Category Archives: opensim

Openhabitat – The magazine

Hey folks… it’s been quite a rollercoaster ride here lately… but time to get back to work

Last week I got formally assigned the roll of editor for the Openhabitat magazine… uh… idea. We’ve got a general idea of where we want to go with this magazine, and I’m going to try and pull together the ideas of my fine compatriots and put them together into some kind of multi-narrative that will make it interesting to someone who has not really thought of using an MUVE for an educational purpose and still compelling for the hearties who’ve been at this since the MUDs were king.

The Magazine – What is it?
We’re planning a two pronged magazine approach: one, an online rhizomatically structured living document, full of interconnections focused both internally and reaching out to the other communities of folks who are working on these issues. The second is a PAPER magazine, that should be a snapshot of the ‘knowledge’ that our community contains at the time of publication… say January 15th, 2009. The first gives an uptodate and ongoing idea of the state of the work that is being done by the folks in the openhabitat project and the other allows people to take a digestible look at what we’ve learned from 13 months of this project.

The online magazine (do people still say e-zine?)
There’s a pile of content on the openhabitat website at this point in the project. What we’ve come to realize, is that most of it is only really understandable by those of us who’ve been part of the project. The goals, directions and needs of the project have morphed as we’ve started to understand different things about the work that we’ve done and the magazine is an attempt to try and craft those things that we are now starting to see into a format that is manageable and interesting to people regardless of where they fit on the spectrum.

The paper magazine

One of the things that I learned from the living archives project is that its really difficult to show what you’ve done in an MUVE project in a meeting, in a bus, or in your office. People confronted by a virtual world for the first time are going to struggle to see past the wonder, confusion or simply the lack of familiarity with the ‘medium’ in order to be able to see what you’ve done with that space. Enter the magazine format. It’s a familiar medium, which should give people with less experience with MUVEs a place to start with evaluating wether the lessons that we’ve learned apply to their situation.

Ideas for structure
The majority of the content will be repurposing of the live blogs, data and pictures (the existing content is really quite good) from the research project organized and coalated in order to give people a window into the work done and hopefully pass on the lessons learned in this project to others doing the same work. In addition to this however I’m starting to think that I’d like to acquire some other pieces as well

1. The anatomy of an MUVE (a non-MUVEer’s explanation of what one is)
2. Some ads from other project doing work with Virtual Worlds.
3. A story (or two) from one of the students about their learning journey.
4. Interviews with the teachers and TAs… done in some not yet decided interesting manner (online this will be easy, in print… well… maybe excerpts that link back to the website
5. Talk with dave re: project management

And I turn it over to you folks to ask for some more things you’d like to see!

Opensim/Drupal integration for education – proposal and call for help

Well… i’m finally getting my teeth back into opensim and finding that there are a couple of things i’d like to get built over the next couple of months. We’ve already gotten a good start on the automated installer for opensim, but what i’d really like to do now is attempt an integration with drupal. I’ll be keeping my running requirements list for that integration on the openhabitat project page and will hopefully pop a few updates into here from time to time.

What I need
I need two things.

  1. I need a good drupal/opensim programmer. Someone familiar with both platforms who can spearhead the drupal integration (or, if you like opensim integration).
  2. I need some sense that there are other folks in the British Higher Education community who would find this integration compelling for an application to the emerge community for extra funding.

Why would we need this?
Opensim is an opensource Multi User Virtual Environment. It allows you to have much of the functionality from something like Second Life, and you can host it on any server you like, or, if you like, on a desktop in your classroom. The one issue, is that if you would like to tinker with it a little, you currently pretty much have to do it from the command line on the server. What I would like to see is an integration with a content management system (my preference is drupal, but the code could easily be repurposed) so that a teacher can do stuff like track users and install different ‘presets’ for training purposes.

