Category Archives: second life

A Death Knell for OKAPI Island?

An interesting (and aggravating) confluence of events occurred this week, all of which may have some bearing on the future of OKAPI island, where we host our experimental reconstruction of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük. You can check out the history of my experience with OKAPI island if you click on the “Second Life” tag in the sidebar.

On October 5th, Linden Labs announced that they are discontinuing the academic discount, effectively doubling our already exorbitant fees for OKAPI Island. The changes will take place 1 January, 2011. We just found out about it a couple of days ago–already in mid-semester full-swing development–we were implementing several projects, including the creation of a script that automatically recreated pot-prims from rim drawings, hosting the Bristol TAG film festival, a fully developed lesson plan for elementary school teachers that used the island, and a new more interactive museum. Needless to say, this has thrown a considerable monkeywrench into our semester.

On that note, it is also Open Access Week. We are looking into porting the project to OpenSimulator, which we probably should have been using from the start. Sadly the learning barrier is even higher than that of Second Life, so it is not obvious that OpenSim is a viable solution. We have had to switch from our existing projects to a kind of virtual triage–the downside of using proprietary formats and worlds. We will probably try an appeal to Linden Labs, but are pessimistic of any results. OKAPI Island was never intended to be “forever,” but the end may come faster than anticipated.

As a side note, the anticipated comic session for Bristol TAG was cancelled (booo!), so I threw my lot in with the CASPAR (audio-visual practice-as-research in archaeology) folks. I submitted this abstract and title:

Machinima and Virtually Embodied Archaeological Research

OKAPI Island in Second Life has been the site of archaeological research at the University of California, Berkeley since 2007. During this time the island has hosted lectures, film festivals, tours, educational outreach, and archaeological reconstructions created by a team of undergraduate and graduate students. In Fall of 2009, the OKAPI team pushed boundaries in interpretation and filmmaking by making archaeological machinima (movies made entirely within virtual worlds), the actor/avatars wearing the “skins” of the Neolithic residents of Çatalhöyük, a 9,000 year old tell site in Turkey.  This virtual embodiment of past peoples confused modern social boundaries of student and professor, archaeological subject and object, artifice and artifact.

In a session bringing together practice and research within audio-visual representations of archaeological sites, this presentation will explore the profound discomfort, complications, and surprising insights that come with navigating archaeological “fact” and fiction through embodied storytelling in a virtual world.

So, if you’ve never checked out OKAPI Island, I suggest you do so ASAP:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük

Location: Okapi Island

(You must have the free Second Life browser)

Join us for eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük, a project led by Professor Ruth Tringham of UC Berkeley that explores the intricate life practices of a Neolithic village in Turkey. Okapi Island, which has been in development since 2006, offers individuals the unique opportunity to explore reconstructions of Çatalhöyük, visit our virtual museum, and take guided video walks through the Island. In this demonstration you will join in authentic cooking lessons, dancing by the firelight, and canoeing down the river of Çatalhöyük. We will present student work and changes we made to the island over the past semester. Don’t miss the chance to explore the unique multimedia exhibits of Çatalhöyük research data and come connect with us on Okapi Island.

Your browser may not support display of this image.

eat, dance, play @ Çatalhöyük Activities

2:00- 2:15 PM (PST)

Introduction to Okapi Island by Ruth Tringham (Professor of Anthropology, UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator of Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük). Join Ruth as she explains the background of the project, current projects, and future goals.

2:15– 2:30 PM (PST)

Tell Tour/introduction to the changes on the Island by Colleen Morgan, including a brief presentation about her 2009 Archaeologies publication.

2:30- 3:00 PM (PST)

Student demonstrations of their work this semester, including cooking lessons and an lecture about archiving cultural heritage in Second Life.

3:00- 4:00 PM (PST)

Extemporaneous Machinima Creation, directed by Ruth Tringham. Dress up in Neolithic clothes and flintknap, dance, and join a feast!

4:00- 4:30 PM (PST)

Film Festival – Showing of movies and machinima associated with the island.

4:30- 5:00 PM (PST)

Chat and dance next to the fire with the creators of Okapi Island.

What is Second Life?
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created entirely by its residents. Okapi Island is owned and build by the OKAPI team (that’s us below!) and the Berkeley Archaeologists at Catalhoyuk.

Getting Started
To visit Okapi Island, you will need to create a user account and download the client software–both free.

To create an account, visit www.secondlife.com, click on Join (in the upper right corner) and follow the instructions. Note: You do not need a premium account to use Second Life or visit Okapi Island.

Next, download and install the Second Life client for your computer:
http://secondlife.com/community/downloads.php

Launch the Second Life client and enter your password. You will likely begin in Orientation Island. To visit Okapi Island, click Map, enter “Okapi” in search field and click Search. Alternatively, you can click on the following slurl (second life url) in your browser, and you will be transported there:

SLURL:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Okapi/128/128/0

See you there!

The Virtual World of Çatalhöyük (Turkey): Okapi Island in Second Life

This is the talk that Ruth and I are giving this Wednesday here in the department.  It will mostly be an overview with some machinima added in and bits from my Archaeologies paper.

