Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Linden Lab & Customers

Location: Bizarro World, Clearly

In what other community would rotten treatment be construed as part of a utopian dream? In reading recent posts about sim-closings over at New World Notes, I detect an evangelism that has all but vanished in academic circles whenever SL comes up as topic.

I'll keep an eye on Fearzom and my old parcel, maybe even do a walking tour since sim crossings no longer work well enough for a road trip. It's interesting what denial can do for a former darling of the mass media.

To quote a CEO in Bizarro World, "me lose customers and business! Company do great!"

Thursday, January 10, 2013

PaperTab: A Tablet Made of Paper

Location: Looking for a piece of paper

Have a look at a promotional video about this prototype "paper" tablet.
Imagine the future of this in color; just keep the tablets away from the recycling bin!

An irony here: while virtual worlds such as Second Life stagnate, as evinced in my prior post, the mobile revolution, that these worlds so missed exploiting, thunders on.

Top-hat tip to Tristan Longino, who studied with me in 2001.

Nobody Home (Still) in Fearzom

Location: Fearzom sim, beside my old abandoned 1024 plot

After reading about the closure of two Japanese-themed sims, plus a string of comments about the mainland emptying out, I wondered about my old bit of mainland property. It was the last time I paid tier.

I'll try to post here, occasionally, about its fate. I think I let it go in March 2010, but I kept a premium account and bought a 512 to pay the Lab no more tier. At the time, my university had its own island and I did not need a 1024. I might have stayed, had I known that an exodus of educators, including us, would occur in the next 12 months. Now, according to Tyche Shepherd, "10.6% to 11.6% of Mainland by area is abandoned parcels" and the Lab owns 46.5% of the Mainland.

I rezzed at my neighbor's old plot. He ran a furniture store but  abandoned it too, driven out of business by Marketplace. I thought at first I was at my old home, but a quick check showed my land is still not reclaimed by Governor Linden. The former neighbors' plots all went up for sale in October of 2012 or January of this year.

I wonder how long it will take the Lindens to sell the land? To reclaim mine? Stay tuned, as I've a morbid interest in this topic.

Update: I recall, perhaps incorrectly, that a year ago abandoned land constituted about 9.5% to 10% of total. Not a huge uptick, but it's a troubling one for those still with an emotional or financial stake in Second Life.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Channeling My Inner Geek

Location: Google Sites

Once again, I'm stepping into the fray to teach first-year students in my seminar Cyberspace: History, Culture, and Future. I get my share of geeks in the course, which is wonderful fun. Today I worked on an "about me" disclosure for the syllabus. It will be a romp, with Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and the Second Life House of Usher simulation as a final exam project.

Setting the tone is everything for such a class, from scaring off lazy-bones who won't want to exert themselves and luring in my fellow geeks. I think my description, that follows, does pretty well. I only forget to add that "Han shot first" to solidify my geek cred.

About Me 

I'm a Richmonder by birth and a lifelong geek, free-lance writer, hobby farmer, model-builder, and non-computer gamer (board games and role-playing games). I lived in Spain after college and have traveled a good deal overseas, especially in the U.K. In Spain I was attacked by a pack of wild dogs while reading James Joyce. Knowledge of Jack London's Call of the Wild saved my life, whereas Joyce provided no help at all. I now advocate that everyone read a lot.

In terms of my tastes in futurism, it's either dark stuff like Cyberpunk and post-apocalypse or, on the brighter side, Star Trek (original series) not Star Wars, please, save for Lucas' original films I & II. I'm decent with graphics, basic Web design and HTML coding, and hacking farm and older computer hardware. I fool around with cars, some of them quite fast, and I used to street race until it nearly killed me enough times to make my brain mature.

I listen to a lot of music, often loud and mostly on CDs or vinyl; I also rip tunes from these tactile media and make playlists, though I find ripped music on tiny devices tinny. I'm fond of first-gen Metal, Glam Rock, old-time music, some Americana, traditional country, and electronica by artists like Brian Eno. I don't have time for most TV or pop culture of the present era. I am easily bored but if interested in something, I will recall every detail for years. I cannot code my way out of nested loop. Facebook is for saying respectful things to family and stupid things to my friends. I am not very professional online.

The best student evaluation I ever got read (about a lit course on Invented Worlds) "this class is crazy, but Doctor Essid is just the man for the job."

Though in terms of birth-year I should be a Boomer, I find that generation smug and entitled. I was young enough to think I could ride my bike to Woodstock, and Vietnam was something that adults fretted about (until my older brother got drafted). After seeing America peak in 1969 with the Apollo 11 landing (I'm serious) I watched the slow slide of things, coming of age in the dreadful 70s with other Gen Xers, when everything sucked except Led Zeppelin.

As I grow older and crankier, and though I have published an article about Millennials and online engagement, I find your generation's online habits bizzarre, overly serious, and frightening. Worst of all, I consider most of you addicted to those little boxes in your palms constantly. I have a flip phone and don't text. If I don't know who is calling by voice, I also do not answer.

Stay the hell off my lawn, too.

Unless you have read Jack London when I call the dogs out on you. Hint: find the alpha and challenge.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Google? Huh?

I've had a drop a blog from my blogroll because, according to Google, it hosts malware or is associated with sites that do host such. Ridiculous!

Time for a self-hosted WordPress blog, or what? Any of you readers run into that problem at your blogs? Right now, Chrome seems to access my blog fine. Firefox too. Pity. I really like that blog.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 Prediction: Sticking Around

VWER 11-29-2012  
Location: VWER meeting

Photo credit: Wrenaria

Today, the VWER meets to discuss its future under our new leader, SL's Kali Pizzaro. I hope that the group branches out to discuss more than virtual worlds, since there is a lot of action in education regarding technologies, both established and emerging. There is also a lot of progress to be made because many faculty are still struggling with technologies that seem second nature to me, such as Google Drive and similar cloud-based applications.

I hope to make a plea for appropriate technology. Too much of the educational community is still driven first by technology. No where was this more apparent to me than in educators trying to bolt educational uses onto World of Warcraft and Second Life, instead of starting with pedagogy. On campus, with more traditional technologies, I am seeing that healthy change.

And as for this blog, despite Tenchi's wise advice on focus, I will broaden "In a Strange Land" to talk more about other aspects of educational technology. I think readers will find less about the social and economic aspects of virtual worlds here, though coverage of the technology will continue as events merit it. I doubt this will become a prognostication-free zone.

So before I stop, here are some 2013 predictions about virtual worlds:
  • Continued evolution, albeit slow evolution, of non-SL alternatives. Focus will be on Unity 3D and Cloud Party. Most of the growth will be non-educational.
  • Continued slide, perhaps plateau, for Second Life's loss of private regions.
  • More attention to violence in gaming and, perhaps, SL. The latter will be held up in the US Congress for a place where immorality, even sexual slavery, is present. A right-wing ignoramus will wave around a battered copy of Slave Girl of Gor and show a Powerpoint with slides from SL in 2008 to make his belabored point.
So see you all around in this space, once in a while. My new blog Tractorpunk, on rural life and sustainability, with my usual punkish edge, will launch soon. That and my forthcoming anthology about online communities will keep me more than busy in 2013.