The NMC’s island in Second Life, NMC Campus, is nearly finished. It’s being built by Electric Sheep, who do absolutely fantastic work, and it’s as pleasant and inspiring a space as you could want. One of the buildings in particular would be amazing to actually walk through in the physical world. But the really neat thing, the thing that I’m most excited about, is not the space itself. What I’m really interested in is figuring out what kinds of activities we can offer in the space, and planning them, and participating in them.
It’s important to me that for the activities that we choose, it actually makes a difference to have them in SL versus, say, having them on the phone, or using Writely, or Learning Times. I realize that at first we will spend a lot of time getting people used to the space, but we do that with every online tool that we use, so that doesn’t bug me. I’m puzzling about what happens next, and whether there are advantages to having an avatar, and what those advantages might be.
One of the things that I do at face-to-face meetings is graphic facilitation. Maybe you’ve seen this; there’s a giant sheet of paper, 4′ high by 8 or 14 or 16 feet long, mounted on a whiteboard or a wall or foamcore boards or whatever, and while the meeting goes on, someone (me in many cases) records the discussion visually using colored markers on the large paper. It’s really impressive to watch — I can say this because I’ve seen other people do it — and it’s also fun to do. I want to be able to do this in Second Life.
It shouldn’t be that hard, right? Imagine I’m sitting at my desk, logged in to SL, and I’ve got a graphics tablet with a pen. I’ve got my headset on and I’m connected via Skype or phone bridge or whatever audio technology, so I can hear what people are saying. My avatar is standing in front of a whiteboard in SL, and when I move my pen on my tablet, the marks appear on the whiteboard. (My avatar doesn’t have to look like she’s drawing; I’m not asking for the moon here.) The other avatars in the room can see what I’m writing as I write it, just as if we were doing it face to face. Then when I’m done, I can save the contents of the whiteboard as a jpg (or whatever, I’m not picky) so we have a record of the visuals.
I’d need to be able to switch “pens” — choose a different color — quickly and easily, maybe by tapping a square on a palette. The pens all have the same tip, so I don’t need a huge variety of Photoshoplike brushes. It would be nice to have a softer tip to emulate the chalks I use for emphasis, but I can wait for that.
So, who’s bored? Someone want to write me one of these? I’ll help with the requirements and testing.