All entries for October 2006

October 27, 2006

Second life and University communications

Writing about web page http://www.secondlife.com

There has been a lot written recently about Second Life, so I thought I’d dip in yesterday to take a look and see what ideas formed about how a university might make use of such an environment.

Firstly, I am going to split my comments into two groups – Communications and eLearning.

Communications

There are some interesting possibilities here – largely international in focus I would guess.

Create a virtual campus and host student recruitment sessions there – invite people to meet and talk with recruitment office avatars and current students
Second Life Orientation – international students who have been accepted could meet and get to know each other in Second Life before arriving on campus
Taster sessions – provide videos or audio of University life or teaching environment to give people a flavour of Warwick
Virtual Accommodation – build an accommodation block with examples of how student accommodation can look
Student Society stalls – give student societies a place to set out their wares
Alumni Relations – this could be a biggy. Provide a space where Warwick Alumni can meet and socialise. You could create a virtual Top Banana or some such. Photo gallery’s etc would be good too.

eLearning

I am not so sure about this side of things. There are examples of education programmes going on in Second Life, but I am not sure whether they are that effective. I suspect that the QA system at Warwick may not yet be ready to accept an SL taught module.

However, it would be interesting to see whether the Centre for Lifelong Learning or WBS would be interested in piloting something.

Also, the space seems to be well suited to modelling – engineering could do some neat things, as could Comp Sci. Some of the more science focussed areas in SL are pretty awesome.

I am sure the eLearning team could provide some further insight into this.

What would be interesting would be to find out:

1. How many current Warwick students are in Second Life
2. Whether Alumni are using it
3. How you might go about building something.

My first idea was to just get some land and let Warwick people build things that reflect those elements that are important to them – but having thought about it, if we were to do this we should be a bit more focussed.

Any Warwick Bloggers with a sense of how to build stuff in SL are welcome to make themselves known…


October 20, 2006

Photos of Turkey and Istanbul – are there any out there

I am trying to get hold of some pictures of Istanbul and Turkey for a Warwick iCast piece about Orhan Pamuk. If anyone has some photos they would be happy to use can you give me a call on 07920 531160

Cheers everyone


October 19, 2006

Taxation, taxation, taxation

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6064034.stm

Interesting challenge ahead for David Cameron. In an amusing ‘from the grave’ swipe a tax reform working party set up by Michael Howard has recommended that the Conservative party back massive tax cuts – in the tune of £21bn.

This contradicts many of the messages DC et al have been giving recently about taxation – that they would not just leap into sweeping tax cuts.

Watching the news last night, it was noticable that Cameron and Letwin both looked like they wanted to back this, but couldn’t. The link between tax cuts and services is too close to make the kind of promises made in the 80s acceptable to the electorate.

What surprised me was that neither attempted to make the connection between taxation and value for money.

What strikes me is that people will tolerate higher taxes as long as they can see a return on investment – that the services they get in return balance the additional cost.

Where Labour has gone wrong in recent years is in failing to demonstrate that the additional revenue is resulting in more tangiable benefits for the tax payer.

The arguement on taxation has shifted from simply raising or lowering tax, to whether the party in office gets the best value from them. I don’t think Howard’s working group have that figured out yet.

Another interesting observation. On the BBC last night they showed a model which mapped the UK’s shift from a low-tax American system to a European style high-tax system. I would be interested to compare the American tax figures to Europes if the figures factored in the amount that is spent on private health insurance. I suspect that if you added the spend to the taxation you might end up with a number pretty similar to the European average.


October 16, 2006

My iPod is freaking me out!

There was an article in the Guardian recently about whether the iPod shuffle feature was really as randomn as was suggested. The article discussed concerns that shuffle was a nefarious strategy for making you listen to apple friendly music – boo hiss.

However, today my iPod really scared me. Here’s why:

Last night I caught a bit of 100 best albums on Channel 4. I watched a few and noted during the Velvet Underground entry that I really ought to listen to that album again.

Today on the way to and from work my iPod served up 5 Velvet Underground tracks.

I have 2500 songs on my iPod.

I have 1 Velvet Underground album.

That album has 11 tracks on it.

In the last 3 months I have had 1 track from that album on shuffle.

I swear that device can read my mind – it know’s my desires and responds to my whim. How else can you explain the fact that it plays 5 tracks from an album I was thinking about some 8 hours earlier.

It’s scary – really really scary!


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