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ARE494 Final PowerPoint : Geoffrey Bruce

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ARE 494 598 Final PowerPoint

ARE 494 598 Final PowerPoint

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  • 1. Geoffrey Bruce - aka: virtualgeoffrey Professor: Dr. Mary Stokrocki - aka Marylou Goldrosen ARE 598:Digital Ethnography in Virtual Worlds - Spring 2014 A J o u r n e y T h r o u g h
  • 2. Ethnography is traditionally a fieldwork based research method or process used to create and understand new descriptive knowledge through exploring a culture or society from the point of view of the subject or group who is being studied. This observation is usually systemic in practice and can focus on the quality, type, or component of the group among other things. Relationships are created, cultivated and examined in order to better understand the overall facets of the society. (The Qualitative Report, 2010), (Stokrocki, 1997) Digital Ethnography in turn, is the study of the communities and cultures created through computer, new media, or digital based social interactions. This can include digital gaming, multi-user domain, cyber art, peer to peer networking, and on-line worlds such as Second Life. Thus, with these communities and sub cultures, a digital culture is both created and constantly evolving. Digital culture becomes “an emerging set of values, practices, and expectations regarding the way people (should) act and interact within the contemporary network society”. (p. 63) Collaborative principles: participation, remediation, and bricolage (Deuze, 2006). (Garber, 2004), (Keifer-Boyd, 2004), (Liao, 2007).
  • 3. Data collection Data collection is the process of gathering, collecting, and preparing information on items of interest, (or as it relates to Ethnography – social interactions and activities) in a reputable systematic manner that enables one to explore and test research questions and hypotheses. Digital data collection tools have enabled a grander and more expedient level of data gathering especially within virtual environments. Content analysis Content analysis is the method of sorting verified observational collected data into themes, patterns, or categories. In addition, discourse analysis can also be used, where a number of approaches to analyzing written, vocal, chat based, or text can be examined to understand a significant event. (Stokrocki, 2007) Comparative analysis Comparative analysis is the procedure used for analyzing data sets by evaluating the combinations of content or variables observed from the gathered data set, and then applying the rules of logical inference to determine which descriptive conclusions the data supports. In digital Ethnography this might include how similarities or differences are revealed as they relate to real world expectations or practices.
  • 4. Being new to Second Life, I chose an avatar with a similar visual representation as myself. Although certain aspects such as the hair color, style, and eye shape weren’t adjusted in fine detail, the overall appearance was analogous enough. The approximate six-foot avatar was causal and fit with a curious attitude and ready to informally and openly explore the ideas of SL without any preconceived expectations. My avatar wore a t-shirt that fit comfortably, comparable to one of my own real world running shirts and was stylized with a Second Life logo that can be described as simple yet supportive of the SL brand. A clean but slightly wore and somewhat loose fitting pair of jeans and tennis shoes made up the rest of my attire which felt appropriate enough to start my journey into SL. Avatar description Only later in my adventure did I change my ensemble to a spacesuit. Although it seemed clumsy at times, it felt representative of my exploration into the other worlds I came to experience in SL.
  • 5. As I explored the many locations of SL this past semester, including a number of the virtual museums and galleries, I noticed that so many of these places felt empty and lifeless. Some had that almost numb quiet whisper-less feeling similar to what you might find if you were the last human on Earth. This felt strangely odd especially in a place so richly designed and decorated with such meticulous attention to detail. There were other places that also had a peculiar sense of vacancy about them, perhaps one or two people sporadically doted the land but only to sway like robots while loud music echoed throughout the somewhat empty environment. More times than not, it felt like there should have been some form of virtual life in a number of these locations but unfortunately there just wasn’t. I believe that most everything created in this ‘real’ world we live in, whether intended or not, is art or at least artistic in design. Each of the ‘virtual locations’ in SL are no exception. Every ‘location’ is a gallery unto itself and is filled with detailed artistic components that make up that location. Every one of these locations was digitally designed and created for a purpose. I wanted at least one observational experience in SL to be in a location, gallery, or environment that would assist me in comparing first hand the complex relationships between social interactions, including the potential for learning at some capacity, as it compared between the real world and the virtual world. This particular observation did not need to be educational in nature but it did need to be a place where the technology was nearly transparent, allowing for an informal digital ethnographic observation of the compared culture. In order for this to happen, the fundamental aspect of life, in some form, needed to exist in abundance. The context of the location didn’t matter as much as the authentic and seamless integration of real world people into a virtual environment. Observational location description
