SmallWorlds Intro

I shot a quick video of my library’s presence in SmallWorlds as an example of the web 2.0 tools that can be added to this virtual world that runs in a web browser.

The latest version of Flash is needed to run SmallWorlds. It’ll be interesting to see whether tweens, teens, or both find the site interesting, if they do at all. Many might enjoy what are called ‘missions’ or tasks to level up and earn points so that they can decorate their space and earn a title that clearly shows their status as someone more familiar with the program. As I mention in the video, be sure to check out the SmallWorlds library!

Real World Skills in Online Environments

Many librarians are probably familiar with designing programs that build developmental assets. We help build youth assets like leadership, helping others, and succeeding in school so that there is less of a chance that teens will make destructive choices such as vandalism and drugs.

You may even have heard of asset building in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPGs) and Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs) such as World of Warcraft, Entropia Universe, Teen Second Life and more. This article in the May Harvard Business Review, Leadership’s Online Labs, talks about how real world transference can occur as a result of game play – from being leaders in online games to being leaders in the work world. Continue reading Real World Skills in Online Environments

SmallWorlds

Avatar in Small WorldsSmallWorlds is a virtual world that runs inside your web browser. It has been in beta testing for several months and is due to be released in a few weeks. SmallWorlds integrates sites teens use at many of our libraries including YouTube and Flickr and also includes customizable widgets. The environment gives teens the ability to control their world. They do that through the creation of their own space.

This seems like it could be a great match for libraries. Jump in when it launches and share your thoughts. Participate in the Forums by providing feedback. Have a meet up online! Figure out how libraries could be involved and why. It looks like a lot of fun!

YALSA Podcast #50-Access to Second Life

Kelly Czarnecki talks with teen, Storm Basiat, in regards to Congressman’s Mark Kirk’s proposal to the Federal Trade Commission to warn parents of the “dangers Second Life presents.” Also discussed is how Kirk feels that access to Second Life should be banned in schools and libraries.
Listen
Storm points out some great things to listeners such as:
Continue reading YALSA Podcast #50-Access to Second Life

From Social Networking to Virtual Worlds

Representative Mark Kirk, IL “who has sponsored legislation banning access to social-networking Web sites in schools and libraries has found a new target of displeasure: Second Life according to this article. Because one of his aide’s was able to log in successfully and lie about her age, and then encounter inappropriate content in Second Life (note-not Teen Second Life), he feels this is a strong enough proof that surely the company isn’t doing anything to protect children. Funny how he doesn’t seem to mention the ability to keep people in or out in a space that a school might own in Second Life or Teen Second Life much less any understanding of the positive activities that are taking place in such an environment by schools and libraries. I guess it’s better though to keep ignorant and keep other people ignorant instead of trying to have a dialog about what virtual worlds are doing to keep youth safe and how interaction of adults and kids online can be very positive experiences.

Continue reading From Social Networking to Virtual Worlds

Virtual World Resources

I added two new resources to the YALSA wiki: Virtual Worlds: A Teen Tech Week Guide. Download yourself a free copy of the Blue Book: A Consumer Guide to Virtual Worlds published by the Association of Virtual Worlds. It lists over 250 virtual worlds, their age appropriateness, and what kind of environment they are. Also, check out the Second Skin site. It is a documentary on virtual worlds through the lens of seven gamers.

Tomorrow from 5-6pm EST, Young Adult Author John Green will be in Second Life (*note this is the main grid of SL which is for those 18 and over). He will be presenting in audio. There are a few other ways you can listen to his presentation if you don’t have access to SL or don’t have time to fiddle with it. Visit the Bookosphere Radio here or go to the Library Loft web site here where streamed video and audio of the presentation will be available.

Making short video clips with Animoto.

Yesterday was the ceremony at Eye4You Alliance for the Tech Virtual Museum. We announced the winners of the best TSL Exhibit’  and we also reminded teens that there is still time to produce a video clip to submit to Museum for the June Exhibition in real life. I decided to take part in making a video to submit. I decided to do something different and use snapshots instead of using video.

