May 08

Ohio Edu: Gov. Strickland’s Education Reform Plans

Courtesy of the Ohio Fair Schools Campaign comes a summary of recent news articles with information about Gov. Strickland’s plans for reforming education in the State of Ohio.

There has been a flurry of news reports about Gov. Ted Strickland’s education reform plan. According to an article in the Columbus Dispatch, the governor said he would spend much of the last half of the year working on his school reform plan. He plans to host regional summit meetings across the state to build support for his plan that will go to legislators in early 2009. Strickland also remains committed to his proposal to appoint a director of education to oversee primary and secondary schools.

To read related articles, visit:
4/28 Akron Beacon Journal
Failure is not an option: Ted Strickland sounds serious about repairing school-funding

4/21 Akron Beacon Journal
Digging Ohio out of an education rut

4/21 Dayton Daily News
Our view: State school board has duty to bow to governor

4/19 Plain Dealer
Plan for new director of education inches forward

4/18 Plain Dealer
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland vows education reform

4/18 Columbus Dispatch
Strickland plans push for school-funding change

If you’re involved in education in Ohio, this may be an indication of what’s coming down the pike, and if you’re in another state, I’d love to hear what your state administration is doing to address budget shortfalls and challenges with the current systems in place.

Update: Oops some of those links were ugly, reformatted to make it readable!

Apr 08

Virtual Worlds 2008 – A Very Mixed Bag

As promised, I finally got my photos from Virtual Worlds 2008 uploaded to Flickr, better late than never, right?

As I went through the images, I tried to remember exactly what about the event left me so.. cold. It wasn’t really the people, I was thrilled to see many friends again, Aldon Huffhines from the Orient Lodge, Dave Elchoness from the Association of Virtual Worlds, Grace McDunnough of Phasing Grace, Kenny Hubble from Loyalist College, and Prokofy Neva of Second Thoughts were welcome sights indeed. No amount of virtual interaction ever replaces real hugs and shared drinks and these are people who inspire me, whose blogs I read and events I attend because I have enormous respect for their intelligence and insights. I’m quite annoyed with myself that I forgot my camera and got no pictures of these friends except for Ken the next day.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Ken Hudson on the left
Ken Hudson (SL: Kenny Hubble) on the left.

It was also good to see some folks from Linden Lab in the flesh again, Pathfinder with his ferocious energy and unflagging support of education in Second Life, Betsy who I’d met recently in world, and Ian who does a very wonderful elevator pitch of the Second Life grid branding strategy.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Second Life Grid Booth

I even spied Philip having a sit down chat with someone in the front of the room (before the Open Source panel, which I’ll talk about later) and he looked more tired than the last time I saw him, but well all the same. It’s a good reminder that the folks at the Lab aren’t all knowing gods, despite what residents would like them to be, but flesh and blood people who get tired and overworked like the rest of us.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Philip having a chat

Good too to see the folks from Metaversatility, a name that seemed more apt than ever given the number of platforms, worlds, and offerings on display at the expo.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Metaversatility Booth

And great to talk with the folks at VastPark, who actually remembered me from the beta test of a few weeks prior, and who were quite enthusiastic about their plans for open beta and new parks for us to explore. I met some of them later at the SLCN.tv party in the New Yorker hotel and that was quite a bit of fun.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - VastPark Booth

So why then did I eventually leave Virtual Worlds 2008 with a colder heart than I had when arrived? I can’t quite put my finger on it. A couple of years ago I would have been thrilled to think of a room full of booths offering a variety of platforms, services, and tools for virtual worlds users. Back then, I was one of those evangelizing educators that Gwynneth Llewelyn mentions in her latest post, excited by the possibilities, fighting to get Second Life recognized as a legitimate place for educators to explore, research, and teach in, and I’ve since brought literally thousands of educators, students, and friends into the world and continue to do so. But for the first time since my wild ride with Second Life began, I feel.. hesitant. I’m still giving the talks and workshops and bootcamps, I’m still the driving force behind the SL project at my university, and working to increase collaboration in SL among educators in the state of Ohio, but after returning from NYC, I have a heavy sense of foreboding.

