Virtual Worlds from Brisbane

26 10 2007

And then there were none… the last presentation is in the can! But what a fun way to close out here in Brisbane. The venue for my Virtual Worlds: Promise or Perils (this site has all of the URLs I referenced, links to the movies, and the slides via flickr) was the beautiful open and glass structure of the Queensland State Library in Brisbane. As just about all of my sessions, the technology was flawless, practically plug and play.

A genuine highlight was getting to meet up with Lindy McKeown, whom I have known only in Second Life as Decka Mah, someone who is truly an expert in Second Life.

I was looking forward to this session because I had a full two hours (used every minute of it) but allowed for showing more videos and a little bit more discussion than my previous rounds. The audience was a mixture of TAFE, university, and private trainers.

We started the live Second Life demo, where Kevin Jarrett, a researcher from Walden University who received a grant/fellowship to explore/research this virtual world had arranged a meeting with some of the folks he works with at ISTE island.

Second Life Demo
Meetup with Victoria and KJ

We got to hear as well from Victoria Gloucester (Catherine Parsons in RL) and and Ken Greer (Dr. Ken Hartman in RL). My audience was most intrigued by Victoria’s avatar, in fact, they were still talking about her wings, dress, and wondering who she was when we met 6 hours later for a reception — see Kevin’s writeup Hello Brisbane, I Must be Going.

Next, we teleported to NMC Campus to hear Ed Lamoreaux, from Bradley University, talk about how his avatar, Professor Belivue teaches social ethnography classes in Second Life. And the Professor shared his sideline activity of performing music every Saturday night.

When it was time to ask questions, Lindy spoke up and invited the Professor to perform at her SL island, Terra Incognita. Connections!

It would have been fun to do more in Second Life, but I had so much more to cover. Just like all previous sessions, the audience just loved the World of Warcraft machinima Balled of the Noob. It is such a hit, I may work it into all my presentations! The also really appreciated Robbie Dingo’s Better Life. I moved through some discussion of other virtual worlds such as Qwaq, Wonderland, Hipihi. I ended with a quick demo of OpenSim running on my laptop. The demo itself is not all that impressive (I have a virtual world with a lump of land, 4 pieces of wood and a welcome sign) — but the principle and potential of being able to run a virtual world on a local server, network, does hit home. I think.

And like that, I was ready to say, stick a fork in me, as I am Done. We had a nice lunch n the lobby, then Lindy and I had a nice coffee out on Southbank. It was then some decompress time to walk back to the hotel, relax (over a Cascade Pale Ale)m ebfore heading out for the late afternoon reception with ACPET. They had a prime location at Venice Cafe right on the water looking at the Story Bridge. Food was awesome, and everyone seemed pleased I was drinking the local beer, XXXX.

It was a great series of conversations with a wide variety of people, most of whom were still very excited about Second Life. The put me on the spot to say some “remarks” about my reflections on what I had seen across Australia in the last 2 weeks. I have very little idea what I said!


I had some enlightening conversation with two hearing impaired women who had “heard” my presentation by lip reading, and it reminded me in a hard honest way that I had not factored that into my presentations, as they relayed (quite nicely) the frustration of not being able to access the audio content (the voice chat in Second Life) and the lack of captions in my videos. We also laughed as they shared the common occurrence that their need to stare intently at a speaker to lip read sometimes gets misconstrued as a signal of attraction! And I sure remember a woman looking at me ever intently 😉 We really laughed at this.

The reception was lovely, thanks everyone for joining us, and helping close this trip in the best way possible.

It was only topped by the view of the bridge as I headed back down Queen Street:

Nighttime at Story Bridge

Blue Mountain Hike- Meet Us At the Station

25 10 2007

In a fiat of executive decision making (that would be Sean’s) the hike for this Sunday has been decided as the one near Katoomba. This is scheduled for Sunday, Oct 28- We plan to be leaving Central Station at 9.18am. We can meet under the big clock on the country platform (upstairs) around 9.00am. Here is the train route if you would like to pick it up along the way –

I am looking forward to this time of unwinding and hanging out with people to talk about… whatever comes up. I am more than happy not to talk about witter, or Second Life or Web 2.0 or …. Or we can, that’s the beauty of just being with people.

Look for the details and add your name to the Bliue Mountain Walk with Alan wiki

See you at the station

No Google Feeling Lucky in Perth!

25 10 2007

I forgot to mention this in my write up for the time in Perth (3 days ago? feels like a month!). It was in my session on “Powerful Personal Portals” and I was showing how you add a new tab in iGoogle. As a test when I was prepping my materials, I had entered a tab named “Australia” and left the “I Fell Luck” box. It was very cool, as the new page was populated with news, weather, other gadgets relevant to Australia, that could be modified, deleted, etc.

So in my live demo, I decided to create a tab called “Perth”:


Hey, I was feeling lucky!

Then the audience busted out laughing:


“No relevant content? I get no respect!” says Perth. No problem. We loaded up the Australia tab and customized all the widgets to get the weather from Western Australia, etc.

You gotta be able to move fast on your feet when playing on the web, and remember the one about mistakes? “If it drops, pick it up”.

C’mon Google, give Perth some widgets. No wait, people in Perth can make their own widgets! Get with it.

Blue Wet Brisbane

25 10 2007

Brisbane Square — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

washed clean by rain

I made it this evening to Brisbane, dropped the stuff at the hotel, and ventured out for some food and peeking around on Queen Street Mall.

Hey, there is water falling from the sky here! Isn’t there a word for that?

The square here was lit beautifully and washed clean.

Tomorrow morning it is off for a 2 hour Virtual Worlds session here, my very last presentation! I haver to admit looking forward to crossing city number 8 off of the list.

G’night from Brizzie.

Twenty Four Too Short

25 10 2007

Presentation Room With a View — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

The stop in Darwin represented the first time I presented in a casino (okay it was a function room above the Sky City Casino), but it was certainly the only presentation room I recall where beyond the muffins was a beach.

When I agreed to do this trip, I knew what I was signing up for in terms of the intensity of the travel, but I am now so much regretting I had but a 24 hour window of time in Darwin. I had offers of going fishing, hunting toads, visiting the far flung communities.. and Alice! I missed Alice Springs, again! It has always been a magical place in my mind– but more so, after hearing about the challenges of time, distance, connectivity, and culture in the Northern Territory, this fly by “blow in” visit is not something I will ever choose again for Australia,

Anyhow, I was again blessed to have another enthusiastic audience in Darwin for their eLearning Showcase event. At least I was not the education minister who got grilled from people tired of poor access to internet. I have no idea how it gets done, some someone needs to light some fires under people who can make infrastructure for high speed networking a reality here. In this case, I will see people are going to be behind the world. Is it a basic human right? No, but for a country wanting to leverage its strengths, it ought to put serious cash behind the things to bridge the ginormous distances and inequities in access.

So this morning was the last iteration of Being There in that Unevenly Distributed Future presentation. I can say now that after 5 or 6 iterations, that the Australian audiences had no problems with my use of a US movie as a metaphor, but even more convincingly, they overwhelmingly know Seargent Schultz.

I did have an unhappy participant in the front of the room. When I get to the section of the talk on “The Internet is Really Big”, it was the Technorati slide on growth of the blogosphere that put her in motion.

Hand goes up: “What is blogging? Why does it matter to me?”

I really the questions of interruption, but was hoping I did not have to explain what a blog was- a simple web creation tool that is reverse chronologically organized, and used many ways, as diaries, resource bullding, project documentation, portfolios, anything.

Mrs Crossed Arms wanted more. She wants that big giant button you click that says, “Apply this to education… make it Apply it to the Classes I Teach”

I needed to move on, as I did not want to get into a discussion about the role and place of blogs, “”t’s all about personal publishing, ” I tried. “How about If I chat with you during the break?”

So as I went, I looked for the “hook” that might thaw this woman’s coolness. So I get to talking about flickr, and let the audience know about all of the great images I find for use in presentation.

So I single her out and ask, “Where do you get images for your presentations, for your class materials? Clip Art?” She shakes her head and says, “I only use my own photographs”.

Ahh -so I counter, “What if you don’t have an image to represent a concept or metaphor? Do you have your own photo of the Grand Canyon?”

“No, ” she states, “I would have no need for that.”

Dead end number two. Not giving up. I ask, “How do you share your images?”

“I print them out and give them to people or email there. I cannot see any use of sharing them online.”

Hmmm. Fuggeddabouddit , I have 60 other people to present to.

Another woman asked me at the end, “I want to know how you can stay on top of all this technology and manage your time.”

