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Towards the Future: A Foundation to Support OpenSim in Education, Science, and Research


Fashion Research Institute CEO Shenlei Winkler presented the initial proposal for a formal foundation for OpenSim in education, science, and research on Friday, December 11 at a MICA Professional Seminar in Second Life. Shenlei is known to some as a Mass market designer, an educator, a large scale virtual builder in Open Sim such as Shengri La Spirit designed to “push” the performance ability. Shenlei served as executive administrator and grant writer for the SLOAN digital sky survey [SDSS] project . She has  experience working on big projects that have sweeping scope and a variety of collaborators across multiple continents and cultures.

The link above w/slides will open an audio podcast of her presentation. Pasted below is a summary of what she presented – details are in the audio.

When her team of multi-disciplinary collaborators first suggested the possibility of a foundation for Open Sim, Shenlei  stepped up and agreed to champion the community building process and administrative aspects to help make this foundation a reality.

For the past few months multidisciplinary teams have been collaborating and working on different educational, scientific  and research projects on the IEEE  ACM hosted Science Sim grid which now includes about 80 regions or so. Shenlei goes on to mention some of the projects that were developed to support the development of Open Sim. She mentions her side projects of putting together the first ever Virtual world based Fashion Design Conference [ Threading the Needle:The Future of Fashion Design Conference] for a global audience of fashion design students and educators.  These efforts from a multi disciplinary collaboration have yielded a rich repository of knowledge and best practices. She stated that all collaborators and participants agreed that they did not want to see the efforts of the combined knowledge lost.

The vision she presented: “A foundation that maintains a stable distribution of OpenSim to enable new usages for education, science, and research in persistent 3D spaces built and deployed by a federation of organizations and users.”

The mission she presented:

  • Maintain a stable distribution of the OpenSim 3D platform.
  • Document  best practices for the use of OpenSim in science and education
  • Provide a toolkit of content and applications to support these best practices.

The community is currently in a very early stage of a two phase development. The first phase entails determining user requirements  – Shenlei made an open call for WIKI contributions of user requirements –  interested parties to e-mail they thought about this directly to her. More meetings will be set up in world over the next few weeks. Please send your contact information to Shenlei Winkler is you would like her to notify you that an upcoming meeting will be taking place. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

This is a grand sweeping initiative and there is a lot of room in this tent for anyone that wants to help and participate. Input is welcome.

OpenSim is a great platform it’s broadly extensible and the artificial limits of the Second Life platform are not present however it has it’s quirks and documentation and best practices will be very helpful for new practitioners. If you are a tester or a technical writer or you just want to help out this is a great way to get involved. The foundation will also provide training and orientation material and may also provide training and orientation programs as well. The foundations will also develop toolkits of content, scripting and plug-ins that will be available to users that are affiliated with the foundation. Having certain basic content classes available to new users helps speed their virtual world emersion

Shenlei states that ” the Fashion Research Institute [FRI ] has provided new default avatars on the ScienceSIM  new users to this grid immediately change into these avatars that are provided. Content like this is important – research finds that work does not get done until the avatar user is content that the avatar is customized to their taste. But beyond basic avatar content new projects may require common scripts, tool such as presentation boards, viewers, land and group management tools. Various plug ins help speed adoption of the successful implementation of ew projects. The foundation can provide a central authority and repository for such references and support services.” Shenlei welcomes any feedback from all users. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

Skills that are needed:

  • Administration
  • Documentation
    • Integration user level Admin Developer
    • Development
    • Project Management
    • System Grid Administration
    • Content Creation
      • Building, Graphic Design, Scripting, Integration, Avatar Customization
      • Marketing
        • Collateral Logo name, style book, event planning
        • Grant Writing
        • Management Policies Development
        • Public Relations
          • Social Media, New  Outreach
          • Legal Support
          • Technical Training

Your help is requested to help launch this foundation. Scisim-discuss@googlegroups.com

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    February 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm

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