web accessability and more

The semester will start proper next week and there was quite a bit going on in the lab today. There was a short course on ‘how does a computer work’, a discussion of how to do streamed material in Second Life, and a presentation of a web accessability project.

Ru och Haishu, interaction designers, presented their work on web accessability (including background a plan) in relation to a project we work with together with Kulturverket. They did a very good job and it seemed as if there was a good discussion and a go-ahead.

It is good to see the new part of the lab work as well as it does. In this case they used two of the swivable pillar mounted screens and created a kind of presentation setting. We realized today of how few photos we have of the lab since we expanded it – we need to document stuff. I have a feeling there will be a great deal worth documenting this semester.

Introduction to Second Life

We will be using the virtual online social world Second Life in two campus courses this term in HUMlab. I have attended a few meetings and people are working hard preparing for the courses, one on museum studies and the other titled Digital Culture and Technique (Link in Swedish). In dealing with teachers from various departments outside HUMlab involved in the courses the familiarity and competency around Second Life is usually mixed. It will be a learning experience for everyone involved (myself definitely included) when we start using Second Life for teaching. For this reason I sent out a list of links that I compied in relation to the museum studies course that could be useful in starting a ‘second life’ in teaching. I post it here for anyone else who is interested. By no means is this a detailed introduction, just a few links to issues that have been raised in the meetings we have had so far in preparing for the courses.


Video Tutorials on Second Life

Video: How to use the building grid – Second Life Video TuTORial (Very Important in Group Projects)

Creating Second Life Content
At some point, the obvious question arises, how easy (or difficult) is it to create content in Second Life (SL). While your ability to answer that question will vary with the wind, if one truly wishes to explore the business potential of SL, it is a question that must be answered. Thus, here are a few tutorials /screencasts from the College of Education at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Resources for Second Life and Virtual Worlds – Central Wiki Service
This page is to be used as a resource for places to visit within Second Life, interesting videos, media and articles around Second Life and also interesting research articles around Second Life and Virtual Worlds. The resources listed are just a sample.

Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human

Journal of Virtual Worlds Research
The Journal of Virtual Worlds Research is an online, open access academic journal that adheres to the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere in the world.

The Role of Critical Thinking in Online Built Environments
At the beginning of the 21st. Century, all educators and all educational institutions, at all levels of education provision, are faced with the greatest time of possibility for change and evolution or stagnation and regression. Barker, 1978 in New York, stated that “action with vision can change the world” and the authors, based on their many years of experience working in both traditional and managed or virtual, E-Learning, lifelong-learning environments contend that the promotion of critical thinking is a key element in meaningful, responsible and soulful learning.

The Scientific Potential of Virtual Worlds (PDF)

Evaluating Cultural Learning in Virtual Environments. PhD thesis (PDF), University of Melbourne

Place Nation Space
The Second House of Sweden

Virtual Africa

Amsterdam in Second Life

Second Life Just Like The First

Education in Second Life
CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion (Harvard Law School)
The subject matter of the course is the creation and delivery of persuasive argument in the new integrated media space constituted by the Internet and other new technologies. Our premise is that “First World” and corporate domination of entertainment media, laws, and news can be balanced by the voices of individuals, groups and universities who use new media intelligently. We challenge students to attempt this themselves by choosing an issue of concern to them and using the media we study to make their case for change in the court of public opinion.

Kamimo Islands
Kamimo Islands is a collaborative effort by three universities to create a unique space for research, communication and socialization within Second Life.

Metamedia and Second Life (using blogs, video and wikis with Second Life)

SaLamander Wiki
SaLamander Wiki – a folksonomy of practical and theoretical applications, builds and designs in the Virtual World of Second Life for the purposes of teaching and learning. The Salamander Project is a collaborative project open to ANY Second Life educator and coordinated by staff at The Center for Advanced Technology in Education at the University of Oregon.

Virtual reality and higher education: Another perspective

Museums and/in Second Life
San Jose’s Tech Museum looks for virtual exhibits in Second Life

Ancient Spaces
Using the technology behind online video games, we want to help you discover, research and explore the ancient civilizations of Greece, Egypt, and the Americas. Do you want to converse with Socrates in the Agora? How about rebuilding the Pyramids, the Ziggurats, or the Temple of Jerusalem? Have you wondered what life would be like in an ancient First Nations village? Would you like to join Julius Caesar’s campaigns?

International Spaceflight Museum

Virtual Museum at Forum Europe

Star Track Museum of Science

The Tech Virtual Museum Workshop
Some Second Life projects from the Tech Virtual: http://thetechvirtual.org/projects/graduates/

Wish List for Art Museums in Second Life
We love Art, we love Museums, and we love Social Software. Logically, we should love the idea of art museums in Second Life (SL.). But until the moment, this is really more of a longing than a consequence of what this virtual environment is currently offering.
Although we adore the abstract idea of expanding the presence of art museums in all Social Software, we have the feeling that art museums in SL are facing basic problems of definition. So, for the sake of art museums -not only in SL but also in this first one- let us try to better focus their role in this virtual platform by starting a wish list that you can pass around to add more wishes.