  • 6. I found this observational experience during my visit to the Black Horse Country lodge during one of our class assignments. No, it didn’t have a Monet or Michelangelo on the wall but it was the one experience that truly felt as if the technology was transparent and the environment was full of life. The place felt almost … real. This country western style dance lodge was spacious, bright, airy, and very inviting. My first visual observation was the synchronized country western dancing of an array of people in the middle of the large main room. Life existed in abundance here. Everyone was in the same step and dressed with what you would expect to find at a local country western bar in the real world. Cowboy hats, boots, and short skirts peppered the dance floor. I was impressed with the level of detail in this building. Every time I visited this lodge, I noticed the décor felt so real that I could almost smell the exposed wood beams. The roomy hardwood floor sprawled out over most of the lodge and made you feel more comfortable the longer you waited and watched. I was truly amazed at how alive this place felt. It was not lonely or stale and it felt secure and comforting, exactly how I had hoped all the locations in SL should be. The music was current, modern and synced perfectly with the dance moves. The conversations were real and ample and at the same time friendly and genuine, with almost no difference from what would take place in a club in the real world. Even the mountainous environment outside the lodge, with the fenced lake and towering waterfalls still had a sense of life to it. It truly felt that if you stepped outside the lodge for some air, you would still feel only a stones throw away from this exiting and life filled location. Observational location description – Black Horse Lodge http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Black%20Horse%20Country/213/152/23
  • 7. The Art Box location is a geometrically simple and easily understood three story complex with so much of the complexity hidden within the users experience. Each gateway to these interactive exhibits are uniformly aligned throughout two of the floors. There is a slow relaxing jazz style music that plays in the background, which is neither bothersome nor intrusive. The large bold red instructional text contrasted against the while wall gives a feeling of an “airport hanger” and aids to th e scale of the room. However, there is one wall that is all glass and is open to the water. Through the center opening of this wall you can almost smell the ocean breeze. The simplistic manner in which the user interacts and becomes part of the interactive experience aids in the ease of immersion and consequently in the overall user experience. There is a fresh clean atmosphere that comes with this type of design and geometric material usage. I relate it to my experience inside Apple Computers headquarters in Cupertino CA which has a similar simplistic style and design. As a side note, if you look to the corner of the room you will find two somewhat hidden laptop computers resting on the floor, these will actually let you know if either Frankie or Violet are online. Observational location description – Art Box http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Klaw/11/17/25
  • 8. The first thing I noticed about the Art Ark were the beautiful Redwood trees spread throughout. It looked so much like Lake Tahoe, California that I could almost smell the Redwoods and hear the small gentle lapping of the waves against the shore. Set among these tall trees was a very modern and elegant looking structure with a sheer mesh semi-transparent fabric making up the walls. The brilliant white of the main structure was juxtaposed by the colorful rug floor seemingly floating a quarter of the height off the ground. I later learned that the Art Ark was designed and created by Marylou Goldrosen. All of the structures had a very spiritual and magical sense to them. There was something unique with the animations and movements of the futuristic looking objects as they danced among the old trees. There clearly was a sense of outdoors and openness here. In the background you could hear the sound of a tiny cat’s meow. It was Marylou’s orange and white half cat. The Art Ark felt like a fresh and peaceful area, almost as if it were an “open space park”. A place where anyone from anywhere could come to learn or teach. Observational location description – Art Ark http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Teaching/10/54/210/23
  • 9. When you arrive at the Virtual Abilities Island the first thing you notice is the relaxing almost resort style appearance. The sounds and sights of birds soring among the beautiful mature trees is very peaceful. And the combination of the natural wood and smooth stone features are incredibly welcoming. There is a slight breeze in the air, just enough for you to smell the fragrance of the flowers and gentle stream. There looks to be plenty to do, yet you don’t feel overwhelmed or boxed in. Everything seemed comfortable, from the pillow cushion seats to the inviting fire pit. There is even a couple of fun tire swings hanging from what looks like a cross between a willow and a cottowood tree - (Of course I choose to have a swing on one). This location felt safe and friendly. It looked to be a place that would be idea for those challenged in the real world to feel empowered and free to explore, learn, and share within this one. Observational location description – Virtual Abilities Island http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/44/128/23
  • 10. Frankie Rockett – an artist and developer within Second Life. Among other things, he created the Art Box interactive exhibit and has worked with a number of big name real world clients in and out of Second Life. In the real world he is a web and digital media developer. Who: Frankie Rockett Where: Art Box (URL on Context page) What: Adventures at the Art Box Why: Design and development How: SL Animation Interviews One of the goals set forth during the planning of my three avatar interviews, was to gather and collect information from individuals who have been involved in SL for a number of years and have a passion for exposing others to its existence. I felt this type of individual would be able to answer some important questions regarding virtual environments (specifically SL) that would in turn help me with my personal academic research and development of virtual environments. Gentle Heron – an advocate and co- founder of a few Second Life locations and organizations within Second Life focusing on people with disabilities. In the real world she is a mother of 3, a writer, and a woman challenged daily by multiple sclerosis. Who: Gentle Heron Where: Virtual Abilities Island (URL on Context page) What: Understanding unique opportunities in SL Why: Learning about special user needs How: SL Animation Marylou Goldrosen – an artist, writer, and professor working and teaching students within Second Life in areas such as visual culture and learning within virtual media. In the real world she is a professor focusing on art education, qualitative researcher, cultural understanding, and social interactions within virtual environments. Who: Marylou Goldrosen Where: Art Ark(URL on Context page) What: About the Art Ark and other things. Why: Teaching How: SL Animation LONGEVITY– how long will it last? | EVOLUTION– what has changed? | IMPACT– who has it reached?
