A Seacoast in Bohemia

Guests on Genome
April 20, 2009, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Happening

I’m excited.  Friday we’ll be doing our first “mixed reality” event on Genome Island.  Our RL biology majors do a two semester research project as part of their degree requirements and at the end of the semester, they present their work to the faculty, other students, family visitors, assorted deans, and other university personnel.  Recently we’ve been inviting local luminaries to do a keynote research presentation. 

This year, however, our guest presenter will be Apaul Balut from Second Life.  Apaul’s other persona is Dr. Alan Hudson, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the medical school of Wayne State University.   Apaul will be talking about his research on Chlamydia as a triggering agent of chronic diseases like arthritis.  His presentation title is  Reactive Arthritis and the Problem of Persistent Synovial Chlamydia Infection. 

Apaul’s audience will be looking in on Second Life from a classroom at Texas Wesleyan.  His slides are loaded into Krull Aeon’s slide viewer, which can be run pretty much like a PowerPoint presentation in a regular classroom.  The viewer is set up in the Genome Science Theatre just below the Abbey.  Apaul will be using voice for his presentation, and students can use chat for typing questions they might have during or after his talk. 

Mixed reality events are one of the many things I love about Second Life.  Students and other guests have the opportunity to interact with experts from various disciplines, but nobody has to pack a bag or get on a plane.  How cool is that?


Tejano Tech
April 20, 2009, 12:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

For one of the oldies at Second Life, I don’t get around much. 

However, this evening I went to look around a new SciLands Sim, over on the other side of the NOAA islands, from U. T. San Antonio.  The island is called Tejano Tech (http://slurl.com/secondlife/TejanoTech/154/159/21) and will be combining science with history and culture.  Of course, I have a soft spot for other Texas Techies.  So far, I’m the only serious SL user at my own university, so I’m thrilled to find other Second Life Educators only a few hundred miles away! 

ConstructivIST Solo showed me around the island.  Tejano Tech is still in the early stages of development, but already has a number of learning spaces suitable for student groups of different sizes.  From a coastal fishing shack, you can watch the sun rise with a few friends.  There is a small cafe that will accommodate several groups of 5-6 students.  There is a open colosseum that can seat about 85.    A library area effectively combines an open-air structure with cozy seating alcoves.  A stage area with stadium-type seating is set up for powerpoints or other media presentations. 

One of my favorite spots is the Learning Tree, where about 20 students can sit in delicate flower-like cups in UTSA colors around a small demonstration platform.  I like this so much I may have to building something like it on Genome!  There is a lovely underwater art gallery where students can experiment with both 2D and 3D art projects.   A Learning Maze has been designed and built by a Ed. Tech student; in the maze students will turn left or right, depending on their answers to questions posted at various points in the maze.  To get to the center of the maze.  all the answers have be be correct.  This looks like a fun and flexible assessment game. 

The terraforming on the island has been cleverly done to give each structure its own visual space, as in a Japanese garden.  The island is already being used by students in some classes at UTSA, and I’m sure they are enjoying it.  I’m looking forward to watching this SciLands neighbor continue to evolve.  It is off to a super start!

April 15, 2009, 4:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

About a year and a half ago, I was whining about the isolation of Genome Island.  Genome had a corner connection to Science School, but in SL, corner connections are “invisible” — you can’t see across to the neighboring island, and if you try to fly or walk across, you bounce off the corner.

What a difference a year and a half makes!  SciLands has grown from about 30 islands to over 50 and the Seacoast of Bohemia is now much reduced.  Genome Island is almost entirely landlocked, as is the real Bohemia —  Biome on the West, ToxTown to the North, the impressive multisim NHS complex to the east and Science School to the South.  There is still one open space on the northwest corner, where I hope Cell Island will someday be.  I have kept my coastlines, breaking waves, and seabirds, but Genome has landbridges to Science School and to Biome.   I had set up possible entry points on the North and East sides, but NHS has quite a lovely void sim (this doesn’t mean it’s empty — just low-prim) to my east, and ToxTown has a pier with sailboats on the north, so a land connection would disrupt their design.   However, if you don’t mind a little underwater stroll, you can walk to either destination.  It’s very nice to be connected to the neighbors!

Oddly enough, the intervening year has taught me something about how people move around in Second Life.  Genome gets a fair number of visitors, but almost NOBODY comes in at the entry points.  This makes perfect sense.  I almost never stroll over to Biome or Science School.  I just pick a spot on the map and do an instant teleport.  I checked how people come into Genome recently, using Maya Realities (http://mayarealities.com) visitor monitors, and it looks like this:


Each green dot marks the spot where somebody came into the sim.  As you can see, there are few dots at the land bridges.  Most people teleport directly in.  The concentrations of entrance points correspond to the places on the island where the activities are located, so a lot of these entrances are return visitors who logged out from one of the activity locations.  A lot of people also come in at the Landing Point, which is the teleport location given in the search utility.  Nevertheless, it’s been nice to have a seacoast with a view!

April 15, 2009, 2:30 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have the deepest respect for anybody who can keep up with a blog.   Two of my biology buddies on SL, Clowey Greenwood and Simone Gateaux, are both champion  bloggers.  See Clowey’s blog on Biome (http://simbioticbiome.wordpress.com/) and Simone’s Blog Second Life Biology (http://slbiology.blogspot.com/) and you’ll be equally awed. 

I AM A SLACKER.  However, in the interest of being a good SciLands (http://scilands.wordpress.com/) citizen, I will try to do better.   I actually had two new posts started at the time that I became an aspirant to slackerhood.  “Started” in this case means that I had a title that was supposed to remind me to come back later and fill in.  One of them was called “Linkage” and the other was called … um, something else.  Actually, I think I remember what Linkage was supposed to be about.  So maybe I’ll reinstate that one in a separate post.

Wish me luck and a sturdy character!