Sunday, 30 September 2007

Low prim, high prim

Houses bought: 3 (good); Student rooms created: 4 (good); Fairy wonderlands created: 1 (good); Alts with unspellable names created: 1 (good); Hours spent in SL: lots (bad)

Have been spending so much time in SL, there's been no time to blog. Lots to report in future posts. Am preparing stuff for the island, should Lindens ever deign to deliver it, and/or answer any of my emails/ tickets etc.

Have seen that it is recommended you create an alternative avatar to whom you give stuff you create so if all goes pear shaped with own avatar there is a backup. Intended to create one with sensible name. However saw that Shostakovich was available as surname, and as am fan of music of Dmitri S, could not resist creating Dimitrova Shostakovich. Bad idea as even I misspell this name when logging into SL.

Also although intention was to spend v. little time inevitably she takes own life of own. Have decided that she will survive with only judicious handouts from self. Set her up with elegant new hair and skin but otherwise seeking free and cheap options. Thus have developed new blog: Low prim living with style at Above you see Dimitrova in a more artistic moment at ISTE and in 2nd pic self hovering outside the the Insect House which will be a small breakout room on the island and is currently above my place, Cove. Am wearing cute bear backpack and Intelligent prim dress from Nyte 'n Day (v. good, I may say).

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Visit, look North

Visits to other teachers: 1 (v. good); New skills learned: 2, joining land and selling land (good)

Had heard North Lamar talk at CITASA conf about the Educators Coop island he runs, and then met him at the SL conference. We IMed each other in friendly fashion when we realised we were both in information Departments. This week I IMed him to suggest meeting.

After small concern about time of meeting (time zones are v. confusing and he lives somewhere in USA) he offered me a teleport. In particular was interested in the class he is running, in which a good deal of teaching and learning happens in SL. Curiously (or not) it has the same module code (inf315) as one of our modules here. North is a doctoral student and tutor at a US university and also does consultancy which is where running his own islands also comes in.

His module is in fact focused on virtual worlds, so is more obvious rationale for using SL than for my semester 1 class. There are (I think he said) about 20 students. I arrived near the sandbox area, then teleported down to the beachfront. There was an attractive block of flats which were the students' residences. In front of that there was a display of benches: each student had just had to build one as a SL task.

The use of the students' flats was v. nice. Each student had to tell the story of his/her life by arranging and assembling. See last pic for one example, Another student had been a pro surfer and his room had water all over it, plus pics of him and surfing friends etc. I had already intended to give each 1st year student a basic room to name and occupy and customise, but hadn't thought of giving a purpose to the customisation. Is obviously good idea. Would really have to focus task around their lives and information ... need to think about that.

North's students get marks for blogging each week and for the SL tasks, as well as a project. It all sounded v. good. I said a bit about our 1st year classes and my Dept. From what North said it sounds like there are fewer information studies faculty teaching in SL than had thought, though perhaps more will pop up this year.

North has meetings on education for his tenants in the Educators' Coop island. I gave him a notecard about the CILR meetings. Altogether a good visit and we plan to meet again.

Afterwards celebrated by learning how to join adjacent pieces of my own land together (for no particular reason, really) and selling off a small piece of land - or at least putting up for sale to next door neighbour who said was interested.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Princeton, visitor

Visitors's to Cove: 1 (good); Concerts attended: 1 (good)
Heard from Ishbel who agreed to come over for a little so I could show her some features of new home e.g. sky house. Whilst talking to her, fell off it. Rather long way to ground. One rather obvious drawback to sky houses.

After this should have packed up SL for night but had been in middle of exploring some prefab houses on another sim when Ishbel called, so returned there and one thing led to another.

Managed to resist sofa in form of giant ginger cat with waving tail. Did buy cheap swimsuit as only freebies so far have been rather skimy bikinis and reluctant to invest in beach wear. Whilst trying to decide whether to buy a railway (not, at present, I think) got IM about opening of Princeton University sim, with concert from AldoManutio Abruzzo.

Despite lateness of hour teleported in. To begin with was grey lumpy problem that occurs when many avatars gather on one sim. Misleadingly, one often seems to look OK to oneself.

However, things settled downand could enjoy music. In particular was haunting to listen to music whilst watching pulsating sculpture outside (see pic). Is v. useful that can zoom in and out of buildings with camera.
After concert looked round art installations and dropped itno Princeton shop where has usual selection of t-shirts, leather jackets and baseball caps.
On another note have become increasinly concerned that have a newbie walk. Have bought Walk animation and now just have to work out how to use it.