The first chill came when I was talking with Grace about the fact that Interoperability was no where to be seen on the agenda. As I explore each new world and work to recreate yet another Fleep (if the name isn’t taken, the internet suddenly seems to have more Fleeps than when I was born), I’m reminded of how _tedious_ it is that I cannot take my avatar from place to place, that I have to re-brand and re-create in each location, re-buy clothes to project the right image (in case I want to demo it at work, these teen worlds seem full of inappropriate for work clothes too), re-build my home, apartment, space.. I do not have the time for all of this duplication of effort. Interoperability is KEY to the success of the metaverse, everyone agrees.

But wait! Sibley from Electric Sheep was there at Virtual Worlds 2008 to tell us that the Metaverse is.. well not dead exactly, but it ain’t going to be here any time soon. More depressing chill. If you’re a fellow VW traveler, philosopher, and junkie like I am, then be sure to check out his slides from the presentation and subscribe to his blog, he promised at the conference that there would be more to come there soon as he continues to think out loud about the future of virtual worlds.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Sibley from Electric Sheep Company

The long and short of his talk, though, was that the steps needed to make the metaverse a reality is extremely messy stuff. The technical hurdles alone are complex and complicated, but the _social_ changes are perhaps even more challenging. The Electric Sheep Company is without a doubt a leader on the cutting bleeding edge, and much of what he said had the ring of truth to it. The bring you back to earth, stop being such an idealistic Pollyana, cold hard reality ring of truth. Thanks, Sibley, for ripping the rose colored glasses from my face. 😉

But truly, all I had to do was look around the room to see the truth of what he was saying. Here I was in Manhattan, attending an event that darn near broke my travel budget bank, surrounded by suits and hawk nosed business types talking about the “compulsion cycle” by which a developer can keep a users eyes glued to the screen, becoming ever more brand loyal, and always buying more stuff – virtual or otherwise.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Sign board

Grace called Interoperability the belle of the last Virtual Worlds ball, but this year’s belle sounded an awful lot like “exploiting kids” to me. Nickelodeon, MTV, and Mattel talked about how to get past moms as gatekeepers (a fellow from Whyville spoke up and said in his experience, there ARE no gatekeepers, parents using PCs as baby sitters aren’t even aware of what their kids are doing in Whyville unless the KID brings the parents into contact with it – remember when you liked your parents and wanted them to come play with you?), talked about how to capitalize on the fact that parents think ANYTHING interactive must be more educational than sitting in front of the boob-tube (an assumption that I think needs some serious examining), and how best to advertise all of their many many “properties” – virtual and real, television and toys, games and brands to these young consumers, how to get the parents’ credit cards linked, how to monetize and exploit this dream (delusion?) I’ve been working so hard to build.

The lawyers were there too, to advise developers, not users. Benjamin Duranske of the Virtually Blind blog about legal issues in virtual worlds was there, looking young, smart, chic, and passionate. While I thought his presentation was actually pretty balanced in terms of developers vs users rights, his theme like the other virtual law sessions I attended boiled down to developers protecting themselves. Questions like, do developers have a responsibility to try to prevent fraud? Should users have rights to their creations in these worlds? Should players who cheat in game worlds be prosecuted? Should companies settle disputes between users or residents? Overall the answer appeared to be that the more a developer interferes in the virtual world, the greater their liability, therefore best to act like a phone company or ISP to better protect oneself from litigation. Very little talk of self governance mechanisms, very little talk of protecting users rights, very little talk of the implications these decisions have on community, on creativity and innovation, on the future of the metaverse.

