Hi! I'm an academic in Australia. I teach English Education and my research interests include new literacies, digital fiction, fan fiction, blogging, identity, pop culture, computer games, systemic linguistics, feminism and young people online. Recently I have been teaching and researching in the virtual world of Second Life, where I am known as Anya Ixchel.
Because I did the talk using double page spreads, the slides should really be viewed in pairs (text on the LHS, image on RHS) to go with the podcast talk properly. But hopefully you get the idea!
I hated listening to myself speaking and couldn’t bear it after the first 5 minutes, so I apologise in advance for the fact that I was presenting after midnight in Australian time and was not at my most articulate!
But isn’t this is a VERY COOL new social application!!
Following my talk was a special kind of fashion show, where people were invited to showcase their unique identities and discuss their decisions and reasons behind constructing the avatar that they did. The podcast of this event is here.
Next up was the incredible Dell Wilberg, who’s talk was entitled Future Perfect: Towards a Better Second Life. Using knowledge of trends in technology over the past several decades, Dell offered us an insight into what we might expect in our immediate future.
Finally we heard from Danielle Mirliss and Heidi Trotta who spoke about their work with Undergraduate students in Second Life: Engaging the Disengaged. It was fascinating to hear their experiences and to compare their thoughts with my own experiences with post-grads. The podcast is here.
In my closing remarks I mentioned that Christy was being interviewed in just a few hours time by the ABC media in Australia about Second Life, and here is the podcast for that (go Christy!!!).
The NMC blogging and recording of the four hour event was fantastic and my thanks go to Larry Pixel and CDB Barkley for inviting us to be a part of this very significant symposium. it was an honour and a thrill to be invited.
85 more photographs here, thanks also to Gary Hazlitt and NMC for many of the photographs in this set.
The New Media Consortium will host the 12-day symposium on the NMC campus in Second Life, focusing on the impact of digital media on all aspects of our daily lives. The Symposium on the Impact of Digital Media will explore the ways we encounter and understand digital media — inside such a setting. This virtual symposium is informed by the MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning, a two-year project in which the NMC is helping to explore the impact of digital media on our lives in a variety of ways, and encouraging dialogue among experts, visionaries, and thought leaders from around the globe.
In my dual role as an educator in Second Life and as editor of Slatenight (a magazine about the Arts, education, culture and entertainment in SL) I was invited to plan a live event inside Second Life for Sl residents.
I have planned a four hour series of events, and here is our program:
Friday October 20th 7am-11am - Live Event SLATENIGHT hosted events
* The Avatar as Communication - Dr Angela Thomas, Sydney University (Anya Ixchel, editor of Slatenight)
* Fashion parade: Fashioning the Avatar (showcasing the range of unique identities in SL)
* Remediation of the Art Space in SL - Christy Dena, Sydney University (Lythe Witte, writer for Slatenight)
* Future Perfect: Projections forward to an even better world - Dell Wilberg (creative designer of Slatenight)
* Engaging the Disengaged: Using SL to Revitalize the Undergraduate Classroom - Danielle Mirliss and Heidi Trotta, Seton Hall University, NY (Danielle Damone and Heidi TeeCee, writers for Slatenight)
So, if you are in SL, come along and listen to us - our voices will be streamed into world as will the music, and you’ll probably hear lots of laughing and informal chatting during the fashion show - oh and the musicians tell me I will never be able to shut them up, so you may even hear me getting very stern trying to keep them in line *grin*
If you have Second Life downloaded already, and are a member of the NMC guests group (to access the NMC sim you need to be a guest of the group), here is the SLURL.
If you haven’t seen this book yet, you absolutely MUST!!! I used it with my children’s literature class and the students found it very challenging. The text is written in a very unconventional style - the grammar and spelling and lexis is unusual - a cross between the invented language from Roald Dahl, the funny grammar from Tolkien, and sms text message phonetic spelling. I personally think it is brilliantly done, but I was fascinated to learn that there was such controversy over it that penguin books hired somebody to write the special teacher notes (see link above) to explain it to people. It isn’t a gimmick either, it is clearly reflective of the theme and issues dealt with in the text. Fabulous!