More stuff

No of hot tubs in inventory: 4 (bad); No of swings or hammocks owned: 4 (bad); No. of unused houses in inventory: 2 (I think; bad)

Have been keeping fairly quiet about new and profligate purchase of land in different sim to Japanese garden. Discovered beachside cove in new area, became v. excited and next thing had gone up another land level. Have decided that SL is major hobby and therefore OK. Not sure if this holds water.

Anyway, much enjoyment in landscaping grounds, planting etc etc. Will feature different parts in future posts.

Result of current shopping spree was yet another hot tub, this one with 14 (!!) poses integrated into structure including Reading, Daydreaming etc. One prob with hot tubs is no. of couple poses (e.g. Cuddle M and Cuddle F to name more innocuous ones), which sometimes entirely dominate Pose Count & would be unsuitable for planned Hot Tub Break Out room on island for students.

Made artful underwater garden and put up new swing, which (unlike hammock it replaced) does not actually swing but is v. pretty nevertheless.

Finally in search for Large Boulders (for Island rather than own land) came across whole Japanese skyhouse for 500 Linden. Prim count is v. large but at present have prim capacity so purchased and zoomed it into air. Main idea this this was also for future Island, but once it was in air decided it was v. cute and enabled one to say hello sky hello clouds.
Includes hot tub, meditation pad, wind chime, Tori gate, 2 small rooms and lots of rocks and steam.
Will definitely not leave it there permanently as for one thing spoils view from big house at back of land. However in short term is yet another busy feature and potential hot tub.

Mitsy and I discuss information literacy

No. of discussions scheduled on information literacy: 1 (good); No. of people arriving for discussion: 0 (bad); No. of objects bought in aftermath of non-discussion to cheer self up: 17 (bad)

Today was scheduled to be discussion of information literacy in different disciplines. Made usual preparations:
- Created informative noteboard;
- Created large poster which invited people to click to get noteboard;
- Arranged October meetings for future IL discussions and created noteboard;
- Updated "Forthcoming meetings" notices with noteboard;
- Created large poster reminding people that meeting started 30 mins later than originally scheduled;
- Rearranged chairs;
- Removed antelope to make more room;
- Bought festive pumpkins and arranged decoratively.
Also bought new black forest gateau from Divivity but decided that cinnamon buns would still do as not many people saw them at last meeting.

Was in bit of rush immediately before meeting. Had come from committee of which am new member. This is university-level body which has uber-role for approving documentation for new programmes and is called the Programmes Sub-Committee. As can be imagined is v. exciting and requires ability to comment on whether e.g. information supplied section 21 on Form R is compliant with requirements, and congruent with statements in section 18 on the Programme Specification. Was recommended for this committee, so don't know what says about self. Still, shows that do not spend entire time choosing necklaces and hot tubs in SL.
Anyway, rushed back, went inworld and was relieved to see no-one had arrived yet. Did final adjustments to chairs, recentred Mitsy (Set Cat Range Very Small). And waited.
At start time (08.30 SL time) became rather anxious. All that could be heard was Mitsy's yowling, the rattle of the wind chime and the seagull's mournful cry. Ate cinnamon bun to calm self.

By 08.50 had decided that no-one was coming except me and Mitsy the cat. Was in some ways a relief after long day (also deputised for Head of Dept in welcoming postgrads to Dept and chatted to people at Welcome Lunch). Have consoled self that is v.v.v. bad time of year for UK librarians, namely intro (freshers') week, or, in some unis, week 1.

One of discussion questions was " As you can see this issue is interesting to me! Do you think it is worth having a conference in SL about this topic? It could have posters and notecards about IL classes/initiatives in particular disciplines, perhaps some breakout/feedback sessions to discuss issues to do with specific disciplines. It might also be possible to attract people who are interested in researching information behaviour (information seeking etc.) in particular disciplines, and faculty in different disciplines who are in SL. I was thinking about something in 2008."
On face of it, plain answer to this is "no" since people could not even be bothered to turn up to short discussion. However am reluctant to believe this so will still float idea.
After tidying office, decide to console self with spending spree. Found nice shop where photographed self with book-reading pillow & bought that plus other items which will describe in next post, and also decided to buy stuff to put on ocean floor. Found v. cheap rocks, free weed and also 10 goldfish for 50 Linden.
Have done sensible post with list of some resouces on information literacy & disciplines here.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Discussion on search and shopping

Meetings in CILR office = 1 (good)

Realise with embarrassment that after Centre for Information Literacy Research discussion in SL on Tuesday, about Useful information sources and strategies for learning about how & where to shop:
1) Uploaded chat transcript to dinky Leeds met application
2) Updated notecards in office
3) Changed hover script of next meeting to 25 September
4) IMed the IL Group and Academic Avatars group with info on location of transcript
5) Tidied up pics of session
but failed to blog it. Oops. V. bad.

