As mentioned in my last post, the final week of the Learning 2.0 programme was about virtual worlds and gaming.
If you have a look at the games I listed in the previous post, you can see that although I flirted with adventure type games in the past (and as a teenage nerd, I played ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ and other role-playing games, but not on a computer), my more recent games history does not include any ‘immersive’ games like World of Warcraft.
This means that joining a Virtual World such as Second Life is essentially a new experience for me. I joined Second Life sometime ago, and went in, did the ‘orientation’ etc. and after flying around for a short while, not talking to anyone, and getting bored, I logged off. My overall feeling was that SL and the like were vaguely interesting developments, but they really didn’t do anything for me – you can see my thinking at the time in my comment on the efoundations blog
Apart from leaving comments like this on various blogs I didn’t really do anything with SL, and when I came back to it about 6 months ago, I had to create a new account, having lost all my previous details.
So, at the ‘hands on’ session it was really the first time I’d actually gone into Second Life and interacted with anyone. This (unsuprisingly!) made it all seem a bit more worth while. I found the fact we were working under our SL names a bit problematic – since I didn’t know who I was talking to, which might not have mattered so much except for the fact that I actually knew most of the people in there – that is, it was more frustrating than it would have been if I was just interacting with ‘strangers’.
I followed up my experience in the session by attending a Second Life ‘event’, about using Second Life to support events. This was part of a JISC ‘skills day’ called Illuminating event management, and Andy Powell from Eduserv spoke simultaneously in RL (real life) and SL (where he is Art Fosset).
I found this worked well. Although it wasn’t the same as being there in person of course, it was I think better than just looking at the slides while listening to an audio stream from Andy.
What the SL venue definitely offered was a ‘backchannel’ – i.e. a way of talking (using SL chat in this case) about what was being said while it was being said. I tend to use back channels at RL conferences – either ones that are provided by the conference, or via Twitter or other 3rd party services – and always find they add to the richness of the experience. They are by nature always mixed – relevant and irrelevant stuff, both serious and for fun.
I’m not sure how much the ‘immersive’ nature of SL is a factor here – you might be able to achieve something similar with various text based tools, but my guess is that there is a feeling of ‘place’ that SL offers that subtlely changes your relation to the event and the others attending. Getting sound from the RL delegates (esp. laughter) was also interesting, and combined with the SL venue made me feel much more ‘part’ of the experience – something we were sharing rather than (as so often with online events) something I was ‘looking at’. The fact that Andy was obviously showing the SL venue space to the RL participants also helped I think, as they could react to things happening in the SL venue.
So, where am I on SL now? I definitely can see more value than I had previously, and to some extent I am more of a ‘convert’. I suspect I’m never going to spend enough time in SL to really form a ‘relationship’ with my avatar, or others, and I’d really prefer to appear as ‘myself’ rather than my alter ego (Owain Blessed). On the otherhand, for attending ‘virtual events’ I can definitely see SL or something similar as a useful tool.
Finally, several blog postings from the Learning 2.0 programme have questionned whether there is a role for Imperial College libraries in SL. It is worth noting that if you wander around the Imperial College Virtual Hospital you will find ‘virtual library materials’ – journals which if you click on them show you the URL for the e-journal. This is a pretty limited function, but I think it shows that the users creating this space see the need for some interaction here. I’m not advocating us building an SL branch of the library, but I do think we should be looking at how we can build systems that can be exposed in SL easily (by us or our users – see my comments at http://yadayada20.wordpress.com/2008/08/21/put-the-facebook-down-and-step-away-slowly/ for thoughts about how we can make it easier to embed library services in a variety of environments)
The tenth and last week of the Learning 2.0 programme here at Imperial College Library is on Gaming and Virtual worlds. I started a post saying "I'm not really a gamer", but as I started to write more about the games I played I realised that this really wasn't going to wash.
I guess you could say I'm a first generation 'native' (or 'resident') computer gamer – that is, I played computer games growing up, whereas my parents were well in the pre-computer game era when they were children. I think it is fair to say that my parents have never really become real 'natives', although they do occasionally try stuff out (usually at my behest).
So instead of the first post I was going to do, here is a meme style thing instead – my life through games, listing the games (plus platforms) that standout somehow in my life to date, with the platform I played them on – so here it is, my life in 20 games:
Manic Miner (ZX Spectrum) – a platform game starring 'Miner Willy'
Atic Atac (ZX Spectrum) – a type of graphic adventure, you had to explore, find keys, eat food etc.
Impossible Mission (Commodore 64) – another platformer "Stay a while… stay – forever!”