Why would we need this — slightly more technical explanation.
There are currently two flavours of opensim, the ‘grid server’ and the ‘standalone server’. My work with opensim over the last 9 months has led me to believe that the standalone server is far better scaled to the average educational use… but, sadly, much of the work towards creating a user interface has tended to side with the larger grid server installations. Standalones are more manageable, and provide an easier entry point for the ‘average’ person and really allow for alot more functionality.

so… if you’re interested and interested British Higher Ed person (I’m looking at you emerge community or anyone else for that matter) … just send a comment here and I’ll pick up your email address and get back to you. Same goes for if you are that drupal/opensim person out there. If you don’t want your comment posted, no worries, just indicate in the title, and I’ll delete it after getting your email address.

Openhabitat Opensim

Well… time to put rhizomes aside for a bit and move onto working on some of the other interesting projects that I’m privileged enough to be involved in. It’s been quite a spring really… my partner has been on bedrest for the past 13 weeks, and with conferences and projects and writing I really haven’t had much space to think…

I’ve spoken about openhabitat in the context of how I find it interesting as a knowledge node, but not so much as a project. Basically, there are two courses being taught at two English universities using Multi User Virtual Environments (MUVEs)

The project will generate solutions to the challenges of teaching, learning and collaboration in MUVEs. These solutions will be primarily in the form of guidelines, models and exemplars but will also be supported by the development/appropriation of software tools and services in and around the MUVEs themselves.

My main role in the process is to support the opensim side of the equation. Opensim is an opensource MUVE server that allows folks to have their own MUVE installed on their own server thus sidestepping some of the downtime and money-for-upload issuesassociated with some of the commercial servers as well as having local installations that can be installed inside school firewalls and, indeed, on each computer in a computer lab.

I have a couple of development goals that I would like to get accomplished during the course of this project. 1. I’d like to be able to finalize a ‘plug and play’ version of the server. Something that can be put into any computer and simply start up a server. We have a version of it now, but… well… it’s not too terribly reliable. 2. I’d like to get some version of a server installed on a USB drive. This would allow for the ultimate in portability, a personal world that you could take and move from your home to the classroom, without the need of supporting a server. 3. I’d like to create a preinstallable ‘distribution’ of opensim that had the training for opensim built into it. It could be the started version that you would load up if you had a new group of folks that needed to learn about opensim and then you could simply dump that version when you were ready to start working on your own world.

For now, I’ve set up a little sandbox for people in the community to drop into an opensim world and see what it’s all about. I’ll include the ‘superfast’ instructions and then add some of the other options at the bottom. There are a variety of ways of doing this… see

To get into my opensim with existing Second Life client
1. Find the shortcut to your secondlife client on your desktop (either on your desktop or in your second life client) right click on it and click ‘properties’
2. Change the Target: to “C:\Program Files\SecondLife\SecondLife.exe” -loginuri http://openhabitat.org:9000 and Apply and OK
3. Lauch client using shortcut button you just changed
4. The temporary creds are ‘user’ ‘one’ ‘password’ (five users… user one user two user three) but i hope to do away with those in the next week (email me for username and passwords instructions after this) Also, if you need more instruction getting in, feel free to do the same.

Looking forward to digging in

Living Archives – Reflections on an Educational project

Project launch – Monday May 26th – 10am Studio Theatre, Confederation Centre of the Arts, Charlottetown, PE, Canada.

Preamble
Living archives started as a conversation with Elizabeth Deblois about what we could do that might be interesting for the 2008 anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables. She wanted to do something with technology and kids, and I’d been looking for a good project to bring some of the interesting things I’d seen on the intertubes here to the Island.

Outline of the Project
Living archives (video introduction… see all eight pro-videos for full scope of project) is a history project for middle school students headed up by the University of Prince Edward Island. The students searched through local archives and museums for information that would allow them to contextualize 19th century PEI. Following the idea that the creation of materials forces a more profound examination of materials and focuses that research the students were to create a ‘textbook’ in a variety of formats including text, images, video and Opensim. We had three classes of students, eight months and were funded by the Canadian Culture Online Partnership Fund (PCH) and had a fairly large group of project partners all listed at the bottom of each of the living archives web pages. Sometime in the next few months I’ll post a more detailed project management review…
We invited some Seniors, heritage professionals and in french, musicians (Margi Carmichael but the microphone was turned off :( ) and storytellers from the community to come into the classrooms in order to try to bring some context to the research they were doing. They also spent some excellent time in the field at the Archives and the museums as well as coming to the University.