  • 11. I had the opportunity to email Frankie a number of times prior to our interview. He was very accommodating, thoughtful, and kind in his emails. From the initial correspondence it appeared we shared a number of interests in the real world ranging from travel to many aspects of digital media. I first learned of Frankie during my experience exploring the Art Box location in Second Life. I was familiar with much of the art he used for his exhibits and with my history working at NASA, I enjoyed becoming a part of the Apollo Moon Walk installation. Interview – Frankie Rockett
  • 12. The meeting: Since we had already done much of the interview via email, we decided to meet each other at the Art Box for a follow up chat and pictures. When I arrived at the Art Box, the first think I noticed were two directors chairs sitting one next to the other. Occupying one of the chairs was a man dressed in all black with massive angel like feathered wings that were slowly and smoothly glided back and forth through the air. He wore dark black trendy glasses that were just visible under his slightly disheveled yet stylish hair. He had two hi tech laser guns holstered at his side, which later he told me “he liked the tension between wings and guns, pulling in opposite directions so to speak.” He sat comfortably in the chair with his hands clasped behind his head, and he was poised with an almost God like confidence as he looked over this world that he created. After a brief introduction, our talks and conversations flowed smoothly over the course of the next hour. At one point during our time together, his development partner Violet joined us. And not so long after that we explored a number of Art Box installations. Our time finally came to an end due to the time difference of Frankie living in London, which was 9 hours ahead of my local time zone. But not before I had discovered I had a new friend both in and out of Second Life. Interview – Frankie Rockett
  • 13. From Frankie: Disclaimer: Before I begin, please note that everything that follows is purely a matter of my own personal opinion and not put forward as fact. When did you first get involved in SL? Around 2007, approximately. Why did you select the images you did for the art box and what was your purpose for creating an interaction installation of that manner? You start to learn that there are some rules of thumb to apply to a candidate artwork that will test whether it will work well in Art Box. The general rules are factors like "is there a 'star' sitter in the frame that the avatar can replace? Is the picture recognizable no matter what the avatar might end up wearing? We also consider how many famous and how many obscure artworks we are referencing, trying to keep a fair mix of the two. We also noticed other factors that govern a piece's popularity. The bare fact is that SL avatars love to be naked, and will strip off at the slightest excuse. The 'Christine Keeler' set is by far the most popular item in Art Box, despite the fact that it consists only of the (iconic) chair, and a black backdrop, because it's intended to be posed naked. We have experimented with 'leading the witness' and have created other sets based on artwork where the sitter is not naked (such as Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World" and have staged the console shot with a nude avatar. SL users seize on the suggestion with the result that Christina's World is another big hit, with most users snapping themselves as Christina, but naked. We are happy either way. We get a kick out of introducing people to art. If we need to wrap that pill in some sugar to achieve our end, we're still happy. The 'rules of thumb' I refer to, we’re also very profitably broken on many occasions. We featured work like Victor Vasarely's "Zebegen" that is early pop art & of course completely abstract & has no sitter, but by thinking more playfully about the work, found a way to make it work for Art Box, turning the piece into a kind of giant climbing wall / adventure playground that avatars can literally hang out on. You ask what the original purpose of the interactive installation was. We created a set based on the Diner in Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks". I made this set for a short film in which I could take the viewer inside the Diner to experience the atmosphere at close quarters. Once the film was finished, I still had the set kicking around in my inventory. My partner Violet suggested I leave it for others to play with. I did. It was very popular but it was now an art gallery with just a single exhibit! This provoked the thought that we might recreate another artwork - and another, not to film but just for people to play with. It took off, and now we have around eighty 3D recreations of artworks, famous or obscure, established works or originals. I have since created a 70 minute 'Art Box' film that features all of the sets in Art Box, including the two on YouTube. The film was shown in the real world as part of an arts festival in London, England. Interview – Frankie Rockett
  • 14. Do you have a favorite piece that you created in the art box and why? I am going to cheat and pick 2 favorites as getting it down to one is impossible! So one would be "Nighthawks" because it's where it all began, plus the film I made is still my favorite, and I've made a LOT of machinima. My other favorite is Helmut Newton's "Bunny Girl". We are very proud of the set we built. It looks beautiful and timeless. Again I made a piece of machinima using that set, and I feel the film is also incredibly beautiful and captures a period feel and an elegance that surprises me, especially considering how it was achieved with such contemporary tools. I like the art box as it puts the user into the art piece itself, how much research on each individual art piece did you do before creating each piece? The only prior 'research' necessary was to apply the criteria mentioned above relating to whether it would make a good subject for the Art Box approach. We did some retrospective research to produce a kind of fact sheet about each of the works (that's available from a console on the top floor of Art Box - "The Stories Behind the Art"). It's a very fun