The March of Content

What we create of content in virtual worlds or in social media is far from staying in our hands or under our control. And do we want to keep for us what we write in blogs and forums at all? Isn’t it what we want the creations to do: To go the long march to other sites and followers and to bloom by being taken notice of and by the likes and comments we can collect? It seems we have become a risky species by the introduction of Web 2.0. The attitude of having something alone and solely or shared with few close friends is changing towards a constant publishing of inner thoughts and personal pictures to the entire web. In the best case other’s content still is acknowledged by us as their original creation and we will cite it. With our own content we are pretty careless. When the new post looks boring we add one of our pictures, but have we considered where it could appear next time?

From the reflections in the 5th class of the “Is One Life Enough?” module it was seen, that e. g. in the Nicola Kirkbride – Tesco case, authorial, photo-graphical work had marched into other hands or uses than expected from the creator. Even though it was stated on Miss Kirkbride’s fashion blog, that all rights on her content would remain with her, her photo was picked up and used on a Tesco girl’s sweater. She was then taking on the supermarket.

According to Lastowka as a definition for content applies, that it is used “in the broadcast and entertainment industry, as a term to describe a particular form of information that can be presented to an audience” (Lastowka, 2). This term of content can be stretched to user-generated content and virtual worlds. Because of the creative process behind the content creation, it hereby is covered and protected by copyright laws.

It isn’t known, whether Miss Kirkbride in March 2012 used Creative Commons (CC), which is a set to define the online and offline uses we want others to have of our created content. The  example just shows, that there might be a need for content creators, to make as clear as possible, how they want their creations treated.

CC’s form for the choice of license in between 2 dimensional media and content is easily walked through and delivers a code string to be placed on website and which will show the CC License, as it can be seen at the bottom of the side bar of this blog for this particular article here “The March of Content”.

Creative Common's page for  Licenses of online or offline content

Creative Common’s page for Licenses of online or offline Content

Additional in the content creation process for social media, CC offers a search site, which holds huge amounts of diverse material from several providers. It is obvious, that a thinking, which respects fair use of other creator’s content and copyrighted material in general, should be enforced in school and education.

In the 3 dimensional virtual worlds we see a different picture. We still have to look for and to respect the authorial content in them, but we also have to encounter, that they “are appealing primarily because they are social spaces” (Lastowka, 2), which generates another kind of content by and about present users, such as patterns of their behavior, teleport histories, site, event, profile and group descriptions – all valuable information for virtual world providers. Residents in a virtual world such as Second Life (SL) also are aware of, that chat logging can be abused and some post on their profiles with the reference to the TOS in SL, that they would rapport such an abuse, when it comes to their knowledge. 

To begin with, the “licensing” of created content in SL, which is carried out by the permission system of the metaverse, is pretty detailed and hereby protecting property rights. At BABEL Language School a series of Language Learning Units is sold for autodidactic use.

Wall with Language Learning Units and an example of a Media Board to the left with all material for the study included

Wall with Language Learning Units and an Example of a Media Board to the left with all Material for the Study included

The units for sale are in boxes and include a notecard for the student’s information of topics, which also can be seen from the various boxdesigns, a description of the level which is worked on and the Media Board itself. Boards contain images with the main activities, often going through an example situation to act in and some helpful information to solve the task. The Boards also contain recorded audio files, so that the dialogues in question or a short article will be played for the student as often as needed in order to practice the correct pronunciation. There is a button on the Board to give out the task card for the unit, explaining the tasks to do in English. Another button gives out a study board e. g. with a grammatical overview. Finally there is a shortcut button to open an online dictionary in the student’s browser. So, the content of these units is created with huge efforts and there is naturally no interest to have them march around to people, who not want to pay for them.

The permission system can avoid that. By right clicking and chosing “edit” in the “General” tab, the name and description, the creator and owner and which permissions of the three “modify”, “copy” and “transfer” a new owner would have is shown. In this case the unit can only be transferred, so that a student, who has been through it, could give it to another, but would loose it from her/his own inventory.

The content of the Unit Box Deutsch 1.2.1 - A notecard and the Media Board inside

The Content of the Unit Box Deutsch 1.2.1 – A Notecard and the Media Board inside

Going to the “Content” tab there are check boxes and the modify, copy and transfer options for any included content in the Media Board.

Permission Window for any Kind of Content in Second Life's Objects

Permission Window for any Kind of Content in Second Life’s Objects

Furthermore the permissions of the object can be seen by the customer in the “Buy” window before sale:

Deutsch 1.2.1 Unit - Buy Window

The Window when right clicked on the Box for buying shows the Permissions in the Content to purchase to the Costumer.

