive with my reading of Second Life related news. I want to know what is happening in every sector, every topic, every hobby or interest, because at the end of every presentation I give about Second Life, I face an audience from a random assortment of disciplines and the question I dread most is the one I can’t answer. I want to be able to provide an example that relates to any subject matter, I want to be able to say, “Oh yes! There is an example of how Second Life is being used for such-and-such,” and I want to pop right over to that location or pull up that news story and link the audience member’s interest to a real virtual world example.

The only way to do that is to read everything you can get your hands on about Second Life. Events, experiments, new builds, new organizations, progress reports for projects that have been happening for some time – and the Second Life world only continues to grow and become more complex over time, and so do the number of websites, blogs, and even in-world news feeds that send a steady stream of info about in-world happenings. Even a speed reader can’t quite keep up with it all!

But there are some shortcuts, and some sources are better at ferreting out the “good stuff” better than others. Most Second Lifers know about the mainstream news outlets – Second Life News Network, Second Life Herald, Second Thoughts, New World Notes, and the magazines like the Konstrukt, Metaverse Messenger, and Avastar, but there are some other sources of news that you should add to your list if you haven’t already, and if I’m missing some of your must read sources, let me know that too.

The Grid Live Header

Read The Grid Live. I’m not sure when this site started, it gradually creeped up the Fleep’s Favorite Sites list over the past few weeks and I recently moved it to the tippy top of my must read list on the feed reader. The magical Aribella Lafleur writes in-depth travel reports, and the site’s daily summary (here’s an example) condenses half the blogs I used to read and finds sources that weren’t even on my list. That’s impressive.

Twitter Logo

Follow Malburns on Twitter. Malburns Writer seems to be in touch with all of the socio-cultural-economic-music-art scene happenings and he must have one of the most extensive SL related reading lists out there. He sends a steady stream of tweets about the grid, slurls to live events, and even if he doesn’t write for any of the major news sites, he’s my favorite reporter on the ground and a good friend to boot.

Follow BlogHUD on Twitter. I’ve posted previously about how terrific the BlogHUD is for posting reports from in-world to your blog, but creator Koz Farina keeps adding to the tool in ways that make it easier and better all the time to report on Second Life happenings, and the steady stream of real time in-world reports includes pictures, slurls, and often text descriptions that have often alerted me to things I didn’t know were happening. Fans of Torley Linden will like this too, as he is a frequent BlogHud contributor.

Don't Just Watch TV, Make it with SLCN.tv Graphic

Check SLCN.tv every single day.
Think of this as the CNN Headlines TV channel for Second Life news junkies. Whatever great in-world event you missed because you had to go to a meeting or because it was happening in a different time zone, there’s a good chance SLCN.tv covered it and you can go view the archive. They also webcast events live so you can get access to great in-world events even when you can’t be in-world. Nevermind the fact that the staff are absolutely wonderful people. [Disclosure: SLCN.tv has covered many events I’ve organized or participated in and they do all of this for absolutely no charge, so I am indebted to them for many reasons, but that’s all the more reason you should add them to your must-see list!]

Read MUVE Forward and The Story of My “Second Life”, two of the best education focused SL blogs out there. Even if you aren’t an educator, you should know about the great things educators are doing and these two sites are not just on top of the current events, they also provide analysis that helps place what’s happening into a bigger context. Very good stuff.

There are tons of other great sites, great people, and great tools to keep you up on Second Life events, but these are the ones I’ve come to rely on. Thanks to the people who make them work, I can almost always reach into my bag of tricks in front of an audience of educators, no matter what college or department they’re from, and show a relevant example. Hopefully it will help you too.

Nov 07


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Nov 07

Crazy productive week

Thank you to everyone who has sent well wishes regarding my grandpa’s health, we’re all holding up ok for the moment and I appreciate all of the kind words and support you’ve sent my way. For me, the best distraction when I can’t be there is to throw myself into work, and this week has been pretty busy.

Ohio Learning Network SL Monthly Event

OLN Second Life Newbie Q&A Session

On Tuesday, I held the second Newbie Q&A session for members of the Ohio Learning Network. We covered the communication window, inventory management, opening and unpacking boxes, and tested the voice client. If you work in a member institution of the Ohio Learning Network, please check out the OLN Second Life resources that we’re working hard to provide. I’ve been graced with the honorary title of Second Life Ambassador for the Ohio Learning Network, and I hope to do my best to facilitate exploration of the medium around the state. Let me know how I can help!

UCSLLC Meeting

UCSLLC Members in front of the new library

For the first time, the UC Second Life Learning Community meeting was so large we didn’t have enough chairs, let alone computers. I’ll take that as a good problem to have! Meeting notes for those who missed it are here.

