Hypergrid Safari – The evolution of exploration across the interconnected Metaverse

Between 2010 and 2012 I had a lot of fun organizing and running the Hypergrid Adventurers Club (HGAC) meetings.  Those were the very early days of Hypergrid connectivity in Opensim, and things often went awry during our explorations.  We all stuck together and helped each other out through crazy technical challenges and exciting adventures, but it was the community of helpful people at these meetings that impressed and amazed me the most.

Time moved on, and over the past couple years I stopped organizing Hypergrid Adventurers Club meetings.  Not because of any lack of interest in Opensim and the Hypergrid on my part, mind you.  I’m still very excited about the future of Opensim and the Hypergrid, and I continue to explore and experiment a lot on my own.  It was just that I felt the HGAC had run its course.  Opensim was becoming much more stable and easier to use, hypergrid jumps were becoming very reliable, and directories of great places to explore were expanding (see Hyperica and iDreamsNet).  Also, attendance was gradually declining, and other aspects of my life were getting busier, so I figured it was time to wind things down.

But when one flower closes, a new and different one usually blooms.  That’s the beauty of online communities.  They adapt and change and grow.

10360407_10204277639409803_8127721628386910115_nThe Hypergrid Safari is a new group that runs weekly tours across Opensim.  In their own words:

“Want to discover open sim and learn to hypergrid? Join our friendly weekly trips to destinations all over the hyperverse, and get help with shopping for your avatar, free land opportunities, and sympathy when you run up against snags and bugs.”

I’ve been attending these trips and they’re simply fantastic.  The organizers are Thirza Ember, Fuschia Nightfire, Wizard Gynoid and Wizardoz Chrome.  I think all of them bring beautiful new perspectives to exploring the Hypergrid, in particular the perspectives of skilled content creators and innovative artists who have a long history of pioneering work in Second Life and other virtual worlds.  And everyone attending brings their own thoughtfulness and great sense of humor to the group.  Once again, it’s the community of people that impresses and amazes me the most in online worlds.

So please check out the Hypergrid Safari and go on one of their tours.  You can get connected with them and learn more in many different ways:

  • Hypergrid Safari Group in Second Life
    URI: secondlife:///app/group/1feb00ac-6e93-8018-87d5-e1616108da70/about
Outside the Hypergrid Safari HQ and Clubhouse on the region Teravus in OSGrid.

Outside the Hypergrid Safari HQ and Clubhouse on the region Outlands in Metropolis Grid.

Inside the Hypergrid Safari Clubhouse. I love the elephant trophy mounted on an old hypergate.

Inside the Hypergrid Safari Clubhouse. I love the elephant trophy mounted on an old hypergate.

And here’s a great video by Nina Camplin of some recent tours.

Take care, and hope to see you inworld!
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Upcoming Conferences on Experiential Learning and Virtual Worlds: Let’s Meet!

Howdy folks,

I’ll be attending these two upcoming conferences.  If you’re planning to attend either of them or if you just happen to be in town when they occur, please contact me via my about.me page if you’d like to meet up and chat about learning in virtual worlds!

The main aims of this conference are to increase our understanding of experiential learning in virtual worlds, both formal and informal, to share experiences and best practices, and to debate future possibilities for learning in virtual worlds.  For full details, please see the conference website.

My panel presentation will be “Finding the Balance between Pedagogy and Technology.”  Here’s my abstract:

Next Generation virtual worlds will be tightly coupled to many other emerging technologies, leveraging modern knowledge management processes and providing platforms for broad use among teachers and learners.  As the technological landscape grows, it is becoming increasingly difficult for educators to identify the right platform (or mix of platforms) for their specific immersive learning needs.

In my current position at ReactionGrid and my previous work at Linden Lab and Harvard Medical School, I have explored the use of a wide range of gaming and virtual world platforms to augment education.  Today there are a number of very interesting virtual world technological trends involving specific gaming technologies like Unity as well as the growth of Open Source platforms such as OpenSimulator.  My ongoing work involves finding the right match between educational goals and technological affordances as well as identifying key synergies when virtual world technologies are interwoven with existing social media and web-based educational content.

Above all else, there must be a thoughtful match between pedagogy and technology.  Different virtual world platforms are suited for different uses, ranging from collaborative work environments to immersive goal-oriented simulations.  One of the most important and challenging goals for any educator exploring virtual worlds is simply finding the right tool for the right job.  Likewise, it is critical for virtual world platform developers to keep a firm focus on well established knowledge management principles when designing new technologies intended to advance the field of immersive learning.

I’m particularly thrilled about this panel because I’ll be participating with Dr. Bryan Carter from the University of Arizona.  Bryan is a true pioneer in using virtual worlds for experiential learning, and he’s been working with virtual environments since his dissertation project in 1997 when he created a virtual simulation of Harlem, NY as it existed during the 1920s Jazz Age and Harlem Renaissance.  Virtual Harlem was one of the earliest full virtual reality environments created for use in the humanities and certainly one of the first for use in an African American literature course.  The project continues to grow and evolve as Bryan explores new virtual world platforms.

1st International Conference on e-Learning e-Education and Online Training (e-LEOT)
September 18–20, 2014
Bethesda, Maryland, United States

This new conference will assess a wide range of progressive ideas for the future of e-Learning, focusing on the idea of technology as a means to education rather than an end in itself.  The conference organizers are lining up a wonderful range of interdisciplinary speakers and are planning to attract a wide group of heterogeneous scholars and practitioners.  For full details, please see the conference website.

