Thursday, March 10, 2011

Across the Great Divide: Four Months in Jokaydia Grid

Openlife Black Swan Region Air...
Location: A Foot in at Least Two Virtual Worlds

I realized an anniversary had just passed, from a post here in late October 2010 that marked my first prim rezzed in Jokdaydia Grid.

Now I am preparing my presentation, "Lessons Hard and Wonderful From A Faculty Member Pioneering in OpenSim," for the upcoming VWBPE conference. This post also lets me organize notes for tonight's VWER meeting, where my colleague Kali Pizzaro will lead us in a the discussion "Across The Great Divide: Sharing Across Grids."

What have I learned as an OpenSim pioneer that can apply across grids?
  • Travel before deciding. I made a mistake of rushing a class into Second Life in 2007 without enough time spent exploring, attending events, meeting other educators.  This time, I avoided the mistake by visiting a few education-friendly grids before signing a lease.
  • Friends can make a grid. I opted for Jokaydia Grid because some friends and colleagues were already there, and that made sharing content very easy.
  • Hair and skin do not make a grid vital. I love the inexpensive content in SL that makes educational work go faster, but let's not blind ourselves to what makes a grid vital. SL was vital, after all, and perhaps more inventive in the days of Linden World and Primitars.
  • Study how different OpenSim grids are from Second Life. Here a post at the VWER site may be useful. In it I share the lessons as a new builder on a new grid.
  • Build to share. I want my content to be free. That means making everything myself in a way that can convey across grids for our emerging constellation of hypergrid-linked educational spaces. It means releasing any scripts I manage to make, or photos I take, or assignments I write, to the community under Creative-Commons licensing.
  • Read all of a grid's fine-print. I love the (for now) closed Third Rock Grid, InWorldz, and what I recently found in OpenLife, and I'd considered opening the Usher simulation in one of these grids until I found out hypergridding to be a fast-maturing technology. Then I limited my search for a post-SL home to grids that are not closed.  You will need to make a basic decision: closed grid with vendors, such as Inworldz? Open grid with mostly other educators and limited content, such as my home? Other fine-print items will include the tier fees. Are they fixed or an introductory rate for a grid's beta-test era? Can you lock in a good tier as a pioneer?
  • Backup is key. Here I mean literal backup of files and regions. Not all grids allow OAR backups, something I insisted upon for my new virtual home. Most, including SL, will permit Imprudence to export items made by an educator. That was important as I began exporting content I made from SL for Jokaydia Grid.
  • Share outside your new grid. I am planning to open Usher for tours soon, and part of that will involve a Web site were source files may be downloaded for importing into other compatible grids. It's easier to download from a colleague's site than to travel to a grid to look for content.  I'll issue all of it under a Creative-Commons noncommercial license. 
  • Burn no bridges. "Iggy said that?" you may well ask. I've been venomous about Linden Lab's treatment of educators, and I regret that (a little). Now that the lab has a new CEO, I'll follow his actions but also very much remain part of SL. It's still the best place to meet educators in large groups. That may well change, and SL will be "the old country," to use a term Lalo Telling. (mostly of InWorldz) mentioned some time back.
Wherever we travel, and whatever direction this technology takes us, the lessons of our old grids should convey. Good luck as a pioneer, settler, or happily settled resident!

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