Initial Reflection
We had a number of reality checks on this project, a number of unforseen challenges that forced us to change directions or pull back to our ‘bare minimum requirements.’ The experiences of the community at large talking about their projects and my own edtech project management experience led me to only claim to be able to deliver the bare minimum of what i thought possible… in some cases we blew that away – hundreds of blog posts and images – and in some other cases we didn’t get as far as we would have hoped (peer training videos, opensim). So planning for small, make-able successes and allowing for the increase in scope to happen based on events rather than trying to force it worked out well for us.
The students and the teachers involved have all reported a very high level of satisfaction… even though we forced them a little hard through the development phases of the project. A little more work done on standardizing the language used in the web interface would have saved us many, many hours of pain and misery. There is a sense, I guess, where the scope of this project overshadows the simplicity of its basic structure. Any project like this one (where the development of curriculum and configuration of software and people workflow are done during V.1) should plan for V.2 of the project and actually show how simple it would be to integrate into the mainstream school system. I will write a report that suggests a number of ways that this could happen, but it’s not at all the same as having done it. The NO 1 response we’ve been getting from people is “WOW great project, hardly sustainable though is it.” It could be sustainable, but more on this later.

The Students
This is where the real success was in this project. The students took a very passionate approach to the work that they were doing and got very involved in researching the history. They also became committed to the idea that their work was going to be published and that it mattered how good the writing and the research was. There were several stories in this project where school folks or parents commented on their amazement on how involved the kids were and how excited they were to ‘study’. I really enjoyed the work that I got to do with the kids and was constantly amazed at how quick they were to adapt and how well they dealt with adversity. I was also (though i shouldn’t have been) quite taken aback at how much peripheral knowledge they acquired during the course of their work.

The Technology

Drupal

Our main platform was based on a build out of Drupaled done by the fine folks at funny monkey. Due to circumstances beyond all of our control, we ended up getting started 4 months late, so things were built very quickly. The key requirement from the platform was workflow. There needed to be a way for the work to start out in a private garden ‘work area’ and be promoted to public. I saw that sense of ‘graduating’ the work as critical to the success of the project. Too often in a straight out blogging project you end up with ‘first draft’ work published to the website and it never gets reviewed as the work feels ‘done’ as soon as it’s published. In our situation publication was something that the students needed to earn. I would definitely do this again. Our ring leader here was a WAC professor and Montgomery scholar from NYU who worked tirelessly with the teachers and students. I’m not sure how she feels about having her name posted, I’ll ask her and update the post if necessary.

The biggest problem we had was in not having a fully refined requirements list at the outset… this was not really anyone’s fault but it really hurt our first couple of months and added a great deal of frustration on the ground. It took us a very long time to figure out that we were missing an efficient and simple teacher interface… we’d done a pretty good job with the students… just not for the teachers. Fortunately, our project manager (saviour) and our teachers persevered. If i had this to do again and I would hire a student teacher to go to the classroom once a week to reinforce the training and report back difficulties with the interface.

This idea of reportage, too, was problematic. When I think of the problems we had – wyziwyg, language standardization, insufficient training in terms of available workflows – a good (read: simple) reporting system would have gone a long way to improving the day to day feelings of all people involved in the project. There was too much distance between development and user and that extra body, that student teacher may have been the missing link that could have pulled that together.

All that being said, we managed to create a french and english version of drupal. We got literally hundreds of posts from the students, the excellent people at PARO digitized many hundred of images (not to mention the job they did facilitating the research with the kids and giving them the research tools that they needed), we created 10 3D artifacts that are available on the website, close to 100 videos, and build on the work that is currently being done in the UPEI library integrating drupal and fedora. We’ve zipped this version up (cleaned of project specific content) and will be posting it soon.

