A Safe Place to Fail

I attended the Second Life Community Convention in Chicago this weekend. There were four tracks; social, business, education, and machinima. What did this conference have to do with libraries and what were some sessions that I could highlight as examples that relate to teens?

Innovation in Second Life is driven by its residents. Wow-what a powerful practice that many libraries are currently doing and could even do better. My library is currently undergoing an organizational restructuring. Part of the change has to do with putting creativity into the hands of our users. What will this look like? What has it looked like in libraries already? Philip Rosedale, the CEO of Linden Lab, wore a tshirt that said ‘missing image’. This meant, he explained, getting the heck out of the way and again, putting the power in the hands of the users. Can we as libraries continue to create spaces, tools and opportunities that will truly allow our users to explore to their fullest potential?

We should be more concerned about the participation gap rather than the access gap. This thought was echoed several times throughout the conference by foundations such as MacArthur and Microsoft. While they are not denying that access is a concern, they feel that it’s coming faster than those that have the skills and those that don’t. Can you have participation without having access? I think that places an interesting responsibility on communities to offer tools so that students can learn. How do we come together and do that? Again, it’s something libraries do all the time, but what digital skills do some teens have that others don’t? Second Life is a powerful tool for educators. Global Kids, based in New York is coming out with curriculum guidance for teachers to use Second Life as a medium to teach.

Virtual worlds are going to be bigger than the Internet. That was also a frequently stated comment. Sure, when you’re at a conference with like minded people, it seems like that’s the whole world-and everyone else? Surely they’re listening via streaming audio on Second Life at the conference. No-I think it’s more than that and something that libraries can definitely wait to see what happens or they can be early adopters and pioneers and as Mitch Kapor (founder of Lotus Notes) said, “you have unbelievably great opportunities to put your stamp, to leave a legacy, to create things which will endure and have value.” What will that look like for libraries to have relevance in virtual worlds and why should we care?

A few examples of presentations to relate to teens:

Global Kids teens presented their machinima from machinima camp this summer. Ten one minute films based on child rights. Teens presented their work at the conference and audience members shared how they/we truly bow down to their expression of storytelling, research gathering, and presentation in a digital medium.

Musicians and dj’s in Second Life predicted that virtual worlds are going to have a huge role in their music performance, participation, and creation. Music is so important to teens-what a great opportunity for a global reach for their art.

Eye4You Alliance Island on the teen grid, sponsored by a public library, presented through a poster session a college fair in October. Teens and colleges from all over the world can come to gather information, share resources, and build community.

The Alliance Library System in East Peoria, Illinois talked about their presence within the virtual world, including Renaissance Island which has period clothing and buildings-including roaming sheep. Imagine teens diving into the Faerie Queen because they can recreate scenes and build community. It’s so cool-it’s hard not to hear the snap of fingers, that lightbulb that goes on, the imagination that has no bounds.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Endeavor landing-building community

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us So is it really true that the astronauts were trying to finish all the biscuits before they had to exit the shuttle? Who knows. It’s one theory that was discussed on Eye4You Alliance island in teen second life in the space station amongst the teens that gathered to watch the Endeavor landing.

This photo shows a few avatars (there were about 25) that were watching the streaming NASA television channel and the view that they saw. These teens are from all over the world. They built the space station. The screen is taller than their avatar. They created a story together while watching this historic moment-wondering if they were really aliens instead of astronauts, referencing other spacecraft such as Apollo I, sharing in a part of history in a way that commenting via a blog or MySpace just isn’t the same.

Here’s part of the transcript.

Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen2: i can see the runway
Teen3: One minute.

Teen1: almost
Teen1: come ooooon
Teen4: its landing on tv!
Teen4: brb
Teen5: this is cool
Teen1: it already landed
Teen6: we have touch down
Teen7: yay!!!
Teen7: Wahoo !

Teen7: Lol
Teen1: yay!
Teen8: that was cool
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen2: yay touch down
Teen2: 🙂
Teen3: WOOT!
Teen1: that’s so freaking awesome
Teen1: yoy

Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen3: NO ONES DEAD!
Teen3: YAY!!!
Teen2: yay
Teen5: what speed is it traveling at now?
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
Teen9: THEY LANDED! WHOO!
Teen5: cool.
Teen3: WOOTNESS!!!!

Teen2: Yay!
Teen1: dude that thing was in space
Teen1: that’s awesome
Teen1: and what are those noises?
Teen10: w00t!
Teen4: well of course it was in space
Teen1: Whoooooooooooo!!!
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Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Mashup 2007

A few weeks ago, I was able to go to San Francisco to attend YPulse’s first Mashup. The name of the conference was such because it brought together people that normally might not be together at a conference-non-profits, for-profits, media, education, and more. Representatives from Gaia and Claudia Linden with Teen Second Life to a teen panel/owners of such sites as My Yearbook, Scriptovia, Emo Girl Talk, and Whateverlife. Some familiar faces such as Henry Jenkins, Anne Collier co-author of MySpace Unraveled, and Amanda Lenhart with Pew Internet & American Life Project who focuses on teen reports were there as well.

A common thread aside from reaching youth with technology and understanding how they use it so that we can connect more, is that teens are so diverse. While that might sound obvious, being a conference about technology, one might think that every teen uses technology in the same way-and the conference didn’t puport that at all. Teens themselves said many times that they were a diverse group, and when trying to market to them or get their attention, it’s important to remember that. Look for the Tween Mashup at the end of September in NY with organizations such as Whyville and topics such as, “How to market to tweens and be COPPA compliant” and “Are tweens still reading books and magazines and watching TV?”. Anastasia Goodstein with YPulse, opens up the communication lines in ways that will help teens, tweens, and us as professionals talk what we need to talk about; how to connect with each other better.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Machinima weekend on Eye4You Alliance

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usThis weekend, adults and teens will be teaching teens how to create better machinima on Eye4You Alliance island in Teen Second Life. We’ll be using free software including the built-in second life recording software and YouTube’s Audio Swap which allows for pre-approved audio to be used with videos people create. Teens dj’ing will fill in the breaks by bringing people out to the dance floor and adults will be teaching self-esteem building workshops as well.

