Archive for the 'Meetings, Conferences and New things in Virtual Worlds' Category

Resistance Was Silly

I really, really hate being told “Do This”. Foolish reaction, I know, but the moment someone tells me that I must do something, I want to protest and resist – You’re not the boss of me!!!! There are many situations that bring on my ‘dragging feet’ reaction: visits to relatives with whom I’m not especially close, dealing with my taxes, filling out personal data forms for work, and many other “you must do this” requirements. I say it’s a foolish reaction because typically doing the action is NEVER as horrible as I anticipate. The visit with the relatives is fun, the taxes take less time and energy than expected and to date I have always survived the experience. So when my manager informed us (his team) that he urged us all very strongly to enroll in a certain program at work, I immediately went into “you can’t tell me what to do” mode.

The irony is that the program he was promoting was the kind of learning I usually take all on my own: learning how to coach people to solve work issues that they face. Over the years I have taken courses in Applied Creative Thinking, been trained as a meeting facilitator, served as a mentor, led training courses, and spent a lot of time in behavioral therapy myself and then trying to teach what I had learned to others. So you’d think that learning to be a more effective coach would be right up my alley. You’d think that, and I recognized that idea, but I was annoyed and resistant. I made sure to wait until beyond the last minute so that I was closed out of all the possible teams. But then to prove I was a “team player” I wrote to the program coordinator apologizing for being late and asking if there was a way to join a team or if I should (oh PLEASE say YES) wait until the next time the program was offered. She put me onto one of her teams. Sigh.

I was EXTREMELY busy at work after that (I believe I have mentioned that *grin*) and so I did none of the prep work. I went to the first session and sat there with my virtual arms crossed and a pout on my virtual face. On camera of course I smiled and put on a “very interested face”. I hope. 🙂 I hated the first session all the way up to the very last 10 minutes. We “wasted” 45 minutes or so for 50 people to introduce themselves and say why they were taking the course. I was the last but one to speak. (Feel the resistance?) Then the facilitator did something technically I’d never seen before – she broke us all into small sub-meetings. Wow – isn’t technology COOL????? I had not known that capability existed and thought it was a fantastic innovation for video conferencing. I was in a room with one other woman. We could see each other’s physical surroundings and we broke the ice talking about sports teams, then started on the assignment. We were summoned back (forcibly) before we had the chance to switch roles. I found that my whole attitude had undergone a change simply from interacting with a real person one on one in a non-threatening environment. I liked her (unlike my reaction to many of the other people introducing themselves – wow you can really tell a lot about a person from the words they use, how long they talk, and their focus *grin*).

I resolved to do more preparation before the next class. My big project had launched, I had more time to work on other matters. Part of my annoyance was the requirement to buy a book in which I had no interest, but I finally downloaded the book to my iPad. The part of the course that was still causing me major stress and concern was the requirement to coach 2 people. I couldn’t think who I might coach. I had an idea that it should be someone younger than I, someone still early in their career. I didn’t really want to reach out to people with whom I work because if I failed or was very bad at this coaching stuff, I didn’t want them to know it and have my good reputation ‘tarnished’. I didn’t know anyone else who’d fit the “young, early in career” stage because my office mates are mostly senior folks who are looking towards retirement, or they are transient employees in for the day to use office facilities. I also thought that it isn’t just the coachee/client who is vulnerable in a session – the coach is also vulnerable. At least I felt *I* would be vulnerable – what if I failed? Who to coach and how was I going to avoid/fulfill this requirement?

I had a meeting with a coworker who is also a friend. We were chatting about business matters and about work and I mentioned this course, and whined about not having anyone to coach and not knowing where to find someone. I was absolutely astounded when he said “You can coach me.” Full Stop. It never occurred to me to reach out to someone like this: senior, well-established, a friend. It took him a few minutes to convince me he was serious and me a few minutes to adjust to the idea of trying to coach a friend. We agreed to give it a try. He recommended a young person we both knew as my second ‘client’ but I was still a bit resistant to coaching someone on my team. But his willingness to be coached made me rethink the people I know at work. I actually know many, many people with whom I have a good relationship and who might agree to 3 one-hour sessions to let me practice coaching. I reached out to one of them, a woman with whom I used to work regularly before she moved to another role. She agreed!!! She was extremely interested and enthusiastic about the idea. I began to be very excited as well. We set our first session for later that week.