Education was entirely absent from the Virtual Worlds 2008 roster. I ran into some fellow academic types like Kenny Hubble, but we had no place on the agenda. In one of the kids worlds panels, I heard one woman talk about the educational content of some of these games, but I think that was it other than the Second Life folks talking about the success of education in their world. No where in the kids worlds sessions did I hear about how to incorporate education into all those hours they hope to replace the Saturday morning cartoon with, I didn’t meet any educators working with these developers, I didn’t see any evidence that any of the companies there plan to incorporate any social good beyond being better consumers into their products – sorry, “experiences”. Where on earth were the colleges and universities, the professors and researchers, at Virtual Worlds 2008? Where were the philosophers and those interested in issues of self governance and user rights and non-profit uses and activists and all the people working to extend the positive social benefits of virtual worlds to the real world? Other than the folks I mentioned at the outset, I didn’t see them.

Truly, it was so chilling.

All was not lost, though, the very last session I attended end up being in many ways the highlight of the conference for me. The Open Source Virtual Worlds panel had representatives from Qwaq, Sun’s Project Wonderland, and three fellows working on Open Sim projects.

Virtual Worlds 2008 - Open Souce Panel

Qwaq and Sun are both focusing on a business and educational market, and I was glad to hear _someone_ talking about the kinds of things I came to hear, like technical implementations that might help enhance collaboration in virtual worlds. The Sun demo was particularly interesting, it seems they’ve done quite a bit of work on how to effectively integrate audio and voice (SL Voice users know how dicey it is), and we saw how a meeting taking place in the virtual world could “call out” to someone on a cell phone and bring them into the conversation. The phone user was represented by an orb that could be “picked up” and carried by another person in world – effectively transferring the call from the group conference to a private conversation – and then “dropped off” on another user in world, again transferring the call to another person. This visual representation (quasi-avatar?) of a phone-based participant in a virtual world conference/meeting opens up interesting possibilities, and it made me quite anxious to check out the Wonderland project.

But more importantly than the demos, it was the conversation that erupted in the middle of the Open Source panel that saved the Virtual Worlds 2008 expo experience for me. Jani Pirkola from realXtend began talking about the work they are doing to make avatar movement more natural, animations that actually detect the doorknob, etc. when from behind me Philip Rosedale of Linden Lab piped up and praised Jani for the work they are doing, since avatar animation is an especially tricky technical problem.

Philip’s mere presence and the substance of what he said seemed to have an electric effect upon the room, suddenly everyone was perked up and at attention. The panel format suddenly turned into a dialogue as audience members jumped in with thoughts and challenges. Zha Ewry of the Architectural Working Group joined a sometimes heated and _competitive_ conversation with Philip and Adam Frisby of OpenSim and Deep Grid about the future of the open source projects, how they will effect virtual economies, and protecting virtual assets.

Funny enough, I actually have a short video of some of this. Somehow the camera got switched to movie mode instead of picture mode, so I inadvertently captured about 50 seconds of the Virtual Worlds 2008 – Open Source Virtual Worlds panel as I fumbled about trying to figure out why the darn flash wasn’t going off. The first segment is part of the demo of Sun’s Project Wonderland, unidentified speaker #2, Philip Rosedale of Linden Lab is speaker #3, Zha Ewry of the Architectural Working Group is #4 (I think), and Adam Frisby of Open Sim is speaker #5.

I don’t know if you can tell by those clips how much energy was in that conversation, but it was the only time outside of the private conversations with friends that the trip to New York felt _worth it_ to me. It was exciting to hear evidence of the debates that must be raging between all these developers, enthusiasts, professionals, and geeks about how exactly these virtual worlds will be implemented. One step at a time for each project, but so many projects and worlds being developed simultaneously, that it’s hard to wrap your mind around just how much work is taking place behind the scenes already, and we’re just in the first few seconds of this Brave New World.

