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Archive for the ‘communication’ Category

I’m currently taking a class in Second Life and we posted our first impressions of the virtual world to the class forum today.  One of my classmates posted this interesting article about a professor’s “second thoughts about Second Life”, which raises some important legal and ethical concerns about institutions of higher learning using and requiring students to participate in Second Life.  Among them:

What about a complaint by a student who agrees to meet the teacher’s avatar outside of class but in-world and then witnesses or engages in an unwanted virtual act? Or a claim of emotional distress filed by a student exposed to virtual shootings or any number of sexist, racist, homophobic, or offensive avatar behaviors?

Who is responsible?

Did you, as a faculty member who assigned your students an exercise on Second Life, have appropriate warnings in your syllabus for such scenarios? Will you have to pay legal fees to defend yourself if you signed up for Second Life and required your students to do so, too, without informing your supervisor?

Does your institution’s top administration or its legal, ombudsman, and equity offices even know about sexual harassment in virtual worlds? Has your campus teaching center promoted virtual-life games without investigating guidelines for use?

Based on its terms of service, Linden Lab may have anticipated some of those questions. It identifies itself as a distributor of content and, as such, “has very limited control, if any, over the quality, safety, morality, legality, truthfulness, or accuracy of various aspects of the Service.

That burden may fall on you.

These issues need to be discussed before land is bought, avatars created, classes formed inside the virtual world.

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Meredith Farkas writes about successful blogging over at Information Wants to Be Free:

What makes your blog a success depends on what your goals for it are. Why do you blog? Looking at the responses I saw in the Survey of the Biblioblogosphere, I didn’t see anything about having the most subscribers, having the highest Google Page Rank, or being the most well-known blogger. I saw people who wanted to share information with others, who want to keep current, who want to become part of a community and who want to process their own ideas about professional issues. So, if you want to share information with others, it’s probably important to have an audience, but it probably doesn’t matter as much how many comments you get or how many people link to you. If your goal in blogging is to keep yourself current or to process your own ideas about professional issues, popularity shouldn’t matter at all. If your goal is to be part of a community, it shouldn’t matter how big or small that community is, but you may care about things like “conversational intensity” because you want to be a part of the community conversation. So, think about why you blog and let that guide your vision of success.

I emphasize “share information with others” because I think this is what makes librarians so important. So much of what we do is intended to create access to information: we collect, organize and disseminate information to users and I think this why so many librarians have taken naturally to blogging. Its a perfect fit for so many of us.

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Many campuses of higher education are dealing with budget and staffing issues, as well as a lack of time.  Thus, Second Life has enormous appeal for all academic and student life departments, not just the academic library.  collegewebeditor.com is a web, PR, and marketing blog for higher ed institutions, aimed primarily to admissions and marketing folks, but has lots of posts about web 2.0 and marketing higher ed institutions, probably including the library.  I say probably, because, their aim is the overall institution and attracting students, not marketing to current students.  They do have some interesting posts about SL, such as using SL for emergency drills and disaster preparation for campuses that really can’t afford to do this in the “real” world.

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It appears that wikis are changing the way we communicate. Although not a revelation to many of us (and, dare I mention, wikis are not revolutionary, its the way we use them that is new and different) , the mainstream media is picking up this theme and running with it. I love the following comment:

The United Nations, notorious for endless deliberations, is trying a technological quick fix. Its Global Compact Office, which promotes corporate responsibility, has embraced a once fringe social technology—the wiki—in hopes that it will help staff in 80 countries share information and reach consensus with less deliberation and more speed.

Wikis go mainstream. I wonder if it will be anything like how blogging hit the mainstream a couple of years ago and made an impression on such warhorses as CNN, who now broadcast a segment with two women “reporters” who sit and show the television audience how the blogosphere is covering major stories. Probably not, but worth mentioning.

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