If you happen to be in the Bay Area, come and bring your lunch!

The Hunt – Archaeological Machinima

I’ve posted about machinima and archaeology before, and posted a short effort that I made last Spring. This time we have a slightly longer effort that is part of the result of a class that Ruth and I were teaching called “Serious Games and Virtual Worlds for Archaeology and Imagining the Past.” The class ended up being very different than what we imagined it being, but we learned a lot and have been publishing the results in various venues.  The first is this cut of a couple of scenes we filmed last semester.

The scenes were scripted by the students, using what they had learned about Catalhoyuk from The Leopard’s Tale and a few other research articles.  They built and scripted some of the items, changed their avatars, and acted out the parts in Second Life.  It was an ambitious effort and difficult in all respects, but the students were up to the challenge.  Ruth “shot” the video and we both edited it together into this short film for the Computer Applications in Archaeology conference in April.  We hope to integrate it into a slightly longer film for the SAAs as well.

Frankly, I think it’s pretty hilarious and there are a lot of mistakes in it, but it’s in good fun and the students learned a lot while making it.  Oh, and Ruth is the green person.  She doesn’t like to change her skin color.

Çatalhöyük in Second Life, Fall 2009

Spring_in_Catalhoyuk_001

Once again Spring has come to Çatalhöyük! We’ve removed all the snow and icicles and the tell is green and grassy. Work has started up again, and we’re lucky enough to have a class dedicated to “Serious Games” working on the site, as well as undergraduate research apprentices through Berkeley’s URAP program.

We have a number of great projects planned, including exploring some of the new ideas about architecture that came up during the 2009 field season with wooden floors and second (and third!) stories on the houses.

We have never had such a large group working on the island before, so we started to formalize some of our procedures. While we may elaborate on the document at a later time, here is our Archaeological Building Protocol for Second Life.

Building archaeological sites and objects in Second Life can be a powerful visualization tool for archaeological research. On OKAPI island we strive to further archaeological visualization while integrating a substantial public outreach component to our research.  In Second Life, as with all archaeological reconstructions, it is especially important to maintain interpretive transparency and authorship. Additionally, we work in a large and changing research team and need to maintain the ability to edit all objects on the island to preserve existing work as the team changes.

To this end, we have established building protocols for building on OKAPI island in Second Life. We believe that these protocols not only apply to our particular reconstruction, but should be applied more broadly for archaeological site construction using the Second Life toolkit. By applying these protocols a maximum of contextual information, authorship, and interpretive surety is maintained. Additionally, we believe that all objects should be copyable generally, and specifically repackaged for consumption and use off the island. In this way, our work and interpretations live beyond the relatively limited life of this particular reconstruction.

Picture 1

OBJECTS

Objects should have the following permissions set:

X = checked, 0 = not checked

X Share with group
0 Allow anyone to move
X Allow anyone to copy
X Show in Search
0 For Sale

Next Owner Can:

X Modify
X Copy
X Resell/Give Away

Objects should have the following fields filled out:

Name: Catalhoyuk _____________

Description: Short interpretive paragraph, followed by specific image or text citation.

TEXTURES

Textures should be uploaded with their Name and Description intact with the same citation information. After uploading, immediately enter your inventory, where the texture should be highlighted. Open the Inventory Item Properties and set:

X Share With Group
X Allow Anyone to Copy

Next owner can:

X Modify
X Copy
X Resell/Give Away

In other exciting news, the Archaeologies article is live! It is on Springer’s Online First section and it should be Open Access. Please let me know if you have any problems downloading the pdf.
(Re)Building Çatalhöyük: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology

(Re)Building Çatalhöyük: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology

I submitted the final version of my Archaeologies journal article today, through their digital editorial manager.  It is a reworked version of a paper I wrote for the World Archaeological Congress last year in Dublin and it will be my first official publication.  Many thanks to Krysta Ryzewski, the editor of the volume, for organizing the session and accepting my paper!  Also thanks to Ms. Lei-Leen Choo who lended her exacting eye to proofreading it and asking all the right questions about the content.

Already I can see the many ways in which the article is lacking and it feels dated even after only a year.  Heck, even the images that I included…the reconstruction houses on Okapi island don’t even look like that anymore!  It is probably good to be able to fix scholarship in time, but that doesn’t make it much more comfortable.  I hope Michael Shanks is kind in his introductory comments–fingers crossed. I am a bit uncomfortable with some of the traditional forms of publishing, but I was delighted to see Springer’s copyright policy:

Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress The copyright to this article is transferred to Springer (respective to owner if other than Springer and for U.S. government employees: to the extent transferable) effective if and when the article is accepted for publication. The copyright transfer covers the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute the article, including reprints, translations, photographic reproductions, microform, electronic form (offline, online) or any other reproductions of similar nature. An author may self-archive an author-created version of his/her article on his/her own website and his/her institution’s repository, including his/her final version; however he/ she may not use the publisher’s PDF version which is posted on http://www.springerlink.com. Furthermore, the author may only post his/her version provided acknowledgement is given to the original source of publication and a link is inserted to the published article on Springer’s website. The link must be accompanied by the following text: “The original publication is available at http://www.springerlink.com”. Please use the appropriate DOI for the article (go to the Linking Options in the article, then to OpenURL and use the link with the DOI). Articles disseminated via http://www.springerlink.com are indexed, abstracted, and referenced by many abstracting and information services, bibliographic networks, subscription agencies, library networks, and consortia. The author warrants that this contribution is original and that he/she has full power to make this grant. The author signs for and accepts responsibility for releasing this material on behalf of any and all co-authors. After submission of this agreement signed by the corresponding author, changes of authorship or in the order of the authors listed will not be accepted by Springer.

