Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Getting a Life*

One of the really intriguing things that people were talking about at educause this year was the use of multi-player on-line games in instruction. I was mulling that over yesterday while reading blogs and came across a mention of Second Life in ALA Tech Source, lauding the amount and variety of library activities available there. I don't know where I've been (I think maybe under a big soggy leaf), but I decided it's time to see what the fuss is all about.

So I downloaded Second Life and dived in. I felt completely lost at first, and kind of hounded by messages and crowds. All around me people kept saying things like, "Help! I'm confused!" and "Am I naked?" and "What do we do now?" I hate crowds, and I hate confusion. And I was very confused because for some reason I couldn't see my own avatar. So after floundering about I quit, and went back to trying to tame my email - a familiar, declawed, sedate old beast. But before long I went back to Second Life, which had politely left me in the museum-like space where I had been when I quit, although I have no clue how I got there.

And ah-ha, this time I could see my avatar! Immediately somebody says, "Hey Elizabeth, nice body!" (Elizabeth being my name there.) And I thought, "Jerk!" But then I thought - what is that weird striped thing behind me? Do I have a tail? Yes! I have a big furry white and black tail, and I have lots of other furry stuff. And I have no idea why. Obviously I have a lot to learn. I removed the tail and put on some clothes and then I flew for a couple of minutes.

Next time I visit I'm going to quit obsessing about my looks. I'm excited about checking out Info Island, for example. It's interesting to me that librarians seem to have taken this so much to heart. What an image change that profession is going through!

* This entry honors the memory of Ian Beach, who most certainly would have been bubbling and excited about Second Life possibilities some time ago, who would have given me a really hard time about the furry tail, and whose vision and enthusiasm continue to be missed, big time.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Back from EDUCAUSE

It's always rejuvenating, going to EDUCAUSE. And although I usually get some great information from the sessions themselves, the best part is the talking and listening - the conversations with colleagues who get closer every year and chance meetings with strangers during lunch or while waiting for the shuttle.

I think I swapped baggage. I left home feeling ineffectual, very cynical, and pretty cranky about it. I didn't even know I had gotten so cynical until I started talking with fellow Fryers, most of whom were enthusiastic and optimistic and excited about what they were doing. They gave me lots of encouragement:
  • In response to my reluctance to blog because of its public nature - "Use a pseudonym!"
  • Regarding my hopelessness about how long it takes to make things happen - "But you've only been working on it for a year! It took us 5 years to do a similar thing!"
  • About being buried too deep in the organization's structure to be effective - "Gather information and tell good stories!"
They spoke in happy exclamations like that. I despaired that I had let myself get so cynical and resolved to have a positive attitude. It's not like I left all my baggage in Dallas, though. I just traded my old bags in for something different - less cynical, more determined, but with other bits that I won't mention because this is, after all, public. I'm not going to use an alias, even though it was a great suggestion. I'll just try not to pour it all out, even though some of you (my mom, for example) would probably be more interested in reading this if I did.