Wired News Covers Virtual Lecture Circuit

by Urizenus Sklar on 25/01/06 at 6:27 pm

Joanna Glasner has an interesting article in Wired News on the topic of the recent spate of virtual lectures in Second Life by cyberlebrities such as Cory Doctorow, Lawrence Lessig and others. Doctorow thought the format helped create a bond between author and audience, but the ever cranky professor Ludlow is not so sanquine:

“It is hard to go into depth on points and explain your reasoning. All you can really do is make a series of one-line position statements,” Ludlow wrote in an e-mail. “It is also very hard to ‘read’ the audience in that environment. Are they paying attention? Bored? Interested? Confused? There is absolutely no way of knowing at the moment.”

I wish I had said that!

3 Responses to “Wired News Covers Virtual Lecture Circuit”

  1. blaze

    Jan 25th, 2006

    Uri, you realise you’re peers are starting to think of you as a bit of a joke, don’t you?

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Jan 26th, 2006

    Yes, I agree this is a clunky interface and they need to experiment more. Actually, I don’t think the experimentation has to be in the direction of making ever more new technological interventions. For example, for those of us without, or sound that crashes out when trying to go to these lectures, it would be much better if the guest were typing. Some people would just rather not be in the sound environment and voice-over, for whatever reason. As I mentioned in the Lessig article, I think Hamlet needs to other provide more freedom or less freedom to these occasions. That is, either he has to take charge very forcefully at the beginning to “frame” the event and have a very clearly stated — and repeatedly stated — policy about moderation and speaking. Or he should just let people speak out and let readers scroll and let the guest realize that they’re going to be in the alphabet soup.

    I also wish these famous avatars that come in and grace us, and for whom special last names are made, would not just be one-night stands. I realize they are busy and famous. But one of the things about an avatar is that it would allow them to pop in and have briefer, more informal meetings on the fly. Wouldn’t it be great if these groups we joined, like Free Culture, would have the famous guy pop in now and then and speak on the group IM even for 10-15 minutes and say, “Hi, I’m working on this…or check out my article here…or here’s an interesting thing you could try here…” etc. Just little “flying meetings”. That would make you feel more engaged with them, then just having your sleepy avatar sit crumpled on a bench motionlessly watching their avatar bob around.

    It might also be good to keep the “Book Club” concept going on a regular time and place. If Hamlet doesn’t have time to host it, he could get some of these 10 officers he is wanting to elect to host regularly scheduled meetings, so that you know if its Tuesday, this is the Lessig thing at 7, and you pop in, etc.

    If SL is supposed to remove boundaries and flatten the world, then it should be helping us to move away from this very classic, static arrangement where one guy in a suit on a stage is pontificating, and the rest of us sit dutifully in rows. There should be more of a round-table and group-IM approach to this where we get to talk to these people as equals.

  3. Urizenus

    Jan 26th, 2006

    >Uri, you realise you’re peers are starting to think of you as a bit of a joke, don’t you?

    *Starting* to? You mean there was a time when they didn’t? :-o

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