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

Bill Ress bill at hsmicrowave.com
Thu Mar 1 12:50:54 PST 2007

Emily - - - - -Glad to see you're up and about. I was "very" concerned 
about your absence. You've been missed!!!

Second Life sounds like a very worthy endeavor. I haven't heard about it 
but your endorsement is good enough for me.

Go for it!!! Goodness knows we need some young blood and you're right - 
the younger troops march to a very different drum beat than us "Project 
Oscar" veterans.

Best regards...Bill - N6GHz

Emily Clarke wrote:
> 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" 
> (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.10/sloverview.html)
> 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.
> 73,
> Emileigh Starbrook, AKA N1DID
> ---------------------------------
> N1DID formerly W0EEC - CM87tm
> Support Project OSCAR - http://www.projectoscar.net
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