lightweight document that aims to simply list one fun fact about each original. It's aimed at giving you something interesting to say about all of the pieces, rather than any sort of coherent Art Education! We made Art Box primarily for fun because we enjoyed it. We are delighted that others enjoy it too. We are even happier to know that it's introducing people to art - people who would never think of setting foot in a conventional gallery. We've also received some wonderful endorsements from heads of real-world galleries, including from the Smithsonian. I can't claim that the educational value of Art Box was anticipated though. Violet and I simply followed our nose about what was fun and playful to create, and to our surprise and delight, the rest followed on naturally. Your company creates an assortment of services etc. in SL, in essence you are creating timeless art objects that don’t decay or erode and are only aged based on trends and style. I understand every client and development is and will be different. But is there a specific style you tend to lean towards as you develop for your clients, such as a certain modern technology look that you feel will create an additional branding for them or do you tend to create based on the clients present style? Are you creations more detailed or minimalistic in nature? This question is somewhat wrong headed. No one makes any real money from SL anymore. All the clients have long since left. My clients in SL used to include Microsoft, Intel, Reebok, HBO and many others, but that period has past and won't return. In every case the service I provided was Machinima. I have the skills to film inside SL and produce something that's very professional looking, mimicking the movements of a real world camera - tracking, pan and tilt etc. - as well as similar production values. This allowed my clients to show people outside of SL what the company was doing inside, massively extending their reach. I would shoot and edit to their brief. When the work dried up, I realized I had a skill I enjoyed using , now with nowhere to go. That's how the idea of creating the "Nighthawks" video came about - become my own client! Make films that were free of corporate messages and simply existed to engage and hopefully, delight. Interview – Frankie Rockett
  • 15. Have you done any research on whether or not the SL consumer is more or less likely to engage in products because they saw them in SL? I don't have the resources to research that. Presumably the giant SL clients of old thought so though. Anecdotally, I bought a RL pair of shoes because they were just like a pair my avatar was wearing in SL. That was interesting for me to reflect on. I realize that my avatar is many things to me (as are most people's). One small part of that is as a kind of testing ground to try out looks and styles that I wouldn't dare to try in real life. From time to time, I realize after a 'test' that it's not so outrageous after all, and I can go and buy XYZ. It's happened with several things since. It's very liberating to discover that. What is your current view of the direction of SL, has the momentum of SL seemed to slow over the past few years and how has SL changed recently? The direction of SL is distinctly downwards. There has been, in my opinion, some catastrophic mismanagement and squandered opportunities from which the company hasn't, and frankly doesn't deserve to recover. I am utterly amazed they are still operating, but I think they are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. This makes me very sad, but I think they have run the company into the ground. Note - this also plays into your later question about creating art objects that won't decay - wrong - with typical "God mode" arrogance, Linden Lab have decided to prevent objects such as the Art Box creations from being exported and saved. When the lights finally go out at Linden Lab, all our hard work and creativity will vanish forever in a puff of logic. What do you see as benefits of virtual environments? Too many to list honestly. They are a powerful place for surrogate social interaction. It's a huge plus that you can add body language like channels to the communication. It gives a strong illusion that you are in the presence of others. It utilizes our normal perceptual model of social exchange that we have evolved with, unlike the relative sterility of a text only exchange. Of course SL includes voice communication too, further underlining this point. And this goes back to me saying that I don't think SL's slide into oblivion is really to do with the rise of the other Social Networks. They don't offer the same experience at all so can't validly be compared as competitors - in my view. That said, Linden Lab has made the experience of SL more difficult to use through it's awful client software, so there's a lot of moving parts to this analysis. What would you like to see in the future of virtual environments? I wish that OpenSim was more successful. It's the ideal successor to Second Life in that it is far more democratic & wouldn't have a centralized bunch of autocrats running it. The down side is that it's not as technologically advanced as SL, and being open source it doesn't have the same resources available for it's development. Maybe when Linden Lab closes it's doors it will bequeath it's code set to the Open Source community so that it can be taken forward. That's my wish list, but I won't hold my breath. Interview – Frankie Rockett
  • 16. Interview – Marylou Goldrosen My first official meeting with Marylou Goldrosen took place at Second Life’s Art Ark. Marylou was dressed in an outfit that seemed to contrast that of the Art Ark’s pure white material. She was dressed in all black from her ornate delicately styled top to her long black leggings. She had two intriguing features that stood out to me, her reddish hair that seemed to change color and glow as it swayed with each movement, and her long, really long, full fluffy tail that draped all the way to the ground. I later found out that Marylou was fond of cats. This explained the long tail and her cat ears protruding through her red hair as well as the meowing of a ‘relaxing orange and white half cat’, that hug around her Art Ark.