Summer/Winter Games (Commodore 64) – sports key/joystick bashing games of various types
Arcadians (BBC B/BBC Master) – a space invaders game, very fond memories of this
Colossal Cave (BBC B) – a text adventure game (aka interactive fiction), based on the classic ‘Adventure’ – the very first game of this type
Dunjunz (BBC B/BBC Master) – a type of graphic ‘adventure’ (although more ‘kill the monsters/collect the treasure than anything more strategic), but notable for 4 way split screen with 4 player option and level design option to create your own levels
Great Britain Ltd (BBC B) – a turn based ‘simulation’ where you set various aspects of government policy – e.g. spend on law and order – and saw the outcome (rate of inflation, riots, etc. etc.)
Chuckie Egg (BBC B) – a platform game – many hours spent on this one
Twin Kingdom Valley (BBC B) – the first ‘graphical’ adventure – I guess a precursor to the ‘point and click’ adventure game
Myst (Mac) – classic ‘point and click’ adventure
Tomb Raider Series (PC/PS2) – essentially a 3d platform game I suppose – I liked the combination of storyline/puzzles/dexterity
Dancing Stage (PS1) – a ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ clone – using a ‘dance mat’ that plugs into the console, move your feet in
Singstar (PS2) – competitive Karaoke, I love it!
Brain Training (Nintendo DS) – solve sums and word games etc. on Nintendo’s touch screen handheld
Guitar Hero (PS2) – competitive guitar playing! Essentially hit combinations of keys (on a guitar shaped controller) in time with the music
Scene It! (XBox 360) – Movie quiz game, spent several hours enjoying beating my nephews and nieces at this
Bejewelled (Mac/iPhone/Online) – a ‘puzzle’ type game – line up jewels to score points
Scrabulous (Online/Facebook) – Scrabble clone (now removed), my wife and I played jointly against others on her account
Wii Play (Wii) – collection of mini-games designed to show off the capabilities of the Wii – Cow Racing is my favourite
If anyone wants to follow my meme, then post a list and trackback to here…
Week 8 of Imperial Library's Learning 2.0 programme was 'Social Networking Sites', encompassing Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Ning, LinkedIn, etc.
I've got a LinkedIn account but I don't tend to use it for 'social networking', and more really as a 'contacts' list – while some people clearly use LinkedIn to 'work' their business contacts, I can't say that I've ever been terribly good at this.
Facebook is more my thing, and I do use it to keep in touch with quite a few friends and family. I do find that Facebook raises the issue of how I mix my professional and personal life – whereas on LinkedIn everyone is one there as a 'professional contact' (even those people who are also friends), in Facebook I have some professional contacts, and some personal contacts. Although it hasn't happened yet, there is a clearly a risk that in the future there could be a conflict between how I want to present myself professionally, and how I do personally – I'm not sure I'd want my boss (not singling out my current boss) to be my 'Friend' on Facebook.
I've not got a MySpace account, but have to admit when I looked at some MySpace pages quite a while ago I was completely put off by the busy-ness of the pages – it felt a lot 'younger' than Facebook (which I think it probably is). I know it has a good reputation for music as well, but again I haven't really explored it that much. Bebo I did look at ages ago, but can't remember if I setup an account or not!
Ning is a bit different to the others in that it is a social networking platform, which hosts a variety of social networks. In a sense it is more a toolset which can be used to provide social networking functions. I've used it as a 'user' as a member of http://library20.ning.com/ and also to contribute to discussion of the JISC TILE project.
A few months ago, I would have said that Facebook was the SN I used most. However, then I started to use 'Twitter'. Strictly Twitter is, I guess, a 'microblogging' service rather than an SN. Microblogging is where you post very brief updates, frequently, to the web. With Twitter, the length of 'posts' (or Tweets) is limited to 140 characters – because it was designed to work with SMS on mobile phones, and this is the maximum size of a single text. Essentially you can think of it as a stream of Facebook 'status updates' (and I actually have it so everytime I tweet, it automatically updates my Facebook status with the same text) – in a previous post I described it as Facebook statuses without the rest of Facebook.
The attraction of Twitter is quite hard to pin down. In general people are sharing trivia, but I guess the truth is that 'sharing trivia' is what we do a lot of time face-to-face – where we went on holiday, what the weather is like, what we are doing this weekend etc. and I think it is amazing the way that we build relationships through sharing small details – both in real life, and online. I also like the way with Twitter that relationships aren't "mutual" – I can 'follow' someone, and they don't have to follow you back if they don't want – and vice versa. You can see my tweets on the lefthand side of this blog (or at http://twitter.com/ostephens) and judge for yourself.
