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

Jonny 290 jonny290 at gmail.com
Thu Mar 1 23:10:28 PST 2007

As an ex-MMORPG addict (matter of fact, my rekindled love of Amateur Radio
was the only thing that ripped me away from it) of four years, I found your
post very interesting and enlightening. Though I am generally against
regarding Second Life as a place to have an 'e-presence', it does raise many
good questions about the approaches we use to recruit for AMSAT and ham
radio in general.

On 3/1/07, Trevor <m5aka at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> You're doing a great job Emily.
> Different demographic groups have different expectation from web sites.
> Good luck with the The International Spaceflight Museum exhibit.
> 73 Trevor M5AKA
> --- Emily Clarke <emily at planetemily.com> 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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