Online Social Networks (OSL) 2005 - Roundtable Meeting in Second Life!

There is a very interesting Online Conference going on Feb 9-23 called "Online Social Networks (OSL) 2005"

Here's a description:

OSN2005 will be a summit for all those interested in working with social networking processes, tools, and media. In addition to attending many workshops, panels, and presentations by leading experts and practitioners, attendees will have the opportunity to be part of a community with a significant role in defining the future direction of online social networking. If you want to help shape this industry, come to OSN2005!

During the OSN2005 summit we will co-create and publish a manifesto describing what we want and need from online social networking tools. What are the key criteria for choosing and assessing OSN products and services? What gaps exist in currently available software and related tools? What needs to happen before it's common knowledge that OSN products and services can deliver significant value? What are the most promising developments in the OSN industry?

Attendees will be invited to participate in a series of focus groups to provide feedback on current OSN technology and articulate specific suggestions for future features and developments. A series of White papers based on these focus groups will be shared with venture investors who want to know where to place their bets in this industry.

I'm attending this conference, and it's already turning out to be a fascinating meeting of minds and ideas. Last night I was speaking online with one of the conference organizers, and I suggested that they have a "break-out roundtable discussion" using the Second Life environment. She thought that was a great idea, and encouraged me to step up to the plate and organize it myself. So I did. :)

We'll be having a "Second Life VIrtual Roundtable" meeting on Saturday, February 12, at 6:00pm Eastern Time on the Second Life sim named "Live2Give."  I volunteered to host it and have it on the "Live2Give" sim since it's a large publically accessible area with plenty of space for lots of people to meet.

I'd like to extend the invitation to everyone reading this blog, whether or not you are "attending" the conference.  Please join us!   The meeting in Second Life won't be anything formal, just a chance to have a friendly chat with other people at the conference who are interested in the future of online social networks and to share ideas about online communities.

To join the meeting, log on to Second Life and teleport to the sim "Live2Give."  If you have any trouble just send me an Instant Message in Second Life (my name there is John Prototype).

Hope to see you then!

Details on how to join the meeting:

1) If you don't already have an account on Second Life, sign up here.  It's a free 7-day trial, so if you don't care to continue to use Second Life after the meeting you can cancel your account within a week at no cost.

2) Log on to Second Life.

3) Click the MAP button at the bottom of the screen.

4) In the MAP window that pops up, look to the right and click on the REGION pulldown menu.

5) Scroll down and select "Live2Give"

6) Click the TELEPORT button just below the pulldown menu.  You will be automatically transported to Live2Give island, and you'll be dropped right into the meeting area.

7) If you log on to Second Life and have any problems, send an Instant Message to me (John Prototype), or contact me on AIM (DangerJohn3) if you have any general problems logging in.

------------UPDATE Feb 13 ------------------
Here is a transcript of the meeting (with photos).

Posted by John Lester on February 11, 2005 at 01:54 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Video Projector for Wilde!

As mentioned in this previoius post, we have been applying donations to Live2Give towards the immediate goal of purchasing a video projector for the group of people (aka, "Wilde") who access Second Life from the Evergreen Center.  Well, that goal has been achieved!

Our deepest thanks go out to the people who donated, including the last donor who contacted us and basically asked "how much more do you need?"  Thank you all for your generosity and desire to help Wilde.  The video projector has arrived in the mail, and we'll be taking pictures of the Wilde group using it to share on this blog.  I expect you will see a lot of very happy faces. :)

From this point on, we plan to use any donations to help expand our Live2Give project to help more people, not just the group at the Evergreen Center.  We're starting to try and reach out to other assistive living centers, both locally and around the world, who may be interested in accessing Live2Give Island but may need better computer equipment to facilitate this.   We'll keep everyone posted about exactly how we are using any donations, so stay tuned.

Thank you again.

Posted by John Lester on February 11, 2005 at 01:38 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

I found the treasure room!

John S, I finally found it!  While poking around Live2Give Island, I found your secret treasure room.

It's great!  I left a small fairy floating in one of the pretty geodes.  And I hope you don't mind but I took a ride on the seahorse.  :)

What a special hidden place.  John S, thank you for making it.  A beautiful example of how the members of Live2Give are sharing their visions and dreams.  Simply wonderful.


Posted by John Lester on January 29, 2005 at 07:05 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Meeting on Live2Give Island, Jan 28

NOTE: The meeting below will be held in the virtual world of Second Life.  If you use Second Life, please feel free to stop by and meet us.  Thanks!

Discussion - Surmounting physical disabilities in virtual worlds

Date:Friday, January 28, 2005
Time:6:00PM - 8:00PM (LINDEN/Pacific Time)
Location: SL Sim: Live2Give (128,128) 
Host:John Prototype

Event description: Please join us on Live2Give Island for a roundtable discussion about how people with physical disabilities can use virtual worlds to overcome the limitations of their physical-world environment. Topics will include a discussion of novel human-computer interfaces and the sociological implications of persistant virtual communities.