The original publication (will be) available at www.springerlink.com.  Barring something horrible, it will be published in the December 2009 edition of Archaeologies.  Here’s a link to the self-archived author version, sans images:

(Re)Building Catalhoyuk: Changing Virtual Reality in Archaeology

I would love to get any and all feedback y’all had to offer on it.

I am cooking up a much more in-depth article, so watch this space!

More Projects Than Time

Kabyle House

Kabyle House

One of my least favorite traits is overcommitment–meaning that I always commit to too many conferences/papers/projects and something always falls by the wayside.  My batting average is pretty good, but I still swing at the air a bit more than I’d like.

So, while I have the attention of the Cal community, I’d like to let one of my pet projects escape and maybe be picked up by someone who can properly feed and nurture an honors thesis out of the thing.

I’ve been intending to reproduce Bourdieu’s Kabyle House in Second Life as a fun exploration of digital habitus, with the attendant theory in scroll-overs, but I just don’t have the time.  If anyone would be interested in this project, drop me a line.  Or just do it yourself, and let me know about it!

SXSW Notes and Tweets

The panel went well, though all of us wished that we had more time to speak and answer questions.  I kept my powerpoint simple and tried very hard not to stare at my notes the whole time.

Ruth joined us in Second Life and answered a question toward the end.  Sadly, she couldn’t hear most of the questions and I felt a bit strange paraphrasing them on screen while the person was still talking.

Here are some “tweets” from twitter about the panel.  Unfortunately we didn’t set up our own hashtags ahead of time, so they were hard to track down:

From: http://twitter.com/drapetomaniac
View Indiana Jones travels through time and space (arrow at bottom left) #sxsw http://nickrabinowitz.com/p…
“In Europe, we have a lot of archeology.. takes 6 months to start building a hotel foundation”, Eve #sxsw #indiana

http://blog.brian-fitzgerald.net/?p=492

“Second life is dead? GREAT, we love dead things.” -Colleen Morgan at archaeology panel

http://twitter.com/aral

Archaeologists using Comic Life, Flickr (with notes/annotations), WordPress, Second Life to bring artifacts to life. #sxswabout 23 hours ago from Tweetie

http://twitter.com/chrissychrzan

So cool! Panelist is answering questions through second life at arch talk #sxswi http://twitpic.com/25p0o
This archaeology and tech panel is very interesting, dif than any other panel thus far, still lots of room!! #sxswi
Heading to the real tech of Indiana jones panel #sxswi

http://twitter.com/ericaendicott

#sxsw “tools like second life and flickr: they’re really good to think with”. Archaeology panel is well done

Now, how about that whole dissertation thing?  I should work on that, probably.

AAA Photo Contest and BAJR Website Guide

Just a couple of neat announcements today – the AAA posted the winners of their 2008 photo contest to their flickr account. Ruben Mendoza, a professor at CSU Monterey Bay came in third with his lovely and inventive shots of artifacts.

I am going to pester the AAA about adding Creative Commons licensing to their photos when possible. It’s annoying to have to feature these small, low-rez photos and they’re totally unusable if you don’t use flickr’s “blog feature” or do an illicit photo scrape by taking a screenshot of the page. We’ll see how successful I am in convincing them.

In other news, BAJR’s guide to website building came out the other day, with some tips about how to better inform the public about your dig. I’m pretty chuffed that they decided to include a bit about Burning Catalhoyuk on Second Life. Check it out!

Stamp Seals in Second Life

At Çatalhöyük we (not me, I’m not that lucky!) find a class of artifacts called “stamp seals.”  These stamp seals are on the small side and are made out of clay, and it’s been speculated that they are used on skin or on cloth.  I recently scanned some of John Swogger’s reconstructions of what the impressions of these stamp seals were like, and after some photoshop wizardry, made an initial foray into my career as a Neolithic fashion designer.  My first attempt is a homage to Swogger’s leopard print “tube top,” using a swirl pattern and my very limited Second Life seamstressing skills.  This was also inspired by Olga Soffer’s talk of the bandeaus of the Paleolithic goddess figurines.

catal_girl_001

The cloth in the background is another stamp seal, three wavy lines that I’ve repeated.  This young (and rather blessed) woman is one of my first attempts at a character for the upcoming machinima.  Any name suggestions?

It is difficult to find Second Life skins and body shapes that aren’t completely gorgeous.  So far I’ve found one older man, but no older women.  And I don’t even want to talk about trying to find children to populate the Neolithic. brrrrr.