Anyway, after anxious start when thought no-one but me and Ishbel would be there (see 2nd pic) some more people turned up including repeat visitors. Had given "everyday information seeking" spin to talk, so feared that had put of fashionistas whilst serious folks would think shopping beneath them.

Anyhow, interesting talk ensued, exploring inadequacies of SL search once more. Talked about some "work round" strategies, and also how people used blogs and other web sources - on the whole more than asking advice of other people. Ended with sharing thoughts on challenges of shopping esp. for slightly scarey things like skins.

Transcript is at

I realise I am a metaverse evangalist

Meetings on SL attended in RL: 1 (good); Healthy food consumed = 1 apple and 1 handful of undidentified green matter decorating sandwiches (good); Unhealthy food consumed = sandwiches, biscuits, cake, coffee (bad); Handbags not bought = 1 (good, I suppose).

Yesterday attended meeting in London organised by landlords (i.e. Eduserv ;-) and the CETIS project at Strathclyde Uni. Once had hauled RL self out of bed and onto early train, traced venue at end of lane off Theobalds Road, and picked up biscuits (type = ordinary) to sustain self through rest of morning, was hey ho for sitting listening to people.

The RL version of Art Fossett gave totally awesome short roundup of what SL is about. His ppt slides each had pic of Art, in a different t-shirt in each pic to illustrate points. He said he had thought of doing this by showing Art changing t-shirt each time in SL. V. nice idea but pondered that might be dodgier for self as is something intrinsically tacky about watching female avatar changing into a series of t-shirts, even if had demour cami on in vest layer.
Presentations will be loaded by CETIS shortly, in meantime there are posters at and also displayed on Eduserv Island inworld. Two which appealed most immediately were Theatron 3 and a project at the Institute for Education which is looking more at the social side of SL through qualitative research. Theatron 3 is crafting detailed (and prim heavy) recreations of theatres in SL (after a successful 3-D web project). Is interesting for numerous groups - historians, theatre studies etc etc plus tourism-type appeal plus use as performance space (and would imagine for, as in RL, corporate entertaining in RL, can imagine Bill Gates' avatar swanning in for product launch). Also raises information management issues.

At lunchtime (sandwiches = reasonable; fruit = good) was able to pop into SL to show someone my office. Had already got v. excited at glimpse of it in background as Art was showing people round Eduserv Island.

After the 2 afternoon presentations had coffee (= standard institutional) and cake (= good) and then a one hour discussion. Was debate about whether what SL offered to educators was new or not. Some felt was not much advance over chat, but most (I think) disagreed and felt it gave more. General feeling that do need to identify what is uniquely effective/ useful about educating in SL. At moment little research on impact of SL: hope this strand of things doesn't get lured down a meaningless quantitative quest.

Was also disagreement about whether should ever REQUIRE students to go into SL. Personally feel that if it is educationally meaningful, aligned with LT&A etc. etc. then is much like any other activity (seminar, lecture, lab, whatever) - everyone should have to do it. Art quoted someone's opinion that 1 in 10 people "get" SL. However, I pointed out that often students don't "get" lectures either, and that doesn't stop us forcing them to do them (or at least timetabling them, which is by no means the same thing as getting students to attend...)

Anyway was at this point that realised that in 3 short months have moved from academic who curled lip in sneering fashion when speaker (at May Eduserv symposium) said he was a metaverse evangalist, to being a metaverse evangelist myself. Unfortunately job title is still Senior Lecturer, so fear will either have to curb metaverse tendencies before take over whole life, or change jobs.

One speaker said how a fave thing was dressing up in SL and taking posters of self (ie avatar) which was reassuring. On way back to St Pancras was also reminded of shopping in that passed shop selling exquisite leather handbags with tasteful flower appliques. However, cost £350 rather than 350 Linden, so sighed and walked by.
Did not take any pics of RL event, therefore have included photos of 1st home, i.e. Japanese tea garden. NB last pic is me splashing water dreamily (i.e. with pose ball DAYDREAMING placed artfully on stone), and in entirely innocent fashion. 2nd last was taken (intentionally) at night, so is meant to be dim. As usual, click on thumbnails to see full size.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Presentation, pirates

Hours SL down today: 4 (bad); Presentations attended: 1 (good)

SL down for maintenance today so had to content self with browsing SL fashion sites on the web and bookmarking for future use. Actually not v. much in future as when it came back online headed straight for shops and snapped up a coat, a jacket, a freebie necklace and 2 outfits in black and white which go with my new house.