Any teen is welcome to sign up for a free account at: teen.secondlife.com and join the events on the island.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us We have a printing press where teens make tutorial guides to use the software.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us We have matching shirts for the classes. I detached my hair for the photo because it was blocking the logo and now I can’t find it.

We’ll share the machinima after the weekend.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Second Life Best Practices in Education

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Second Life’s first conference for Best Practices in Education was a great success. Presenters such as Kathy Schrock, Administrator for Technology in MA, (Kathy Drybaugh in sl) showed the audience some great places to support teaching and learning, Peg Sheehy, Instructional Technology Facilitator, in New York, (Maggie Marat in sl) shared examples of her island on the teen grid where over 400 eighth graders are involved in such projects as creating a mock trial after reading Of Mice and Men. Barry Joseph with Global Kids in New York, (globalKids Bixby in sl) talked about working with teens in real life and second life to raise awareness on global issues. The conference also had poster sessions, exhibit spaces for vendors and non-profits and a wide range of presenters using different paradigms of education to influence their work in second life. Archives of key presentations available here soon. Also, check out the blog or wiki.

Add your blog in the comments if you attended the conference. Great post here about Kathy Schrock and Lisa Perez, (Elaine Tulip in sl) with the Chicago Public Schools.

Also, The University of Illinois has partnered with the Alliance Second Life Library to offer Virtual World Librarianship courses which started last week.

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Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

James Paul Gee and Teens

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usJames Paul Gee is one of the keynote speakers for the Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium by ALA TechSource this July. Next Thursday, at 2pm sl (PST) he will be available via live audio stream while trying on different avatars created by teens in Teen Second Life. Avatars are a digital representation of the self and give teens the opportunity for self-representation and to break out of any labels they might have been given in the offline world. Here’s how you can participate: Register for a free sloodle account here, click ‘yes’ when asked if you want to enroll in the course. Teens will know beforehand that there will be adults present. Don’t miss this free opprotunity! Can also launch this real player stream in a browser.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Online Youth Victimization-Myths and Facts

Over a week ago, my coworker pointed out this article about child abuse and Second Life. There has been a lot of discussion about it on the SL education listservs. Barry Joseph, director of the online leadership program for Global Kids, on Teen Second Life said in regards to questions of managing sex, gambling, and griefing (harassing other players) “it’s our burden as first users in a new mass media. Being the first means we have the obligation, pleasure, and pain of having to advocate for the new medium and be the frontline dispelling myths.” What does this have to do with Teen Second Life? Knowing that such behaviors have no tolerance and will result in banning and that the alleged behavior in the article occurred on the Main Grid. Knowing that there are so many positive projects and partnerships going on in the Teen Grid. It is another place where librarians and educators can be to work with teens in innovative ways.

I am reminded by this discussion, Just the Facts About Online Youth Victimization Researchers Present Facts and Debunk Myths with panelists, Dr. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against
Children Research Center, Dr. Michele Ybarra, president of Internet Solutions for Kids, Amanda Lenhart, senior research specialist with Pew Internet & American Life Project, and danah boyd, researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. The transcript is definitely worth reading or the video worth watching as the speakers go deeper than the bandaid approaches to protecting teens online.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Identity development in Second Life

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us Identity development is something many young people obsess over during their teen years. Second Life is a great place for them to work out their ever changing identities, just like MySpace, IMVU, or Gaia online are as well. A health class in New York that has an island with Suffern Middle School in Teen Second Life is going to explore identity formation by creating avatars that are beautiful and not beautiful and discussing why through one lens being portrayal by the media. Imagine the possibilities for authors and teens who identify strongly with their characters. What would it be like to not only read about Saphira in the Inheritance series but to embody her? Imagine reanactments of scenes from any book that could take an entire different direction from what was originally presented to the reader.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

The possibilities of virtual education

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Today I finally ‘met’ Hugho Writer, in Second Life (previously we had emailed and IM’d). This time, I flew to EduNation island where he showed me some of the educational tools (presentation boards, screen/remote/ audio stream-in an immersive environment!!) he is using and going to bring to the teen grid. We listened to a Keats poem via audio stream and video. Hugho is an English teacher for a grammar school in Scotland and is excited about partnering with the library island on Teen Second Life. What really blew me away was not so much the educational and presentational tools but this. He proposed this project (using Second Life as an educational tool) to the Scottish Minister of Education in a presentation. The Scottish government is involved as a funding source to make this happen. “The potential is endless,” says Hugho. Wow. I’m so inspired! His blog is here: http://dgs-secondlife.blogspot.com/

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Art Gallery-Teen Second Life

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us I visited the art gallery created by Jimmy (avatar name on teen second life). It’s beautiful. We went inside to upload images of art. Jimmy wants the place to be teen art only. And so it shall. (I did ask if a pic of me when I was a teen would count). We’re going to have an anime manga exhibit soon. We listened to the Linden Lab radio channel while talking about movies, current events, and playing a flight simulator game. Feel free to jump in second life and set up an account at: www.secondlife.com. It’s free and fun! Uploading art only costs Linden $ and isn’t hard to do. Teens would be happy to show you. Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki