For the Fallen

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

From “For the Fallen” by Laurence Robert Binyon, 1869-1943

Tales from Imagination Island and beyond

The Seanchai Library will be presenting another round of stories and readings in Voice this week. I missed putting out an advanced notice last week as I was going around in ever decreasing circles at the start of the week, so missed being able to cover the first part of a couple of the presentations on offer.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday 11th November, 18:00 – Peter Pan

Illustration from “Peter and Wendy” by James Matthew Barrie, Published 1911 by C. Scribner’s Sons, New York

Caledonia Skytower presents the second (of 6) readings of novelist and playwright J. M. Barrie’s most famous work.

While Peter Pan first appeared in another of Barrie’s works, The Little White Bird, written for adults in 1902, it was in the 1904 stage play, Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up in which he first came to widespread public attention. The play was later expanded upon by Barrie to form the 1911 novel, Peter and Wendy, which later became Peter Pan and Wendy and, eventually, simply Peter Pan.

Both the stage play and the novel tell the story of Peter Pan, a mischievous little boy who can fly, and his adventures on the island of Neverland with Wendy Darling and her brothers, the fairy Tinker Bell, the Lost Boys, the Indian princess Tiger Lily, and the pirate Captain Hook.

This part of the tale will be told at Magicland.

Monday 12th November, 19:00 – Kite Fighters

Cover of The Kite Fighters, first edition

Gina Pralou-Maven presents a riveting narrative set in fifteenth-century Korea.

Seoul, Korea, 1473. Lee Young-sup and his elder brother, Kee-sup share a bond through their love of kites, Young-sup flying them and Kee-sup in making them. However, their father, a rice merchant, has designs on the family’s fortunes by having Kee-sup become a court official, forcing him to study for the position when Kee-sup would rather be making kites for his brother…

Linda Sue Parks’ The Kite Fighters is a touching and suspenseful story, filled with the authentic detail and flavor of traditional Korean kite fighting mixed with the pressures of upholding family traditions, brings a remarkable setting vividly to life.

Tuesday 13th November, 19:00 – More Steampunk Stories

Stories with a distinctive Steampunk theme, brought to one and all by the Seanchai Ladies.

Wednesday 14th November, 19:00 – Peter Pan

Caledonia Skytower continues the story of Peter’s adventures with Wendy and The Lost Boys as she returns to the Seanchai Library to read part three of this six-part retelling of J.M. Barrie’s classic.

Thursday 15th November, 19:00 – Letters from Home

With Shandon Loring.

Sunday 18th November, 10:00 – To  the Moon!

Join Seanchai Library’s founder, Derry McMahon and her partner, Bear Silvershade at the Fruit Islands Plantetarium for tales of space and time to spark the imagination.

Using a virtual world can help improve your health

According to a study released by the University of Missouri (PDF), having a healthy-looking avatar can be good for our own health and self-esteem.

Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, assistant professor of communication in the University of Missouri’s College of Arts and Science, who lead the study

Dr. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz surveyed 279  Second Life users to study how their choice of avatars affected their real-world existence. She found that the amount of self presence, or identifying with a virtual representation, predicted the amount of influence an avatar had on a person’s life in the physical world. A strong sense of self-presence improved how they felt about themselves and promoted better health and well-being.

“The creation of an avatar allows an individual to try on a new appearance and persona, with little risk or effort,” Behm-Morawitz, communications professor at the University of Missouri, said in a press release accompanying the report. “That alter-ego can then have a positive influence on a person’s life. For example, people seeking to lose weight could create fitter avatars to help visualize themselves as slimmer and healthier.”

Those in the study who indicated they have a high degree of self-presence within SL indicated that they felt their relationship with their avatar improved how they felt about themselves in the real world. Self-presence also correlated to greater satisfaction with online relationships.

This isn’t the first published study to delve into the possible benefits of Second Life. In June of 2011 Indiana University reported that Second Life could be used to practical ends to achieve real weight-loss, with the results of a 12-week study involving both in-world and real-world meetings being widely reported in the media at the time.

In the Indiana University study, researchers found that, over a period of twelve weeks, people attending weight-loss / fitness programmes within Second Life tended to lose the same amount of weight as those attending equivalent real-world programmes. However, they further discovered that those engaged in the programme through Second Life reported significantly greater gains in behaviours that could help them live healthier and leaner lives – again underlining the strong psychological link people can develop with their online alter-ego.

The University of Missouri’s study – which actually pre-dates the University of Indiana’s study inasmuch as iot place in February / March 2011 – did not involve physical activities, but focused on participants completing an online questionnaire. The 279 respondents involved in the study represented 30 countries, with some 65% residing in the United States. Some 56% of respondents were female and 41% male, with the remaining 3% identifying themselves as transgender, male-to-female. The average age of respondents was 41 years, with an overall age range spread of 18 through 70.

