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.
Although I only had a very tiny bit of funding last year to start me up in Second Life it didn’t last long, and I spent a small fortune on land, tier, and classroom costs from my own pocket. Although I applied for funding to continue, I was unfortunately unseccessful (honestly…. it was deemed that paying for land in SL was “an inappropriate use of funds”, but let’s not get into how upset I was when I was told that). So I had to sell up and return to being homeless.
However thanks to the amazing kindness of my friend Dell, I am now squatting on his gorgeous sim in my cute yacht (thanks to the clever craftswomanship of Sabrina Doolittle, of Linden Lifestyles fame). Here we are chilling out on the deck and pretending that we are still on vacation:
I also tossed in my academic “serious” image for a while with this cute pink hair (appropriately called “Party Girl” from a design house called “Naughty Designs”). So… I might be entrenched in unit outlines, meetings, more meetings, “retreat” days, lecture preparation and admin by day, but by night I’ve turned into a wild woman!
OK, maybe wild woman isn’t really me … actually its an interesting phenomenon to have my personal and professional lives blend so much in Second Life. I made an alt (which means an “alternate” account with a different name- I called my alt Sofie) in an attempt to keep personal and professional lives seperate, but then I realised that almost all my friends in Second Life were professional colleagues in some form or another, and I didn’t feel right not being Anya for very long!
What I’ve started noticing is that people can tell what mood I am in by the colour of hair I am wearing. I teach visual literacy, and I do art as a hobby, so I know the power of colour as an interpersonal meaning making resource. But I didn’t realise just HOW powerful it was, and how it affected my interactions with others. I have three colours I seem to regularly use: blonde, dark brown, and pink. Blonde is when I am feeling happy and energetic. Dark brown is when I am feeling serious, and pink is when I am feeling a little silly. Although I consciously choose what I wear for the social purpose of my activities (academic, personal etc…) I wasn’t consciously aware of choosing according to mood. My friends all knew before I did!!
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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am so excited to be able to follow Chris’s journey from student to beginning teacher on his xanga, and since he was one of my students, I feel proud too! Look at these fabulous lessons he did with his grade 7 class!! Visual literacy, multiliteracies, characterisation, text functions, multimodality, youtube… I will find a way to use this stuff in my lectures with current students and use Chris as a *gasp* model example!!
the new Sofia Coppola movie: Marie Antoinette. And just look at these divinely gorgeous posters and stills from the movie - I absolutely adore the cream and pink palette! Its just so frothy and girly and romantic. I absolutely must use them in my visual literacy lectures next semester. Not only will we be able to deconstruct the interpersonal meanings of mood and ambience created through colour, but my powerpoint slides are just going to look simply scrumptious!
and speaking of girly and sweet - when I was in Melbourne over Easter I came across this seat in the city mall:
do you think the designer was a woman?
and speaking of seats…. look at this wonderful chair that I won on eBay!!!!! Yes, I am a winner!!! *chuckle* don’t you love how terms like “winner” suck you right in to a certain mindset of consumerism? But it did only cost me $46.10 and it was listed as “a genuine antique rosewood Queen Anne lounge chair”. And it is pink! *grin*
Our discussions went extremely well and we were excited to hear that they are definitely interested in becoming partners with us in the project. So now we’re working on involving another collaborating partner to join us and then we’ll submit the application for grant funding to the Australian Research Council. Len and I have been working on all the preliminary work for the project proposal for months now and we’re both thrilled with the possibilities of it all. We saw some grade 5 children’s animations that totally blew us away - I can’t wait to show my undergrads!! Unfortunately the animated stories and computer games (which can be exported into movie files) that the kids are making are not available for public viewing yet otherwise I’d include them here and totally shock you all at their brilliance. The kids are doing blended animation / real people stories - inserting their own acting into the movie file, and / or their own voiceovers to their animations. I have samples from kids aged 7 to 15 and they are all simply incredible - the hypertextuality and interactivity within their narrative/games astonished me - and I’ve been studying this for years so it takes a lot to astonish me!!
The staff at the ACTF were just lovely and we were given a tour of the offices that I simply had to take photos of, because they were filled with props and sets from their TV productions. In particular, I looooved all the Noah and Saskia sets because as you might know from all my raving about it, I am a total Noah and Saskia fan! So here are some of the images from the offices - what a creative working environment!
I also fell in love with the gorgeous architecture of the buildings outside:
Here’s a quick video of me playing the flute in Second Life. I’m playing one of the pre-uploaded songs, “Summertime”. But I’ve also been transcribing my own flute music slowly into files that can be read and converted into audio. It’s really quite clever. One of my favourite pieces of music to play is Debussy’s “Syrinx” and I am half way through transcribing and rearranging it to suit right now. Getting the changes in tempo and dynamics is tricky but it can be done thanks to the amazing design of the flute by a Second Life resident named Robbie Dingo.
More than any other online community I’ve studied, I’m having the most fun with this one. It has so many more creative and artistic possibilities, and I’m a great fan of animation. But I also loooove my avatar - crazy but true - I think because she has automatic poses and responses not controlled completely by me it feels like she’s a little real doll. The blurring of calling her “me” and “she” is strange too - because she has a life of her own I see her as more seperate from me yet she is more like me than any other avatar I’ve had (not in looks but in some intangible way I can’t quite articulate) - fascinating
Oh do you like the pink hair today? I couldn’t resist buying a set of different shades of my favourite hairstyle. Yes I know - another $5 spent on dressing myself up. I am addicted to shopping. I’ve been trying to think of a way to make money in SL itself to support my fashion addiction. I went to Barbie’s night club and they were hiring “exotic” dancers for $100s of dollars an hour plus any tips from viewers but despite Anya’s secret urge to try pole-dancing in skimpy outfits I decided not to allow it *laugh*. Something a bit more respectable is the song writing competition I am going to enter. The prize is $10,000 (Linden dollars) which equates to about $50 (Australian). If I win that it would keep me in shoes and clothes and hair and jewellery etc… for a while *laugh*. Incredibly, there are a number of Second Life fashion blogs, magazines, and online boutiques which are hilarious fun. Check out these: Linden Lifestyles, Second Life Boutique, and Second Style Fashionista. My absolute favourite designer (who must be at least $10 richer because of my trade) is Nonna Hedges. In fact, you may recognise some of these items of clothing from my previous posts:
Avatars are a bustling economy - big business But don’t you just love the authentic fashion genre in the images and composition of Nonna Hedges’ ads? It’s brilliant and she is genuinely talented!
And speaking of blogs and e-zines related to Second Life, there are thousands of them! I really like the video blog of Dagny Hemingway because she has some great videos of events (for example when Lawrence Lessig visited she filmed the event). Her blog is called The Faux Press in Second Life. There’s moves afoot for an e-zine called “Avatar Magazine” and people are getting paid to write about avatars! I think I should volunteer
I was really affected by this video - as I was meant to be. I am going to use it in one of my upcoming lectures to talk about the interpersonal resources of language and how we are constructed as readers by both words and images to take certain positions. I think if I have the script printed off for each student it will make it easy for them to highlight words and expressions which convey attitude, especially judgement and affect. Next year we’re convering the semiotics of images, but I’ll point out a few things now to foreshadow where we’ll be headed in the course. I’m so grateful for youtube.com and google video!!