Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Virtual Worlds

A Tribute To My Virtual (Real) Friend . . .

Regular readers of this blog know well my work on Book Island in the virtual world Second Life.

Some of you have read the guest post I did for Joel Friedlander, Second Life: Virtual Book Promotion and Word of Mouth.

Some folks claim that friendships in virtual worlds aren’t real

I would say two things:

They didn’t use the right virtual world.


They’ve never been in a virtual world.

Perhaps a quote from that guest post is in order:

“If you’ve never experienced virtual reality, the first, obvious yet often-overlooked, fact is that there is a real person behind every virtual person. You may be sitting in a fake coffee house, ‘drinking’ fake coffee with a 3-D representation of another person, but that other person is ‘there’, responding to you

I have a friend on Book Island named Donjuan Writer.

He’s ultra-intelligent, from the UK, living in Sweden, writes awesome poetry, and is looking into making films in Second Life.

I’ve had many amazing conversations with him.

Recently, he told me he’d had a “breakout” event—performed some of his poetry in public.

There’s a video down there with him performing the poem and I’m going to put the words here, too.

First though, I want to give the definitions for a word used in the poem—bollocks:

1 – the testicles.

2 – [treated as singular] nonsense; rubbish (used to express contempt or disagreement, or as an exclamation of annoyance).

War On Bo**ocks

Ladies and gentlemen,
Brothers and sisters
Children and animals
Flora and fauna,
rent boys and feminists,
movement-makers and cynical bastards,
people of the world,
I declare a war,
on Bollocks.

Let us not be mistaken
this is not a war on dog’s bollocks.
“Dog’s bollocks” is our unifying cry.
it is bollocks
and bollocks alone
that calls us to action.

For too long,
bollocks has paraded itself as reality.
Broadcasted bollocks
has been viewed by our children.
Bollocks has been exposed to the peoples of other cultures,
even the very notion of culture,
has become bollocks.

We have no idea to what degree bollocks may have infiltrated our borders.
We can never document how much bollocks has gone unchecked.
And while the bollocks that springs to mind
hang before our opened eyes,
the untold bollocks beyond our peripheries,
aside from our focus,
underlying the fabric of our cares,
hanging there in the gob-smacked vacuum of the truth-filled cosmos,
continue to taunt and dare us.

There is so much bollocks in our midst that it is fair to conclude that the world rests on the top
of almighty bollocks.

To the bollocks, I say “bollocks”
and take back what’s rightfully mine;
my bollocks
my business
and the bollocks of men, women and children
are their own bollocks.

The bollocks we rise against
are the bollocks that would destroy us.
the bollocks that would enslave us,
the bollocks that would have us teetering on the edge as we slave away in a rut that has us pummeled and bombarded by bollocks
day in
day out,
the bollocks belligerently bashes, beats and bastardises
our rights to just hang about and talk bollocks.

Our rights will be etched loud and proud on our collective, human constitution,
the right to bare bollocks
in the name of world peace
space travel,
clean energy,
healthy food
affordable medical care
access to education
and the longevity of life;
the ability to travel the globe
with a smile on our faces and to smile without fear in the face of a new endeavor
an endevour into the future
the future that is free
from this bollocks.
Brothers, sisters, hermaphrodites,
hear my plea,
Bollocks to bollocks
it’s dog’s bollocks time!

Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
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Author Interview ~ Dan Holt

We now have 35 Author Interviews on this site—some writers still working on their first book, some with many books to their credit—ranging in age from their teens to their sixties.

Today’s interview is special because the author is also a creative writing professor as well as a productive citizen of the virtual world Second Life.


Welcome to our blog, Dan :-)

Recently, a few of your students stopped by one of our book chats on Book Island in Second Life and told me they were part of your creative writing class. Please, tell us about the work you do with students in a virtual world like SL.

I teach primarily writing classes, both first year composition classes and creative writing classes for the English Department at Lansing Community College, Lansing, Michigan. The classes that I have meet in SL are online classes, where we meet together once a week, much as f2f [face-to-face] classes do on campus. One of the assignments I have students do, particularly in the creative writing and novel writing classes that I teach is to explore the writerly communities in SL, much as I might ask students to attend a reading in a f2f class. It gives them a chance to hear other writers, talk about fiction/poetry, and even read their own work.

So, Dan, what led you to teaching writing classes in SL?

I’ve been teaching online classes at LCC for fifteen years, since 1997 when our campus offered the very first online degree available through a community college in Michigan. When I was first approached about teaching online, I agreed only on one condition: that the class could be as interactive as a f2f class. And it was, with asynchronous discussion forums and synchronous text chat. But I soon realized that something was missing, a sense of place and proximity that so enhances the development of a writing community which fosters writing improvement in f2f classes. A sense of presence, and working with others, can be created through 2D tools, but it was difficult, and not as effective as I wanted. Meanwhile, I remember the interaction that took place with my kids in exploring the virtual worlds of video games and thought that having an online class in a virtual space would be much more effective. I did explore text-based MOOs in the late 90s, but found them to be too much of a learning curve for my students.

In 2008, I took a sabbatical to explore Web 2.0 applications for education, and one of my primary focuses was on Second Life, to see if it was possible to be immersed in the virtual world so that a sense of place and a sense of presence could enhance an online class. Through my exploration of virtual communities that took place in educational spheres, such as the Virtual World Education Roundtable, I found that SL afforded what I thought would improve the sense of classroom community that f2f instructors took for granted.

How, exactly, do you use SL with students?

First off, we meet weekly, like we would in a f2f class, where I can give brief lectures and answer questions. And students can work on their writing by reading and giving feedback to each other and participate in whole class and small group discussions about fiction and poetry. And, as I mentioned earlier, attend writerly events in the virtual world.

Do you think it’s essential that writers take college courses in writing?

Essential? No, there is only one essential activity that writers must do regularly. And, that is to write! But it can be beneficial. The value of taking a class is that it gives one a writing community to work with, an instant audience, someone to bounce ideas, stories, poems and such off of. But even more valuable, a writing community helps a writer build his or her own critical skills. By giving thoughtful, well reasoned critiques to other writers, and doing so over and over during a relatively concentrated amount of time, a writer builds his or her own critical chops that can then be applied when writing and especially when revising.

The fact is, writing is often a solitary pursuit. But the end result of a poem or a story is for it to be read by others, to offer an experience to an audience, to expand their imaginative worlds. A writing class gives writers an opportunity to do so. Certainly it’s not the only way—the writer/reader events on Book Island in SL do so as well. But it can be a very fruitful way, especially if one wants to earn a degree down the road.

What about your own writing, Dan? What have you been working on?

This summer I published a story cycle, The Annunciation of Jack, which is a work of urban fantasy/magical realism set in the San Francisco Bay Area of the early 1970s, available as an ebook or paperback at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And I’m currently working on a novel in the high fantasy genre, about 2/3s through the first draft. As a full time professor, though, my writing time is pretty much limited to summers!

Well, Dan, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and letting us know about the many approaches to writing you pursue in your work :-)
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com
* Google Author Page

The Connected Writer

Finally got my new ISP installed and thought this would be a good time to consider some past posts about writers and the Digital Environment.

In the post, The Connected Author ~ Writing and The Internet, I relate the importance of making Real friends with an Internet connection

In the post, Authors Promoting Each Other by Interviewing Each Other, I show how authors can help each other through the Internet

In the post, Is Life In The Digital World Useful or Dangerous?, I ask the question, “…even though being in a virtual world seems advantageous to me, are there aspects of digital interaction that are subtly keeping me from being fully productive or, even worse, undermining my sane and healthy development?”, then share two videos worth thinking about

In the post, Social Networking for Mavericks, I give more info on how I use a virtual world through the Internet to aid Promotion of my work

And, in the post, Not “Self-Publishing” Because You Lack Technical Digital/Electronic Knowledge?, I look at one aspect of what could keep a writer from Self-Publishing

So, life is fresher for this particular writer since he got a better Internet Service Provider and I’ll continue my Digital-Writer’s-Life with a bit more verve

Do you think working in the Digital Environment is a “necessary” task for today’s writer?

If you truly feel you can’t master some of the tasks in the Digital Environment, can you find someone to help you?

If you’re promoting your writing on the popular Social Networks, is it “working” for you?

Have you ever considered using a virtual world to aid you in your Writing-Life?
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

Social Networking for Mavericks

I’ve done many posts about my experience on Book Island in the virtual world, Second Life.

I’ve even turned away from the shallow “friends” on normal social networks (all except Google Plus) in favor of a deeper relationship potential in Second Life.

For my general opinion on the effort needed to build a Readership, check out Getting Published Is Easy ~ Getting Readers Is Hard Work.

For more on the incredible benefits of making friends in a virtual world, look into The Gifts of Social Networking.

And, to dig deeper into the anxieties of common social networking, read My Cure for Social Networking Anxiety.

Here’s an excerpt from that last post that gives a sense of what it’s like being on Book Island:

“If you’ve never created an avatar for yourself and walked down a street full of shops run by authors, editors, publishers, and artists; never sat your avatar down in a virtual cafe, ordered a cup of espresso, and listened to a poet, then engaged with them in discussion; never stood in front of a group of people from many different countries and shared your written work; never just hung-out on the beach or at the houseboat or up on the mountainside and chatted and laughed with friends; if you’ve never experienced the Reality of a virtual world, you’ll find it hard to understand why Ive made a firm decision to halt my attempts at interaction on the familiar social networks and use that time to visit more places in Second Life, make more real friends, let them discover, naturally, that I have a book they can read, with another to follow

Ever been in a virtual world?

Ever done book promotion in a virtual world?

Ever been frustrated with the ritual frenzy imposed on you when trying to make lasting relationships in the common social networks?

Have any other Maverick Methods for book promotion to offer??
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
For Private Comments, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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