I’ve been involved in a project that has seen the development of some real estate in Second Life (that parallel universe online). Aimed at providing opportunities for students to experiment with ‘other’ world possibilities (particularly in Arts Education), the project has been great fun and very is exciting for those involved as we break new ground and come to learn about the potential of the environment. Leigh Blackall is writing about his experiences in developing a space in SL and I like his approach to developing a plan…
Anyway, we’ve had a lot of help from Gary Hayes (& The Project Factory) who’s been great with his ability to listen, be creative, suggesting possibilities and leading us by the hand through a new landscape and develop an amazing space. We’re just about all set to go and do some stuff with students.
To get to this point though, we’ve had to negotiate our way through a fair bit of bureaucratic stuff to get things like finance, marketing and IT issues sorted out to create a space/identity and getting access through firewalls. I have read about others who were very impressed with the help and service provided by centralised systems. I do understand that there needs to be processes and procedures when implementing mainstream production type applications and systems, but when we’re pushing the envelope it would be useful to have an attitude of understanding and encouragement. I’m not suggesting that there aren’t well meaning and helpful people who do want to support this type of endeavour (thank goodness) as they are often the tipping point in making things happen.
After a recent conference presentation I was asked why we had developed a range of social software installations ‘in house’, that is, within our local area network (LAN). I suppose reasons included the ability to support, backup, control and provide a secure environment (for participants) were on the list. The suggestion was that all this was available in the public domain and surmounted the issues of getting external people to participate. Yes, this is an issue for in-house systems that rely on user management systems and corporate databases to control access, but we’ve found ways to overcome that with creative people coming up with solutions. It’s still a question of purpose, identity and intellectual property with good advice about implications provided to potential users.
I suppose the upshot is that consideration needs to be given to the investment of support and resources for/to/in those of us who are willing and able to investigate possibilities, and do the pioneering work of marking the trails for others to follow. It’s great when we can undertake projects through which R&D can be supported without having to resort to external resources & support.