Hello All,

Well, I have one question - has anyone seen an educational SecondLife presentation covering design theories of virtual space? This isn't about how to use SL, or showing social simulations/behaviors but on what we build and why we should build it. There is a great deal of written, but everyone seems to treat virtual worlds like Barbie Dreamhouse's and avatars like Dolls. I've read a lot, but haven't found a decent text since Benedikt's "Cyberspace: First Steps"

My question is rooted in Lev Manovich's statement in his book "The Language of New Media"
He states that there is no understanding of virtual space, only a loose collection of articles related to realism in rendering or behavior. Realism is big term for me, and while I like it, I find most people let it dictate what they build. Moreover, they tend to get lost in realism's ties to narrative, and forget that virtual worlds are also GUI's (graphic user interfaces) and all the lessons of HCI and Usability still apply.

The reason I'm looking for a presentation on how worlds should be designed is two-fold.
1) Seeing a world/presentation designed to a new set principles that exploit the nature and power of a virtual space AND explains those principles would be helpful to me (and others I suspect)
2) Well, I've actually put something to together on this subject and am doing my due diligence. I'm fairly certain nothing beyond a few virtual slide presentations on basically realistic looking stages has been done. Maybe a few include a simulation, or a little roleplaying.

PS: Please don't mention books like Mirrors Worlds. If you have it, take a look at his illustrations, they are blank squares a top an isometric cityscape - useless. And texts like Hamlet on the Holodeck, really highlight my point on realism and narrative. (Murray was prof of mine as well) If you think its useful consider if early filmmakers declared - the future of movies is Shakespeare on the Cinemascope...

PS 2, I'm not always gruff... people like John Klima, Patrick Keller, Adam Nash, Cristiano Bianchi, Andy Best have all done innovative work (IMHO)

Tags: design, innovation, of, space, theory, virtual

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here's an Article on Virtual Museums I wrote a while back.
Its not especially academic but it is the sort of thing I'm hoping to find more of.

there's a range of pictures in the back.
and I mention but don't show the Virtual Guggenheim

lately I've been looking into game design as a starting point.
attached is a paper - written for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), but I'm finding they aren't fluent in issues of narrative and storytelling - so much of this is lost on them.
Given that most of what passes for design in virtual worlds is still in Stage 1 Adoption (doing the old things with the new tools), I'd be surprised if you find much. There *was* an initiative in SecondLife last year to design "innovative learning spaces" on a specific plot of unreal estate. I lost track of that but the results should be available. I suspect that's too narrow a focus for what you're looking for, but it might be a start.

You might also check out Intellagirl's new work on the facets of virtual worlds at http://ubernoggin.com

"Stage 1 Adoption" This is exactly what Sun's Wonderland guys told me during a tour of their space. They have a lecture space with little microphones on stands in the aisles - as if we'd move our avatars to them to ask questions of those on stage. (I asked Sun's guys to justify them...)

I buy Adoption as a stage - (doing the old things with the new tools)
Habitat dates back to 1986, and conceptually the work hasn't grown much past this point.
(a Habitat promo vid, very funny, but also helps define just how old, old really is...)

"innovative learning spaces" thanks, its often just a matter of having the right search terms.
Not seeing anything that matches what I think you want me to see, but found a few places.
They seem to realize that realism is not always best. I hear glimmers of people liking abstraction too, but there's no frame for understanding. They use phrases like "flexible and innovative learning spaces not constrained by walls, bolted-down chairs, or real-world physics."
(nice easy tour, but not truly innovative - its a start though)

I'll keep thumbing along (when I don't have a stack of student papers to read/grade)

PS http://ubernoggin.com nice information, I know a few folks who'd like to see this :)
I can't find that link for "innovative spaces" now either. It was a contest where educators submitted proposals to a panel and were selected to implement as "winner" for a month. I think. It was sometime last year. Lemme ask my Twitterverse if they remember it.
It was a project from Jokaydia

This helps a bit, contact a few folks there.
Will also invite you to an early demo of my efforts when its ready.
(around March 17th or so)

If you have a background in film studies/history and/or HCI/usability practices it should go over great for you.
Small update for those following this thread...

A video (30 secs) showing my past work is here:

The new classroom, switched to Exit Reality is online here:

use the Teacher's entrance, Internet Explorer and the gestures node to work the show.
(there's a bit to learn about ER to really get the whole feel, keypad will separate you're viewpoint from your avatar)

Currently posted is my Doctoral Dissertation, notes on this are in a PDF in the video section.

Will add a piece on Darwin and other older works shortly...
Next step is to build a demo for educators - but gah, what to say. The work seems so simple, its easy to overlook what's really going own. Frankly only people who have tried virtual teaching will really understand...



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