  • 17. When did you first get involved in SL? in 2006, I was mentored by my grad student who wanted educational resources for her Floaters group and meeting place on SL. My painting illustrations for children's book, Lindsey's Desert Surprise, are collaged at Floaters. How have you seen it change? More friendly and vast, constantly changing. I am meeting people this week at VWBPE Conference from Wed-Fri. Look it up and register for it--FREE. I take animation scripting classes on SL. We can say that SL is not only an environment for online interaction but since it has all been created virtually, could it also be considered one large interactive art installation? It consists of many interactive groups not all at once. It is interactive --linked to blogs, wikis, etc. How do you feel the style or technology of SL has dated SL as a whole? I think it is not dated -- it is evolving and so are we. Many new virtual worlds are also popping up, but SL has the most exciting ones. I learn so many creative ideas here to practice for real life. Interview – Marylou Goldrosen
  • 18. What do you see as the main learning benefits for art students in SL? Developing new media literacies: building, learning from each other-- cooperatively, filming [machinima], Digital storytelling opportunities -places to explore different art forms. Is there a certain aspect of SL that you most appreciate? I started on the Non-Profit Island in Floaters and have learned to empower disenfranchised people as well. What is your favorite location in SL and why? My own site naturally now because I spend so much time there. I loved the Sistine Chapel at Vassar until the took it down. I also love Art Box. I wrote a paper on Art and Spirituality and another paper on Native People's here (even in Taiwan.) Interview – Marylou Goldrosen
  • 19. Do you have a favorite art installation in SL or is there a piece of art that you have created that you are most proud of in SL? I love my Art Ark Building -- translucent [phantom] and I have a spinning sculpture that I wrap my artwork around. What are the key benefits that you see in learning in virtual environments? Networking with others from around the world [Taiwan, Japan, et al]. Communicating with new means of communication--New Literacies. We even filmed a play here --LIZARDS OF ARS. What would you like to see in the next generation of virtual environments? We are working with youth on Open-Sim where they can safely practice their new media skills, develop new literacies, start new creative industries, empower the disabled and poor. Interview – Marylou Goldrosen
  • 20. I met Gentle Heron during a visit to Second Life’s ‘Virtual Abilities’ location. An environment that empowers people with disabilities from all over the world to participate in experiences without the challenges that face them daily in the real world. Gentle Heron came across as a kind and thoughtful person who carried herself in a very professional manner. She wore a very stylish dress with heals and had a calm relaxed nature about her. I felt she did a very nice job representing and explaining the benefits the Virtual Abilities environment offered to those with disabilities. Interview – Gentle Heron
  • 21. Interview – Gentle Heron When did you first get involved in SL?
 My rez date is June 2, 2007. How have you seen Second life change over time?
 Very much so! I’ve lived here through the change from Viewer 1 to Viewer 2/3. Our nonprofit survived the rescinding of Linden Lab’s discount for nonprofit accounts, and now are enjoying its re-instatement. I’ve lived through sculpties, mesh, etc. This is a world. We can expect many things to change here. Lots of changes. 
What do you see as benefits/restrictions of virtual environments?