I began to catch up on all the assignments. I began reading the book (I was correct – I don’t like it, it doesn’t speak to me, but there are one or two points that I found worth noting). I started watching the videos, which infuriated me no end. They were recorded several years ago. This means there has been PLENTY of time for someone to go in and edit those videos and crop out the leading 10 minutes of people chatting about so and so retiring and “can you hear me now?” and “please put your phones on mute”, and “please call back on another line”. Seriously – I feel that not cropping that kind of nonsense out of the videos but making the videos required viewing is disrespectful to course participants. I really hate the videos until they reach the point where the practice coaching begins. I admire the people who have volunteered to be the coach and the coachee. I’ll tell you right now – it’s SCARY to try to coach when you have NEVER done it before and don’t know what questions to ask or what works. The fact that one woman volunteered to do that and to do it IN FRONT OF OTHERS was impressive. She wasn’t very good at it but she was game and she kept going. The other videos I’ve watched (really listened – there is no video recording during the coaching) were much the same – a lot of stuff that should have been cropped, repetition from prior videos, new material and then a practice coaching session, then someone’s observations and feedback from both coach and coachee. The coaching sessions are incredibly interesting and valuable. I have been taking copious notes.

I did my first coaching session yesterday. I did a LOT of preparation. I printed out course materials, wrote notes on them, highlighted things I wanted to remember, spread them out about my laptop where I could see them without needing to look away from the client. I worried about how we’d switch from friend mode to coach/client mode, and reviewed what I’d heard in the practice sessions. I was as ready as I thought I could be. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to maintain a coach role. I have a strong tendency to jump in when someone is explaining a work situation and share my similar experience, or to offer an opinion in support, or to propose solutions to the problems. None of that is suitable for a coach. I was aware through the entire hour of keeping my eyes focused on the client’s face (I moved my screen shot so that her face was right above my camera so as I looked at her face, I was staring right into the camera), to not interrupting (keep your mouth shut and LISTEN), to hear what words she used and where she took the conversation. I was writing notes out of view of the camera (they are probably illegible since my writing is horrible to start and I wasn’t LOOKING as I wrote) but I didn’t really need them. I relied on the course notes, and what I’d heard other coaches say/do and tried to follow those examples. It was GREAT. I loved it.

At the end of the hour, I felt we had done very well. To be fair, I suspect one of the reasons it went so well was because I had a great client. She wanted to be there, she could articulate her issues, she had ideas and she responded well to the open-ended questions. The client had actions she planned to implement, we talked about a time frame, we agreed to meet again to discuss the other issues she’d mentioned. When she said to me “you’re a great listener” I felt extremely rewarded. I learned a lot about myself, and about helping others. This IS the kind of work I like to do. Not only did I enjoy this experience but I’m now wondering if this is something I can do as a next role. Helping people resolve their road blocks might be every bit as rewarding as playing with kittens all day. *smile*

Resistance was silly.

I’m Ahuva Heliosense. I’m Rising!

Ahuva Rising

One In Three Women On The Planet Will Be Raped Or Beaten In Her Lifetime.

One Billion Women Violated Is An Atrocity.

One Billion Women Dancing Is A Revolution.

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Join V-Day on
02.14.13
STRIKE, DANCE, RISE
in your community &
Demand an
end to violence
(copied from the official One Billion Rising url)

I hold strong views on many subjects. I try not to preach to my friends and coworkers. But in this instance, I believe so strongly in this movement, that I am speaking out to you. Yes – YOU. I mean you – male and female both. Join the revolution. End the violence.