National Distance Learning Week Panel in SL

NDLW Panel at ISTE in SL

The “Distance Education on the ‘MUVE'” panel at ISTE on Wednesday was a terrific success. I was very excited to moderate the event, and was impressed yet again by Peggy Sheehy, Lindy McKeown, and Sarah Robbins as they discussed using SL for education. Also kind of cool to see it covered on CNN‘s news about SL site.

Philip Rosedale Speaks

Philip's Snazzy Suit

Managed to catch Philip Rosedale’s presentation to the Managing Virtual Distance conference held by the Institute for International Research. Metaversed did a great job summarizing the presentation, and though nothing terribly earth shattering was discussed, I was really tickled to have Philip speaking right into my ear through the voice client.

“We are IT” Day

We are IT logo

I was very pleased to participate again this year in the “We are IT” day campaign, a project of the State of Ohio aimed at recruiting more women and girls into Information Technology professions. I had lunch with a table of middle school girls at Cincinnati State and talked to them about my job and the importance of IT in their education. The hot topic: Their parents forbid them to have a MySpace page and they feel left out. Hmm.

Presentation to Construction Management freshman

On Friday, I gave a presentation to freshmen in the Construction Management program at the University of Cincinnati College of Applied Science about how Second Life might be used in their studies. We visited the UC Island of course, and also the Gallery of Reflexive Architecture in-world, created by Keystone Bouchard and my friend Fumon Kubo. The students had a lot of great questions and several of their faculty are now interested in exploring SL, too.

First Peer Reviewed Article

And finally, I got notice late Friday night that an article I wrote with colleague Nancy Jennings had been published in the International Journal of Social Science. It’s the first thing I’ve had published in a peer reviewed journal and I’m really excited to have reached this milestone!

Virtual or Virtually U: Educational Institutions in Second Life

Abstract: Educational institutions are increasingly exploring the affordances of 3D virtual worlds for instruction and research, but few studies have been done to document current practices and uses of this emerging technology. This observational survey examines the virtual presences of 170 accredited educational institutions found in one such 3D virtual world called Second Life, created by San Francisco based Linden Lab. The study focuses on what educational institutions look like in this virtual environment, the types of spaces educational institutions are creating or simulating, and what types of activities are being conducted.

Keywords: educational technology, emerging technology, metaverse, Second Life, virtual worlds

Jennings, Nancy, and Chris Collins. (2007) “Virtual or Virtually U:Educational Institutions in Second Life.” International Journal of Social Sciences, 2(3), 180-187. http://www.waset.org/ijss/v2/v2-3-28.pdf

Phew, what a week!

Nov 07

Legal Liability of SL for Institutions

I meant to properly blog this the other day, but hopefully some saw it through a brief tweet.

In this video, an Iowa State University panel of faculty, staff, and administrators consider the implications of using Second Life from an institutional perspective. Both the pros and cons are debated, and I would recommend it not just to educators, but those representing an institution of any sort. When discussing legal liability issues, the focus is necessarily on US law, but the.. ethical and philosophical questions inherent in the presentations really will apply globally.

I’ve been to many panels and presentations and conference sessions about Second Life, but this one gets to some questions that I haven’t seen addressed elsewhere, and despite the fact that most of the participants seems to have done some homework on Second Life, with many having accounts and demonstrating competence in-world, many of the participants are what I’d consider laymen in SL terms. Not newbs, but not residents. And their concerns are ones that I imagine will be shared by many of our bosses and administrators and legal departments and HR departments.

Worth the time investment to watch the whole panel, the Q&A can be skipped.

View the Iowa State University Second Life Panel video here.

Nov 07

Political Apathy and Stumbling

After the last presidential election, I felt such a profound sense of despair that I don’t think I’ve recovered from it even still. It was such a disappointment, that I confess to being completely apathetic about American politics for the first time in my adult life. I managed to vote in every election since, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Today though I was finally looking at StumbleUpon(worst Web2.0 name evar) and checking out the video feeds in the Politics section and came across this clip. It’s framed without context in the StumbleUpon window and at first I wasn’t sure when it took place, because why hadn’t I seen something so powerfully stated in my various net wanderings? How did I miss it? Well, it was a year ago when I was still truly in the depths of despair about this war, my cousin was still in Iraq, and I rather avoided the news coverage about it because it was just too distressing. It reminds me that I do need to pay better attention _and_ be more active in spreading information that I think is important to making good political decisions.

As for StumbleUpon, I think I like the serendipity component of it, even if I hate the name. I see too that friends can recommend things to one another, so I’m fleep513 if you want to friend me. I’ll have to see if StumbleUpon becomes part of the routine or not, but in the meantime, I’m glad I found this video through it.