 Benefits include the anonymity to “hide” many disabilities that cause social isolation in real life. Many people with disabling conditions find a freedom in virtual worlds that is denied them in the other aspects of their life. (Be sure to check out the Freedom Art show at the University of Western Australia going on now.) Restrictions include an inability to verify actual identities, allowing some people to project self-images that damage others, and the frustration of not knowing what happened when people suddenly disappear from this environment and you never hear from them again. Has their been any studies done on whether the Virtual Abilities World reduces a users inhibitions, reservations, or preconceived notions of how they interact (if they can) with similar objects or elements in the real world?
 That does not seem to be a question that has been addressed by virtual world research, that I know of. The research tends to focus on social interactions. Please let me know if you find any research, or if you decide to pursue that question. It’s interesting!
  • 22. Interview – Gentle Heron What role have you played in the development of any of the activities, installations, or art used in the Virtual Abilities World?
 I have a rather remote guidance role, in that I can offer hints to be sure to include Universal Design principles or the theory of andragogy (those are foundational in our New Resident Orientation Center), but as to actual hands-on development, I leave that to others who have those capabilities. Do you have a favorite installation or art piece within the Virtual Abilities World ?
 No. I like a wide variety of types of art. How much more complex is it to create these interactive installations or objects so that your focused users get all the benefits out of them?
 I don’t know how to answer this. I don’t build or create things in SL. Do you notice installations that are favorites of your focused or targeted users?
 We take field trips to all different sorts of artworks. Different people enjoy different ones more or less. I don’t think there’s a consensus. What would you like to see in the next generation of virtual environments? I would hope that standards for accessibility will be created for virtual environments as related standards have been created for websites and electronic devices.
  • 23. Longevity Evolution Impact Frankie • When the lights finally go out all our hard work and creativity will vanish forever in a puff of logic. • They have decided to prevent objects such as the Art Box creations from being exported and saved. • All the clients have long since left, - that period has gone and won’t return. • Allowed users to experience an exhibit which because they enjoyed it, (we) built 80 more. • No one makes any real money anymore. • Clients have all since left. • Work dried up. • New type of client with new type of skill (that is) free of corporate messages. • Direction is distinctly downwards. • Catastrophic mismanagement and squandered opportunities. • The experience of SL more difficult to use through it's awful client software. • Introducing people to art who would never think of setting foot in a conventional gallery. • Experience the atmosphere of an alternative world. • Exposure through fun facts rather than any sort of coherent Art Education. • Powerful place for surrogate social interaction. • Showed people outside of SL what a major company was doing inside, massively extending their reach. • Test styles (appearance) that maybe wouldn’t dare try in real life. • Liberating, a powerful place for surrogate social interaction. • A strong illusion that you are in the presence of others. • Very technologically advanced. Marylou • Many new virtual worlds are popping up. • SL has the most exciting worlds. • More friendly and vast. • Constantly changing. • Students can safely practice their new media skills, develop new literacies, start new creative industries. • A place to empower the disabled and poor. • Paintings available for others to see and enjoy. • Learning creative ideas in SL to practice for real life. • Developing new media literacies: building, learning from each other--cooperatively, filming [machinima]. • Digital storytelling opportunities -places to explore different art forms. • Ability to empower disenfranchised people. • Networking with others from around the world. Gentle • The rescinding of a discount for nonprofit accounts. • A new re-instatement of a discount for nonprofit accounts. • Experienced my changes - sculpties, mesh, etc. • This (SL) is a world. We can expect many things to change here. • Lots of changes. • The hope that standards for accessibility will be created for virtual environments as related standards have been created for websites and electronic devices. • The anonymity to “hide” many disabilities that cause social isolation in Real life. • Freedom in virtual worlds that is denied for many in the other aspects of their life. • Restrictions include an inability to verify actual identities,- some people project self-images that damage others. • The frustration of not knowing what happened when people suddenly disappear from this environment and you never hear from them again.
  • 24. As a developer of virtual environments for learning and educational exploration, I have a personal interest in the primary thread of research being exposed here. The impact, evolution, and longevity of Second Life, as seen through the eyes of developers and users, plays a very important role in my understanding of how my personal research and development might evolve. In addition, the experiences, both positive and negative that are put forth here, will add to my knowledge of how specific events might shape the design, development, and educational impact of the virtual environments I create. As we engage in a comparative analysis regarding each of the three research questions, we must not ignore the connection that they each have to one another. We need to also consider how they are bound together. For instance, as we explore the impact that a virtual world such as Second Life has on it’s users, we must consider and examine how and if the impact is evolving and changing both functionally and technologically. If either of those falter, then clearly its longevity and existence as an element of digital media, will most likely also suffer. Throughout its history of dedicated users, Second Life has shown many examples in which a users experience has resulted in a positive impact. In addition, with the continuing development of readily available media devices and a broad range of access to digital technology, studies have shown that a number of ‘New Media Literacies’ such as Networking, Collective Intelligence, Distributed Cognition, Trans-media Navigation, Performance, Simulation, and Visualization have become evident in a wide variety of virtual environments. These’ New Media Literacies’ and are here to stay and will continue to evolve. (Project New Media Literacies PDF). These New Media Literacies were also identified in the impact responses expressed throughout each of the three interviews. These were also evident in the research of Joe Sanchez: “Students felt the Second Life environment perpetuated a sense of creativity.” “(Second life)…forces you to think outside the box” “students said they had an overall positive reaction to building.” Sanchez, J. (2007).
