AVWW Doggie Bag


A big thanks to Feldpsar Epstein for attending the real-world AVWW event last weekend. What follows are some of the highlights from her perspective. We’d also love to hear your thoughts.

The Australian Virtual Worlds Workshop, Friday 28 November and Saturday 29 November 2008, held at Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, was a bit of a mixed bag. I present here some of my favourite take-away notions.

Presence in Virtual Worlds

The presence afforded by virtual worlds of many flavours can put conference and class participants on a more equal footing, where each individual has access to the event in the same way, i.e. through a common virtual world. Unlike video or phone events, where some people are present physically, and others are present through a technological medium, virtual worlds create a more compelling atmosphere, since each person has an equal presence.

Investing in understanding

It makes sense for educational institutions to make use of contractors and ‘experts’, especially where that knowledge or those skills are lacking amongst the faculty. However, it’s important also that the faculty invest some time and effort into expanding their own knowledge to the point that they understand what they are asking the contractors to do. There is little point in asking for the impossible and then feeling disappointed or cheated when it cannot be done.

Students are not just consumers of education

Students at all levels need to have input into their own education. It is important that students collaborate with and mentor not just each other, but also the faculty. This kind of education goes on in the real world all the time; failure to support it in virtual environments represents diminished opportunity for students.

VastPark – vast possibilities, simplicity in action

Vast Park is a virtual worlds platform being developed in Australia. The standards are open (as in Open Source), as is the code, to a large extent, except for pieces such as the renderer; these closed-source pieces have been introduced to cut down on the amount of work needed to be put into technologies that already exist and need not be duplicated. The Immersive Media Markup Language (IMML) was conceived with this notion in mind – “A deaf person must be able to communicate with a blind person.” This means, in essence, that rich, complex environments can be described simply, and that there is a vast range of accessibility options available.

“VastPark” is the name of the technology behind the virtual worlds that other people will create.

Hedonic Consumption Behaviours

Hedonic behaviours account for approximately 51% of intentions to use virtual worlds, making enjoyment the most significant predictor of usage.

Linden Lab: standalone servers soon

AVWW 2008 continues (a wrap-up of Day 1 will appear soon), with some superb presentations and discussion.

This morning I attended the presentation by Linden Lab’s Chris Collins, who gave an interesting overview of Linden Lab’s approach and future plans. Two standouts for me were:

1. The 2009 beta of a standalone Second Life grid – this, like the OpenSim platform, will allow users to run their own grid. Expect to hear more on the beta program in the very near future.

2. When asked on the delay in Australian Second Life servers, there was an admission that the ‘real soon now’ of 18-months ago had stretched considerably, with no commitment given on when, if ever, this may occur.

The standalone servers will provide a great opportunity for Australians in addition to current offerings like Openlife. Once further work is done on being able to move between grids, Australia may actually have a higher performance option than currently exists.

More on AVWW presentations soon – if you have the chance today, jump into the Second Life AVWW sessions for some fascinating insights.

AVWW 2008 commences

The Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop is underway today and continues tomorrow (all day Friday and Saturday 28th / 29th November Australian time). The base for events is Swinburne University’s Koala Island.

It’s still not too late to get involved and it’s even free to join the Second Life component of AVWW (click here for landmark)

We’ll be covering both the RL and SL event over the coming two days – the event organisers have arranged a comprehensive program so do take some time to participate if you can. We’re proud to be a media partner for this event.

Check it out in-world

AVWW this weekend – registrations still open

Just a reminder that one of Australia’s best virtual worlds get-togethers in on this weekend in Melbourne and in Second LifeAVWW 2008.

Registrations remain open – there’s no cost for in-world attendance, $20 for students and presenters attending the Melbourne event, $50 for other attendees.

There’s a great program on offer so do think about registering – Australians are at the forefront of virtual worlds research and development and forums like this will ensure things keep going from strength to strength.

Our own Feldspar Epstein will be attending this weekend to cover the best of the event but nothing will beat being there yourself.

AVWW 2008 – registrations open

The Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop and (AVWW) is back again in 2008 and it’s looking like a fascinating two-day program. It’s being held at Swinburne University in Melbourne on the 28th and 29th November.

Keynote presenters include the New Media Consortium’s Larry Johnson, SLCN‘s Keren Flavell, Linden Lab’s Chris Collins and VastPark CEO Bruce Joy.

We’re proud to be a media partner for the event and will be covering both the real-world and Second Life proceedings. If you’ve got any interest in virtual worlds and education, health and business then think about registering.

Australasian Virtual Worlds Workshop: call for participation

After last year’s successful ‘Discover Your Second Life’ session, a number of educators have banded together to organise the first Australian Virtual Worlds Workshop (AVWW).

It’s scheduled for the 28th and 29th November 2008 at Swinburne University in Melbourne. The organising committee are currently calling for participants, so if you’d like to get involved, check the AVWW website.


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