[amsat-bb] Re: Re-emerging into First Life

Stefan Wagener stefan_wagener at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 1 12:24:50 PST 2007

Thanks Emily,

What a step forward! I applaud your determination and will visit you soon at 
the ISM. Watch for me (Hyperion DeCuir aka VE4NSA). You pointed out that 
Second Life (SL) is not for everyone and I totally agree. Unfortunately, too 
many folks escape into virtual reality and get lost. Ultimately we want them 
to come to us in real life, especially amateur radio. It will be interesting 
to discuss how we could accomplish that using a tool like SL. At the same 
time, I also agree with the notion on having the website more interactive 
and animated. The danger is that it will require folks like you to spend so 
much time to get it done. To go with your educational and training theme, I 
have always wondered why we don' t have any online courses for our members 
and non-members that would make the website a great e-learning portal and 
encourage learning and participation.

Quick food for thought.

All the best, Stefan VE4NSA

>From: Emily Clarke <emily at planetemily.com>
>To: amsat-bb at amsat.org
>Subject: [amsat-bb]  Re-emerging into First Life
>Date: Thu, 01 Mar 2007 10:52:22 -0800
>There were a lot of concerns recently about where I have been, my
>visible participation in AMSAT, health etc. I should have probably
>notified the members sooner and I want to take this opportunity to
>apologize for that.  However email being what it is, during and after
>the Christmas holidays so much email piled up I was overwhelmed and
>the thought of reading through 100's if not 1000's of emails was a
>bit intimidating.  During January I was not in the best of health
>which exacerbated the situation and this continued into February.  As
>March is upon us, my health is improving and I should be back to 100% soon.
>As many of you know, I have not been involved in AMSAT as long as
>many of you, though once I became involved I devoted much time to
>it.  During that time I've mostly focused on three things -
>education, training and information dissemination.  I have and still
>feel these are the cornerstones of what we need to keep the
>organization alive.  However one thing that happened shortly after
>the launch of the redesigned website troubled me, and I'd like to
>take a moment to share it with you.
>The AMSAT website is a conventional website, that is, it is built
>with conventional tools that doesn't stress the average user of the
>website to upgrade computers,etc.  There is a minimal amount of
>"advanced" technology, and much was done to address browser
>compatibility issues as they arose.  However doing so drained time
>and effort from development that would otherwise move things forward
>- it complicates the testing cycle, diverts attention and inhibits
>our ability to provide new services.
>Shortly after launch, someone I hold in good counsel took a
>middle-schooler to the website.  The feedback was not good -
>basically the reaction was along the line of "there's no animation -
>where are things that will catch the eye" (though some of the
>criticism I wouldn't even repeat here).  What I took away from that
>conversation was that we aren't reaching outward to a new generation,
>we are looking inward to an old.  No surprise, I'm not young
>myself.  However in the age where something like 85% of kids in the
>US own or have access to XBox360's and Playstations, it is no
>surprise to me that they will be looking for far more to stimulate
>their interest in most any subject than a conventional website can
>provide. This was certainly troubling and stuck with me for a long time.
>After chairing the symposium I decided to finally have some long
>overdue down time to relax and do some research.  Beginning around
>the 15th of December I started to look at this problem - how can we
>build something that will reach out in the next level of technology
>to a younger demographic.  One answer I found was in something called
>Second Life.  Second Life (www.secondlife.com) is an online 3D
>virtual reality system. Depending on if you are reading Business
>Week, the New York Times or other publications, it is described as a
>chat room, an online social networking environment, a MMORPG (massive
>multiplayer online role playing game) and even the next generation of
>the worldwide web.  I first heard about it on CNN when one of the
>anchors talked about it, and I decided to investigate it.  Probably
>the best overall independent view of Second Life can be found in the
>October 2006 Wired Magazine article "Wired Travel Guide: Second Life"
>When I first entered Second Life I was not fully prepared for what I
>was about to experience.  Not having ever played video games before,
>this was an experience like no other I had.  Without going into the
>personal aspects of my experience, I can only say I was immediately