But even then, in the bit of excitement and hope and positive energy I felt at the end, there was reason to feel the Big Chill that permeated the expo for me. Prokofy has often spoken of the dangers we face in these early days of virtual worlds and metaverse dreams and in the excited voices of these boys and men, I heard the architects of my worlds talking of code that is literally transformed into law WITHIN the worlds regardless of what the law might say OUTSIDE the world – I can not give someone a no copy, no transfer object in Second Life under any circumstance because the law of the code prevents me from doing so – and I wondered who was talking with them about the _social and cultural_ implications of their decisions. Even I, one who has just spent the last two years almost entirely devoted to exploring virtual worlds, could barely follow the conversation and technical jargon to grasp at what the outcome of their debate might mean to me, or to a professor, or a university.

In the end I’m not sure what to make of it all. I was very very glad to see my friends and there were bright spots in those few days, but I came back to overflowing inboxes with seemingly hundreds of requests for information or speaking engagements or workshops about Second Life and I can’t help but see them all in a new, far more cynical light. I think Virtual Worlds 2008 ended my Virtual Worlds Honeymoon, and that makes me sad indeed. I already feel that I’ve been working my tail off but I guess now is the time when we must really roll up our sleeves, figure out how to make these virtual worlds work, technically and socially, smush them into the Metaverse we dreamt of, still lead a balanced Real Life, make it financially worthwhile without selling out our souls to MTV, and continue to work on figuring out how these virtual worlds can make our real one a better place, for ourselves AND our kids, who hopefully will be learning more than just better brand loyalty in the worlds we create.

We have a _lot_ of work to do.

Apr 08

Unedited notes from Congressional Subcommittee hearing on Virtual Worlds (updated)

Rep. Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life

Representative Ed Markey presides over the virtual hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Update: Alan Levine at the New Media Consortium’s site just posted an audio link of the hearing. Thanks Alan!


Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium
Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Hearing
9:30 a.m. in room 2123 Rayburn House Office Building

Witness List

Larry Johnson (SL: Larry Pixel) of the New Media Consortium’s statement: Mr. Pixel Goes to Washington

Rik Riel watches the virtual hearing in Second Life

Rik Riel watches Philip Rosedale testifying before Congress at the virtual reproduction of the hearing in Second Life. Photo courtesy Rik Riel.

Unedited notes (also un-spellchecked!):

Stearns, FL

– Will be highly regulated, highly competitive worlds
– Some believe will be the future of the internet
– Will be used in innovative ways, can be used as a storefront for real or virtual goods
– SL must protect its users without over regulation

Harman, CA

– Can be used for language training,
– Downside, mention crime and terrorism, press reports say that terrorists are using for online communities
– Should NOT cause us to advocate censorship, but a clear understanding of the potential of virtual worlds is essential for helping us understanding trends in terrorism

Missed this fellow’s name

– Have two teenage sons, they play in a virtual reality game called Runescape
– Word comes from Hindu word for gods, don’t think we’re gods

Eshoo, CA

– Can’t help but think of the phrase “Get a Life” and now we have a Second Life
– The possibilities seem to be endless, transformative nature of the tech allows individuals to connect in new ways, universities creating new ways for students to collaborate and create new environments, businesses using to
– Memorial created for Virginia Tech, created a place for anyone to leave a candle
– Taps into human beings need to connect, there are fun and serious applications


– Universities and business
– How is the industry ensuring children are protected online? In 2006 held 9 days of hearings on online child safety, nearly 1 in 5 children reported a sexual solicitation on the internet, the anonymity provided by the net and the lightning pace they can change identities to elude law enforcement
– Concerns about addictive nature of these applications

Green (?)

