Saturday, April 21, 2007

Learning more about machinima

In my quest to find out more how things are done on Second Life, I attended In Kenzo's meeting on machinima last night. I had a lot of trouble in the afternoon trying to find Amo Island. The Second Life search engines drive me crazy. I know something's there, but I never seem to hit the right search terms - and yes, I'm a librarian, so that's disturbing! - or perhaps the search engine is just flakey at times. It can't be ME, can it?? A message to SLED (the Second Life educators discussion list) indicated that the magic trick: Use the "map" button and then type in AMO - though I'm sure I'd tried that earlier in the day. Anyway... I did manage to make it to the location! and it was worth the trouble! I read some of the posters about machinima. Once more avatars arrived, In got a Skypecast going - and of course I mixed up the numbers at the end of my Skype ID since I don't use it very often and had to go look THAT up - and she proceeded gave us a lot of information in the space of an hour or so. We were encouraged to just go ahead and try recording some of the session. I was somewhat flummoxed by the inability to note if the Second Life onboard camera was off or on and managed to get NOTHING while we were in session, but went back later and managed to get a little clip of no merit, but it worked! And Windows Media Player was happy to bring up the resulting AVI file and play it! Ok!! ( P.S. One piece of info that seemed particularly useful: During filming, save the movie onto an external device.) Of course I don't have all the necessary tools - no editing software - and I gather that it would be nice if a copy of Camtesia would fall off a truck onto my computer - and and and - (sigh) - but I can see that you can do SOMETHING fairly easily even if it's not going to be the snazziest production on the block.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Best Practices in Education In Second Life

I stood around at an inworld meeting planning for the up-coming "Second Life International Conference: Best Practices in Teaching, Learning and Research" ( )(May 25, 2007). Desideria Stockton (SL name) and a few others spent a couple of hours organizing themselves and other volunteers into groups, discussing how to honor their sponsors, etc. What struck me (and why I stuck around even though I didn't have a specific role to play) was the amazing energy of this group of self-starters. I'm guessing that none of them went to an administrator asking for permission to spend their time on this conference. I'm guessing that they see this as an excellent way to spend their professional time and are in "Just Do It" mode. That's one of the nicest - and most unsung - attributes of Second Life educators/librarians/others: Dream up something that seems interesting and just go ahead and do it!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Meebo adventures

Our library decided to try to go with the flow and experiment with IM in place of the chat service we've been using from RightNow Technologies. We started our experiment this week with Meebo. Too early to tell if users are going to like it better, but from our end as agents it's been sooooo annoying it's unbelievable! It's been erratic: Sometimes it loads. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it likes Firefox. Sometimes it doesn't seem to want to load. Sometimes it likes IE ok. Sometimes it says we're offline when we aren't. We haven't got a way to tell each other if we're in the middle of a chat so that the next librarian can take over. We've taken to pretending we're the public and letting the librarian on duty know that the next person's ready to take over. We can't log on more than one of us as an agent at a time. Since there's no encouragement for users to leave us their email address, if a session gets dropped or we think of something to add to our answer after the session's over, there's no way to get back to the patron. There are no chat logs. There is no automatic way to keep statistics. Running Meebo as a sidebar in FireFox is sort of ok, but it's hard to make Meebo fit in that area very well. If more than one chat comes in, the little Meebo screens just topple over each other making it hard to switch back and forth. We don't have sound cards at the PCs at the Reference Desk so there is "beep" to let us know that someone wants to IM. Meebo doesn't pop up with a window so it is difficult to multitask and remember to watch the screen to see if someone wants to IM. We can't tell when users disconnect. THEN.... to add to the technical issues, we find that we are not doing well at IM. We're not fast enough. If we tell a patron to wait a minute and let us check on something for them, it turns out that they are often gone when we get back.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Second Life, New Media Consortium, Learning

The New Media Consortium has a number of islands on Second Life.