LIVING archives MUVE in Education (Opensim) see detailed reflection here
“Why didn’t you just use second life?” oh wow… am i ever happy we didn’t. First of all, it’s been very exciting to be around at the beginning of an excellent open source community. The opensim people have been hugely helpful, and we managed to get 3 very cool houses built and get the student work inside those houses.
With Second Life you are caught either on the Teen grid (no parents or adults) or on the adult grid (no teens) and, if you have a case like ours, (half of our students were 12) you get nothing. Zilch. So, in moving to opensim we managed to keep all of our data internal, created default student accounts for the kids to use, and now have no worries about possible after effects.
As the opensim with alpha software posts lays out… we had alot of challenges. But, as further work being done (say with openhabitat) is showing, it can be really helpful to have your own, personally controlled virtual world at your finger tips.

Other tech

We bought video cameras (and microphones with short cords doh!) three rear projection smart boards a couple of computers per classroom and upgraded some of our hosting hardware on the UPEI side. Had this project started six months later, I would have bought 20 eeepcs for each school and we would have been cooking with gas. Some of the computers we used were… not new… and crashed if you tried to keep two separate windows open at the same time.

Idea developments

Had some excellent help with this. Funny monkey had a great deal of influence on the webdesign… i take it for granted now because i’m so familiar with it, but the public/private website with a built in eportfolio and video/blog/audio publishing tool is second to none. Elana Langer is responsible for the increase in scope of the project as well as large chunks of the video. The folks at PARO are responsible for giving us the sense of what is possible from a research/archives perspective. Mark Leggott at the library told me about the grant opportunity with PCH and was a great deal of help in writing my first grant. Sandy McAuley was super helpful with the pulling the educational research together and getting the training and Lesson plans planned, and posted. Stephen Downes is responsible for whatever elegance this project has as he explained to me that some pieces of the project were together and that, really, they should all be connected and should look back at each other.

Project management

Bonnie Stewart is responsible for pulling together pretty much every piece of this project. Without her energy, patience and perseverance none of this would have gotten done.

ohzz… There are bunches of people and cool stuff I’m forgetting, but oscar is sick and I need to have my presentation done by launch time. SORRY PEOPLE AND COOL STUFF I FORGOT. ttys.

Opensim in education (with alpha software)- lessons learned

just some quick notes… so i don’t forget them. More will get posted at openhabitat.

Well… for those of you following, the second run at it went MUCH better than the first one. We rejigged our plan, forwarded our initial goals to the front end, used a little more scaffolding, and the whole process skimmed along quite nicely.

So, when your working with alpha software, it helps if you’ve got two things going on in the computer lab. What we did this time is that we took four students and used them to develop our workflow live and in cooperation with the students. What we did this time is that we had the students roughly cut into two, and one group worked on editing their blog posts and the other was working in opensim using the workflow developed by the students. Groups of three, two coaches and one ‘driver’ who was actually trying to get the initial ‘quest’ accomplished. So important, i think, to have a nicely strucutured activity to complement more freeform fun in the MUVE… and to forward the structure. Play seems to be automatic and, so far in my experience, isn’t encumbered by more early structure as it seems to in a standard website.

The degree to which every student i saw on Monday had a full set of computer literacies was astonishing. Every one of them seemed to be able to move forward and backwards, navigate up stairs etc… I may have missed one or two students, but the ones i saw were quite proficient. They also seemed to be able to recognize flaws in the system quite easily, which was also useful. Several students expressed a desire to be part of the debugging process.

As always, don’t panic. We had several issues that cropped up, much much fewer than last time, but the fact that the team was willing to work together kept things pretty steady. Our decision to make the MUVE part of a larger project was gold for this part of the exercise.

