Saturday, February 05, 2011

Pondering...experimenting...building community in virtual spaces

What a great idea…pondering the possibilities for socializing, sharing and learning in LVM! Thank you so much Maria for making LVM one of your favorite sites to visit in SL and for considering how you want to build community in our Second Life space and blog!

LVM has gone through a lot of changes since it’s initial launch back in 2009. The initiative continues to evolve in light of platform changes and resulting impacts to the education community in SL who have worked so hard to raise awareness to the very possibilities even you brought up in your post. Virtual worlds have such great potential for delivering unique learning experiences that combine game play and simulation with real-time communication as strategies for engagement. The 3d version of fb many have said.

Pondering the possibilities is exactly what I did with my colleague Olga Herrera, Latina scholar, back in 2007 as we played with a demo of the Da Vinci Code in 3D. The xbox game version caught our attention as the developers successfully represented the Louvre Museum in 3D. The technology was avatar-game based, a combination of the game CLUE and a scavenger hunt. It was at this juncture that we really thought hmmmm why not explore 3d space for representation and re-interpretation of cultural identity through the experience as an avatar. The virtual world was our oyster to ponder…then we formed a committee and pondered from a higher level. Pondering turned into hard-core research and development and seed money to experiment.

Through many lessons learned and experimentation, LVM emerged out of a single virtual museum model representation in SL into a test bed of possibilities for exploring Latino cultural identity and connecting communities through trans-media experiences. What this means is that we have taken our research, assessment data, and our 3d resources and broadened our horizons exploring other avenues for representation and interpretation using innovative technologies. Working in a multi-user world environment such as Second Life has provided us with a wealth of audience research and outreach opportunities to communities we may have not necessarily reached via a regular web presence. Our goals are simple…summed up in this mantra: Presence, Relevancy & Access. We have to create a presence in the mainstream arena leveraging 21 Century tools and resources to remain relevant to our communities while at the same time working to preserve our cultural heritage and establishing the spaces in which we can connect, share and discover the world around us with our communities. (post by Melissa Carrillo, LVM Creative Director)

More later…Re-affirming Cultural Identity in the Age of the Social Web

Monday, January 31, 2011

Pondering the Possibilities

Today I spent the afternoon strolling through the grounds of LVM in Second Life (SL). I'm getting better at maneuvering my avatar. I fly around enjoying the blue sea surrounding the museum’s grounds below. The quaint and serene landscape is designed to bring together curated Latino music, literary and art collections in an interactive, rich-media environment. Years ago I wouldn’t have thought this possible. I mean, a virtual Second Life museum where I can escape during my lunch break to listen to music and enjoy Latino artifacts in 3D? Times have certainly changed. Just a year ago I was learning to use other less interactive, web-based mediums, and now, thanks to an easy-to-use, downloadable application, I’m now an avid fan and regular at LVM.

One of the hallmarks of LVM is the development of social activities, such as readings, lectures and festivals. The museum not only exhibits Latino artifacts, but provides space and opportunities to develop communities of people with similar interests. For this reason I’m particularly drawn to the Sin Fronteras Café this afternoon where I sit quietly pondering the possibility of developing a series of poetry readings and workshops in-world. Set up like a café with tables, chairs, coffee bar and stage, the Sin Fronteras Café is designed to attract visitors to congregate and socialize. The environment is conducive for holding presentations, readings and musical acts. Last November El Paso artist and poet, Nancy Lorenza Green, held the first open-mic, poetry reading in the café while musician Jorge Guzman graced us with his accordion. The event was well attended by poets, artists and musicians from various parts of the country.

I invite you to ponder the possibilities with me. If you are an educator, artist, poet, writer, musician, student, or someone who is interested in developing a community of like minds, the Smithsonian Latino Virtual Museum is open to collaboration.

What do you think?