Images of Hope in Second Life

Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition
Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition

The Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition opened it doors on Saturday, April 9th, and will run through until Saturday April 16th, inclusive. For the event, 25 Second Life photographers have paired with 25 cancer survivors and caregivers, to provide an exhibition of extraordinary portraiture coupled with deeply personal stories about dealing with cancer.

The exhibition has been organised by Catalina Staheli, and builds on her 2015 exhibition entitled Stand (which you can read about here). Greatly expanded, Hope is featured in a magnificent gallery set within a landscaped area on Saint Kitts Isle (making it reachable by water for those who like to sail the Blake Sea and points north, and who are looking for a destination).

Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition
Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition

Built around a central courtyard garden, the gallery provides two floors of exhibition space, with each featured caregiver and / or survivor featured in at least one wall-mounted portrait, their stories available from free-standing signs, the details of the artist who created their picture(s) available from plaques on the wall alongside each display.

With broad hallways, a glass roof, and plenty of opportunities to sit and admire the work on offer as well as tour the various display spaces, the gallery offers a bright, light space, rich in colour courtesy of the plants and the RFL of SL purple. All of which presents visitors with an exceptionally eye-catching environment without detracting in any way from the images on display.

Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition
Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition

Throughout the exhibition halls are RFL of SL donation kiosks, information givers on in-world support teams, the work of the ACS, and so on. To further help raise funds for RFL of SL, a silent auction is running throughout the exhibition period, with each of the exhibiting photographers offering a portrait package / photo-shoot opportunity to their respective highest bidders. In addition, there will be the opportunity to bid on a place in the autumn course with Visionaire Institute of Photography, and single portraits by special guest artists Skip Staheli, Magissa Denver, and Natzuka Miliandrovic.

Alongside of Skip, Magissa and Natzuka, the artists participating in the exhibition are:  Tempest Rosca, Addison Summerwind, Grazia Horwitz, Calypso Applewhyte, Wendz Tempest, Isa Messioptra, AlexAvion, Roxi Richez, Polly Elan, Pam Astonia, mysterr resident, Lam Erin, Roy Mildor, Cubito Smit, Annie1111,  Caitlin Tobias, Kaelyn Alecto, Wildstar Beaumont, WrenNoir Cerise, PinkRayne, Reya Darkstone, and of course Catalina.

Hope-4_001
Hope: A Relay for Life Photo Exhibition

The featured caregivers / survivors are:  Lizzy Gracemount, Nevar Lobo, Doodlez Doobie, Thalia Lupindo, sedusaK, AnnieDrogyne, Vicki Coleslaw, Alia Whitfield, Annakari Genesis,    Dian4ma Shen, aphroditestarr, LadyKay Gable, Catalysis, LouLouBreeze, Madonna Milena, Shiran Sabra, Renee Riva, Argus Collingwood, Vickie Maidstone, Sidonie Carlberg, Cathy10 Longoria, Ciaobella Mirabella, DollEyes Barbosa and BellaEsmeCullen.

Overall, an outstanding and moving exhibition, and one which should be visited during its run.

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Gateway programme API update

secondlifeNote: the following is based on a conversation at the end of the TPV developer meeting held on Thursday, April 7th. A video is available, and the discussion commences at the 37:43 mark. As such, the following is my interpretation on matters, rather than an official overview from the Lab.

As most people are aware, the Lab is working with a number of groups across Second Life to re-introduce the Community Gateway programme to help bring new users into Second Life. For more background on this, please refer to be September 2015 introductory blog post on the approach.

The original gateway programme was discontinued in August 2010, with the Lab citing several reasons for doing so, including issues around scalability and management oversight, together with question marks around its overall effectiveness in bringing new users into SL. However, there have been repeated calls over the years for it to be re-introduced, and the planned pilot programme is a response to these calls.

However, as I recently reported, there has been a slight issue around matters of legal compliance. Essentially, the Lab need to ensure that sensitive user information, such as account passwords, have to be handled directly by the Lab’s own registration services – they cannot be passed through a third-party service as would be the case with the new gateways, were they to use the current new user registration API.

To try to get around this, the Lab initially suggested the gateways make use of the “old” user registration API, as used with the original gateway programme. While this does handle account details through the Lab’s services, thus meeting legal requirements, it also has a major downside: there are no hooks into things like the web-based avatar picker. This means that when using it, new users cannot select a modern avatar, but instead are delivered in-world with either the default male or female Character Test Avatar (below) – hardly an ideal approach, given how the test avatars look.

The default Character Test Avatar, as used by the "old" new user registration API
The default Character Test Avatar, as used by the “old” new user registration API

In order to try to improve things, the Lab had toyed with the idea that users would be able sign-up through the third-party gateways, but would have a temporary account password delivered to them via e-mail from the Lab, which they could initially use to log-in to SL, and be able to change via secondlife.com.

While it is actually not uncommon for on-line services to use e-mail exchanges as a part of their sign-up process (e.g. to verify a person’s e-mail address), this approach was seen as potentially too intrusive with the SL sign-up, with fears raised that it could put new users off as the swap back and forth between sign-up pages and e-mail.