We'll also just be hanging out and chatting and having fun. :)

For more information about Live2Give island, please see

Posted by John Lester on January 27, 2005 at 12:31 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Conference on "Social Network Media"

Take a look at this conference.

Here's a snippet from their site:

"The NVHA Innovations conference on Social Network Media is designed to increase the knowledge base of the nation's largest and most influential health agencies on the evolution of Social Networking Media (SNM). We are bringing together some of the top industry leaders, and academics for a three day intellectual exercise in learning innovation and application. Our attendees will explore the possible uses of SNM with their peers from other agencies, developing innovative long term scenarios, and identifying both risks and opportunities.

Please feel free to look through the site. We will be adding information to the site blog as we get closer to the conference. In the coming weeks we will also add biographies of our speakers as well as a post event survey following the conclusion of the conference."

Sounds pretty interesting.  Robin Linden will be speaking at this meeting. 

But of particular interest.....check out their blog.  Looks like someone at the American Cancer Society noticed us. :)

Posted by John Lester on January 27, 2005 at 12:02 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Brain Computer Interfaces

Bsplayer_capture002_1Every once in a while there is something happening in the field of scientific research that truly boggles my mind.  Something that seems more like science fiction.  Something that has the potential to change the world in a transformational way.

Well, here's one of those "somethings." 

I had the pleasure of meeting the people involved in an amazing company called Cyberkinetics.  Here is a blurb from their website that explains exactly what they are doing.

"Cyberkinetics is a leader in the rapidly emerging field of brain computer interfaces. Cyberkinetics' technology allows for the creation of direct, reliable and bi-directional interfaces among the brain, nervous system and a computer. The development of safe, robust implants for recording from, and/ or stimulating, the brain surface will open the potential to study other complex signals from the brain. Cyberkinetics’ technology platform, called BrainGate™ System, may allow breakthrough applications which leverage the translation of thought into direct computer control. Such applications may include novel communications interfaces for people with motor impairment, as well as the monitoring and treatment of certain diseases which manifest themselves in patterns of brain activity, such as epilepsy and depression."

Bsplayer_capture003_1This isn't biofeedback.  This isn't wiring a computer to muscles.  This isn't using an EEG machine to try and read brainwave patterns.  All of that stuff has been done before, with limited success.

This is implanting a chip directly in the brain that can read the precise neuronal activity of a specific part of the cortex.

They are currently conducting a clinical trial open to permanent residents in the greater Boston/Providence area.  They have specific eligibility requirements if you'd like to learn more.  The principal investigator in this clinical trial is a close friend and colleague of mine, and I had the priviledge to be able to meet with him and the Cyberkinetic team to see firsthand what they're doing. 

Bsplayer_capture004_1Naturally, I initially thought of how amazing it would be to hook up such a device to let someone control their avatar in Second Life or a similar virtual world.  Controlling their virtual world movements and even avatar body language without having to move a muscle.  But the potential is so much more...

What they are doing are taking the first steps to create a truly viable brain computer interface that can read "thought patterns" directly from the mind and translate that into things that a computer can understand.  This isn't going to be something you can buy at the store tomorrow or get installed in your head at a quickie-mart.  But think of the possibilities down the road.  Giving paralyzed people the ability to control their environment.  Maybe even helping them regain control of their limbs or even voices. 

Be sure to check out their video summary of the device as it currently exists in the clinical trial.  It is truly amazing, and should inspire everyone who hopes for a day when people dealing with physical disabilities can be freed from the limitations of their bodies.  To be free to do whatever they can think.
---------------- Update 2/3/05------------------
I just found out about this great article on the history of the whole project.  Great stuff!

--------------- Update 2/6/06 -------------------
Check out this article in MIT's Tech Review about the project..."Implanting Hope.

Posted by John Lester on January 25, 2005 at 02:02 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New Dedication Plaque

I just finished added a small thing to Live2Give Island.  A Dedication Plaque on a small stone pillar, located right on top of the telehub.  When you teleport to the island, you'll end up standing right next to it.  Hard to miss. :P

The virtual world is a world of electrons, ephemeral and without physical substance.  But the places and spaces in virtual worlds are quite "real" in many ways.  The people who visit them are real.  The creations that people share in them are real.  The emotions and friendships and interpersonal relationships  behind everything that happens in them are real.

With that in mind, I've created a very physically-real-looking stone pillar with a plaque on it.  Similar things are often put up in the real world when a new building is built or an area of land is dedicated to a special project.  Live2Give island is as real as those places, so I thought it needed something similar.  The plaque reads:

"Live2Give Island - Created as a safe and supportive community to help people dealing with Cerebral Palsy and similar conditions.  This plaque is dedicated to all the pioneers of Live2Give and WIlde who worked together to shape this new world into a place where people help each other, educate the public, and show the world that despite our physical differences we are all the same.  Founded January 13, 2005."