1. because of the potential for vast literacy differences from class to class, establish workflow and goals at the beginning of the project with the students who will be using the software.
2. have two things going on so that you have a fallback lesson already running if the cutting edge tech starts to fall apart. You don’t really want to be sitting there with a bunch of worksheets (boring) to fill the time. A class planned with two concurrent activities one technologically dependable, one more risky, makes the transition to the ‘other activity’ seemless and much less painful.
3. forward the structure to the front end of the lesson. Unlike other social networking sites, students don’t seem to feel ‘restricted’ in their play by having a heavily structured exercise as their introduction.
4. ask for volunteers for gathering debugging information. Some students seem very keen, and valuable information can be lost in the drama of the moment.
5. Make your MUVE part of a larger project. whether your muve is proprietary or on an unstable platform, it’s nice to have the canonical information in another venue… and it diversifies the project. Many people will never see the muve… and if they can visit the website, with video of the MUVE, it helps spread out the reach a bit

Our first run at getting the students in Opensim

Well… well well well.

What we wanted to do was get a bunch of students to come into our computer lab, sit at a computer in pairs, wander around opensim, take their photo from their blog post and post it into a picture frame. That was the bottom line. Simple quest based goal – find the house, find the picture frame with your number on it, put your picture in the frame. If this is easily accomplished, then we can go back and get the blog posts into the ‘notecards’ (which aren’t really notecards yet) so that when people walk around the house, they can see a picture, click on it, and see the blog post that the student wrote.

<--Background - if you've no idea what i'm talking about, read this-->
The Living archives is a project that takes 3 junior high school classes and helps them research 19th century history. Their journey started with some themes found in the Anne of Green Gables novel and chosen by an assessment of artifacts from the period available for digitization at local heritage sites… The students then went to the locations, chose images, documents and objects to be digitized. They then did enough research to contextualize that content in a blog post to be associated with the picture. They are also going to take those images and text and bring them into Opensim, an ALPHA open source MUVE (secondlife but on your server with more control) where they will put their images into context by putting them into picture frames in a period house.
<--End of Background-->

We preinstalled the clients, got them connected to the right server, and logged in 13 users. The students arrived. I gave my 5-10 minute song and dance intro… and then the students grabbed hold and started flying around. 5 minutes of pure success… and then, our first server crash. You could see all 13 computer monitors and see their avatars diving towards the ground… with the first one i just assumed they were playing around, with the second a small part of my brain was hoping on a coincidence, with the third, that little voice silenced, I looked to my buddy (designer and opensim dude) nodded and started a new song and dance. I explained to the students that the work that they’d done was very valuable, showed them that their blogs were now ‘authorities’ on google on the obscure arcane subjects of ‘herb juice’ and ‘ice boats’ while chris desperately worked to get the server up.

We never really got everyone up again. One of the other inconveniences we discovered with the current release of opensim is that it doesn’t particularly like concurrent logons. So you’d really like to give several seconds between people logging in. This, as you might imagine, makes getting 13 students to log back in at the same time a little difficult. We tried, and got a few more in, and then lost them, and then got them back in again. Eventually we ended up cycling them to one computer connected to the overhead projector one at a time and got them to get their pictures in.

Not exactly what we had in mind, but many lessons learned.

1. We (and by extension the development community) has realized that it’s probably time to swing the development back from making the software ‘more awesome’ and swing back to making it ‘more stable’. It’s an inevitable balance, and one that we sped past in our own development… we probably didn’t actually need the ‘smoke script’ for instance. Cool to see the chimney working, but extra work for the system.

2. Include another concurrent project that you can divert more time into in the case of a technical failure. Now, we all know this, but i had about a half hour of material, not the 2 hours that was required for yesterday.

3. Start slow and build on simple successes. Tomorrow, when we try this again, we are going to start out with a simple tutorial and are going to run 4 student groups through at a time. Images first, blog posts second. If that works out, we’ll start adding more people. But just moving around inworld ‘is a success’ and accomplishing that needs to be focused on and regarded by both instructor and students as success.