I think that the web can be an excellent communications platform, and SNs and services like Twitter go along way to realising that potential.
I'm still somewhat behind in my blog posts reflecting my experience of the Learning 2.0 programme at Imperial. Week 7 (three weeks ago) was on podcasts and multimedia.
First a bee in my bonnet about podcasts. I always get annoyed when people refer to an online mp3 file as a 'podcast' – it isn't – stop it! A podcast is a series of audio (possibly multimedia?) files distributed via an RSS feed. Perhaps the mechanics aren't that important – but I think a key point is that it is something that can automatically appear on your iPod (or other mp3 player) at regular intervals, without any need for intervention – that is what is so great about them. If the things I list below were just shoved on the web as an mp3 file, I'm pretty sure I'd never listen to them. The key is that, like RSS, is that the information comes to you, not the other way round.
Now I've got that off my chest, I do enjoy a few podcasts, although I tend towards the 'professional' end of the market. The main issue I have is finding the time. Like the radio, I don't tend to listen to things at home, but more often when travelling. When I travelled to work by train/tube I had an ideal time to listen to podcasts that had downloaded to my iPod. However, I now try to cycle to work at least 3 times a week, which has cut my opportunity to listen to anything. However, I still save them up, and on long car journeys they provide a welcome break from the radio.
My favourites are all Guardian produced ones: Media Talk Tech Weekly Science Weekly
These and others are free from http://www.guardian.co.uk/audio – or of course, iTunes store (which is where I get them so they load automatically to my iPod/iPhone)
I also enjoy the BBC World Service podcast 'Digital Planet' which is presented by Imperial College's own Gareth Mitchell . The Radio 4 Friday evening comedy show (usually one of "The Now Show" or the "News Quiz" depending on the time of year) is also available, so I keep subscribed to that.
I sometimes listen to the Talking with Talis podcasts (http://talk.talis.com/), but find them slightly drier. I suppose the issue here is that I'm trying to absorb information – it's a bit less 'leisure', and I don't find the medium as good for that – essentially someone else is setting the pace at which I get the information, whereas if I'm reading it, I have control – I can't 'skim listen' in the way I can skim read.
Other multimedia stuff – I enjoy the occasional viral on YouTube – "Charlie bit my finger" is a particular favourite. I'd also recommend having a look at the talk about YouTube given by Michael Wesch at the Library of Congress – it's a fascinating examination of YouTube. In fact, just about any video by Michael Wesch is probably worth a look – and The Machine is Us/ing Us is four and a half minutes of thought provoking brilliance – so good, I've decided to embed it here – watch it now!
However, by far the biggest impact on me when it comes to online multimedia has been the iPlayer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer) – this is absolutely brilliant. We (my wife and I) regularly catchup with stuff via the iPlayer, either on our laptop, iPhone, or on the TV (we have a Mac Mini hooked up to the TV in our bedroom) – combined with our PVR it means we watch less and less TV as it is broadcast.
OK, this Fast Show sketch never managed the ubiquity (thank god!) of 'Suits you sir', and doesn't manage the gentle pathos of Ted and Ralph, but it still makes me laugh.
It came to mind reading an article on advertising in this week's Media Guardian which describes a couple of new initiatives to target consumers while they are shopping in store. The first uses facial recognition to work out what demographic you belong to, and then shows an advert on a screen targeted at that demographic. The second, detects the products you take from the shelf using RFID, and uses this to display an advert for a related product. In the article the example used is if you buy Shampoo for a specific hair type, the screen might suggest you get the related conditioner.
It was this second example that made me think of cheesy peas – the assumption that if I like both cheese and peas, then there will be nothing I will like more than them both together is the kind of reasoning you probably want to avoid with this type of system.
I'm also a bit skeptical of the scenario described – people generally aren't stupid, and know if they use conditioner or not. Perhaps more likely I could see a situation where picking up one brand of shampoo led to a screen saying 'have you thought about trying this rival brand instead – cheaper, better, and altogether shinier' or something like that – so kind of aggressive advertising.
What is all this doing on a blog that claims to be about libraries etc? The other thing this article reminded me of was a discussion on NGC4LIB following the initial publicity about the Microsoft 'Surface'. At the time I suggested the idea of using a book that you already had, to show other books that might be relevant. Since quite a few libraries already have RFID or are going to in the near future, perhaps we ought to be looking at something similar to the system described above (being developed by Proctor and Gamble). Of course, you could argue that this is the whole point of having the books shelved by a classification scheme in the first place – so that the other relevant books are nearby – but clearly any physical ordering is inherently limited. I also wonder if there is a similar argument for books as I've made above for Shampoo – would this type of approach open the possibility of showing books that weren't related to the one you'd just picked up? ("That looks like a really heavy read – how about the latest chick lit for when you want a break?")
