Congress on stage

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This morning I visited Capitol Hill. Walked right in and sat behind where the speakers would normally be. This week, several members of the U.S. Congress spoke in Second Life and participated in discussions regarding the platform itself as well as their agenda. While this virtual Capitol Hill is on what is called the ‘adult or main grid’ in Second Life, which means anyone under 18 cannot log on legally (they can to the teen grid for 13-17 year olds)-there will probably be a lot of issues teens might be interested in. What affect does bringing political representatives into a virtual world have on participation? Will protests result? Would teens want to interact with representatives and on what issues?

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Will Henry Jenkins beard ever be cornrowed in Second Life?

This was a question asked by curious listeners to Henry Jenkins discussion in Second Life on the pedagogical potential of video games and other digital media. The full audio (38 minutes) is definitely worth listening to here, or watching the short YouTube video here, especially to hear the music interspersed on the dance floor by teen DJ Alpha Z. Also, check out his new book: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide.


How do we expand the educational process by using video games? We need to value what goes in in game spaces

He sites an example of students that were playing Doom and Quake and learning a great deal of how to manage people, teamwork, collaboration and leadership-similar traits that sports teams practice and learn-yet this kind of online participation is not valued as much.

Youth are learning how to be part of a community through technology, how to care about issues, express their opinions, and find out what is taking place in the world around them.

Video games and especially platforms such as Second Life, provide roles and goals for learning and information to act upon. Using virtual worlds or games to think through the experience of being a city planner, historian, environmental scientist helps one to use the information in a new way and helps to structure knowledge.

Second Life, is emerging as an important space for people doing a lot of important things. It is as diverse as the real world itself and people are able to try things they could never do in the real world in the same way such as create new connections, reinvent the economy, and imagine new governments.

Continue to look for battles over who owns our culture. These decisions are going to determine how much we can participate in the communities that we do.

Jenkins says that we need to use games to re-engage reality-not just escape it. The origin of science fiction was to help average people make sense of technology changes taking place around them. Popular culture and education, sorting out and speculation, has always been a part of science fiction.

So many questions and application for libraries:

How can we as librarians expand the educational process through video games? How are we doing this already?

Are we valuing online participation through our policies and practices? How can we value it better? How can we get comfortable with what is ‘worth’ holding valuable?

How can we create more opportunities for youth to be part of an online community?

How will battles of who owns culture play out in our libraries and how can we inform the youth we interact with about this?

posted by Kelly Czarnecki

My So-Called Virtual Life

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Anastasia Goodstein reports in this week’s BusinessWeek how and why teens are experimenting with their identity in virtual environments such as Teen Second Life and Meez.

Also, check out Mediasnackers podcast with Global Kids. They talk about bringing a youth development model to digital media, particularly Teen Second Life.

Is your library involved in a virtual world with teens? Consider adding it to the Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki Page or check YALSAs Teen Tech Week wiki.

btw, you might catch a glimpse of Santa at the Cybrary City opening tomorrow in Second Life at 2:30p PST, where librarians can showcase their local resources.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Second Life Adventures in Learning

Next Tuesday, December 5, 8:45amGMT, Young Adult Librarian Jean Gardner, from the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library will be presenting with other Kansas partners on their project in Second Life entitled, “Teaching & Learning in Massively Multiplayer Virtual Worlds: Second Life Adventures in Learning.” The audio stream will be available here or in-world at Pietros Place (Yora 70, 150). Jean will be talking about her project with youth in which book club members create and share SL resources based on Fahrenheit 451.

More virtual world news:

According to a BBC news article today, “Virtual Pals Soar in Importance” which talks about new directions the Internet is heading.

Look for Anastasia Goodstein’s (ypulse) BusinessWeek column next week where she writes about teens and virtual reality environments in terms of developmental theories.

Librarians (several YALSA members) and partners on InfoIsland in Second Life are gearing up for Cybrary City open house next Wednesday, 2:30pPST. Cybrary City is sponsored by Talis and is a virtual training space for librarians and a place for groups to come together that are working on different projects. There are several presences of virtual library services for teens in Cybrary City.

Virtual online travel agency. Check it out! Synthravels offers guided tours of virtual worlds. You pick the date, time, destination, have the program downloaded on your computer-and that’s it! Runescape, World of Warcraft, Second Life, There, and more (over 25!) What better way to understand why teens find these virtual worlds so compelling.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

League of Worlds: The International Congress on Exploring Virtuality

This week, October 30-November 3 in the mountains of Boone, North Carolina the 3rd Annual League of Worlds conference is taking place at Appalachian State University. The topic is Online Simulations, Role-Playing, and Virtual Worlds.

Follow the wiki for updated information.

The InfoIsland Library project and Eye4You Alliance island will be represented through a presentation. Several YALSA members are involved in the project.

See previous YALSA blog post on the project.

Virtual worlds are a hugely rich environment to offer library services to teens.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki