Thursday, July 30, 2009

Avatar Design Research - Call for Participation...

Here I am posing with a screenshot of my sample research participation consent form. This form has been modified on a template created by Tom Boellstorff (Tom Bukowski in SL). In fact, this picture was taken on location at Boellstorff's "Ethnographia" property.

My official thesis research is about to begin, please read the text below and if you are interested in participating, please let me know...


Do you like to make unique avatars? Are you interested in Modern Art? Have you ever wanted to perfect your design skills through the critical input of your peers?

A Graduate Student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada is studying avatar design in Second Life and is looking for participants who would be willing and interested in contributing a small portion of their time to developing this academic research.

Interested participants would be involved in a small 2-4 hour workshop session one day and a follow-up focus group for 1-2 hours involving an avatar design critique session with peers.

Both sessions will take place on Odyssey Island which is the home to many esteemed contemporary avatar artists, critics and designers.

The researcher plans to watch participants create avatars based on established Modern Art design guidelines borrowed from Art-History to see if they still translate into interesting and useful avatar design.

The research will be taking snapshots and video of the avatar creators during the building process so they can be critiqued during the peer review session.

At the end of this research, the researcher will write about the strengths and limitations of using Modernist guidelines to inform avatar design in Second Life and other next generation virtual worlds.

All participants will own the rights to their own avatar creations being generated during this workshop.

The researcher will only document these designs in order to visually illustrate their relationship to the theoretical frame-work.

Any potential participants must meet this criteria:

1 – Genuine interest in designing avatars – especially designing for themselves as well as for clients/friends/other people.
2 – Some arts background (including arts produced exclusively in SL)
3 – Relative fluency in navigating the building controls in Second Life.
4 – Reasonable fluency in English (written) and/or ability to use an in-world translator effectively.
5 - The willingness to allow their avatar designs made in this case-study session to be publicized, documented and researched by the author.
6 – The willingness to participate for the duration of the research project.
7 – Professes not to be a member of a captive population (inmate), psychiatric in-patient nor a youth under the age of 19.
8 – The willingness to sign a consent form (over the age of 19).

If you are interested, please reply with your name (SL name only is fine), background, contact information availability (including your local time zone) and specific design interests.

Please submit a notecard with your proposal to uuuuuuu Heliosense, or via email

Replies of interest must be received by August 10, 2009. Potential participants will be notified of the status of their participation by August 13, 2009 for sessions happening on the following week.

For more information, please contact uuuuuuu Heliosense in-world or Jeremy Owen Turner at

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Archaeological Tour of Active Worlds...

Here I am as a default Tourist Avatar somewhere in the Activeworlds Gateway in order to commemorate The Extreme Builder Talent Show at ON 4E facing W. This monument is of Cy, the very first avatar designed in Alphaworld (which later became Active Worlds). In Second Life's indigenous jargon, Cy can be seen as a basic "prim" avatar

This post was originally drafted on November 14th, 2008. Since my thesis has started in earnest, I have not had the time to prepare this posting for online publication since it was low on my list of priorities.

This post was about my brief archeological tour in Active Worlds which was one of the Ancestors of Second Life and still exists as an active avatar community. Active Worlds and Digitalspace Traveler were my main hangouts in 2001 so it was very nice to return to AW to see what the place looks like now that Second Life is the dominant chat-based virtual worlds platform.

Since I am analyzing avatar community platform predecessors to Second Life, I will likely produce a new blog posting that reflects upon my experiences returning to reflect on the design affordances of avatars in Active Worlds

So, here are some more photos from this tour back into Active Worlds...

Here is a close up of the sculpture's base at the Activeworlds Gateway at ON 5E facing W.

...and another angle...these are tourist photos, after all ;-)

- Activeworlds Gateway The Extreme Builder Talent Show at 2S OW facing S. Here I am now as a female tourist avatar. I am posing with a surveillance mirror and a local male tourist is also visible in this picture.

Activeworlds Gateway and The Extreme Builder Talent Show at ON 6S facing W. I really love the design of these teleportation portal windows as they provide a landscape preview of the next world one might potentially enter. I wonder if Unreal Tournament looked at Active Worlds for the development of their own portal design?

Activeworlds Gateway and The Extreme Builder Talent Show at 4S 1E facing W.

Activeworlds Gateway and The Extreme Builder Talent Show at12S 14W facing SE. Here I am killing virtual time with my free purple glider hoverboard. I think also used to have hoverboards similar to this glider except that they were somewhat expensive to purchase.

Activeworlds Gateway and The Extreme Builder Talent Show at 1N 8W facing E. This shows the special clock that only tells the exclusive VRT (Virtual Reality Time)...This time zone is indigenous to AW's local world. Using an in-world time zone makes sense because the lighting in this world does not seem to correspond to a regular 24-hour clock.

...and now, here is a photo of my extremely brief venture into the ultimate heritage destination, Alphaworld...

AlphaWorld at 1999N facing N. Here I am as an untitled hourglass icon avatar. These hourglasses represent rezzing avatars in AW. These icons show that an avatar is idle and the equivalent in Second Life is the infamous "afk SLump".