The JISC e-Learning Programme has released Serious Virtual Words: A Scoping Study.
Here's an excerpt from the announcement:
The aim of the report then is two-fold: to provide a context for learning practitioners and policy makers, aiding with their understanding of virtual worlds and how they can be selected and used in tertiary education; and to highlight how learners, through greater empowerment, may play a different and enriched role in the process of forming collaborative learning experiences and engaging in activities which may support their own learning and meta-reflection.
The Texas Digital Library is hosting the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. The first issue is now available.
Articles in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research are freely available in the PDF format, and they are under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
The journal is edited by Jeremiah Spence, a doctoral student at the University of Texas at Austin's College of Communication.
The Texas Digital Library also hosts the Journal of Digital Information. Articles in the Journal of Digital Information are freely available in the PDF or HTML formats, and authors retain the copyright to them. Supported by the Texas A&M University Libraries, it is edited by Cliff McKnight, Professor of Information Studies at Loughborough University, and Scott Phillips, Research and Development Coordinator at the Texas A&M University Libraries' Digital Initiatives department.
A podcast of the first meeting of the ALA's Virtual Communities and Libraries Member Initiative Group is now available.
Here's the group's statement of purpose from its ALA Wiki entry:
To provide a group within ALA for members interested in fostering the practice of library work, the visibility of libraries and library workers, and the extension of library services within online social networks, virtual worlds, and other communities of intention. To provide a mechanism for sharing experiences and practices in-person or virtually through programming or asynchronous communications. To encourage wider participation by the profession and the association in virtual worlds. and To establish a forum across all types of libraries and at all levels of library employment concerned with the development of library services in emerging social networks, virtual worlds, and other communities of intention. This group is open to all members.
Nick Bostrom, Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford, says in a New York Times article today:
“My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that,” he says, “is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”
Bostrom thinks so because, barring a future prohibition on creating simulated worlds or disinterest in doing so, that our posthuman descendants are almost certain to create simulations of the past. The more simulations that are run, the more likely that you are in one.
By some estimates, there will be enough available computing power to create a simulated world by 2050.
However, there could be a recursive problem:
It’s also possible that there would be logistical problems in creating layer upon layer of simulations. There might not be enough computing power to continue the simulation if billions of inhabitants of a virtual world started creating their own virtual worlds with billions of inhabitants apiece.
I wouldn't count on it though.
Source: Tierney, John. "Our Lives, Controlled From Some Guy's Couch." The New York Times, 14 August 2007, D1, D4.
What happens in Second Life is increasingly influencing real life and vice versa. Here are some recent highlights:
A cross-institutional team has built a a simulation of Rome as it was in 320 A.D. called Rome Reborn 1.0.
Here’s an excerpt from the press release:
Rome’s Mayor Walter Veltroni will officiate at the first public viewing of "Rome Reborn 1.0," a 10-year project based at the University of Virginia and begun at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to use advanced technology to digitally rebuild ancient Rome. The event will take place at 2 p.m. in the Palazzo Senatorio on the Campidoglio. An international team of archaeologists, architects and computer specialists from Italy, the United States, Britain and Germany employed the same high-tech tools used for simulating contemporary cities such as laser scanners and virtual reality to build the biggest, most complete simulation of an historic city ever created. "Rome Reborn 1.0" shows almost the entire city within the 13-mile-long Aurelian Walls as it appeared in A.D. 320. At that time Rome was the multicultural capital of the western world and had reached the peak of its development with an estimated population of one million.
"Rome Reborn 1.0" is a true 3D model that runs in real time. Users can navigate through the model with complete freedom, moving up, down, left and right at will. They can enter important public buildings such as the Roman Senate House, the Colosseum, or the Temple of Venus and Rome, the ancient city’s largest place of worship.
As new discoveries are made, "Rome Reborn 1.0" can be easily updated to reflect the latest knowledge about the ancient city. In future releases, the "Rome Reborn" project will include other phases in the evolution of the city from the late Bronze Age in the 10th century B.C. to the Gothic Wars in the 6th century A.D. Video clips and still images of "Rome Reborn 1.0" can be viewed at www.romereborn.virginia.edu. . . .
The "Rome Reborn" project was begun at UCLA in 1996 by professors Favro and Frischer. They collaborated with UCLA students from classics, architecture and urban design who fashioned the digital models with continuous advice from expert archaeologists. As the project evolved, it became collaborative at an international scale. In 2004, the project moved its administrative home to the University of Virginia, while work in progress continued at UCLA. In the same year, a cooperative research agreement was signed with the Politecnico di Milano. . . .
Many individuals and institutions contributed to "Rome Reborn" including the Politecnico di Milano (http://www.polimi.it), UCLA (http://www.etc.ucla.edu/), and the University of Virginia (www.iath.virginia.edu). The advisors of the project included scholars from the Italian Ministry of Culture, the Museum of Roman Civilization (Rome), Bath University, Bryn Mawr College, the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, the German Archaeological Institute, Ohio University, UCLA, the University of Florence, the University of Lecce, the University of Rome ("La Sapienza"), the University of Virginia and the Vatican Museums.
Real life (RL) is so 20th century. Virtual worlds are where it’s at. At least, that’s what readers of BusinessWeek‘s recent "My Virtual Life" article by Robert D. Hof may quickly come to believe.
You may think that virtual worlds are just kids stuff. Tell that to Anshe Chung, who has made over $250,000 buying and renting virtual real estate in Linden Lab’s Second Life. Or, Chris Mead, whose Second Life couples avatars earn him a cool $90,000 per year. Or the roughly 170,000 Second Life users who spent about $5 million real dollars on virtual stuff in January 2006.
How about this? For all virtual worlds, IGE Ltd. estimates that users spend over $1 billion real dollars on virtual stuff last year.
While most users may be buying virtual clothes, land, and entertainment and other services, conventional companies are exploring how to use virtual worlds for training, meeting, and other purposes, plus trying to snag regular users’ interest with offerings such as Well’s Fargo’s Stagecoach Island.
For the library slant on Second Life, try the Second Life Library 2.0 blog and don’t miss the Alliance Second Life Library 2.0 introduction on 5/31/06 from 2:00 PM-3:30 PM. And don’t foget to browse the Second Life Library 2.0 image pool at Flickr.
Oh, brave new world that has such avatars in it!
Source: Hof, Robert D. "My Virtual Life." BusinessWeek, 1 May 2006, 72-82.