Ishbel had told me there was a presentation at 10 pm UK time on information literacy, so headed over to Cybrary City, wearing yesterday's new purchase, a poncho with flowers, together with trousers from the Cossack suit and one of the tops from todays outfits. I say this as there were rather a lot of slides which took a while to come into focus.

Therefore I spent some time looking at other people's clothes and shoes, pondering on my new purchases, and trying on different glasses. There is a more sensible post about this talk on my information literacy blog at
Everything was recorded etc. so can peruse at my leisure.

Ishbel was in pirate outfit (see first picture): it appears to be international pirate day.

After chatting to her, buttonholed Abby Zenith and gave her notecard about next CILR discussion. She offered Friendship and I accepted. After that, home, and a quick trip in the swan boat which ended unfortunately with boat disappearing into thin air once it hit someone else's water. This was just after had been greeted by new neighbour who also offered Friendship. Am I getting too many Friends?? I had just told her how restful swanboating was. Oh well.

Gardens, Castles, Roses

No. of castles built by neighbours whilst away: 2 (bad and good); Rose pathways installed: 1 (good); Enquiries from neighbours: 1 (bad)

When returned was amazed to find immense castle on plot that would have completed last square of Japanese garden. Someone else's castle, obviously. V. bad, however at least castle is not as offensive to eye as some of the concrete barns around. Lot of neighbouring land also bought up by another group who have put in castle (in background of first pic), formal garden and large tree so actually OK. Only blight is that one of these neighbours sent IM in which asked why my houses are up in the air and why I had the red (no entry) lines up.

Answer to "why are houses up in air" question is of course "why not?" Also red lines bit seems pretty self evident however do not wish to feud with neighbours so attempted to give pleasant reply.

Have been fine adding a few embellishments to garden so prim count creeps up again. However has not yet got to antelope removal stage (have 4 antelopes positioned in park-like effect but removing them restores 60 prims at a stroke).

In particular created pathway out of rambling roses from Tori gate to airbourne house. Originally roses (from the Heart garden centre) were had the Phantom box ticked so that you cou walk through them. Unticked this so it makes a solid path which is quite cute IMHO. I am standing on it in 2nd photo.

Cats again

No. of days with no SL access: 8 (bad); No. of PAGES of emails received from SL Educators list whilst away with sick relative: 15 (v. bad); Fragments of virtual cat discovered underwater: many (v.v.bad)
Have been away suffering SL deprivation. Realise that am addicted, but have decided to embrace SL addiction in positive and welcoming spirit so celebrated by buying land, houses etc. of which more in future posts.

However will start this post with next episode in Odd Creatures saga. Overshot CILR office and plunged into neighbouring sea on return, and whilst admiring Art's underwater gardening (plants and I think fish) noticed strange small round object that when clicked had Sheila Yoshikawa as owner.
As got closer realised round object had catty eyes and nose and indeed was possibly emitted mewing sound. Yes, it was a fragment of Mitsy and when walked further from land saw that were numerous dismembered Mitsys floating about in manner than can only be described as Spooky.

Evidently when she escapes from the office she falls to her doom in the sea.
Deleted some of them but not all as decided that Harumi and Ishbel might find sight curious and interesting. Not in ghoulish way at all, naturally.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Errant animals

Rabbits escaping: 1 (bad); No. of rabbits found in pond: 1 (good, unexpectedly); No. of antelope in office: 1 (good)

Got new idea for water feature, namely underwater animals. Had left rabbit animating to itself on new house at top of hill. When returned next day, bunny no longer there. Expected that would find it in Lost and Found inventory (together with the 3 giant birds that had tried to rez in Abo Akademi without success. Evidently was same problem I had ie lack of prim space, so when freed up the birds presumably whooshed into life and then whooshed into Lost and Found. Must have been pretty startling for someone when the things actually appeared.)

Anyway, went down hill to admire pool and lo! the rabbit was hopping about at the bottom, quite content under water. As pool quite deep the rabbit couldn't get out and after teasing it for a bit decided that was where it could stay. Tried putting antelope in as well but that just lay on side looking reproachful so TOOK it (or more precisely tried to TAKE it and TOOK the water it was in instead and had to manoeuvre same back into position and then felt less compunction about putting it out of its misery i.e. DELETE).

Also seen here is a picture of me playing with animated creatures in office. Mitsy the cat was not impressed. Left antelope there with Mitsy but in end am having to tell it to stay immobile as when set antelope to WANDER it inevitably ends up scrabbling in a corner and then off the land altogether.