Posted by John Lester on January 23, 2005 at 01:54 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Using Biofeedback in Second Life

I just read about a fascinating new project on the Second Life forums called "Project Sun Realm Online."  The person starting this is Elizabeth Dalton (SL name "Nekokami Dragonfly"), and she has a website explaining the whole concept.

Here's a blurb from her website:

Q. What is the Sun Realm?
A. It is the setting for the biofeedback-based game, the Journey to Wild Divine. In the Sun Realm, players learn techniques of raising and lowering the energy levels of their bodies, as well as breathing techniques to improve health, and many other valuable things.

Q. What is the Sun Realm Online?
A. It is an idea for an online service which would provide an experience similar to the Journey to Wild Divine game, but many people could play it together, through the internet. Players would be able to see each other (or rather, each other's "avatars"), chat with each other by typing or using a voice service, and play cooperative multiplayer events together using Light Stones connected to their own computers.

The basic idea is to use this biofeedback device as a new interface to Second Life.  I'm fascinated by the potential to use such a device to help people who cannot type or use a mouse.  I think it could be very therapeutic in terms of relaxation, as well as give individuals a totally new interface to Second Life to experiment with.

I'll be bringing this up with the other members of the Live2Give group and see if there is some interest in exploring this further.  I'll be keeping in touch with Nekokami and will keep everyone updated on how the project progresses.

Posted by John Lester on January 23, 2005 at 11:28 AM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tabula Rasa - the Island is born

Yesterday I was contacted by Ryan Linden.  Very good news.  The Island sim "Live2Give" has been created and is now part of the public world of Second Life.

The Island "Live2Give" is just a blank slate right now.  An empty canvas upon which the members of the group Live2Give will have the freedom to paint all their hopes and dreams in Second Life.  I expect we will start to see amazing builds and stores on it very soon.  It will also grow to be a meeting place, where we plan to have events that will entertain and educate people.

In my mind, the Island represents a very important idea.  The idea that people dealing with Cerebral Palsy and similar conditions can become productive members of society.  In Second Life, they are free from the limitations they have to deal with in the physical world.  The Island is not meant to highlight how such people are different from the rest of us...rather, it is meant to highlight how they are just like everyone else.  With the same hopes, dreams, and emotions. 

On the Island, members of Live2Give will have the opportunity to host events, build things, create art, manage stores, sell their creations...things that people do every day in Second Life.  And they will also naturally have the opportunity to explore the rest of Second Life.  To be part of a large global community.   The Island merely gives them all a focal point, where they can start on this grand adventure.

The members of Live2Give are not looking for handouts or charity.  While I have funded the initial purchase of this Island for them, they have a strong desire to ultimately develop businesses and host events in Second Life so that they can in time pay for the monthly land fee costs themselves.  My involvement financially and in terms of my own time is on behalf of my non-profit organization BrainTalk Communities.  I consider this an investment in a group of people that will not only personally benefit but who will bring great things into the world.  Such "returns" are priceless and cannot be measured in financial terms.  I consider it a priviledge to be able to participate in this project.

Ghandi once said "you must be the change you wish to see in the world."  With project Live2Give, I think we will see amazing changes, both in Second Life and beyond...

Here are some shots of the Island.  Some of the Live2Give members expressed an interest in building underwater worlds, so notice that we have a nice bay just waiting for such a project. :)

Take care,
-John Prototype (John Lester)


Posted by John Lester on January 14, 2005 at 03:08 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Meeting wilde at a Tribal Drums event

I've met wilde in real-life a few times now during my visits to the Evergreen Center.   Wilde is the "group account" in Second Life that June-Marie uses when she has sessions at the Evergreen Center.  But today I had the chance to meet wilde in Second Life for the first time.

It was at a Tribal Drums event, hosted by Lecktor Hannibal.  Everyone was sitting around playing drums, dancing and chatting the whole time.  Ace Cassidy created the space and the drum devices.  When you sit in front of them you can play them with your avatar's hands, filling the air with the sound of drumbeats.  Lots of fun.

Wilde's avatar currently has a female form.  We sat next to each other during the drum session.  It was wonderful to see everyone talking to wilde, sharing the moment and socializing.  Here are some photos from the event.  Wilde is the woman avatar with the long blueish hair.  Lecktor is the man using the large red firey drum.  Ace is sitting with spikey hair and holding a beautiful drumstick totem.  All around the area are drums for people to play on.  It's a great place.


Posted by John Lester on January 14, 2005 at 12:45 PM in John Prototype's Musings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack