20070623 Participatory Networks Breakout Session

John Lester - Linden Labs

real people behind each avatar in Second Life
Second Life is fundamentally not a game
- it's like the web; there are games on the web, but the web itself is not a game
Linden Labs provides a platform for other people to create things
residents create all of the content

important to focus on roles and goals when thinking about SL
augmenting, not replacing
online spaces augment real ones, not replace
experiential and immersive learning
creating online what you create in real life
create tools online that help people exchange information online in real-time
connecting people together online in real time

"emotional bandwidth"
why do people use emoticons? because we constantly create emotional bandwidth
compare these to seeing facial expressions, proximity, how people clump together, etc. in Second Life
that's why it's more meaningful to meet together with friends in SL
- sense of place, sense space, sense of time together

mentioned Reuters news bureau in SL, which is covering events in-world

there's a hurricane simulator in which you can fly through a hurricane on a plane (literally, you can stand on the wing) to see what it's like

biologists working with programmers to create artificial life

place where you can say the name of a molecule, and then it pulls the molecule data off the web and displays it in-world. you can actually sit on the molecule and talk to others about particular bonds

what will the workplace of tomorrow look like?
grad students from all over the world currently meeting in-world

we see virtual reality every day - people on the bus talking on their cell phone to someone who isn't there; they're living somewhere other than on the bus at that moment

3D printing is already here

challenge of new media
when you're thinking of the future, it's not necessarily going to be like the present - don't know how we'll leverage new tools

we are bound by our biology
our brains evolved to learn how to navigate a 3D environment
they're geared to communicate and create shared experiences, to learn with other people
our brains embrace tools
they're really good at taking pieces of data and making a whole
when people say it's just images on a screen, it's not real, it's partial data that becomes a cognitive whole

Librarians 2.0

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Eli Neiburger - Ann Arbor District Library

Libraries as conversations with gamers

58% of US adult population never reads another book after high school (publishers survey; may read newspapers, etc., but not books)
our market is 42%
69% of heads of household play games, though
they're part of our society

just because we haven't gotten into this yet, doesn't mean we can't

went through some demographics that show it's not just teenage boys
becoming more ubiquitous with each generation
according to Pew, more teenagers play games than instant message (email, games, then IM - email actually went down 3%, too!)
went up 66% to 81%

young kids are into pokemon, which has been around for 10 years
latest game sold 10 million copies in one week, though - not old hat for kids
they have thousands of lines of text in them - more than they get in school curricula
- and with these, they want to read *every single line*
- requires significant text literacy

gamers as parents
want to play with their kids because they grew up with it, too

now have senior gamers
retirement homes are buying Nintendo Wiis and having bowling tournaments
AADL has had some all ages events with parents and grandparents

providing gaming is like storytime - adding a social element to pieces of content
if swap a book with Mario Kart, it's the exact same thing
they've found that they can have interactions with their patrons that were impossible in other ways and formats

showed a video of a girl talking positively about gaming in the library
at a retro event, she talked about root beer tap and how much she loved it; her parents had been "bosses at it" when they were kids
- she loved doing the color commentary for events

online conversations
having their name on a blog is like having their name in the newspaper because they don't read newspapers

some parents say their kids never experienced competitive success like this before in a social environment before because our culture is so focused on athletics
- external validation they didn't get anywhere else
- helps them "come out of their shell"

9500 comments from the gamers

eli has conversations with them about the tournaments on the blog
hold the kids to high standards in these discussions
"this sucks" doesn't cut it - have to be able to clearly articulate points to be persuasive

"video game events are like a gateway drug for libraries" - one gamer said this about AADL's tournaments

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Kitty Pope

people are the content of websites

1. communication tool
- real people in real time
- reachint out to new customers
- attracting 5,000 people a day to Info Island for a variety of reasons
- Alliance has staff meetings every two weeks in Second Life
- lots of programs and exhibits
- avatars are inquisitive because people are inquisitive
- recently held a program with Henry VIII and his first two wives; crowd heckled him and asked him questions about why he did it
- almost crashed SL when Stephen King was in-world talking about his books
- now getting requests from publishers to do programs in-world to launch titles

2. distance education tool for academics
- 250 active academic institutions in SL now

3. training and learning tool
- more interesting and immersive interface than traditional learning management systems

4. extended reference service (not all about books)
- a year and a half out, can say the books and like content are the pieces SL residents want
- libraries need to be there for that and more

5. promotes community dialogue
- social dialogue
- creating a space for the community to meet and greet; creating emotional bandwidth

this is not for every library
doesn't fit for every community
however, there are many for which there are active presences and it does connect with folks there

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Angela Semifero, Deputy Director of Marshall (MI) District Library

works with the public every day and is increasingly helping patrons (young and older) with social networking sites

more than 106 million profiles on MySpace according to Reuters
3rd most popular website in the U.S.
had to break up a fight the other day between two kids because one posted something mean about the other on the site

despite the negative press, most people are just on ms to talk to each other
showed some different library ms sites

highly recommends doing social networking safety workshops
- always has press and parents show up when she does this
have patrons make video PSAs for your website
have book discussion group participants create character profiles

has tracked down lost family members for patrons, just because they're on myspace

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Questions

1. is google doing anything in SL?
A. John: not that he knows of. searching is more difficult there because so much of what's happening in SL is people meeting each other at events

2. are there archives of SL? preservation?
A. John: just not feasible to archive everything minute-to-minute. google "second life history wiki" - it's a wiki created by a bunch of residents to record things that are happening

3. her son learned how to read because of pokemon. was at a conference recently where others were meeting with folks in the room via SL that was disrupted by griefers
A. John: yes, they exist in SL, too. deal with them the same way you do in real life. in SL, you can actually mute other people, something you can't do in the real world :) can also delegate responsibilities so multiple can help with this
Kitty: have problem patrons in real life, but can also have policy for dealing with them in SL, too

4. what about legislators that want to block access to these sites via cutting funding, taking away peoples' rights? why isn't this community better organized to fight this?
A: Kitty: many presidential candidates have a presence on these sites

David Lankes (moderator): if we can enhance and create conversations via programming, avatars, tournaments, whatever - this is at the core of librarianship
we need to lead in these technologies using libraries core goals and core values
have these conversations in an enriched way
looks at all of this as a continuous conversation with our communities to ask how we can keep doing better, enriching community