OBR in SLI hope to rise in both SL and RL. I’ve found 2 possible RL events. In SL – it’s running 24 hours, from midnight Wednesday, Feb 13th through midnight, Feb 14th. It will be LIVESTREAMED. There are going to be live performances by well-known SL entertainers (*grin* one of my personal favorites is rumored to be the closing act)

To get you revving – watch the video. Yep, I’m there. Honour is there. Saffia is there, Pyper, Tatiana, sooooooo many others. There is still time for you to be there too, on Feb 14th. Schedules will be posted later this week. Pyper Dollinger, Tatiana Kurri, Saffia Widdershins, Petlove Petshop, Honour McMillan, and Aisling Sinclair have done a FANTASTIC job on this video! You have to LOVE The Dazzlers. I want to be a Dazzler when (if) I grow up!

You need to get yourself over to Prim Perfect and pick up the poster and your t-shirt. They have both male and female mesh shirts, in a variety of sizes, both black and white backgrounds.
Business women getting last-minute directions in London, SL

Strike!

Dance!

Rise!

Note: Check out my new hair up top. I’m sure I’ll still be wearing my Analog Dog “Astrid”, that I’ve been wearing for 4+ years now. *grin* But Queue Marlow won my heart yet again with “driven” in butterscotch.  🙂

Casting Call

Hey there! Yeah – YOU. I’m talking to YOU. Ya wanna be a star? Ya wanna make it in the Big Time? C’mon over heah. I got an “in”. I can help ya break into the ranks of the top dancers in SL. Really. And – at no cost. /me nods sincerely.

What? Ya think I’m foolin’? pfffft. Here – read it yourself: CASTING CALL

One Billion Rising is coming to SL. You can be part of it. The only requirement? Female avatar in appropriate attire.

What’s One Billion Rising? I’m glad you asked that…… Click the link and read about One Billion Rising in SL. Click and get the most fabulous ear-worm you could ever hope to have.

One Billion Rising. Be one of a billion. February 14th, 2013. All around the world and inworld. 🙂 Break the Chain.

There’s still time to be part of the pre-recorded videos: Drop a note card to Samantha Ohrberg inworld.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
[ THEME ]               [ TIME ]              [Dress Attire]
Steampunk            3:00pm SLT      Steampunk Costume
Tropical                  4:00pm SLT       Beachwear –not swimming costumes
India                       6:00pm SLT       Indian (clothes & avatars)
—————————————————————————————–
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
[ THEME ]               [ TIME ]              [Dress Attire]
Post apocalyptic   3:00pm SLT      Post Apocalyptic/cyberpunk but
.                          .                        .            NO injured skins
Oriental city          4:00pm SLT       Modern Oriental (clothes and avatars)

SL SF


So how cool is this: the fifth annual Second Life Science Fiction convention. I had no idea there was such a thing, but now I do, thanks to Inara Pey, who posted about it today. There are real-life TV and film actors attending and speaking. It’s highly unlikely I will get there myself, but I hope I can. (I have much less time to be in SL now that I started a new job. OTOH, I’m having a lot of fun learning about/doing SocBiz. 🙂 Always a tradeoff.)

Anyway, Inara has all the details, and slurls and advice. I suggest you check out her post. Beam me up!

Crystal Ball Musings

I’m not very good at predicting ‘THE FUTURE’. You know – what will be a hit, what life will be like in 3 years, much less 10 years. I have a mom’s sense of the future: if you try to carry all those things at once you’re going to drop something. My vision tends to be personal and short-term. I really thought virtual worlds were about to burst into the big time. I was lining up my career to be a part of it. I guess I was blinded by the light of my love. Not only didn’t it happen, but it seems to have receded nearly out of sight (for me). I think about this chain of events and wonder, as so many others do, why it hasn’t happened. I still believe that one of the major issues is that there are no tools (or almost no tools) available for the business or corporate user to access in SecondLife or OpenSim. Things may have changed, since I am out of touch, but if the applications were present, I think I’d know from (1) blogs/Twitter/chat and (2) Virtual Worlds would be gaining positive publicity and hype. Obviously, other people have other ideas as to what is and isn’t happening and why.