  • 25. With new types of digital media and devices constantly emerging, the rather vague definition of what constitutes the process of “modern digital storytelling” will continue to develop and change. Whichever direction one decides to define it, it remains to be a key ingredient in the strong impact it is having on students. Virtual environments allow visual interactive worlds that can be used in a variety of methods for learning as described in the document “101 uses for Second Life in the College Classroom”. This was also evident in the excitement seen from users in Frankie’s Art Box as well as Marylou’s comments about digital storytelling opportunities in art education. Sanchez and Prensky have also referenced the impact of digital storytelling in their research. “Digital storytelling is storytelling that incorporates digital images, video, music, and reflective narratives in order to share life experiences and personal insights.” “Digital storytelling serves as a unique way for students to learn.” Sanchez, J. (2007). “… enjoyment is a motivational ingredient for learning when using digital games and worlds” (Prensky, 2001; Parks, 2008). The pros and cons as expressed by Gentle Heron regarding roll playing are also confirmed in the latest research by Sanchez. The ability to create content in Second Life provides educators and those with disabilities an exceptional platform for creating role-playing activities. “Role-playing is an engaging teaching strategy that can be aided by the use of Second Life.” ”Eighty-four percent of students found the activity very engaging.” “Second Life is in the ability they provide to users to connect to geospatially disparate people with common interests and goals. Second Life can become a virtual world platform for real-life community engagement. Sanchez, J. (2007). In contrast, Gentle Heron points out there are also a few restrictions that occur within Second Life, such as adverse experiences regarding the use of identity. Finkelstein’s research also suggested that there can be negative impacts that arise within virtual environments. “They discovered that Second Life specialized in stereotypic economic commodification and consumption, sexual exploitation, patriarchal manipulation” (Finkelstein, 1991).
  • 26. Evolution is an important factor in nearly every facet of our existence. As the world changes, so do we. Our needs, our desires, our interactions, our societies, and our technology are no exception to that rule. Second life is a world of its own, and thus is evolving in its own way. As we examine the comparison between each of the interviewees we see that there exists a different view of what direction the evolving pattern or trend of Second Life has become. Each of the three had a different outlook on the direction of Second Life. One saw a negative evolving pattern, one saw a positive pattern, and one seemed to suggest ambivalent change. The online industry was also full of comments regarding the impact, evolution, and longevity of their experience in SL. “After five years working quite closely with them(L.Labs), I still don’t feel I really know what the culture is,” she says. “They simply never seem to understand their own product. It’s ludicrous that they don’t understand how people use Second Life, what they like it for, what they want it for.” People come to the Second Life universe for different reasons: some go there to escape their reality and to stretch the boundaries of their lives in ways forbidden by the constraints of their bodies or the norms of society. Some go to meet friends and family; there are some who want to create buildings, paintings, and whole new worlds. And some — big companies and small entrepreneurs — hope to make a living. Reportedly Adidas spend a million dollars on their sim in Second Life. What it got them was a single store selling sneakers. Problem was, the sneakers slowed down the universe: “Anybody running an event would say if you’ve got Adidas trainers on, take them off because they were lagging the sim so bad!” Ironically, it was when the big companies descended on Second Life that the place felt most like a ghost town, and not a boom town: they didn’t get the ethos, didn’t engage, and left empty offices and buildings. (Stokel-Walker, Second Life’s strange second life, 2013) Second Life has seen a steep decline in users over the last few years. One article stated that there are a couple main reasons for this: • “Incapability to cope up with high tech standards.” Thousands of other social websites were coming up and they were much faster. It made Second Life obsolete in a very short period of time, in months not even years. • “Facebook met users’ need of socializing much better than Second Life” They could not adapt themselves to the situation’s need of being more than just a game. (Second Life: failure or just a game?, 2013)