4. Don’t panic. We easily could have had more students go back in… but when, after a second restart, we didn’t see images loading, we thought we’d lost the server. Turns out, it was just the jp2 converter taking its time. Had we given it more time, it would have worked fine. no need to panic. breaking new ground is never going to be painless

5. Never forget that forging new roads is going to be difficult and that selling that is key to success. The students need to buy into the fact that they are breaking ground.

6. It may be worthwhile, as Ian Truelove says, to start the students in a standalone server. We’re not doing that monday, but might in the future.

wish us luck tomorrow.

Living Archives and Opensim – Virtual PEI curriculum beta.

Well folks, tomorrow morning is a big day. I started writing the grant on this in the summer of 2006, have had piles and piles of help along the way and have now come down to it. We’ve got a website, we’ve got some great content researched and written by the kids. I’ll save the thanks to all individuals for when I’ve got a half day to order them all up and thanks them all properly. For now, I have work to do –> Crystallize the lesson plan for tomorrow morning. The kids are coming to the university… and we’re going to get them to do some simple tasks…

Background
It’s a big project… you can see it at http://livingarchives.ca. The ‘kensington’ link reflects the work that is the most complete right now… A class of grade seven students from KISH who just happen to be coming to the university tomorrow. They’ve gone to the provincial archives and records office, to various museums, taken video, pictures and done research to create an online textbook. An online textbook they are now going to round off with a trip into opensim where our crazy good team of developers has (with some fantastic help from the excellent opensim community) built three replicas of period houses in an opensource virtual 3D environment. In each house you’ll find about 25 picture frames. Each frame is to hold one of the pictures used by the students, with an attached notecard that will be the first paragraph of their blog post (see website above) and a link that will send people back to the website. From which, of course, a person could go in the other direction… from the blog to the opensim world.note:Stephen Downes was a great help in working out the elegance of this part.

For tomorrow – background prep
1. Get really cool people to build cool stuff. take video of cool stuff to show to students to give them a sense of what they will see when they get there.

2. Visit students. Encourage them in the belief that they are pioneers… that there are things that ‘are more likely to be easy’ and other things that ‘might make your computer blow up’. Encourage them to try the first ones first, then blow up their computer later.

3. Made the students choose which picture frame they wanted to have their picture/blog associated with. If two students wanted to use the same frame, quick debate ensued, best argument wins. I then attached the numbers associated with each picture frame to the title of the blog post of each student in a comment during the class.

4. I came home and made ‘node relationships’ (linked them together) between the videos and the blog posts.

5. installed the software in the computer labs and tested it. I will not bore with the disaster which was the first step on this road. Installed SL client on each of the computers that were necessary. The final tally… 20 computers for the first classroom (about 50 min) and 10 computers for the second classroom (about 1 1/2 hours). We have twenty-five students… but at least we’ve got computers that will connect to the Grid. That’s key, and they’re tested and ready.

6. The low end goal was to get the kids to go in and tour around and post their picture from their blog posts http://livingarchives.ca/etext_kensington . Step two, if possible, was to get the text from the text from the blog post in some kind of notecard and link back to the actual blog

more on this in the next “what happened” post.

Opensim (and soon Edugrids) – a month later… I still love it.

Well… I’ve been in and out of Opensim now for over a month. I’ve presented on it and had some pretty serious discussions with different folks about running projects with it. I’ve installed the server on XP and Ubuntu and Debian, I’ve connected to the server from XP, Linux and Mac. Truth is… I’ve installed it (if you count the upgrades) about 40 times.

I like it very much.