A little while ago, many in the SecondLife Premium User community were introduced to a new SL offering called Premium Wilderness. I was involved in my own personal issues at the time and didn’t head over there but I read several of the posts and tweets about it. As you would expect, easily 50% of the comments hated it and 48% of the comments were neutral and I will guess that 2% dared to like it. But one of my favorite things to do in SL is go to sims where someone has taken the time and effort to make rides and interactive environments – like going to an amusement park. Or – perhaps more similar – like the interactive computer books and games my son played when he was a wee little thing. So I took a quick trip there. It has possibilities. Having been in SL now for almost 4 years, I have to say that I think some of the effects were very nice. Others – not so much. It could have been me, but not one of the objects on which I tried to sit had a pose that fit. That was disappointing. I did really like the sound effects. 🙂

I understand the frustration of folks who think all of LL’s efforts should be on improving their existing product. I have to tell you – software development doesn’t really work like that. My group – oops, my former group – has been successful through 3 major take-overs because we were NEVER just working on what we had – we were ALWAYS developing the NEXT thing. We (they) are here and many many others who started with us are not here. Yes, it’s very, very hard to fix bugs, add enhancements and design new applications. But that’s what the good software developers do. I was liaison with support and with the clients – I DO understand the client experience and emotions.

Quite soon after the furor over Wilderness Experience was quieting down, Arianne Barnes (who I consider to be one of the most insightful virtual world bloggers around) posted on 3D Virtual Worlds vs MMORPGs. Arianne hit on one of the factors that SL devotees believe is KEY: User created content: “Basically, everything that makes 3D Virtual Worlds popular, can now be found in MMORPGs too, except user created content.” She goes on to say: “The MMOs are incorporating the stuff that makes 3DVWs popular. If they are to survive, the 3DVWs need to start incorporating what makes MMOs popular.” This makes a great deal of sense to me. I DO recommend you read the entire post, not just my excerpts here. Arianne is pro-3DVWs. She is not one of the many crying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling”. As a matter of fact, she points to LL Realms as a way Linden Lab is incorporating the popular MMO features. Virtual worlds are big enough for all of us – content designers, socializers and gamers.

While I have been pondering on how I wanted to approach this subject, Tateru Nino (another of my favorite bloggers and sources of information) posted about two MMOGs that ALLOW for user created content. It’s not quite the same as how it is done in SL, of course, but it’s happening. Maybe this is the mirror-image for Wilderness Experience? Of course, it may be late for both MMORPGs and 3DVWs – Facebook is neither of those and yet somehow the same (for some people. NOT me. DO NOT shoot me, folks). Facebook is pulling more people into their phones and off their powerful computer graphics cards. Prokofy Neva posted recently that Facebook is not only harming television, but that “The mobile phone is the new virtual world.” Prokofy mentions that Facebook pulls in those people who do NOT like being an avatar (my manager was among those) and people who do not like being anonymous and faceless (many of my engineering/scientist coworkers were among that demographic).

So where are we going? I don’t know. I still think that virtual worlds are going to become more mainstream, that corporations will utilize them more than is done in the present. I think that what we have now, however, is not going to be what becomes mainstream. I think we are evolving. I don’t think that “The Future” will be a hybrid of Facebook/3DVW/MMORPGs replacing all 3 of those constructs. I think there will be some other sort of synthesis – 3DVWs and MMORPGs. But of course, as I’ve already said – my crystal ball is usually opaque. *grin*

Blurred Vision

Vision can be blurry because something is interfering actively or because the focus has not yet resolved. When I look at the future and virtual worlds, my vision blurs from both causes. This post was triggered by my reaction to Gwyneth Llewelyn‘s post “Innovation, yes, but wrong turn“. Gwyneth is one of my favorite bloggers. I find her comments to be sound and well-supported, and her tone is always equable.