In response to this, the Lab are now proposing (and currently QA testing) an alternative approach. During the user registration process, the incoming new user is directed to a secure page hosted by Linden Lab, where they set-up their account details, before being returns to the gateway sign-up pages to complete their on-boarding and coming in-world (so it is like opting to pay for goods on website using your PayPal account and being redirected to PayPal’s secure server to make the payment before being returned to the website).

The new user sign-up process for the gateway programme currently in QA with the Lab, should present users coming into Second Life via a third-party gateway with a relatively transparent process which allows the Lab to meet its legal requirements on account information privacy. (Note: this diagram is for illustrative purposes only, and based on how the process has been explained during a meeting [42:35]. The number of steps involved in the process may differ in practice)
The new user sign-up process for the gateway programme currently in QA with the Lab, should present users coming into Second Life via a third-party gateway with a relatively transparent process which allows the Lab to meet its legal requirements on account information privacy. (Note: this diagram is for illustrative purposes only, and based on how the process has been explained during a meeting [42:35]. With the exception of the information handled by the Lab’s service, the number of steps involved in the process may differ in practice)
Some concern has been voiced that this approach may still be off-putting to new users, however, it is hoped that it will be transparent enough to offer a more integrated sign-up flow than would be the case with the use of e-mails. There is still no indication as to when the revised API will be made available to groups in the trial gateway programme, but it has been approved by the Lab’s legal and compliance people, so hopefully once testing has been completed, we should hear more official news about it directly from the Lab.  programme should resume moving forward “soon”.

Vandals, spacemen, pirates and Batman

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, April 10th

13:30 Crazy Eights: Tea Time at Baker Street

Crazy Eights sees Caledonia, Corwyn and Kayden reading from The Return of Sherlock Holmes on Sundays from the living room of 221B Baker Street.

Holmes (c) with Waston (r) and Lestrade (l) near the scene of the murder (Sidney Paget, Strand Magazine, 1904)

It appears a vandal is at large in London, and has Inspector Lestrade somewhat baffled. Someone is going around smashing busts of the Emperor Napoleon. Three have so far been broken, one from a shop and two following break-ins at the home and office of one Dr. Barnicot.

Holmes is intrigued by the fact the all of the busts come from the same mould, suggesting that this is more than a simple case of someone having a deep-seated dislike for the dead Emperor.

When Lestrade brings word that there has been a further incident, this time accompanied by a murder, Holmes is more than intrigued. The bust has been stolen from the house of a journalist, one Horace Harker, who also discovered the dead man on his front doorstep.

It’s unlikely the dead man was responsible for taking the bust, as the remains of that are found shattered in the garden of an empty house up the street. The dead man has a photograph of another man in his possession, and things take a further strange turn when the deceased is identified as a member of the Mafioso, and the photograph he was carrying is that of an Italian immigrant…

15:00: Crazy Eights: Storyteller’s Sandbox

The Storytellers’ Sandbox at Crazy Eights is designed to provide a forum for new stories, new storytellers, and new ways to present them.  This week, Seanchai library welcomes to the Sandbox: Bryn Taleweaver, Virginia (UnderstandingComplexity Resident), and Boudicca Amat.  Three voices with three unique stories to share.

Monday April 11th, 19:00 at Crazy Eights: Silent Running

silent runningGyro Muggins continues reading Harlan Thompson’s novelization of the 1972 screenplay for Silent Running, by screenplay by Mike Cimino, Deric Washburn, and Steven Bochco.

In the future, all plant life on Earth has become extinct. A few specimens have been preserved in enormous, greenhouse-like geodesic domes attached to a fleet of space freighters, currently just beyond the orbit of Saturn.

Freeman Lowell, one of four crewmen aboard the freighter Valley Forge, is the resident botanist and ecologist who carefully preserves a variety of plants for their eventual return to Earth and the reforestation of the planet. Lowell spends most of his time in the domes, both cultivating the crops and attending to the animal life.

Then, orders come from Earth to jettison and destroy the domes with nuclear charges and return the freighters to commercial service. Orders Lowell’s crewmates are only too happy to follow if it means a return to Earth. Lowell, however, is less than sanguine about this new turn of events.

Tuesday April 12th, 19:00: Year of Yes

Year of YesCaledonia Skytower reads selections from Shonda Rhimes’ bestseller.

Shonda Rhimes is best known as the creator of television’s Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, as well as an executive TV producer. Despite her success and career, she is introverted and prefers to say “no” to invitations and engagements.

Then her sister presents a challenge to which Shonda reluctantly agrees: spend a year saying “yes” to unexpected invitations and opportunities.

This book is a record of that year, and how just saying one simple word – “yes” – had a positive and transformative impact on one woman’s life.

Wednesday April 13th 19:00: On Stranger Tides

Shandon Loring commences a two-part reading of On Stranger Tides, the inspiration for the 4th instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise.

Thursday, April 14th 19:00: Batman in Nighttown

From The Further Adventures of Batman, edited by Martin H. Greenberg comes this tale penned by husband and wife team, Robet Silverberg and Karen Haber.