Isn't technology brilliant?
btw, I really recommend the Media Guardian supplement (every Monday, and also at http://www.guardian.co.uk/media) as a source of interesting developments relevant to tech and libraries – the way publishing is trying to come to terms with the Internet (or sometimes hoping it will go away) is very interesting, and I think libraries have a lot to learn from looking at their experience (as well as needing to deal with whatever publication formats and models come out next). This Monday was a case in point where they had a supplement (sadly and ironically not available online) about e-publishing including an piece on how Penguin are expanding into e-books, especially in Asian markets, and how their thinking about how books sales work are changing – i.e. think of a million e-book sales as a small title, hundreds of millions is what you want to aim for)
In a couple of weeks, the Library IT team at Imperial is running a couple of sessions where library staff can come and play with ‘new technology’ – we are focussing on ‘kit’ rather than software or services in this session.
The session is both a chance for staff to see things that the library has for staff use, and also to see some of the latest ‘toys’ that students may be using, or a relevant to libraries.
As part of our annual staff awayday we had to, in teams, interpret a theme via a chosen medium. Our team decided that it would a good idea to interpret the theme of 'I like my manager when …' to the tune of Santa Claus is coming to town. For those who want to recreate the experience at home, altogether now:
The afternoon sessions for the event are more discussion based – I’m sitting in one being run for John Casey (EDINA) who spoke this morning.
His top 5 practical tips:
Factor IPR issues at the start of an activity – he said that if he was marking bids that left IPR to the last few weeks, they wouldn’t get through. He also stressed the usefulness of consortium agreements – look at the JISC Model agreement
Effective information and records management procedures are needed – simple is best!
Always get contractors to sign – don’t use contractors who won’t sign, and don’t assume that you get the rights because you are paying – you must get a license from the person doing the work
Take advice and improve your knowledge
Funding bodies – mandate and audit the correct use of licenses – money talks!
Top 5 Policy tips:
Need to be clear about where we want to go
Have to have individual academic integrity and institutional quality control in place
Workable solutions to IPR need the involvement of senior managers to provide top-down direction and leadership. Good approach to partner with other institutions – ideally ones that aren’t competing with you geographically or sectorally
Institutional IPR policies should reflect the underlying business model and what is considered valuable
IPR issues act as a ‘lightning conductor’ in institutions – surfacing underlying issues of ownership, control, authority, power and status
John saying with teaching and learning material you don’t need to stop tutors using their own materials – but you might want a right to use the material in perpetuity – need to be clear what you want and need to get out of agreements…
This presentation by Katharine Ellis from the Institute of Musical Research. PRIMO is ‘Practice as Research in Music Online’ – http://primo.sas.ac.uk
The PRIMO project was to look at whether there were alternatives to asking musicians to describe their research in words if they could demonstrate it better – and how could their work be published free to the widest audience.
PRIMO now has a very small (6 items) peer-reviewed repository with full-length videos of music rehearsals, workshops and demonstrations. It is open-access with downloadable files licensed for non-commercial/research use. This allows citation using abstracts etc. – something that has traditionally been difficult – you haven’t been able to include a ‘sonic’ abstract in your commentary or criticism.
However, they found that they were pushing at the boundaries of what was seen as acceptable in the academic community.
The challenges they face were:
IPR – what forms it took, who owned it etc.
Research Councils UK directive for open access
Whose rights need to be protected? Performers, participants, funders, photographers, camera crews (potentially)
Decided to have a form which asked each headline researcher to say that all participants had said that the work could be regarded as their research for the lifetime of the work – essentially non-exclusive license to publish open access for non-commercial use (under Creative Commons). In the end, all comes down to trust. To engender trust, don’t believe they can look at material created without these agreements in place – i.e. not looking at historical material.
