Blog Post

organizing a virtual conference in SL Problem #1: Keeping bodies away

On an earlier post I told you about the upcoming conference Slactions 09   and my intention of identifying problems (#1, #2,...) as we - the conference organizers - experience them... and report on solutions found, hoping they can be of use to others. Some lessons learned can be applied to any virtual conference but most are specific to Second Life. I called problem #1 'keeping bodies away'


Solutions to Problem #1 : Keeping bodies away


Summarizing our problem


- we have on-site participants (distributed across 7 countries), along with online participants attending Slactions 09 both on-site (physical chapters) and online via Second Life (SL). Slactions 09 is, I remind you, a research conference on SL and other metaveses. To avoid overcrowding the in-world location, which slows down movements of all avatars, we need to limit number of avatars at the SL conference location (that from here on we will call in-world chapter) to *1* representative per country plus all online participants who registered.


- We need to allow online participants who have paid a 175 euros fee - and we did not track their avatars' names upon registration...


- plus, we had a non technical concern: our kind host, the New Media Consortium has a policy of openness, which we wished to respect.


Solutions found: 

  • - We contacted all the participants online that had paid registration via paypal and one by one, asked for their avatars names... 
  • - We temporarily restricted access to the sim (while heavily branding the virtual auditorium so it would be clear a special event was taking place) to all conference chairs and speakers we created a group for this (see below in one of the resources). We added to this group each one of the registrants we had received by paypal,  a rather tedious process



 Lessons learned:


  • - We may need to consider a more sophisticated '3D radar", the kind of tool used by companies with an SL presence where user interaction is traced... This might be easier than what we used, for a large group, while at the same time allow for some metrics (participants permission should be addressed) These tools have been proved somewhat useless for marketing purposes for which they were created but may be pertinent for virtual conference management.


  • - Rather than having a paypal button only, we should have (1) accepted payment online ( difficult, given our academic budgetary structures) or (2) sent registrant to an interactive form where one of the fields is avatars name to be used during* event 



Registrants, speakers, and chairs may have multiple avatars but the day of the event they must login w/ the avatar name they sent the organization. We still expect some glitches on this (I'll report on those).


Resources on restricting access in SL


Besides Gary Sinese's scene in CSI NY where to find a suspect, he needs access to a Second Life sim... there are other more orthodox ways to go about access in SL. Some of the solutions indicated below may imply a purchase (SL is, after all, proprietary and there is no shortage of third parties...) So let me be clear that I am not advocating for any of the tools below. These are rather a starting point for anyone interested in the topic of restricting access in SL.

A. Typical needs re: access in SL


1. Setting up a large permanent private classroom in SL and restrict access to speficis students and faculty? 


One option: Private Island   (Educators receive a discount on 16-acre private island purchases)


2. Allowing only specific people and/or group(s) into a certain land (estate wide or per parcel)    Heres how


3. Restricting access in SL will almost undoubtedly imply being familiar with setting up groups   Good resource here


Videos: Really easy youtube video restricting access to land temporarily and in an unsophisticated way


B. More sophisticated tools- (require programming in SL)


1.  3D radar (can be used for much more than restricting access)


2. ForceField TVD - Force Field v1.0.2


3. Creative - and funny -  variations of a 3D radar:    EASY-TOOL light - HUD - 40 people Radar - Multitools - Evil Spanker 


Videos:  Applying a forcefield containing avatar's movements to small area, which solidifies/ dissolves by group attribution



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