Tinas Universum
A blog in Swedish by an artist who has worked with the Swedish embassy in Second Life and is very deeply involved with the community Swedish People in SL (linked to on the blog).

Second Life Library Project

The Electric Sheep Company

Odyssey: Performance and Art in Second Life
Anything relevant to art and performance in Second Life and/or the Odyssey community – this is where Odyssey links to the real world. Odyssey was founded by Pacino Hercules and Sugar Seville as a place where artists can explore the new virtual space called Second Life. The simulator hosts projects by individual artists and organizations. Odyssey is funded by Dynamis Corporation and managed by Sugar Seville.

New World Notes
Wagner James Au reports first-hand on the next generation of the Net– Second Life

New way to blog

I have just crossed the threshold from YouTube lurker to participant. Posting more comments, and letting a few videos trickle in, I have begun to see the tool a bit differently. Currently, I am playing with using video to blog as I would a text post. I really enjoy this medium – not in “the person talking to the camera” mode, rather juxtaposing images, sound, voice and thought. Just as in a blog post, you have to think through your argument (I actually write a script), but you get to invoke different emotions/senses/modes when using a variety of channels. My attempts are rudimentary at best, but just as my beginning blog posts were a process of finding out, so will my videos.

Here is last nights attempt. I watched the SVT Sport Opera/Flashmob and participated in the SMS part (which turned out to be only a ‘hello’ type of message – disappointed). I loved the creativity of combing opera and ballet and sport commentary, but feel that the Flashmob bits were more an attempt to draw in viewers than any real mob-like event. The opportunity for creative participation was lost.

The video below is more a comparison of professionally created and amateur flashmobs. While I do not believe that it is useful to assign value to one or the other, looking at how these different spheres use a Flashmob can tell us a lot about the act of remixing and how amateur ‘theft’ of content is now an obsolete way of conceptualizing content.


cross posted from here

Flickr, musuems and ‘stitching’

“Commons on Flickr – A report, some concepts and a FAW – the first 3 months from the Powerhouse Museum” (link from Bryan Alexander) is an interesting account of museum use of Flickr. PowerHouse uploaded a total of 600 photos (after 12 weeks).

In the first 4 weeks of the Commons we had more views of the photos than the same photos in the entirety of last year on our own website. It wasn’t as if we made the images on our own website all that hard to find – they were well indexed on our own site by Google, they were made available to the national federated image search/repository Picture Australia, and they also existed in our OPAC. Still, that was no match for Flickr […] The social norms and community behaviours that have emerged and are encouraged around image content in Flickr (as opposed to other photo sharing sites) enable historic photographic collections to become game entities.

There is a discussion of what people are doing – viewing, favouriting, friending, social commenting, tagging, image content tagging, content commenting, content embedding, content remixing and connecting. Some statistics: 103,000 views of the 600 photos uploaded, 2433 tags etc. Impressive figures and a useful discussion of priorities, gains and possible loss.

Another note on Flickr (and you may have seen this or an earlier version of it). I was impressed with PhotoSynth earlier (although even more impressed with the scale-driven browser which I would love to use for presentations), and here is a new example of what Microsoft Research and Washington University are doing together. This one is called Finding paths through the world’s photos (thanks Gabriel for the link, from Siggraph 2008).


The presentation is fairly technical but very visual. In a way, this is about creating as ‘realistic’ representations as possible in the computer – in my mind not always as interesting as some other uses of digital representation, but still interesting (not least in finding, merging and representing collective data) and very impressive.

the upcoming semester

It is still a little bit too early to do a comprehensive presentation of the fall semester of 2008 in HUMlab. A few points without going into too much detail at this point:

  • Five international postdoctoral and digital art fellows in the lab (and their respective departments)
  • Start-up a new regional project to work with new media industry (in a broad sense)
  • Conceptual and concrete work and planning in relation to HUMlab-X at the Creative Art Campus
  • A range of interesting seminar speakers – including Bonnie Nardi, Jenny Sundén and Mikael Wiberg
  • HUMlab courses, programs that will make use of HUMlab and our own digital culture technology class
  • Continuation of projects such as SEAD
  • Launch of our new streaming archive and live stream application (flash based)
  • Further colonization and experimentation in our Second Life world
  • Finish most installations in the new part of the lab

Earlier this summer we installed 7 new large full-HD screens in our new space and it is shaping up nicely. Quite a bit of work left to do though, but we are getting there.