Licensing Third-Party Rights in Music:
Be clear about what you as a broadcaster of online material can/must be responsible for
Be clear to researchers and users about where their own responsibility lies
In the interests of permanent access, do not accept responsibility for IP permissions that are time-limited
Be aware that a video of a presentation involing educational use exemptions ceases to benefit from those exemptions when it leaves the classroom
Use your metadata system to record the dates on which nested copyrights in a repository item will expire
Know your UK copyright timelines:
Original artisitic works (70 years after the death of the author, composer, photographer, artist)
Films (70 years after the death of the last of the following to die: principal director, author of screenplay, author of dialogue, or composer of music specially created for an used in the film)
Sound recording, remasterings and broadcasts (50 years after the date of the recording or remastering or broadcast)
Typographical arrangement of music (25 years from the date of the edition)
How many 3rd party IPR items are nested in a single video?
Musical text (composition and typography)
Record musical performance
Images (e.g. CD Cover)
Stage music (other rights)
Can one license cover all these rights?
PRIMO pays for a limited online exploitation license – for a nominal annual fee, covering a certain number of downloads a year – it covers “Online broadcast to UK users (i.e. users in the UK at the time they are using the material), for limited downloading of performances involving complete musical works which are still in copyright”
This license doesn’t cover:
Any rights antedating the presentation/performance which is to be posted
Any in-copyright stage music
Any in-copyright music to which new images have been added
Any recording rights or performing rights for in-copyright recorded/broadcast music
International usage (UK only!)
Any non-musical rights (images etc.)
The license is based on radio licensing – which assumes transmission in only a limited geographical territory.
PRIMO have taken the approach of getting the user to state whether they are in the UK before they have access – the user is responsible for acting legally here, not the ‘publisher’ – i.e. PRIMO in this case.
Charles Oppenheim now presenting. He is going to concentrate on Copyright as he believes this is the main issue that academia is interested in (as opposed to trade marks, designs, patents etc.) (although I suspect that these may become more important to us as I think there is a growing pressure to look at commercial opportunities growing from academic research)
Copyright protects the skill and labour expended by someone creating something new. Copyright is automatic (doesn’t require registration of any kind). The owner has the rights to authorise or prevent third parties from copying (and certain other things) the work. There are various exceptions, such as library privilege, fair dealing etc.
Database rights protects collections of data or materials. In general as long as the collection and verification of the contents of the database involved significant resources, protection is given – arguable most repositories will enjoy both database rights and copyright.
Charles goes on to mention Performers Rights and Moral Rights.
Some major questions for repositories:
Who owns the rights in the materials that are being added? (The employer? the academic? students?)
Have those rights been licensed or assigned to the repository?
If not, can the repository hold the materials?
Copyright is much less to do with the law but more about ‘risk management’ and perception of risk – you don’t need to be nervous, but you do need to be aware of the risks.
Also need to question whether moral rights have been infringed in any way and whether performers rights are involved?
For Orphan works, if it is low risk that anyone will anyone will complain, then why not make stuff available? If you feel it is higher risk, you need to judge the risks and make a decision.
There are a number of forthcoming possible changes to the law:
This was generally satisfied with current UK IP environment, although identified a number of areas where law was inappropriate or out of date.
There are expected to be a number of consultations to be carried out as a result – so far only one has been done, which is about possible changes to ‘exceptions to copyright’ and especially relevant are those relating to exceptions for educational use.
Gowers recommended an expansion to the exceptions to encompass ‘distance’ learning (even trivial distance), and that it should be media-independent – and to like exceptions to intent (i.e. for education) rather than medium.
Also recommended changes to use for research or private study – why restricted to literary, artistic, dramatic and musical works – why not all materials, and what would be the impact of doing this?
Gowers recommend extension of Library Privilege to bring more flexibility and more types of materials, and to expand to museums and galleries.
There were many more recommendations, and in theory we should see legislation to this later this year – but Charles believes we may see these bundled up with other changes coming out of EU proposals.
Changes to Sound Recording term from 50 years to 95 years. Gowers commissioned work that showed this was neither necessary or desirable. However, this has gone to EU with lobbying from major music companies, and they have drafted a directive (which may not become law) to this effect. If it is passed, it could have a significant impact on repositories collecting sound recordings (and there tends to be a high proportion of Orphan Works with sound recordings because of the number of people involved in the creation)
There is also currently a general review of copyright law by the EU, but at this stage only a discussion document, and it isn’t clear what this will mean for UK law, but Charles believes that this discussion could hold up implementation of any of the legislation coming out of the Gowers Review – so we can expect UK law to remain as is for some time.
A final thing worthy of note is that there is a draft directive on public secotr information in place which, if it becomes law, it would mean all documents created and published by a University would have to be offered at minimal costs to any private sector organisation that wishes to commercially exploit it – which would include material held in publicly accessible repositories. It should be noted that there was a previous attempt to bring this in, but lobbying by HEIs managed to stop it.