But it’s time for a little more serious evaluation. The project is still in alpha, the folks who are devoting their free time to developing it are saying time and time again “I wouldn’t really depend on your stuff being there from day to day.” There is no formal organization currently backing the community, nor is it super clear to the newcomer how they might get involved or what they might do to get started if they don’t know what svn is or what it means to “just run it on mono.” The current instructions on the website are not particularly designed for the newcomer… nor are they really intended to help the technologically transient. They are specific notes for those who are fairly familiar with a server or know how to create a .bat file in a folder (a surprisingly small number of people know that last one right off… i didn’t). I had to learn a bunch of things before i was comfortable working with it… and i’ve had my nose pretty seriously stuffed into servers for the last year or two… (I eventually decided that I needed to be able to control the means of production surrounding all this social software in order to evaluate it for people’s needs. I’m glad that learning part is over :P )

Opensim – What is it?

It is the BSD licensed server part of a Multi User Virtual Environment (MUVE) that works using the recently ‘open-sourced’ version of the Second Life client. I heard something in the IRC chat recently that they have a little over 100 of the 300+ functionalities that currently run in Linden Lab’s secondlife. There are two kinds of opensim… the ‘stand alone’ version and the ‘grid’ version. The standalone version allows you to control your own folks in your own ‘island’ or combination of islands. The grid version allows you to take it a step further… it allows you to connect your own ‘sims’ to other sims that other folks have made somewhere else.

Why should I care?

A few reasons. One of John Schinker’s students, on being asked about whether he was interested in working in an MUVE responded by saying that “he had some concerns about it if it was a public environment.” bless him. Opensim allows you to completely control the environment by limiting access to the people that you choose. On the other hand, to respond to some of the critique levelled against this kind of pedagogy it does no ‘FORCE’ you to restrict access. You could put a registration page on your website and let anyone into your grid. What it does, is offer you the choice.

The most interesting option
is the opportunity to do both. You could (soon, the technology is not quite there yet), create some of your world off your desktop in your own classroom and, when you felt like it, connect to edugrids, and meet with other students. You could then turn that off and return to the security of your own classroom. Best of both worlds, nice private place to work, nice public place to go and meet folks and show them your island.

What’s Edugrids?

Right now, Edugrids is a concept. I’ve currently been approached by two teachers who are interested in working alongside the project that we have going on here in PEI. They want to be able to bring their kids in to our opensim world and have them play along with other students. Nice safe environment, nice controlled access, but enough kids participating to have some community type stuff happen. Not a difficult concept really, but potentially very interesting… and very powerful.

How do I get involved

Give us a month or two. We’re still trying to figure out how this is going to work. We’ll get some kind of website up so that people can get a sense of what our goals are… and what they can and can’t do. To give people updates on where the software is and stuff. I’m just kinda fishing around right now trying to get the sense if this is the next personallearningspace or not. we’ll see.

OpenSim – open source multi user blah blah (sl). dave is in love.

The living archives project is running on apace… and I think we’ve finally come across the solution to the one snag that has been driving me crazy. How do we get kids into a virtual space… a virtual space we can control… where we can do what we want. Where the kids can control the world. Where kids can work in there if they are 11 years old. And could work with their parents. Or their teachers.

Well… I’m sold. Today the fantastic Ian Truelove introduced me to my last best chance to get some kids into a virtual world. I grabbed the software… followed the instructions… jumped onto the IRC channel for some very friendly advice and voila. An ‘ open simulation ‘ server on your own desktop. A virtual world that you could serve up to a single class (no bandwidth issues). A virtual world you could use for a special project. A virtual world that you could measure every damn bit of data you’d like. Want to upload more images? Go ahead… it’s your server.

ok… so what’s the catch. It isn’t quite a clean and wonderful as the SL grid. I saw my feet scoot under the rock a time or two… and the flying is still a little odd. I haven’t yet tested it with anyone other than me… I expect there will be a bunch of other pitfalls down the road of this little journey. But tonight. Tonight i celebrate!

An Open Source BSD licensed virtual world. I’ll worry about server strain and potential crashes tomorrow (no crashes yet however, after a couple of hours of uptime and no idea what i’m doing).

The folks at Second Life said they wouldn’t accept my pre-teens. They said that the ‘conversation we had no longer applied’. I now have to thank them for forcing me to go out and find the open sourced alternative.

woohoo!