– Philanthropic, universities, etc. Today dozens of elected officials use virtual worlds, in the area of education, University of Houston created entrepreneurial classes to create virtual shops and practice virtual shopkeepers,
– None of these uses are possible without high speed broadband, encourage to continue supporting infrastructure to foster continued innovation

Doyle, PA

– SL isn’t the only virtual world, not the only one with avatars. We have lots of lives
– Autistics.org using online platforms to connect, ability for autism and aspergers

Rosedale, Linden Lab

– Virtual worlds fundamentally altering the way people and organizations are using the internet and changing the nature of communication itself.
– We believe we’re creating a part of the evolution of the internet as a new platform with vast scientific, educational, and commercial potential.
– About 900k used SL in the last month, at any one time 50-60k logged in together
– Servers support 390 square miles of virtual land, 6x the area of DC
– Why does this all matter? Virtual worlds hold great promise for america and our ability to compete globally, as well as how we can work despite geographical distance. Can work together as if you are together. (Voice, IM, chat)
– By making this kind of environment widely accessible, reduce communication cost, increase personal productivity tend to occur exponentially, think it is vital to American interests to lead the charge

Susan Tenby, TechSoup

– Non profits in SL – Second Life helps non-profits engage their communities, revolutionize the way people connect, work, and create.. allows users
– Philanthropic organizations leading the charge
– The Non-Profit commons, mixed reality events, feeding live audio and video into and out of virtual world, connecting the virtual world and

Colum Paris, IBM

– Entered a new era of internet technology, what we call the 3D internet, increase individual and team capacity
– Working with enterprise and government to unlock the business potential of these environments
– Emerging applications can be grouped into commerce, collaboration, training, and product and service management
– Enhanced pre-sale activities such as modeling a kitchen renovation can increase customer satisfaction
– Allow remotely distributed teams to develop and better communicate their needs and reduce speed to market
– The learning effectiveness of simulated environments and shared space

– Widespead adoption hinges on – improving the experience, improving infrastructure, and creating interoperability
– Avoid undue restrictions, allowing private innovation to continue with minimal regulation

Larry Johnson, NMC

[Phone call, missed parts of this]

Question to Rosedale: 70% of the users are outside the US, is there a correlation between the availability of high speed access overseas and its high growth overseas?

Rosedale: Yes, as you suggest the rate of growth of those users within dif marketplaces related to the pervasiveness of broadband and the kind of computers required to run SL, for example in Japan where broadband is universal in urban areas, broadband and 3D computing and social virtual worlds to be used.

What sorts of transactions raise red flags?

A: When users wish to convert SL currency to local currency, anything over $10, patterns of use that are relatively easy with appropriate software and systems, what looks like routine transactions. relatively easy to spot larger transactions, fraud rate on the billing systems a fraction of a percentage.02% thinkw e can act as a model of the type of fraud systems to keep virtual world transactions legitimate

Fraud protection for consumers?

[Had another phone call, missed the rest, sorry! Hope the archive will be available somewhere, will post when I find it.]

Mar 08

Metanomics, Richard Bartle, Prokofy, Economics, Politics, & Virtual Worlds

I am cross-posting a comment I just made on a 400+ thread at the broken toys blog because I think buried in a bunch of really ugly muck is an extremely interesting question, and I’d rather participate in a conversation that is moderated.

The background of this very extensive conversation can be found here:

* Professor Robert Bloomfield‘s interview of game legend Richard Bartle on the weekly Metanomics show in Second Life on March 10, 2008.

* Prokofy Neva’s initial response to the interview, “Busting the Backchat” on the Second Thoughts blog.

* The 400+ comment thread that occurred as a result of broken toy’s response to Prokofy.

My cross-posted comment:

Scott Jennings: You are not an idiot, but you have most certainly done a terrible job of moderating this thread.

Prokofy: This is the key for me, “..ponder what it means for the poor Chinese boys of the world to be game-golding in WOW and being punishment (sic), even with threat of real-life prosecution, and the transfer of wealth this indicates, and the turfing out of games everywhere of poor people who grab at the big online economy to try to advance themselves.”

