My name is Ale Fernandez. I live in Barcelona, Spain and I'm Chilean and Italian.
I am a web developer, artist and technical researcher.
I've lived in Scotland, Italy, Spain and England and career-wise I am interested in distributed systems and their applications to improvised performance and ecology.

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12/13/2007

Art Fossett on SL

Yesterday I attended a very fun and immersive Second Life talk by Art Fossett, the in-game avatar, accompanied by his on-earth alter ego, Andy Powell of Eduserv. It was fun mostly because he'd organised it to take place on Eduserv island, in the conference room, and invited friends and colleagues to attend online. They kept chuckling like a misbehaving class, turning into dinosaurs, cartwheeling around, and calling him Chubster behind his back (on the projection screen, but he could spy them from his laptop so he caught them out). All very innocent fun though and it complemented his talk quite well.


The presentation was organised as a series of t-shirts, which took a while to res the next topic name on the avatar's chest. Interesting for the links it turned up, although they kept mentioning something called slideshare, (which I guess I should google!) where the slides will probably turn up soon enough.


There are a lot of mailing lists following Second Life activity in higher education, SLED being the main US one, from far fetched to down to earth discussion, and very US centric. More UK wise though was the
Facebook UK educators group, among a large amount of facebook groups popping up on this topic all the time.


Most importantly for me was the getting started stuff, although I've been a member for more than a year, I've only had about 3 memorable experiences there - going to the anarchist area and chatting with someone there about their online black block actions - invading virtual reuters etc. All a bit useless to me. Or the first time I went in, when I befriended someone who showed me how to build, resulting in lots of squares and circles left lying around like I hadn't housetrained my pet mini-me. And the other time was in a starting place like Orientation Island where I met an imperial stormtrooper, who tried to get me to join his multiplayer sub game thing with the bribe of a free jetpack suit and stormtrooper armour. Oh and once I found a sweet, closed up cottage on a hilltop playing irish music if you got really close to the windows...


Andy/Art explained that the best way to start is actually by arranging to meet a real life known person online and have them take you around. I will try this... He also said to try out the Berkman Sandbox Area or the Glidden Sandbox area for some impressive in world artwork.


He mentioned a growing trend of producing Machinima with SL, and the
Theatron project - I think a reproduction of ancient roman or greek theatres with costumes avatars and staged re-enactments of old plays. There's also the globe theatre somewhere I think. And to top it all a colleague lent me the book Second Lives, which is really brilliant - about people with disabilities and their use of it, or what's happening with gangs and real street violence in Korea...


So armed with all this new knowledge & inspired by the book, I went home to try it all out, and was dismally disappointed when my linux client managed to get in far enough to tell me I needed a new version of the client, then crashed so bad even X wouldn't start, and my windows client, after a few seconds, did the same thing and although the task manager worked, it was unable to remove the client's instance, or get anything else to work, and after a while I actually had to very drastically pull the plug out of the machine. So in conclusion, virtually pleased, in other ways, not.

12/11/2007

Planning for dream machines

Workshop is in 2 months, have found http://www.ventrilo.com/ and http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/forumdisplay.php?f=24 and above all discovered Garry's Mod, a modification of half life 2 that allows you to position characters from the game, and the many sci fi characters that forum users have created and posted online, can be used to create situations, poses and scripted movements or multiplayer acting environments. The link I gave above was for a forum where people post the videos they're making, or making calls for actors to be in their movies.


But I have to remember that we aren't making movies. Maybe we're making archives, personal archives or documentation about things by encoding it in a three dimensional space. Or maybe parody star wars re-enactments?


Garry's mod costs 10 dollars, so I'm tempted to use it to create characters in the workshop on the second day, although that would mean windows machines again, and some of this is so limiting because it's all for the one platform and the software just isn't hasn't been ported yet, or has to be really open source etc...


With crystal space I've found the community to be very inspiring, involved with the Brazilian movement of estudio livre, doing work with puredata and 3d, or kitchen appliance instruments as the case may be.


It would be cool to play with the video projection by scripting a dialogue between live and video characters, but maybe if narration had to take place live or you could have live acting there, or how could we make it seem like it could be real or a game maybe, or ask people in the forums to join in with the workshop supplying skills in directing to help figure out a script that will be feasible in the time we have. We can choreograph a run through a map as well, and this might help create cinematics. The bluescreen might be valuable and we can offer to film sonething scripted by a machinima author. But I don't want to get too Machinima-centric. We're just looking at the whole idea of being in a 3d world and of using media from it, so the software etc isn't really the issue, except that a multiplayer creative environment like gmod, is not run by linden, it's a free play area...


I like the idea of geolocation as well. Maybe it would help to do a mapping from google earth to a geolocated group of maps in kml or with links to ongoing games in multiplayer engines that had representations of them and other users wandering them too, and could some be used to buy and sell, in person and using some kind of standard software? Or how about a geolocation for free sound, so that we have so many media in the same form? (Software is available for Sony Ericsson's Java enabled mobiles that can feed back their cell-id - an approximation of their location).


I've just found a new form of forum game: http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/showthread.php?t=365269&page=3
- a user posts some images and offers choices which are then added a few days later, following reader's votes. The thread goes well for a month or so then goes through various problems and finally fizzles out more than a year later. I wonder if interactive comics will one day be all the rage? http://forums.facepunchstudios.com/showthread.php?t=445148 Maybe not.


The play between the game based social aspect - maybe putting an audience of 14 people in front of another audience of, say, 15 first person shooter players. We could storm a multiplayer server - a modern boy's game room to a chorus of UR MOM SUX etc, playing strange instruments in a chorus of voice speakers as they scream their disapproval, and as we thrash them in the game at the same time.

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