As the vitality of Second Life depends on good conditions for it’s content creators and a fair trade for the content buying residents, detailed facilities like these have been developed and implemented through the years. Also the metaverse in general is pretty safe not to have content marching out, as the discussions showed, when in 2010 several educational institutions and universities considered to leave SL cause of a new prizing policy for these groups. From half prizing for landholding before, Linden Lab had announced normal pricing for all. Many educational providers at that time considered to switch to Open Sim, only the problems to export content from SL to this other virtual world gave too many headaches (Educator’s Exodus from SL?).

Proctecting created content in virtual worlds from long marches is also what is in focus, when Winkler states: “We don’t like Creative Commons licenses for our content because a CC license does not address each right in the copyright individually.” At Winkler’s Fashion Research Institute they have instead of been working on a wider licensing as CC can offer. It should at least cover legal property issues in the United States.

Lastowka, Greg: “User-Generated Content & Virtual Worlds”. Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment and Technology Law, Forthcoming. 2008, 1-22. Retrieved March 8, 2013 from: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1094048

Winkler, Sheinlei: “Content & Licensing in Virtual Worlds”. Fashion Research Institute. 2010.
Retrieved March 9, 2013 from: http://shenlei.com/2010/10/13/content-licensing-in-virtual-worlds/

http://creativecommons.org/choose/?lang=en

http://search.creativecommons.org/

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Produser Etiquette in Social Media and Virtual Worlds

Social Media
I left the way of having my students emailing one to one in international exchanges early. Attached pictures and presentations easily got to huge and there was no common show of working products – only in the individual mailboxes, they were found. And there was a wish to motivate to use the foreign language more widely and across in class.
Language Learning in social networks became the new way to do it. Here a profile could be filled out of any participating student and teacher to voice to other users of the platform. There also was a chat option and the content could be organised in forum discussions, which hereby appeared more as dialogues than an one man show. The facilities in such forums also to include links, images and other embedded content made this way of presentation highly attractive for the students.

Also the document library was useful for the producers of content of more static character, such as the teachers to give helping information on sheets with hints to fulfill the assignments.
First a .ning, then a grou.ps and lately a .spruz network has been in use – all giving the option actively, visible and dialogically to be both producers and users, hereas “produsers” (Bruns 00:12:44) in connection to the recent language learning topic and furthermore to connect individually with other produsers in a wider ranger.

At this point the etiquette was to be made clear for the students, that the chat only was to be used in the target and common languages of the exchangers. Also it was necessary, to advice about correct use of copyrighted material on the public platform and a new user had to await approval to get write rights. One French student, we exchanged with, was excluded because of harassing language. Other students were asked to change their profile pictures/avatars, so that they could reflect something of the person behind. Opposite it also was necessary to remind the students, not to give real life information such as addresses or phone numbers away, as all content would be visible on the entire web.

The experience with the use of these social networks was, that the quality of the content and the intensity of the language learning process increased compared with traditional writing.

Virtual Worlds
Even if Social Media also is used in connection to BABEL Language School in the virtual world of Second Life either as an additional Language Learner .ning network, which is provided for the student’s autodidactical use, or as content brought into the metaverse on specially developed web & video boards in the virtual classrooms, some additional issues for the etiquette have to be regarded. As the virtual world is 3 dimensional and a produser has the representation of an avatar, some attention must be given to the appearance of the avatars in a serious language learning situation. Overdriven use of animation can disturb the learning process as well as unfitting clothing or provocative look of both the teacher’s or the student’s avatar. How fun is it to teach the German language to a dragon for 45 minutes – or to have to look at the teacher’s bare legs, feet and chest with tattoos on. We usually have interviews with the students prior to class start and have the teachers in a kind of trainee position at first before giving them classes where such topics can be talked through if needed.
It is also necessary eventually through the tools in the land menu, to avoid that everyone places objects on the school’s ground, so that there in the end not would be capacity enough for teachers and students to drag their prepared learning objects and productions into the world. Another aspect is, to use the community factor which can be made clear in Second Life by membership of e.g. the school group. This will give out a tag over the head, in this case “BABEL Student”. Apart from the focus a teacher tag and the corresponding student tag gives to the learning situation, in a virtual world it also applies, that “as a member of a particular group, one has access to other members who might be more experienced not only in that group but also the virtual environment in general” (Wise, 15), and that it helps to regulate behaviour in the community. All students and teachers at BABEL Language School are therefore connected in a group, which also is used for messaging.