Have visions of wild rabbits, antelope and chocabos running free in the new island. Rabbits don't exactly run, in fact, more hobble in circles. Except Pool Rabbit must have run down that hill.

Had late night visit from Citril and Ishbel which was nice, though with all those seats we still ended up chatting standing outside the house, as you do.

Librarians in SL

Discussions held in Centre: 1 (good); Successful discussions held in Centre: 1 (v. good); People attending: 10 plus lurkers in RL (good)
On Tuesday 4th September Maggie Kohime (Lyn from Sheffield University Library in RL) led a discussion in the Centre for Information Literacy Research, Eduserv Island. The full title was How should Librarians present themselves in Second Life, or Facebook, My Space or other social networking tools, with a professional or a personal face?
The transcript is online split into two parts at and
10 people were there (including us) and the debate was lively (i.e. a good deal of parallel conversations going on). However they were interesting parallel conversations, and Maggie did a good job of leading and summarising. And certainly better than 10 avatars sitting in a ring with AWAY over their heads, as is nightmare of discussion organisers (well, actual nightmare is, say 3 people turning up and all 3 disappearing in puff of smoke after 5 minutes - or 50 avatars turning up and you can't get them all on the island. But silent fidgety avatars is pretty bad).
Anyway there was none of that at this session and a range of issues got discussed. In our group some had alternative avatars for different occasions though more did not. (Some) people were buying clothes, but not so much playing with appearance.
The discussion raised questions about the librarians' role - why they are there - and also the "conservative nature of some students and staff inc. expectations that you should look "normal". Towards the end there was mention of intellectual property, liability issues etc. and I have flagged that up as a future topic.
Is there an equivalent of the RL stereotype of bun and glasses, or of "smart casual". It seemed like there did seem to be norms emerging, though not exactly the same as in RL.
Maggie provided some questions for discussion:
1. How do you decide on how you want your avatar to appear?
2. How many of us recreate ourselves as closely as possible in Second Life, make ourselves look how we would wish to look in RL or even have a different looking avatar for different days of the week? (Amdahl, 2006)
3. Do we need to label who we are? (e.g. "Librarian" - opinion was divided - or, rather, it seemed to depend on the context)4. If our students become our ‘friends’ within the social networking environments how do we keep our professional and our social lives separate?
5. How do we ensure privacy and confidentiality as we start to develop an academic virtual world?
Things which seemed to work: 1) Having a notecard prepared for people (again); 2) Having 2 people involved, so one can concentrate on facilitating and the other on helping people; 3) Planning for what to do if too many people turn up (we were going to go to the Eduserv conference centre, had the teleport link all ready).
And after the meeting I tidied up and played with the rabbits.

New view

Pictures taken of new house and garden: many (bad)

Here is example looking down to teahouse. With all the activity in the area (prims, night clubs etc.) is getting a bit laggy and thus rather stripey nature of grass.
Also view of larger house from the Tori (red archway).

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

More land, neighbours, money

Land bought: 1024 sq (bad, in a good way); Night clubs erected by neighbours (v. bad); Tents erected by neighbours: 1 (good); Houses bought: 3 (but they are so cheap!)

Have been trying to ration SL which of course means that as soon as get in have mad splurge. Also have had legitimate reason for being in SL, namely that had discussion in office. However will keep this brief post to more weighty matters.

Giant plank in next door garden turned into tent wittily created from cardboard box plus neighbour planted extra trees so OK there. However neighbour towards sea has built night club, in enormous box with revolving neon sign. Dreadful!

Have responded by buying up surrounding land as if no tomorrow. Planted trees and purchased assorted tea houses which in due course will illustrate here in loving detail. With extra land (and land means prims) have been able to exercise antelopes and animated rabbits freely.
However had to put down herd of antelopes in order to use enormous flying creature that hatched from free egg found at same place where bought antelope (see 3rd photo). With both antelope and rabbits turns out can clone them infinitely so a few culled is neither here nor there.

All this means that am spending less on clothes, which suppose is good thing. Although picked up v. good cheap yukata (light summer kimono) whilst shopping for tatami mats (Harumi and I are wearing them in 2nd photo. The yukata that is. Whilst standing on tatami mats.).

Final pic shows Citril on my duck-ride (i.e. duck that you are supposed to put in water but oh-so-amusingly have placed it 23ft above ground so is like fairground ride as moves backwards and forwards.) Citril dropped in whilst was preparing office for discussion which Maggie Kohime was leading today. Citril is now journalist for new SL freezine, namely Freelife

The blog of Sheila Yoshikawa on her adventures in Second Life. This may be very thrilling. Or possibly not.