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Atlas Virtual Capital sets up fund to explore CentralGrid

Saturday in Second Life, Atlas Virtual Capital (AVC) announced the formation of a Grid Exploration Fund. This fund is intended to raise L$ 500,000 to help AVC “enter the virtual worlds via Central Grid's new virtual grid to establish AVC as a pioneer in this new community.”

Central Grid is one of many efforts to use open source grids. It will be based on OpenSim, but unlike some of the other emerging OpenSim based grids, it is intending to fully support inworld currency. Efforts will be made to connect with currency exchanges so Linden Dollars will be exchangeable with CentralGrid dollars, or whatever they end up being called there.

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Thanks God, National Novel Writing Month is Over. Yup. That’s the party Kim and I went to this afternoon. We sat in a room with about twenty other NaNoWriters and their significant others and talked about what worked and what didn’t in our novel writing experiences. We ate Mexican food, joked about “quotation” marks and misused apostrophe’s. We glanced at the omnipresent televisions in the background and our choice of watching The Nutcracker on Ice, with the great Mice on Ice section, he-man carrying cars and kegs in some bizarre strong-man competition, or wiry men arm wrestling on what must have been the Arm Wresting Sports Network.

Meanwhile, the ice was starting to form on the roads at home. Our ride home was tense, with more slipping and sliding than I would have liked to have seen, yet we got home safely. Now, we need to tune into WFSB and see if Darren Sweeney will declare a “snow day”.

There is a stereotype of novelists as being slightly eccentric and the lunch, at least for me helped reinforce that stereotype. Between the jokes, you could here potential themes for more novels than novelists at the table. It was great fun and inspirations for next year’s novel writing. I hope some of you consider giving NaNoWriMo a try next year.

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Accreditation, Participation, and Reputation

This coming Saturday, I will be attending a symposium sponsored by Yale Law School’s Information Society Project on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace. As part of preparing for this, I thought I would explore how reputations in cyberspace reflect to my planned attendance.

Last January, I attended a Journalism That Matters conversation in Memphis, where I met Eddan Katz. Eddan is the executive director of the Information Society Project, and we had a great discussion. So, the reputation first person I’ve interacted with from the symposium wasn’t established in cyberspace, but was established offline. However, it was through relationships established online that I ended up at the Journalism That Matters conversation in the first place.

When we moved to Woodbridge, the next town over from Yale’s campus in New Haven, I got in touch with Eddan and let him know I was in the neighborhood as well and communicated a little bit with him, online, about Avery Doninger’s case. It was through this that I found out about the symposium.

I RSVPed to the symposium’s event in Facebook and my wife added the event to our family calendar. Yesterday, like everyone else that RSVPed on Facebook that they would be attending the event, I receive a message asking me to register for the conference.

After I registered, I checked the list of attendees on Facebook. Who, amongst my friends on Facebook, were attending the symposium? Who was attending that I knew, but hadn’t added as a friend? Upon reflection, I think this is interesting. I checked the attendees before I checked the list of speakers. This ties, I believe, to Dan Gillmor’s comments about his audience knowing more about what he writes about than he does. I suspect there are going to be some very bright people in the audience. It was only after this that I looked at the panels; their topics and speakers.

The first panel is entitled, “Making your name online!” and will focus on “the transition from accreditation to participatory, community-based modes of reputation management.” I found this interesting in light of the registration process. I have registered as a member of the press. It is always interesting to see what groups recognize bloggers as members of the press. On the registration form for members of the press, it notes, “Certification required”. Is this certification something from an accredited institution or can the certification be based on some “participatory, community-based mode of reputation management”?

I glanced at the list of names of the panelists. None of them jumped out at me, although I suspect that if I were more involved in more of the academic discourse, the names would mean much more to me. The majority of the speakers were identified in terms of their involvement with accredited higher education institutions.

Yes, we may be moving from a reputation model based on accreditation to one based on participation, but the lines are blurry. Accreditation is based on participation and provides a useful shortcut. There are plenty of other issues such as privacy, quality of the reputation systems, and portability of reputations that will also be discussed. It looks like it will be a very interesting symposium. If you can make it, please do, and drop me a message on Facebook.

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Aldon in Wonderland

She's the best one that we've ever had
She sits on her hair and she's tall as my dad
And she tie-dyed my shirt and she pierced her own ear
And it's peace, man, cool, yeah, the babysitter's here.

Today was a different sort of day for me in Second Life. A friend invited me to storytime. Seven kids sat around in Second Life. Some on the floor, others on their parents lap and listened to a teenager with magenta hair read parts of Alice in Wonderland.

Aldon in Wonderland, originally uploaded by Aldon.

Most of the stories about people portraying themselves as children in Second Life have a distinctly unsavory aspect to it. However, there is another side to people portraying themselves as children in Second Life. My friend who invited me had previously pointed me to a blog post entitled Mere Child’s Play, which puts the whole subculture in a very different context.

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, and a blessed Advent

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. A new month starts off with the traditional lapin petition for beneficence. Fiona’s first request this morning was for that calendar with the chocolates in the windows, you know that we do every December. Yes, December. Advent. A time of expectation and longing.

Normally, as we enter Advent, I would find myself humming Joni Mitchell’s river,

Its coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on

Yet these years of hoping for a miracle has left my ability to hope somewhat dull and blunted. Nonetheless, hope remains. It is rekindled by emails I receive, like one from the ‘Social Issues Games’ mailing list I’m on. The writer highlights a few different organizations that he felt were worth pointing out during this season of giving.

Coming from a list of people interested in using games for positive social change, it isn’t surprising that the first charity listed is Child’s Play. This is a charity that delivers video games to children in hospitals, led by a group called Penny-arcade. Bill France, who wrote an article critical of video games is quoted on their website noting,

Penny-arcade published a letter from one of its readers. He is the father of a 5-year-old boy who had spent most of the previous five months at Children’s Hospital getting chemotherapy for lymphoma.

Almost every parent can immediately identify with that father’s distress, and with his heartfelt "thank you" to Penny-arcade for its Child’s Play toy drive.

The email went on to note that

Child's Play has also given support to programs that look at behavior
change (such as maintaining your visit schedule for dialysis) and
Robert Khoo biz manager for Penny Arcade/Child's Play attended last
year's Games for Health Conference.

A similar group is Get Well Gamers which accepts online donations through Network for Good.

Another site highlighted is One Laptop per Child. They have a program where you can donate $399 to their program and they will send a laptop to a developing country and one to you. These are not the typical laptops you get in the United States. They are specially designed to perform in areas where there is little access to electricity, WiFi and educators. The laptop gets mixed reviews. People used to the powerful laptops that many Americans have access to complain about its limited functionality. Yet the laptop is much better than having nothing.

So, we wait to celebrate the miraculous birth. We wait for miracles in our own lives, the lives of our friends and the lives of our nation. Yet we can celebrate the little miracles, the joy of children opening the their Advent calendars, and the charity of people who are helping out children in hospitals and children in countries where laptops are not easily accessible.

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit, and a blessed Advent.

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