With such conventions and questions of etiquette regarded, not only individual learning processes are supported to their best, but also the service provider’s reputation is taken care of and increasing.

Bruns, Axel: From Prosumer to Produser. Understanding User-Led Content Creation. 2009. Retrieved March 7, 2013 from: http://www.slideshare.net/Snurb/from-prosumer-to-produser-understanding-userled-content-creation

Wise, Deborah L.: Virtual Identity. How Virtual Worlds Affect Identity.  Retrieved February 23, 2013 from: http://debwise.com/Matrix_2_files/wise_virtualidentity_presentation.pdf

Language Learning on top of the list

Language Learning on top of the user list in virtual worlds

From a study in May 2012 we can make the conclusion, that foreign language learning with 25% is the most frequented field of the educational use in virtual worlds (Kim, Lee, Thomas, 12). Of all educational ventures, the most are carried out in the Second Life metaverse with 35% (Kim, Lee, Thomas, 9).   

Figure 7: Analysis of reasearch fields using virtual worlds by majors

Kim, Lee, Thomas, p. 12

Reliable data go back to 2006, which means that just at the time, when BABEL Language School was established by Mike Meltzer early in 2007, many others have made their entrance and have consolidated in the field of foreign language learning since.

Homo virtualis

We still are very concrete in our thinking: Eventually nations have a strong identification with their languages, landscapes, heritage and boundaries etc. In virtual worlds our identification could reside e.g. in the present multiculturality, the creation of virtual spaces, the online history and the absence of uncrossable borders, which we act in between and from. The research focus on virtual worlds in these years “is now focussing on understanding the immersive characteristics of virtual worlds, such as making learners feel as if there exists an online learning space” (Kim, Lee, Thomas, 15).

When will we feel, that also our mental orientation in an online existence will claim a substitute for or an extension of a former “national” feeling from us individuals behind the avatar, who act and develop so much in virtual worlds?

Bon voyage, Mike – from this study you have something to meet and contribute with, when you now travel to Bulgaria with it’s strong traditional national feelings.

Sahoon H. Kim, Jiyeon Lee Lee, Michael K. Thomas: “Between Purpose and Method: A Review of Educational Research on 3D Virtual Worlds.” Journal of Virtual Worlds Research 5 (2012) 1: 2-15. Retrieved February 17, 2013 from:

http://journals.tdl.org/jvwr/index.php/jvwr/article/view/2151/5973

Babylon and BABEL Language School

In the ancient and multicultural Babylon, people of huge diversity and from numberless nations, all lived together. Opposite to this way of life in the classical ancient world 5 ½ thousand years ago, the Christian/Old Testament tradition tells us about God’s punishment of the human arrogance, which denied any longer to follow the natural language that the creator had spoken by developing this, our world.

Genesis 11:7-9(King James Version):

7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

From here we get the heritage of a myth with seven themes about Babel, containing Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylon system, City of Sin, Semiramis, the Tower, Apocalypse and linguistic confusion. All used not to tell the historical truth concerning Babylon but the truth about a civilization that needs the Babel myth in order to understand itself.

What has all this to do with language learning e. g. in Second Life (sl) anno 2009?

At BABEL Language School, the attempt is done, to bridge the gap between the cultural identities through the use of visual material both in classrooms and through the use of archetypal impacts in the environment such as our animals, but also through a new and open architecture which leads the thoughts forward to new possibilities in an enlightened world.

On one side: The creation of new virtual worlds (vws) is time expensive and object to a particular critic of giving up too many former ways of human communication, arguments similar to the day when the TV appeared. Some enter the caveat that vws push to the megalomania of putting our real world’s rules and laws out of order.

On the other hand: The use of virtual worlds has the likeable aspect of being democratically and geographically reachable. In sl for our avatar it’s also possible to achieve new horizons of personal existence, to get a new range of socializing competencies, which is build on the picture of the avatar in the corresponding part, a kind of alternative and supplemental identity; in a way “homo virtualis”.

On one side: We are bound to national and cultural vanes and, as stated in one society, we as good citizens are expected to make contributions to our society. We can’t carry out and maybe not even capture multiple ways of living as they are found on our planet. So, language borders prevent us from taking too much irrelevant information into account, which would weaken our mental health.

On the other side: The world of art has inspired to follow up the myth of Babel in numerous paintings and sculptures; the world of music has prompted pictures of people with their joy and sorrow, photographically documented world wide; and the world of music and opera have always given us common references and motivation to explore the other and to get together again. Virtual Worlds can help us to achieve that end result with language learning being one of the ways how we can explore these possibilities.