This is where my previous experience as a “geek gamer grrrl” begins to look like what it was – child’s play. And there are many more playing, and that play can be very beneficial and can and should be, for want of a better word, protected. The social activity occurring in many game worlds is all about learning to socialize, learning to lead, learning to cooperate, learning to think and strategize – and by being bound by the rules of the game, there is a structure enforced upon this play that I believe helps guide it. Having centralized goals, “kill the dragon, get the sword,” enables and drives the building of real community (admittedly a word that I think means different things to you and I, but bear with me here) because without a common purpose there would be none and for many players (not residents, or citizens, or consumers, or workers, or gold-farmers) it is their first experience with having a real influence on a real community. I think of many guilds and many other online communities as a social good, in political terms, they’re beginning to replace some parts of the civic culture that is so crucial to democracy, a civic culture that at least in American society is dying out – think bowling leagues and card party circles and even church circles.

Now to your greater point, yes, it is certainly true that the privilege to play a game is one not shared by all. The hypothetical “Chinese boys” that I imagine in the context of your statement do not have the luxury to play any other game than the Game of Life, eat or be eaten, do what one must or can to fill the belly. Poverty and extreme deprivation are very, very real and at the crux of whatever else I may disagree with you about, I do agree with you on this point – when the “game” enjoyed by “players” in developed nations starts enforcing the “game” rules with real world imprisonment (because it hurts their bottom line), then it is no longer just a “game” at all. It is something else, no matter how badly the “players” wish it were just a safe game to play. It is a business, it is an economic force, it is or can be a society. It can be many things but it cannot be “just” a game. You don’t go to jail for breaking the rules of a football game, you go to jail for breaking the rules of a state. When selling your sword on ebay might land you in jail, and when the sword, or more accurately the labor to get the sword is worth more than the labor to do something else, we’re not talking about _games_ any more.

I don’t know the answer to this question you raised, but it is a terribly important one and I do sincerely laud you for asking it. I’ll be thinking about it perhaps for the rest of my life, both real and virtual.

To Richard Bartle and the other posters of this forum: Diatribes and invectives and hurled insults aside, you should have a conscience that is offended by at least parts of the paradigm you’re engaged in. I mudded, I played MMO(RPGs), I experienced the wonder, the joy, the pure unadulterated _fun_ that is perhaps uniquely to be found in game worlds. I even fell in love with all the exuberance of every dumb game wedding you’ve ever heard about, crashed, or took part in (I was 19, after all, and found my soul mate, what’s a girl to do but marry the guy on Mahn Tor where we met, whether it exists “for real” or not? And I only mention this as proof of my street cred and/or youthful immersion, as it were).

It was fun and I loved it. But I’m also very aware that it was a privilege, and one that I can still enjoy from time to time, but when I’m not playing in it, I’m learning and working in the real world to make it so that others can have that privilege to play. Your sword is not worth more than another person’s ability to feed herself, is it? You can ignore the larger questions, you can have your fun, but if you have a social conscience, you really should be thinking about the larger questions, and seeking answers to them.

It is NOT just a question of whether RMT suits your “playstyle” or not, it’s that RMT in an economy as large as that of WOW’s, that Neil cites as a “fast forward to get over the boring parts”, can also be a fast forward to “making a better living than my geopolitical location otherwise allows me”. The latter is what “gold farming” is for some, or MOST IMPORTANTLY – WHAT IT MAY POTENTIALLY BE as virtual worlds AND game worlds continue to evolve – and you simply cannot trivialize and dismiss that.

For the tl;dr crowd, my final point: If you’re really a gamer, like really? Then you’ve done your share of grinding and in your heart of hearts, some of it felt like _work_. Like real world boring ass work. Like this sucks work. Now ask yourself how you could be better spending that time. In real space or virtual. Time is short, life is short, and grinding is for the birds. There are better things to do with your life.

I am cross-posting this to my own blog and I _will_ be doing a better job of moderating any comments that may come in, so be forewarned. If you’d like to carry on a conversation and exploration of this topic, feel free to join me there.

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.

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.