The questionnaire iteself was structured to measure feedback against a number of hypotheses established ahead of the study as a result of factor analysis with five questions being asked of the participants.

Perceived avatar influence on health / appearance and relationship satisfaction (click to enlarge)

The format of the study means that it is somewhat flawed – the data has gathered from what is effectively a single point in time. A more accurate measure of the relationship between our real and online selves requires that study should be carried out over a more extended period, with experiences and the effects of their avatar on their human condition being tracked over multiple points.

Nevertheless, both this study and that of the University of Indiana highlight the very strong physical and psychological link people can develop with their avatar. This caused Dr. Behm-Morawitz’s team to extend the concept of “mirrored worlds” (as proposed by Joe Sanchez in 2009 to describe how ‘worlds complete with social and financial dynamics such as Second Life and World of Warcraft can “seep out”  of cyberspace to both mirror and impact offline life) to encapsulate the idea of “mirrored selves”, in which the investment we make in out avatars can be both reflected back on, and have impact with, our real lives in meaningful ways.

Many involved in Second Life will view the outcome of the study as unsurprising simply because they have an understanding and awareness of the investment they have made in their avatar. Even so, for those interest in the nature of our relationship with out virtual selves and the degree with which one can positively impact the other, it does make interesting reading.

For Dr. Behm-Morawitz, it has revealed that Second Life and virtual worlds are a rich source of behavioural study, and she is already investigating ways in which avatars may be used to encourage tolerance of diversity. “I am also interested in studying how using an avatar with a different race or ethnicity may increase empathy and decrease prejudice,” she said in the press release announcing the study. “This may occur through the process of identification with an avatar that is different from oneself, or through a virtual simulation that allows individuals to experience discrimination as a member of a non-dominant group might experience it.”

Related Links

What the Dickens? An interactive Carol for Christmas!

Incredible to think it is November already, and December is peeping at us over the horizon with the promise of Christmas festivities to come, with the year-end on their coat-tails.

the young Charles Dickens

This year has been the Dickens Bicentenary Year, which has seen celebrations of the life and works of Charles Dickens take place across the UK and around the world.

Commencing in Mid-December, StoryFests SL, in collaboration with their sponsors, Stories Unlimited! (the subscription group for Seanchai library (SL)) and the Community Virtual Library, will be hosting The Dickens Project, an interactive environment for a special presentation of A Christmas Carol.

This will be a special presentation of Dickens’ seasonal classic, and features Voice presentations of that work in whole, part, or adapted (as long as it is true to the original story) beginning December 14th through December 26th. On December 27th, the last day of the Project, the venue will be open to “alternate version” presentations and tributes to the classic.

The event will be hosted on land donated to the project by the Community Virtual Library at their home region of Info Island.

The Dickens Project SL

Currently, the organisers are seeking performers interested in participating in the event, which will be in live and in Voice. Presentations may be solo, duets, or larger groups of voices. StoryFest Events will take care of booking time slots and promoting (though presenters are encouraged to promote through any avenues that have as well). Those interested in participating are requested they contact Caledonia Skytower in-world and via notecard to apply for a presentation slot. Applications should include an outline of the presentation, including preferred dates and times for the presentation to be given (see the provisional schedule below for an outline of the event).

All applications for performance slots must be received no later than the 5th December, 2012.

Provisional Schedule

The project timeline (including actual presentations) is still being developed, and anyone interested in participating / attending should keep an eye on the StoryFests SL website. However, here’s a summary of the proposed activities:

  • Wednesday December 5th: Deadline for Presenter Requests
  • Monday December 10th through Thursday December 13th:  Venue available for presenter preview
  • Friday December 14th: Opening Day
    • Saturday December 15th OR Sunday December 15th: A.R.T. Partnership Presentation (exact date TBA)
    • Monday December 17th, 09:00-21:00 SLT: Celebrate Stave One – A Visit from Marley’s Ghost
    • Tuesday December 18th, 09:00-21:00 SLT: Celebrate Stave Two – Christmas Past
    • Wednesday, December 19th, 09:00-21:00 SLT: Celebrate Stave Three – Christmas Present
    • Thursday, December 20th, 09:00-21:00 SLT:Celebrate Stave Four – Christmas Yet to Come
      Friday, December 21st, 09:00-21:00 SLT: Celebrate Stave Five – Scrooge Awake!*
    • Saturday, December 22nd: TBA
    • Sunday, December 23rd, 16:00 SLT: Caledonia Skytower reads A Christmas Carol Part 1 (90 minutes)
    • Monday December 24th, 16:00 SLT: Caledonia Skytower reads A Christmas Carol Part 2 (90 minutes)
  • Dec 27 – Alternate Versions Day and close.

Any gratuities received during the event will be donated to the Community Virtual Library in SL.