I’ll be giving a keynote at this conference.  And if you’re looking to interact with the organizers and other attendees and speakers, be sure to check out the e-LEOT LinkedIn Conference Group.

Be seeing you!

Rebooting the Hypergrid Adventurers Club and Thanking Latif Khalifa

singularityIf you’re a fan of the Hypergrid, you should definitely check out the new 1.8.3 release of the Singularity viewer for OpenSim and Second Life.

In particular, take a look at this section in the update notes.  The fact that it is a very brief sentence seriously belies the magnitude of its significance.

  • Fixed a problem with long teleports in OpenSim (“4096 bug” SVC-2941 FIRE-11593) (Latif)

Latif Khalifa has fixed the bug that, since the beginning of time, prevented Hypergrid explorers from jumping to places more than 4096 regions away.  No more mandatory intermediate hops!  No more “cannot reach destination – too far away” messages!

I encourage all explorers of the Hypergrid to please take a moment and thank Latif on Twitter.  His hard work has resulted in a major improvement to the use of the Hypergrid and the evolution of OpenSim as a constellation of easily accessible interconnected grids.

Which brings me to the topic of the Hypergrid Adventurers Club.  Since my presentation at the OpenSimulator Community Conference, I’ve received a great deal of interest in possibly restarting our tours of the Hypergrid.  Many people reached out to me, and the outpouring of interest was very inspiring.

So I’m rebooting the tours!  Our next tour will be Saturday Sept 28 at 10pm EDT.  For all the details, please join and read our Google Group.

Take care,
-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Building Immersion through Simple Design: Visit a Meteor Shower in Jibe

Anyone can create an exciting immersive experience in a 3d virtual world platform like Jibe.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

And it doesn’t require loads of money and development time.

The trick is to follow a few simple design rules.

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Video of panel on “Virtual Worlds Revisited” at the 2012 Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase

I  just participated in a wonderful “Virtual Worlds Revisited” panel discussion as part of the Chicago eLearning and Technology Showcase.  The panel was organized and moderated by Mike Kemmler, and participants included virtual world innovators Anders Gronstedt , Mark Jankowski and Karl Kapp.

The panel was held in Second Life, but the focus of our discussion was firmly on the future of new virtual world platforms and new modalities for immersive learning.  We were projected into the physical world meeting room in Chicago where about 30 people attended in person.  Here’s a summary:

Still deeply entrenched in Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment, is it time to revisit virtual worlds?  Mike Kemmler hosts a virtual panel discussion via Second Life with a distinguished group of virtual world innovators, presenters, consultants, and authors, including Anders Gronstedt, Mark Jankowski, Karl Kapp, and John “Pathfinder” Lester. Panelists address the current state of learning in virtual worlds, explain platforms they see organizations using for immersive learning, and discuss current challenges and future possibilities of using virtual worlds for learning.

Thanks again, Mike, for this great opportunity.  It was an honor to be on a panel with such a stellar group of pioneers in virtual worlds and immersive learning.


NOTE: The audio from Second Life is bit choppy for the first 30 seconds, but then clears up perfectly for the rest of the video.

-John “Pathfinder” Lester

Speaking at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference – Syracuse University, June 12-13

I’ve been invited to attend and speak at the Academic Librarians 2012 Conference at Syracuse University from June 12-13.  This conference will be a great opportunity to connect with folks interested in building the future of immersive learning and information literacy.

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Virtual Worlds Presentation for 2012 Virtual Enterprise Conference at Glyndŵr University

The Virtual Enterprise Conference at Glyndŵr University brings together a diverse range of web entrepreneurs, students and academics to discuss the opportunities for e-entrepreneurship offered by virtual worlds and the social web.  It’s hosted each year by the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Glyndŵr University.

On Feb 23 at this year’s conference, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation on Best Practices in Virtual Worlds.  Here’s the full video.

The Right Tool for the Right Job: Best Practices for Virtual Worlds from John Lester on Vimeo.

You can grab a copy of my slides on Google, and you can visit the Jibe world featured in my presentation by going here.

Thanks again to Matthew Draycott from the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Glyndŵr University for inviting me to speak.  It was a great opportunity!

- John “Pathfinder” Lester
Chief Learning Officer
ReactionGrid, Inc.

Summary of ReactionGrid’s ISTE SIGVE presentation in Jibe

ISTE SIGVE (International Society for Technology in Education – Special Interest Group for Virtual Environments) is a group of educators, administrators, and educational technologists who are interested in the development of 3D Virtual Environment platforms for connection and collaboration.

They hold online meetings each month, and on May 17th they invited me to speak to their group about Jibe and Virtual Worlds on the Web.

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Railing Against the Gods: The Unfortunate Metaphor of Virtual World Administrators

Metaphors are powerful tools.

Our minds instinctively grasp for metaphors as a way to more easily understand and classify novel situations.

But some metaphors are more deeply resonant than we may initially suspect.

Which can sometimes lead to unexpected and rather unfortunate consequences in the broader cultural context of online community development.

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Making the Most of Meeting in the Physical World: Evocative Artifacts

MIT’s Technology Review recently published an article on how CardCloud Spells the End of Physical Business Cards.

As someone who spends most of their professional life immersed in the online world, I tend to agree that physical business cards are not an ideal tool for information exchange in the physical world.

But I have a slightly different idea about why I feel that’s the case.

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