At a fairly early point in Batman’s career, a large charity masquerade event takes place at Wayne Manner. Bruce Wayne (wearing a red devil outfit) is surprised when an unknown guest arrives wearing, of all things, a Batman costume. Then the lights go out, jewels disappear, and the chase is on.

Saturday, April 16th, at Crazy Eights:  Story Forest Tour II

A guided exploration of the Crazy Eights Story Forest with select stories shared live in voice. Guests meet at the Welcome Plaza and join Tour Guides or a walk and a talk featuring some of the 20 stories from around the world found in the Crazy Eights Story Forest.

The paty through the Story Forest at Crazy Eights will lead you to literary discoveries, courtesy of Seanchai Library
Take the Crazy Eights Story Forest tour on Saturday, April 16th

 

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for March / April is Project Children, building peace in Ireland one child at a time.

Additional Links

VWBPE 2016: proceedings now available

via VWBPE.org
via VWBPE.org

The 9th annual Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) conference took place between Wednesday, March 9th, 2016 and Saturday, March 12th, 2016 inclusive in both Second Life and OpenSim via the AvaCon Grid,

The conference featured a rich a varied programme of keynote presentations, workshops, panel discussions and social events across the VWBPE regions, with a highlight of the conference for for many Second Life users being an open Q&A session with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg (transcript and audio available here).

Journal of Virtual Studies: Proceedings for the 2016 VWBPE conference
Journal of Virtual Studies: Proceedings for the 2016 VWBPE conference

Following the conference, the Journal of Virtual Studies complies, edits and publishes a special edition featuring the proceedings of the VWBPE conference,  and on Saturday, April 9th, Rockcliffe University announced the 2016 edition is now available.

At just over 100 pages, the proceedings include peer-reviewed papers, along with those from the Quadrivium sessions, featured speakers at the conference, together with summaries of the topics presented during the general sessions, and a  special feature paper by Dr. Karl Kapp about using virtual worlds for instruction.

The journal is available for reading on-line via the link above, and the PDF file can be downloaded using the same link.

In addition to the journal, the full set of video recordings from the 2016 conference are also available on a dedicated YouTube playlist, allowing those who missed the conference or who wish to revisit specific presentations / discussions to catch up with them.

The 10th Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference will take place between Wednesday, March 29th, 2017 and Saturday, April 1st, 2017 inclusive, with the theme of Legacy and an invitation for attendees to “Play * Explore * Engage * Immerse * Learn”.

Related Links

A Queen’s Gambit Declined in Second Life

MetaLES: Queen's Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly
MetaLES: Queen’s Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly

Just opened at MetaLES is Queens Gambit Declined, a new installation – with some familiar motifs – by Rebeca Bashly.

The title is drawn from one of the classic opening moves of chess, wherein the player using the black pieces can respond to the white player’s opening Queen’s Gambit, by declining the opportunity to capture a proffered pawn, opting instead to defend their own exposed man. However, precisely how title / reference fits with the installation has left me a little bewildered 🙂 .

MetaLES: Queen's Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly
MetaLES: Queen’s Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly

Two great stone towers, perhaps the last remnants of some gigantic bridge, rise from the waters of the flooded region, their appearance slightly reminiscent of Manhattan’s famous Brooklyn Bridge.

Suspended between these by massive chains, sits an enormous circular stone platform, its top occupied by a large hedged maze. Above this, and also tethered to the remnants of the bridge by heavyset ropes, floats a massive heart, similar in nature to the one seen in Rebeca’s When Life Gives You Apples … Run (which I reviewed here), but with arteries and veins bearing rose-like thorns.

Transparent walkways link the bridge towers to the platform, allowing visitors to explore the maze, in which sit a number of artefacts: three busts with transparent foreheads inside of which lie objets d’art; two snow globes with tiny scenes within and wrapped around them; and four rose-like plants, their flowers forming lips, all geometrically positioned within the maze.

At the centre of the maze a female figure kneels fully bent over within a pool of red. Her back is to the sky, a green shoot rising upwards from it, reaching towards the floating heart. When looked at from above, this figure, in the centre most circle of the  maze, appears to be cupped within a slightly lopsided Venus symbol formed by the surrounding hedge (although this could be an accident of design, rather than symbolic).

Nor is this all. sitting atop the second of the bridge towers  is a black chess pawn. Touch it, and you’re carried up into the heart itself, and a dark-walled place in when sits a series of tear-drop containers held within metal structures, particles falling slowly within them. Meanwhile, under the circular platform sits a huge black pawn, it’s base forming the basin in which the kneeling figure at the centre of the maze resides.

MetaLES: Queen's Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly
MetaLES: Queen’s Gambit Declined by Rebeca Bashly

Touring the installation, I kept being drawn to the ideas of birth, growth and life, and renewal – ideas that also immediately struck Caitlyn when we visited together. Quite how these are related by to chess and the Queen’s Gambit Declined, however, is something which escaped us both.

Perhaps this is part of the purpose in the piece: to offer enigmatic hints at possible interpretations. One thing is sure, however you look at Queen’s Gambit Declined, it offers a fascinating and intriguing installation.

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