Yesterday I went to the most fascinating presentation by Christy Dena and she has totally converted me into the heady world of Mono-Polymorphism!! This was one of the best “big picture” conceptualisations for the many forms of distributred narratives, ARGs, digital fiction, fan fiction and media franchise narrative “events” that I have ever seen. I love talks like this because they remind me how SLOW education is in this field and really challenge my thinking to new levels. Here is Christy’s abstract - if only I had some of her mind blowing slides to show too!
Mono-Polymorphism: A Paradigm for Understanding Cross-Media Entertainment
In the age of cross-media production works are distributed over time and space like never before. A story can be adapted into numerous media and arts forms; episodes traverse television and digital games; a plot can stretch from a book to the web; a work of fiction can be indistinguishable from reality and a work of art indistinguishable from marketing. The methodological discourses touched by this phenomenon are, among others, Narratology, Ludology, Media Studies and Semiotics. How does one recognise, analyse and frame these works? Introducing Mono-Polymorphism: the theory where many forms and the singular co-exist. Giddy with the notion of a ‘unified theory of everything’, this theory seeks to provide a schema for understanding the meta-discursive, taxonomical, and rhetorical complexity of these works. And yes, the dissonance with ‘mono-polymorphism’ is intentional.
I couldn’t resist - in the regular University bulletin today came the following notice about some latest lingusitics research from the UK (what do you guys do over there??)
Cows ‘moo with a regional accent’
Cows moo with a regional accent, according to their farmers. Dairy farmers in Somerset noticed a local twang to the sounds made by their animals, and experts confirmed that different herds made different sounds. John Wells, Professor of Phonetics at the University of London,
said: “This phenomena is well attested in birds. You find distinct chirping accents in the same species around the country. “This could also be true of cows. In small populations such as herds you would encounter identifiable dialectical variations which are most affected by the immediate peer group.” Dr Jeanine Treffers-Daller, reader in linguistics at the University of the West of England in Bristol, said the accent may be learned from relatives.
(Apologies to anybody offended by the “b” word in the comic)
Guest Editor: ANGELA THOMAS
Editorial, pages 124-125
ANGELA THOMAS. ‘MSN was the Next Big Thing after Beanie Babies’: children’s virtual experiences as an interface to their identities and their
everyday lives, pages 126-142
SALLY HUMPHREY. ‘Getting the Reader On Side’: exploring adolescent onlinepolitical discourse, pages 143-157
BARBARA J. GUZZETTI. Cybergirls: negotiating social identities oncybersites, pages 158-169
REBECCA W. BLACK. Language, Culture and Identity in Online Fanfiction, pages 170-184
KEVIN LEANDER & AMY FRANK. The Aesthetic Production and Distribution of Image/Subjects among Online Youth, pages 185-206
LALITHA VASUDEVAN. Making Known Differently: engaging visual modalities as spaces to author new selves, pages 207-216
JULIA DAVIES. Affinities and Beyond! Developing Ways of Seeing in Online Spaces, pages 217-234
GUY MERCHANT. Identity, Social Networks and Online Communication, pages 235-244
JONATHAN PAUL MARSHALL. Categories, Gender and Online Community, pages 245-262
BOOK REVIEW E-Literature for Children: enhancing digital literacy learning (Len Unsworth), reviewed by Angela Thomas, pages 263-264
For all editorial matters, including articles offered for publication, please contact Professor Michael A. Peters (email@example.com).