I still believe that all of us will have an avatar in virtual worlds in the fairly near future. I believe that more and more business meetings and collaborations will take place virtually. There will always be a need for face-to-face. But the workplace is global and for short-duration meetings and conferences, unless we have a major breakthrough in transportation costs (“Beam me up, Scotty!”), the most cost and time efficient solution will remain electronic. I no longer believe, however, that SecondLife/OpenSim will be that virtual means. And therefore my vision is blurred from the unshed tears in my eyes. I am still unable to articulate why my SL avatar resonates so strongly for me. I am unable to identify which particular aspects make the experience so powerful. I have tried to bring friends and coworkers into SL. I’ve failed. I introduce them to friends. To live music. To building. To the ability to hold business meetings simply. Many many things. (No, I didn’t try introducing them to Zindra. Was that the problem?) But to date I have failed to convince anyone to see it as I do.

I think that not only is there something in my eyes, but I think the view-finder has not yet been turned to the correct focus. At the moment the virtual world is beset by a storm about anonymity, pseudonymity and “real identity”. I tend toward seeing the pessimistic future and I fear that we, advocates for pseudonymity and anonymity, are going to lose this argument. But moving beyond this moment, I think that the business world has still not identified why it needs virtual worlds. Because of that lack of vision – the WHY – virtual worlds still lack the WHAT. I think we have the “HOW” – we can get there. Once we are there, however, there’s little to do. There’s no “HOW”. We need TOOLS in the virtual worlds. Those tools are coming. But not fast enough and not “sexy” enough. We need tools that allow our avatars to do that which our organic bodies do: easy note taking, modify the same objects (think whiteboards, sketching). Picture yourself in an organic conference room in a brainstorming, problem-solving session. Now, imagine your avatar doing the same thing. The trick here is that all of those tasks that are seamless in the organic world need to be as seamless in the virtual. So yes, there are whiteboard tools and there are ways to modify the same object, etc. But they are not seamless to the avatar experience. The business world and LL only thought to the point of getting people IN.

Not only are we lacking the tools, but there are not enough people being encouraged and supported to envision. I state quite clearly – I am NOT a visionary. I am the person who can get your vision done. But we NEED the people who will look at the conference room I described, will look at the work being done, look at virtual worlds, and make the leap that says: ah, because we are freed from the constraints of the physical world, we can visualize the problem THUSLY. I had the good fortune to work on a project with people who ARE visionaries. We began work on such a business application tool. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the backing (substitute “funding”) to keep working so that they had time to learn the virtual worlds sufficiently to make that quantum leap into hyperspace.

In her article, Gwyneth Llewelyn says:
However, I still think that LL (and not only Rod; he’s just starting to think like the rest) is working from a totally wrong assumption: that virtual worlds with user-generated content are somehow a mainstream product, if only “done right”, and that the trick is how to figure out to “do them right”. To be very honest — and you can check it up on my blog — I used to think like that as well. But the more time passes, the less likely I believe this is going to happen.
… I’m quite convinced these days that Second Life (and these days there is nothing else that compares with SL; I’m considering OpenSim to be just a variant of SL running under open source software, of course) is simply a niche product.

I’m sad to say that to a great extent, I agree. I think that SL/OpenSim is a tool, an environment. Now take that tool and customize it to what you need. Businesses need specific business tools, specific ways of manipulating data. Businesses need specific ways of interacting. Like the government, corporations have specific concerns that drive innovation. Think of how many inventions and every-day appliances we now have due to the government needing a tool. If business took virtual worlds seriously, used them, put the energy into adding tools and applications and seamless integration, virtual worlds would have a bigger niche. I believe that once such tools are there, other people will take them, bend them shake them and leap them into the future. As that happens, the niche expands to a mainstream product.

SL8B


It’s that time! The time when everyone on the grid becomes terribly confused and thinks the celebration is all about SL being 8 years old, hence SL8B, when they SHOULD realize that it’s really about AH3B. Ah well, sometimes it’s simply easier to go along with the crowd. So I got myself a press pass in order to get a sneak preview before the sims open to the public officially on June 23. This year’s theme is the magic of Second Life. Magic refers not just to practitioners of the craft, but also to the magic we all find in our lives in SL, whether it’s social, commercial, creating, enjoying or whatever else brings you to login. There are many free gifts for attendees and special presentations. You can take a tour of the sims. Yavanna Llanfair made the tour pods. You can hop aboard a pod near the welcome area, or anytime you see an unoccupied pod floating by.