Oct 07

Project Work in SL

Fleep Tuque and Tyken Hightower work on an open source project for the University of Cincinnati Second Life Learning Community.
posted by Fleep Tuque on University of Cincinnati using a blogHUD : [blogHUD permalink]

Oct 07

Robert Scoble and Fever Dreams

I was reading somewhere recently that scientists think dreams have something to do with transcoding memories. Why we dream, why we dream WHAT we dream, and what the heck is going on in there is still an unsolved mystery. I remembered the article because I just had a dream that woke me up with a start, all sweaty and shocked feeling at the crack of dawn.

I was tromping around in a big grassy field of first land, except it wasn’t in Second Life, it was a “real” field and just like the mainland in the virtual world, there were cute houses and works of art in amongst the crappy advertising signs and failed building experiments. I’d just settled on the perfect plot when Robert Scoble walked up to an adjoining plot and plopped down looking exhausted. I asked him how it was going, how the baby was doing, and he said he was so tired he was just looking for a cup of tea and a place to rest.

With dream magic, I opened the cupboard and started making him a pot of tea while we chatted about what kind of assholes chop the land up into little bits to put their twirling, obnoxious advertising signs and then he finished his tea and sank into a deep sleep while I cleaned out the fridge. After that, I went for a walk to check out the new neighborhood and out of nowhere a barking dog started chasing me and just as I rounded a corner, my kitty Sam came flying around the corner of the house, hissing and spitting and all puffed up ready for battle. She chased that big dog away and it was so hysterically funny how puffed up she was, I was laughing a full belly laugh, and bent down to pet her, when I saw that she was sick and panting.. and then I remembered that she was gone, that she had died, and that I’d never see her again, and the hurt of it woke me right up.


It made me wonder what was going on in my brain, to dream of a conversation with a man I’ve never met or spoken with, didn’t even know existed until Spin and others on my Twitter friends list started talking about him and I added him out of curiosity. It made me think how these technology tools have really infiltrated the fabric of my life; sure dreams are crazy anyway, but if you know nothing about Second Life or who Robert Scoble is, that dream makes no sense at all. But if you do know, then it makes a weird kind of sense, and it means these virtual experiences are being written into the brain data banks in some way that I can’t understand, and they are wrapped up with emotions – remembering Sam is gone hurts even in a dream.

It also made me think about how strange it is to know so many details about the lives of people I’ve never met and people I have met in person because of our random bits of conversation to one another online. And if I ever do meet Robert Scoble, I really have to know – what kind of tea do you prefer Robert? I have Sleepytime, Red Zinger, or Earl Gray. And I really do need to clean out my fridge.

And I really, really do miss my Samorama.

Sep 07

Website Revamp

I registered the fleeep.net domain ages ago, back when I was still transitioning to Fleep from my old internet handle of Deep Purple (hence the name of the blog). I primarily used this blog as a place to post pictures for my family the past few years, but as time has gone on and I’ve become involved in a number of projects and have met an ever-growing network of colleagues, friends, and other educational technologists, I began to think about using this site for something more than family pictures.

But not all of my work colleagues want to know about my weekend deck cleaning activities, and the folks from my neighborhood in Second Life might not care so much about my work, so what to do?

Launch three different blogs of course! A “work” blog primarily for business contacts where I can post all that education and geek stuff, a blog about the Chilbo Community Building Project with guest bloggers from our sim to talk about Second Life related stuff, and a personal blog for, well, whatever else I feel like posting. This is the personal blog, and if you visit the site itself instead of viewing the RSS feed, you’ll see the most recent posts from the other two as well on the right sidebar.

For my BBS friends, I’ll try to come back to LiveJournal now and again, but I’m not really a fan. For my family, hopefully the stuff I post here will be interesting and if you have questions about any of the technology stuff, call me! I’d love to tell you about it. And if you want to set up your own blog, let me know, it’s easier than you may think.

Phew. Setting up three blogs in a few days! Thank god for WordPress, widgets, google, and my Twitter friends for constantly sharing info about how to work all these web tools. Now let’s hope all of these interconnected blogs, gadgets, and feeds work properly. And welcome to Fleep’s Revamped Deep Thoughts. =)

Sep 07

Happy birthday Madre! (+ deck cleaning)

Happy birthday Madre! We just got off the phone but hopefully you’ll see this on Monday, it’s still my favorite picture of us ever:

Chris and Jane in Ireland

And this is a pic for Dad to show the difference between the cleaned side and the not cleaned side of the deck. What a difference!

Cleaning the Deck

Sep 07

Patrick Awuah on Educating Leaders