A few days earlier I discovered the site Animoto where you upload your images to the site or you can download them from your flickr, facebook, myspace account as well as many more socal networking sites. (They offer a free plan with a limit of 30 seconds video or a paid plan for $3.00 USD per video or $30.00 USD a year for umlimted time.) You then sort the images in the order you want them. Once you have sorted them all out you can go ahead and add some free music available on the Animoto site,’  or if you have your own you can upload that.

Once you’ve added your music you give it a title and a description and Animoto does all the animating for you. Once its renderd you will be able to download the video in .mp4 format for you to upload to other sites and share. You can see my first video I made at http://eye4youalliance.youthtech.info/?p=646

Posted By Storm Basiat

Technology changing how we communicate

Last week, the House Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee held a hearing “to obtain testimony on the nature and growth of online virtual worlds; the types of applications and services, both commercial and non-commercial, supported and offered in such worlds; and any policy issues raised by virtual worlds that may need to be addressed or monitored.” The entire audio recording is available here and the transcript will soon be available here. While the representatives of the virtual world were from Second Life and focused discussion mostly on the adult grid, there was a lot applicable to youth no matter what virtual world, especially in regards to questions Congress is asking and why they are interested in the first place. It’s not all focused on wanting to regulate the space but also to understand what it is being used for.

Acknowledged during the presentation was that with virtual worlds; the possibilities and applications are unlimited, individuals can connect with each other in new and creative ways, the way people and organizations can use the internet is changing, and there is far greater potential to make the real world a better place than with the ‘flat and isolated’ 2D internet.

Some of the issues the subcommittee was concerned about included keeping youth safe, fraud/gambling, addiction, educational, social and business uses, and the need for an abundance of bandwidth. Two of the most interesting comments I thought were that there is actually more of a lack of anonymity-which we might think would be the exact opposite given that our avatar can look like anything we want it to be but because of the strong identities created they are usually sustainable through repeated interactions online. Also, that virtual worlds might in fact be more police able and more maintainable than websites since it is a rigorously self policed (in terms of Second Life and other sites) and can be a staff monitored community in ways that websites can’t. While that is a broad generalization of all virtual worlds and nothing is 100% safe-it is a way to look at the environments many of our youth engage in.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Learning History

When I read in the New York Times about the survey that “Finds Teenagers Ignorant of Basic History and Literature Questions,” I couldn’t help but think what their knowledge would be like if they learned about those subjects while in an immersive environment. In January 2008, the Land of Lincoln island on Teen Second Life came into existence as a result of a vision from the Alliance Library System. Even though the title is about Lincoln, the focus is a bit broader, covering the 1850’s and 1860’s. Right now it is a wild west theme. Teens are designing structures such as a gold mine and bank, objects including horses and soon clothes from the time period. It’s not simply the fact that being in an immersive environment might make information stick, it’s because of the way knowledge can be shared and collaborations take place. Teens that build might rely on another teen to do the research, add the computer programming language to make the horse move, design a sign for the stable. All of those things engage the teens because they are working on this together-sharing their previously formed knowledge and learning new information as a result of working together.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Virtual Literary Festival

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLast weekend, the first literary festival was held in Teen Second Life. Authors Barry Lyga and Marc Aronson communicated with the teens through text chat via their avatars. Teens set up the entire event from the chairs the audience would sit on to watch the video inworld Barry had about Fanboy and Goth Girl to the hat that people could enter their names by clicking so that they could be eligible to win a book by Marc or Barry. The oldest Mock Printz book club was there as well from the Eva Perry Library in North Carolina. They communicated via voice and text chat about the Printz club with teens from all over the world-which was great because many teens had not heard of the Printz award before. The festival was made possible through a partnership with TeachingBooks.net, (they put together podcasts and information from authors for a display), Chicago Public Schools Department of Libraries and Information Services, and the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County as well as volunteer librarians, educators, and a publisher on the island. There is some video from the event that will be posted soon.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki