Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NMC CampusTour

One of Second Life’s main strengths is that it provides a virtual space for academic research and discourse. Many communities rather islands on Second Life have been built specially for these purposes and have been specifically designed for new media research. The New Media Consortium is one such experimental community that supports academic research and collaborative learning.

The amphitheater located at the heart of the Island is one such structure used for group discussions and lectures.

The Aho Museum showcases, contemporary digital art, a medium that is becoming increasing popular and changing the way we view art and how it should be exhibited.

Another useful resource found at NMC is a virtual library that provides up to date information of recent developments in new media technology.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Second Life Scavenger Hunt

Virtual Hallucinations on Sedig Island

Nexas Prime

The Science Fiction Geek Museum on Indigo Island

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Commercializing the MUD

It is estimated that today, almost 4,000,000 people from virtually all corners of the globe flood Second Life, inhabiting this completely user created, virtual world. Despite all to Hoo Haaaas about this supposedly revolutionary “second life” many people forget the history of virtual environments. A decade allow the so-called computer geeks logged onto a completely text driven virtual space called a MUD; a space that I personally was very fascinated with. In my view, it was the MUDs that was the real revolutionary technology. I can't help to feel that Second Life in many ways has just commercialized the MUD by creating a visual layout and therefore has lost the true experience that a text based environment creates. As stated by another link minded blogger Susan Wu “Text is like mainlining opium right into your subconscious – it doesn’t get filtered by any visual or auditory filter – it goes straight into your brain and feeds your imagination”. Although Second Life is truly a creative idea for another ground breaking means of communication, I believe the experience does not invoke imagination and the idea of a “second life” in the ways in which other virtual spaces do. I believe that Second Lifes main aim to be as close to reality as possible is limiting the imagination and ‘out of this world’ experience. In a metaverse like Second life their seems to be this strong desire to replicate reality and make it a real as possible. But the simple argument is: It just not reality and it can never be.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Suzanne Vega Avatar Live In Concert

This is a really interesting and perhaps a revolutionary story. In August 2006, Suzanne Vega became the first performing artist to play a live concert in a virtual world. The performance opened a whole new listening experience. The venue was a lovely auditorium, lovely lighting and a pleasant listening experience. No hassle or driving a couple of hours to the Hollywood Bowl, waiting in line for several hours, finally getting in, sitting so far back that the performer would seem a foot tall. Vega pulled off a great performance with her custom made avatar and sleek acoustic guitar. Although Vega seemed disturbingly expressionless and quite sober throughout her performance, I have no doubt in my mind that the future for such virtual events is extremely bright.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Science Fiction, Technology and Cyberpunk

Throughout history, clear connections can be traced between science fiction and ideas of computer technology and the digital world. The tail end of the 1930’s saw Russian-born writer Isaac Asimov, often considered as the ultimate utopian science fiction writer. Asimov’s writings introduced the world to the idea of a artificially intelligent efficient machine capable of serving humans in almost any way possible. These complex algorithms also known as Robots where products of Asimov’s imagination.

This paved the way for the 2nd generation of science fiction writings which included authors like Philip K Dick and Arthur C Clark. These writers presented another angle of technology, a darker and dystopian view.

In the 1980’s however, a new cult of science fiction writing emerged, with writers such as William Gibson and his great noel, Necromancer. This novel soon gained the cult status by being one of the first novel in a new science fiction genre called Cyberpunk. The term cyberpunk was associated with ideas of personal empowerment through technology and spread rapidly through the young generation of computer junkies. Cyberpunk can be considered a post-modern view of looking at technology; a belief that the future has imploded into the present and that data and human minds were now battlefields.

The cult of the Cyberpunks perhaps lead to one of the most revolutionary ideas and concepts of the binary world. It lead to a new school of hackers who today are largely responsible for developing the computer system into what it is today. Hacker culture during the 80’s was very different from what it has turned into now. Infact, godfathers of hacking like Steve Wozniak (Apple) and Keven Mitnick are perhaps some of the underlined names in computer evolution textbooks. The concepts of hacking and technology are furthered explored in Gorden’s article.