Archive for February, 2009

If there’s a virtual organization for cruelty to animals searching for evidence of abuse or even a contingent of PETA zealots looking for another way of making mischief, then a trip to there.com might be worth the effort.

In a wonderful YouTube posting by Howshafern420, he demonstrates some, er, “creative” ways of having fun with your pets. It seems that virtual dogs are just as stupid as real life dogs and are happy to respond to any commands, no matter how pointless. Howshafern show how to juggle a stack of canines with no more effort required than typing commands.

Coming soon: virtual taxidermy for beginners – first, find five live cats…


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The Second Annual Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education and Museums Conference will be taking place in Second Life on April 24th and 25th, 2009. The aim of the conference is “to provide a gathering place for librarians, information professionals, educators, museologists, and others to learn about and discuss the educational, informational, and cultural opportunities of virtual worlds.”

In the call for papers, the organizers stress that although the actual conference will be held in the virtual world of Second Life, presentation and paper proposals about LEM developments in other virtual worlds are encouraged.

They list possible topics as follows:

    Virtual world events and exhibits as the drivers of attendance and engagement
    Immersive learning environments
    Reference service possibilities and practicalities in virtual worlds
    Corporate and special librarianship in virtual worlds
    Educational tools and resources
    Enterprise uses of virtual worlds
    Tours of LEM locations in Second Life
    Gaming and virtual worlds
    VW LEM opportunities for children, tweens, and teens
    Dreams and visions for LEM activities in virtual worlds
    Assessing LEM initiatives in virtual worlds
    Sustainability issues and opportunities for LEM activities in virtual worlds

Other topics pertinent to the broad topic of LEM activities in virtual worlds are welcome and innovative proposals are encouraged.

Primary source: Virtual Worlds: Libraries, Education, and Museums Conference site

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On April 6th, 2009, Washington State University and the McCormick Foundation are partnering for a unique Specialized Reporting Institute that will bring together leading technology executives and journalists to examine the recent rise of new media outlets and distribution within 3D virtual world spaces. The day-long free event will be held at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, and it aims to explore both commercial and citizen reporting efforts through a series of panels, presentations and workshops.
According to the director of the McCormick Foundation’s Journalism Program, Clark Bell, “Our reporting institutes are designed to be timely, engaging and insightful. This event should certainly fulfill our expectations and serve as a valuable learning platform for the participating journalists.”

“We’re excited to bring together many of the leaders in technology and journalism to discuss and explore this new media channel for storytelling,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd. “These and other emerging forms of digital news distribution offer both promise and potential for our students and for the future of journalism.”

And according to Erica Austin, the dean of the college, “These emerging 3D spaces offer fascinating new opportunities for storytelling. And as the traditional, newspaper-based world of journalism looks for appropriate new ways to provide the vital checks and balances vital to democracy, this event will provide a very significant catalyst for innovation.”

The current schedule is available at the McCormick web site.

Primary source: The Edward. R. Murrow College of Communication

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British Petroleum, one of the world’s largest energy companies, uses the Manchester Business School to train some of its senior executives. Eighteen senior executives who have taken part in a year-long project management program graduated on 18th February. The difference is that the graduates were from various parts of the world and the ceremony took place in the virtual world of Second Life.

UK company, Corporation Pop, have developed a virtual space for the MBS. Phase 1 of this development includes a central hub, two seminar rooms and a sandbox where visitors can create their own content. Phase 2 is currently in development and will include a bookshop where visitors can browse and buy university publications, and modules for each of the school’s individual departments.

MBS Processional

MBS Processional

Dom Raban, managing director of Corporation Pop, says that by holding the graduation ceremony virtually there is minimal disruption and a saving on both time and money for the BP executives.

“The space has evolved from a place to share ideas, to a location for training courses and now a place for students to take part in award ceremonies,” says Mr Raban. “This…provides a benchmark for future academic virtual world developments.”

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Pamplona, Spain, is the site of the annual festival of San Fermin, more popularly known as “The Running of the Bulls.” In a time-honored custom whose origin goes back to the days when being stupid didn’t matter, hundreds of young men run through the streets trying not to get trampled to death by several hundred tons of angry beef traveling at about 100 miles per hour. Well, pretty fast.

Despite the fact that in a collision between a one-ton bull and a 200lb human is likely to end spectacularly badly for the two-legged participant, there is no shortage of willing victims players in the running.

But for those of us who want to keep our genitalia intact and experience the thrill of bull running vicariously, the good people of Pamplona have created no only a web site for the event but a YouTube virtual video that recreated the sights, the sounds, but not the blood, of the real event.

The next step is to get the even sponsored by McDonalds with the winner getting a year’s supply of Big Macs. Or a free bull.

Primary Source: San Fermin Encierro

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Soccer fans who want to be part of a virtual worlds can join Football Superstars, a Massively Multi-player Online Game (MMOG). Football Superstars takes the player through the life of a footballer, from grass-root kickabouts to the pinnacle of premier football and international stardom.

The player assumes the role of a single player character in both the football arenas and the virtual game world. Such Player Characters (PCs) interact, compete, and collaborate with other PCs within the game world. Each member of both teams is therefore controlled by a real-world player, except the goalkeepers, which are AI controlled. In the lifestyle world we’ll have a number of Non-Player Characters (NPC) that assume general roles within the game e.g. shop owners, traders, journalists etc.

You can now purchase FS Bonds using a credit or debit card, which can then be converted into FS Dollars used to enhance your Football Superstars experience. 1 FS Bond can be converted into 1000 FS Dollars, meaning you can increase your bank balance to match your Football Superstar status rapidly.

FS Bonds can be used to help you:

* Purchase items from the many stores throughout the game world
* Buy drinks in a bar
* Work out at the gym to increase your stats
* Add to your skills by training with in-game trainers
* Explore the world by using the fast and easy subway

Primary source: Football Superstars

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At the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Noshir Contractor and his colleagues presented the results of a study based on almost 60 terabytes of data from EverQuest II, a popular MMORPG. The aim of the 90-minute symposium, “Analyzing Virtual Worlds: Next Step in the Evolution of Social Science Research,” was to “describe how this research offers new insights as well as challenges and opportunities for advancing social, behavioral, and computational science.”



One of the findings in the study was that depression levels in the groups ranged from almost 21% in people who didn’t play the game that often to more than 30% in those who played a lot. According to Contractor, “This could mean that highly active players get more depressed or that depressed people are more likely to be active role players.”

Another finding that surprised the researchers was the fact that the online players tended to interact with people at a relatively local level. Contractor says that “People end up playing with people nearby, often with people they already know. It’s not creating new networks. It’s reinforcing existing networks. You can talk to anyone anywhere, and yet individuals 10 kilometers away from each other are five times more likely to be partners than those who are 100 kilometers away from each other.”

Primary Source: Physorg.com

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