  • 27. Many articles have been written on the topic of what will happen next with Second Life and when might we see the end of its most current evolutionary cycle. Nonetheless, there are still many who are finding new and impactful ways to use Second Life, showing that perhaps the remaining chapters of its story have yet to be written. Notwithstanding, the impact and social model that Second Life has created will continue to shape the way new virtual environments are developed. The virtual environment developers of today and tomorrow will continue to learn from the lessons and challenges faced by their predecessors as they press forward looking to evolve and make their own impact on social digital interactions. I think it is clear that virtual environments can play an extremely important role in teaching and learning. Their impact and evolution is opening new doors and learning methods. Evident in the research of Sanchez, which is now over 7 years old, are the persistent positive and negative concepts we continue to be faced with today in virtual environments. Concepts such as: digital storytelling, roll playing, technical issues, interface difficulty, enhanced creativity, and time consuming experiences (Sanchez, 2007). As new types of digital media are developed and innovative experiences are imagined, I truly believe the educational impact, evolution, and longevity of virtual environments will lead us into new areas of educational learning and exploring. The emerging landscape of digital Virtual Field Trip (VFT) technology enables geoscience teachers to take whole classrooms into geologically significant but remote or inaccessible regions, overcoming obstacles of distance, hazards, cost, time, and logistics. Integrating VFTs into cyberlearning environments affords students an infrastructure that enables them to do authentic field science in the classroom. Using advanced hardware and software tools such as robotic Gigapan systems, cameras with advanced spherical tripod heads, unmanned aerial vehicles, seamless 360-degree digital video, and unique software for online dissemination mechanisms, students are presented with engaging and rich educational experiences. A key objective of ongoing research, development, and authentic evaluation of VFTs is to deliver geoscience content to diverse audiences, including STEM teachers, informal educators, and students across multiple grade levels. (Bruce, G., Anbar, A., Summons, R., Oliver, C.A., (2013) )
  • 28. Bruce, G., Anbar, A., Summons, R., Oliver, C.A., (2013) The ASU, MIT, Univ. of New South Wales, NASA VFT Education Project: Innovative technology behind the next generation of Virtual Field Trips in Astrobiology Education, Invited speaker, Australian Astrobiology 2013 meeting, Sydney, AU. July 1-2 Finkelstein, J. (1991). The fashioned self. Padstow, Cornwall: Polity Press. Garber, L. (2004). Using a computer gaming environment to teach about community arts. Art Education, 57(4), 40-47. Keifer-Boyd, K. (2004, March). CyberArt pedagogy. Invited paper at the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education 15th International conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Retrieved July 15, 2005, http://dl.aace.org/15033 Paper updated/presented at the 2008 NAEA Conference in New Orleans. Liao, C. (2007, March). Avatars, Second Life, and new media arts: The challenge for contemporary art education. Art Education, 61(2), 87-91. Parks, N. (2008). Video games as reconstructionist sites of learning in art education. Studies in Art Education, 49(3), 235-250. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw Hill. Project New Media Literacies, USC Annenberg, School of communication.
  • 29. Sanchez, J. (2007). Second Life: An Interactive Qualitative Analysis. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007 (pp. 1240-1243). Chesapeake, VA: AACE Sanchez, Joe. “Pedagogical Applications of Second Life” Implementing SL challenges and innovations 2009 Sanchez, Joe. "Second Life: An Interactive Qualitative Analysis." In Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007, edited by Caroline Crawford, Dee Anna Willis, Roger Carlsen. Ian Gibson, Karen McFerrin, Jerry Price, & Roberta Weber. 1240-43. Chesapeake. VA: AACE, 2007. Sanchez, Joe. "Virtual Worlds: New Spaces for Service Learning." In Service Learning: Unking Library Education and Practice. Edited hy Loriene Roy, Kelly Jensen, & Alex Hershey Meyers. Chicago: American Library Association, 2009. Stokrocki, M. (1997). Qualitative forms of research methods. In S. D. La Pierre, & E. Zimmerman (Eds.). Research methods and methodologies for art education (pp. 33-56). Reston, VA: NAEA. THEVERGE.COM SECOND LIFE'S STRANGE SECOND LIFE In Linden Lab's vast experiment, the end has no end Chris Stokel-Walker, September 24, 2013 12:09 pm Your-Story Second Life: failure or just a game? Yourstory.com, Nov. 19, 2013 “101 Uses for Second Life in the College Classroom”, Feb. 2007. Creative Commons Attribution.
  • 30. A J o u r n e y T h r o u g h Geoffrey Bruce - aka: virtualgeoffrey Professor: Dr. Mary Stokrocki - aka Marylou Goldrosen ARE 598:Digital Ethnography in Virtual Worlds - Spring 2014