I headed in on Saturday morning, having rezzed my press package and donned my press pass. *grin* I tp’d to the welcome area. I don’t think I went to SL6B nor SL7B, so I was not really sure what to expect. Wow. That was my first reaction – Wow. It’s huge. It’s dazzling. There are monumental builds and smaller, intricate detailed builds. I thought I’d start by looking at the formal auditoriums and stages. My press notes ask me to credit all the builders and give locations, etc. but I confess that I failed to capture most of that information on this first pass. I had gotten to the 2nd stage when I knew I was going about this all wrong.

At that point good fortune intervened. Shenlei was at her SL8B build and saw me on the radar. She and Fancy Mesmeriser offered to come and fetch me and take me on my very own tour of the sims. *grin* See – it IS all about me. Although the standard tour pods are cute and very efficient, *I* got to tour in a carriage drawn by a beautiful prancing horse.

This is where I fall down on my press obligations. I took many pictures, mostly ooo’ing and ah’ing at the builds. I’ve posted all my pics to Flickr. There are 21 sims and I believe that Fancy carried us through nearly all of them. One build that caught my attention and camera was Karesansui by Sel and Nom Creations. I made sure that I got to see Honour’s build and Shen’s build, as I had some sneak information about both of those during the building phase. Of course, their two sims were just as far apart as they could be, with Honour on Spellbound and Carriage Trade on Stunning. Brave, dear, strong Fancy!!!! /me pats Fancy’s neck and offers a sugar cube. You need to have streaming media (v2 or a tpv based on v2) running in order to appreciate all the photos at Honour’s build. And you get to live out your dreams of life in the circus at the Carriage Trade build. *grin* The circus outfits are in the apples! You, too, can dance upon a gorgeous circus horse.

I will be heading back and posting more, I am sure. I want to be certain to get to Bear Island and get my free Linden Bears. 🙂 Following is the official information, including links to blogs with information and SLURLS. Happy 8th birthday, SL!!
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Spanning 21 sims with over 700 contributors, over 300 exhibits, over 300 live performers and speakers with special speeches from Philip and Rod Linden, SL8B is a showcase for the accomplishments and content of all SL residents, celebrating the “life” of Second Life.
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SL8B kicks off at 10:30 a.m. SLT on Monday, June 20 and runs through Sunday, June 26 with a glittering assortment of musicians, speakers, artists, business leads, media mavens, merchants, social organizers, and other amazing Residents like you.We’ll be keeping the 20-region site open for another week, so you’re welcome to come and tour the builds at your leisure. We’ll officially close the gates on Saturday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m. SLT.

About the Theme:
This year’s theme is the magic of Second Life. No, we’re not just talking about wizards and sorceresses (though of course they’re included). The true magic of Second Life is something different for each of us. It’s all about that moment when we realized how amazing Second Life really is. It’s when we found our own personal connections to Second Life, realizing its potential in our own lives and the lives of other Residents. Whether it’s the social aspect, the content creation possibilities, or unique business and commerce opportunities, we’ve all got a tale of Second Life magic to share.

All event times and locations, slurls, links, social media, etc., can be found on the resident blog: http://sl8b.wordpress.com. We will be updating the blog every day and including the most up-to-date information.

Important Dates:
June 20—10:30 a.m. SLT: Gates open to the public for the opening ceremonies. Scripts and build disabled throughout estates for the duration of opening ceremonies to discourage instances of lag and disruption. They will be turned back on after the opening speech.
11:00 am. Kim Linden speaks, opening the celebrations.
June 23—The Birthday!
3:00 pm slt. Rodvik Linden will be attending festivities at the Main Stage
June 26—Last day of entertainment.
July 2–Gates close. Sims will be locked.

Important Links:
SL Destination Guide: http://secondlife.com/destinations/birthday
SL8B Flickr Group: http://flickr.com/groups/sl8b
SL8B Blog: http://www.sl8b.wordpress.com
SL8B Wiki (for all rules, dates, etc): http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:SL8B


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