>overwhelmed at the pace of technology.  I immediately understood why
>the AMSAT website wouldn't appeal to a younger demographic - Second
>Life is a place that is virtual, 3D, interactive and has much to
>offer.  Universities are building online universities, museums are
>building online museums, and businesses are building online
>businesses.  This isn't to say it is not without it's drawbacks - it
>can be disconcerting the first time you go into a store, for example,
>and the clerk behind the counter is a giant panda.  It can be
>initially shocking when you see some person who is - well, naked and
>grey - until you realize that the finer points of constitutes their
>avatar (a person if you will) in SL such as hair, clothing, jewelry
>etc. hasn't downloaded into your computer yet.  Eventually you get
>used to it and learn how to optimize your video and network settings
>to minimize this.
>What is appealing about Second Life is that it has tools for building
>3D objects, scripting them for simulation, documenting them and
>presenting them.  One of the first things I decided to try was to
>build a simple model of OSCAR III - rectangular box, a few solar
>panels and four antennas.  Easy enough, however not so easy.  There
>are obstacles to overcome, new tools to learn, and a scripting engine
>unique to the environment.  However I was successful, and proceeded
>to successfully build models of OSCAR I, 7 and even though the tools
>in the environment have some limitations on small objects, a CubeSat.
>Inside Second Life there is an actual online museum for things like
>this called "The International Spaceflight Museum" or ISM for
>short.  I have joined the staff of the ISM, where I give tours and
>answer questions for people from all over the world.  I did this
>because staff members are allowed to also create exhibits, and my
>goal goal is for AMSAT to have a permanent exhibition there.  The
>hope is to have space for representative models of each type of
>satellite including audio and motion, and to have a story board that
>will explain the history of AMSAT and ongoing projects and if
>possible provide a 3D satellite tracking system.  I have begun to
>build these, and the ISM has agreed in part to provide space to me to
>build the exhibit, though at some point AMSAT will have to pay a
>small amount (about $50 US) if they want to make it an official
>exhibit and partner with the museum.  Other participants in the ISM
>include NASA, NOAA and Scaled Composites.  The staff is all volunteer
>and is as diverse as people like myself, people who work for
>sponsoring firms as well as staff and students from universities
>around the world.
>To give you some perspective of the potential impact of Second Life
>for AMSAT, Second Life has a population of 3.1 million users, up from
>125 thousand a year ago.  Of those 3.1 million users, over 2 million
>have paid memberships. While there are no hard statistics, the
>demographics of SL is something like 55% in the 18-32 age range, 25%
>in the 32-45 age range.  The ISM receives almost 350 new and unique
>(first time) visitors per day from everywhere around the globe.
>I thought it might be helpful to show a bit of what SL looks like
>from my perspective - I've posted some graphics at
>http://www.planetemily.com/sl for those of you who might like to
>see.  I wish they could give you the full 3D experience - it is
>really wonderful to fly around in a world where pass between actual
>size rockets and other exhibits.
>Second Life is not for everyone - quite the contrary.  It will
>require a broadband connection, and it will require you to have a
>good CPU and up to date video card.  If you decide you want to
>investigate Second Life yourself there is no charge.  You just signup
>at http://www.secondlife.com, pick an alias for your avatar (my
>avatar's name is Emileigh Starbrook) and download the software, which
>supports PC, Mac and Linux.  Once you are logged on (which is called
>being "in-world") there is an initial training cycle to teach you how
>to walk, fly, pick up objects and will teach you a little about the
>SL culture.  If you decide to become a builder, there are online
>classes, tutorials and lectures that will help you learn these skills.
>Although a Second Life presence will never replace the AMSAT website,
>I believe it will set the future pace of things we will need to do in
>the future and the way effective outreach will take place.  It has
>been exciting for me to explore Second Life and I hope that AMSAT
>will benefit from this soon.
>Emileigh Starbrook, AKA N1DID
>N1DID formerly W0EEC - CM87tm
>Support Project OSCAR - http://www.projectoscar.net
>Sent via AMSAT-BB at amsat.org. Opinions expressed are those of the author.
>Not an AMSAT-NA member? Join now to support the amateur satellite program!
>Subscription settings: http://amsat.org/mailman/listinfo/amsat-bb

More information about the AMSAT-BB mailing list