This one made me lose my concentration. That was the point of the entire presentation! My message was about giving up this notion of “staying up” or “being expert”, and instead forming, cultivating, using your networks.

I dont think she liked my answer either. I told here that.

Barnum’s Law of Presentations- you cannot please all the people all of the time.

I really did not mind this at all, and actually enjoyed the sense of being challenged.

Another person came up on the break and chided me for advocating use of open content and open tools, yet I was “using the most closed operating system of them all.” referring to Mac OS X.

I tried to explain that I was not an open source religious purist, that I used whatever I had that I can use, whether it is open source or commercial. I tried to ask, “what is it about the Apple OS that you need to tinker with? To me it works so well, I am not needing to change it.” No go.

“What about the things Apple does share, like the Darwin Streaming Server.?”

No go. Oh well, he was not being mean, just trying to make a point. I’l take that.

I use the most closed operating system in the universe and love it. Who wants to fart around with operating systems anyhow? There’s no fun, no creativity there. That’s like plumbing.

Unfortunately, I ended up with about only 15 minutes to give them an overview of the Fifty Web 2.0 Ways to tell a story flying through the wiki at breakneck speed and doing a quick talk over of the 50 (er, 49) tools. It really was a firehose, I am sorry folks.

And then Bing Bam Boom! Sally drives me to the airport, only 24 hours since she picked uo me, and its into the skies to get to Brisbane. So again, it is a day of hotel – taxi -airport -taxi- hotel…

At least there was a nice break at te airport, I ran into the speaker I heard last night in Darwin, Craig Rispin, and we shared some drinks and food at the Quantas Club (thanks to his card). He is really sharp on the whole technology field. A good connection made.

So 24 in Darwin. Never again. No, I want to come back to the Northern Territory, but not for a 24 hour window.

Land is the Canvas

24 10 2007

Patterns — originally uploaded to flickr by cogdogblog

Flight from Perth to Darwin.

What a spectacular flight it was this morning from Perth to Darwin! I am always absorbed in the myriad of patterns, colors when there is such clear visibility. The world we inhabit on the ground takes on different patterns at 30,000 feet high.

On this flight, the colors, shapes, geometry of what was laid out changed every few minutes. I have no idea what this region is- my first thought was petroglyphs! And on the left, the Rorschach test tells me I see a dog.

Darwin is hot, yes (and this is not even near their peak temps for summer), humid, yes, but I love the slow down pace of this city, which is more like a medium beach town in the states. The entire region of the Northern Territory has 200,000 people, just a few notches above the population of my home city of Scottsdale, which occupies about 1/2500 of the area.

Like the example of use on my presentation of the Grand Canyon dwarfing human scale, some similar goes like that here.

Sally M met me at the airport and gave me the insiders tour of the city, seeing the neighborhoods and city portions.

I then had a few hours to relax- walked the short beach outside of the Sky City Hotel (there was no one at all on the beach). The water was not just bath warm, it was beyond tepid to getting ready to almost boil.

Hill View Back to Sky City.

Wow. I then took a nap on the lounge chairs around the pool. But my phone was buzzing. Melanie, my hostess here wanted to meet up and then join them for a presentation tonight.

The speaker is a consultant who bills himself as a “futurtist” – Craig Rispin – a professional speaker, not just a hacking “um” machine like yours truly.

He is good with the audience and gets them on the edge of their seats. It seemed to me, a bit, well… polished. “Do you think I am making this up? .. Google it!.”

The audience surely responded. We snuck out as we had plans to get some dinner. Melanie drove me to a thai place that Sally had recommended. It was fantastic!

Well, that was today in a can. Check out the other land photos at

Two more visits to go!

Lace Up Yer Hiking Boots for Sunday

24 10 2007

A Good Day 2 — originally uploaded to flickr by kfergos

Back from hiking at St. Edward’s State Park.

Just another reminder that my friends in Sydney are organizing a day trip for anyone interested in hanging out for some good conversations. We will be taking a train up to the Blue Mountains so I can be reassured there is more to Australia than taxis, airports, and hotels.

Go over to the Blue Mountain Walk wiki, check out the details, sign up, and.or make some suggestions.

This will not be some competitive power hike– I’m still working off this Australia long cold I have had since arriving and am counting on being in huffing/puffing slow walk mode. Its more of a chance to gather, share ideas, laugh, be away from the electric devices, and enjoy some scenery.

Lace up the boots!