I have been working on this particular machinima with Kronos (the director) and Dell (the leading man) and above is a shot of us shooting at the set. Kronos teaches at a film and acting school in NY so has years of “real world” experience. Working with him has been a dream because I have learnt so much about the language and practice of filmmaking from all angles. (I could now tell you about way points, cycloramas, and infinity corners, for example!) I have also learnt a lot of neat tricks in SL about how to control the gaze and head movements of my avatar and so on.
So a few weeks ago, Kronos wrote a script - it is a short comedy called “Lip Flap”. We then started building the set. Well, Kronos built it, and I dressed and designed most of it. The action all takes place in a bedroom, though there might be some flashback sequences, depending on time constraints I believe. So I spent quite a lot of time hunting all over Second Life for some gorgeous bedroom furniture, right down to tiny details like tote bags, makeup boxes, jewelry boxes, hairbrushes, books and so on to place about on the furniture. Since some of my costumes were from Nonna Hedges, I also did a little subtle product placement with this gorgeous box from her store.
Then Kronos sent Dell and I a list of information we would need to know before the shoot. This included telling us that we had to keep idle chatter to a minimum (*grin*), and telling us that when the camera was rolling, he wouldn’t see our chat etc.. lots of technical stuff! He also sent us a shot sequence so we would know what order we would be doing things. (Kronos is extremely organised, so professional!).
The script involves me doing 8 costume changes. My costumes had to reflect variety and difference, so I spent a LONG time going through my hundreds of outfits to finally select my top 10 favourites. I made pre-shoot photos of each costume and sent the photos to Kronos for inspection, and he selected the 8 he thought would work best for the shoot. We ended up selecting clothing from: Nonna Hedges, Pixel Dolls, Rebel Hope, Simone, Luxe and Chaospire. The shoot starts out with me in my favourite Nonna Hedges outfit, and finishes with me in my favourite Luxe costume (this gothic gypsy one). Here’s the Chaospire gothic fairy costume that comes half way through:
So I pre-prepared the full costumes into folders so that I could drag and drop and do instant costume changes! While doing this preparation I finally realised (after 6 months of being in Second Life!!!) that I could make copies of my skin, hair, and manicure to add to each individual folder, to enable a complete avatar change in one move! The only difficulty I had was with my eyelashes, which were non-copyable, so I had to manually attach them every single costume change *groan* I also had key lights - like a spotlight - attached to my torso so that I would be adequately lit at all times, and these lights were also inside each invidual folder. In addition, Kronos had made folders for Dell and I with all of the animations we would need during the shoot. The preparation time actually took more time than the shoot itself!
So last night we began shooting. It was actually a kind of boring process when the cameras were rolling, but after each sequence of takes Kronos would go check the rushes to see if he’d got what he needed, and during those times Dell and I chatted and played games and amused ourselves with general silliness. We’re wrapping up shooting over next weekend, then Kronos will do the editing, and he and Linda (his wife) will be doing the voice overs and foley FX.
It’s a wonderful process to be involved in, and I have learnt an awful lot as I said. I could do this sort of thing all day long, its so stimulating. But alas, I must go back to marking 80 assignments on verbs and nouns :/
(PS: If you are one of my undergraduate students, never fear, I like your assignments, you did great work, but marking them is a tedious process!)
Yay!! I now have the complete set of gorgeous jewels, thanks not, I am afraid, to my own skills at deciphering clues, but to the skills of my now very favourite person because he is so clever and he found them when I couldn’t - Dell!!
here is my navel ring:
Here’s an earring and one view of my necklace:
here is a better view of the necklace:
and here’s me wearing everything in the set:
That was a very difficult quest but luckily I have the right contacts to help and voila! Gorgeous jewels are mine!!!! What fun. I do think there’s a lot to think about in terms of storying and gaming and the hybridity of the two in quests like this. By the end of this particular quest the story had little value or impact, and the game became more significant. I am wondering whether anybody has done a study of the schematic structures of game-narratives?
Anyway, huge thanks to the creator of this quest, Random, and to my riddle-solving questing companion, Dell!