Q&A with Prof Erde

Now that this has published in the SLED Picayune issue #13, guess I can post here:


Sphere Gasser: welcome, Professor Erde!
Professor Erde: Hey how are you?
SG: fine, thank you for coming today
Professor Erde: My pleasure.
Professor Erde: Just got out of a thesis defense.
SG: i’m interviewing you for the SLED Picayune here in Lafitte’s
Blacksmith Shop Bar in New Orleans.
SG: would you like something to drink?
Professor Erde: Whatever you’re having…
Professor Erde accepted your inventory offer.
Professor Erde: So, what would you like to talk about?
SG: just a few questions. as i did not see a profile on you what would
you like to share about your background and/or bio?
Professor Erde: Sorry, yes.
Professor Erde: Need to get that profile up.
Professor Erde: I am the oldest newbie in Second life.
SG: lol
Professor Erde: I joined a long time ago.
Professor Erde: Well, not that long.
Professor Erde: But before the million-avatar march.
Professor Erde: Actually, I suspect that you can date avatars by their surname.
Professor Erde: But I haven’t found a list that does that.
SG: Erde is very old, at least in Wagnerian terms
Professor Erde: Hah! Yes, but as a surname, very new.
Professor Erde: I joined at the beginning of the school year in order
to use this avatar for my…
Professor Erde: more institutional self.
SG: have you been teaching in SL, other than the one class of ours?
Professor Erde: No! This was my first time trying to have a class in SL.
Professor Erde: I’ve participated in research group meetings, and the like.
Professor Erde: But not actually brought a class in.
Professor Erde: When I did it this semester, it was with some trepidation.
Professor Erde: Because of earlier experiences with virtual worlds and classes.
SG: what got you into SL in the first place?
Professor Erde: I think I see this as the kind of thing I was always
most interested in when it came to computers.
Professor Erde: I’ll admit, the scene in the Black Sun, really
resonated with me.
Professor Erde: As it did for many people here, I suspect.
Professor Erde: And a lot of people, like myself, have just been
waiting for the bandwidth and computer power
Professor Erde: to make that really happen.
SG: Black Sun?
Professor Erde: Sorry. It was a bar, not too unlike this one.
Professor Erde: In Stephenson’s Snow Crash.
SG: ah. so do you use the Educational facilities in SL, the Library
for instance?
Professor Erde: I’ve really only started on them.
SG: what do you think are the strenghts and the weaknesses of SL
education, briefly?
Professor Erde: Particularly on the tool side, it strikes me
that–like other tech–it’s tempting to put the tech before the horse.
Professor Erde: Or something like that.
SG: lol
Professor Erde: Or, to use one of my least favorite Comm profs, I
think we are suffering from rear-view thinking.
You: hmmm
Professor Erde: We assuming that SL classes should look like FL classes.
Professor Erde: Just like we assumed the automobile would be a
horseless carriage.
Professor Erde: I think the best sort of class to teach in SL is a class on SL.
Professor Erde: Or, more broadly, on virtual environments.
Professor Erde: I can certainly see teaching a political theory
course, or a bio course…
Professor Erde: perhaps with a bit of work.
Professor Erde: But, you have to admit, from a practical perspective,
it feels a bit like chat++.
Professor Erde: The environment sometimes superfluous.
Professor Erde: But moving the classroom here (which is sort of what
we tried to do) doesn’t work.
SG: i actually enjoy being able to sit here and watch the fire while i
chat. i think it’s much more interesting than staring at an AIM box
Professor Erde: I guess.
Professor Erde: And I suppose we share that experience.
SG: you’ve heard about the Shakespeare project. that should be a great
educational tool
Professor Erde: Yes, I think engaging in it as a role.
Professor Erde: As a social simulation.
Professor Erde: Has real promise.
Professor Erde: I think that’s one area where you really can make use
of it being more than a chat.
Professor Erde: But a lot of the discussion on SLED revolves around
things like how to import powerpoint.
Professor Erde: And that doesn’t make a lot of sense.
SG: so how could SL be strengthened as an educational tool, do you think?
Professor Erde: Improvements:
Professor Erde: I don’t think there are specific educational improvements.
Professor Erde: I think they are improvements for everyone.
Professor Erde: Actually, let me back up for a second.
Professor Erde: In terms of *institutions* being involved, SL needs to
be rock solid.
Professor Erde: We need to know that it’s going to be there in three
weeks, and in six months.
Professor Erde: We need to know that students will continue to have access.
Professor Erde: We can be relatively certain that, for example, Google
is not going anywhere in the short term.
SG: but isn’t google like flash cards compared to SL?
Professor Erde: OK, not Google then: You Tube.
Professor Erde: I don’t know what YouTube’s uptime is, but it feels like 100%
SG: i’m not sure that will ever be possible in SL
Professor Erde: I don’t know.
SG: we may have to allow grey goo to enroll in the courses 😉
Professor Erde: Yeah. I mean, I would have had grey goo problems had I
taught the whole course here this semester.
Professor Erde: I’m still planning on it for next year. But by then I
really hope things will have shaped up.
Professor Erde: But beyond that stability, I think we need to just
keep moving toward fidelity.
Professor Erde: I want voice ASAP.
Professor Erde: Right now, folks are working around (Skype) or doing similar.
SG: the headset is very fashionable
Professor Erde: Or the beta plugin (forgetting the name).
Professor Erde: But we need voice in here sooner, not later.
SG: Garbo talks!
Professor Erde: And I am enthusiastic about open sourcing the interface.
Professor Erde: We really need to be able to plug our VR gear into this thing.
Professor Erde: I want to be able to point and move and have this
relatively well reflected in-world.
Professor Erde: The future is in haptics!
SG: well, thanks for your time. would you like to submit a headshot or
shall i take a snap?
Professor Erde: Snap now, and if you don’t need to file until
tomorrow, maybe I can send an update?
Professor Erde: I need a remodel anyway.
SG: oh, avis are too obsessed with looks!
Professor Erde: Anything I should check out in the neighborhood?
SG: oh, it’s lovely here. cafe du monde, jackson square. bourbon
street. armstrong park.
Professor Erde: I’ll have a little stroll around then. See if I can
find someone to give me a bit of a remake
SG: i appreciate your time. have a great thanksgiving!
Professor Erde: You too! See you RL-side.

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