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Art of Living a Second Life

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
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Eric Gordon moderates a panel discussion about art practice in *Second Life*, an 3-D online world where real business is conducted using virtual dollars that can then be traded in the real world. Called "the biggest digital art installation in the world" by Warren Ellis, *Second Life* is a highly imaginative, online, 3-D rendered environment populated with avatars (graphic representations of people). In *Second Life* you can teleport, fly, do not age, live in a house, go to clubs, take classes, make and view art, or just "hang out." Spanning more than 42,000 acres in real-world scale, *Second Life* is second home to over 2 million "residents," many of whom collaboratively create its content. This lecture is a part of the 2007 Boston Cyberarts Festival and produced in partnership with Emerson College and Turbulence.org's "OurFloatingPoints 4: Participatory Media" series.

Wagner James Au has written about high-tech culture for more than ten years, and has been, at various times, a freelance reporter, a metaverse consultant, a game developer, a screenwriter, and most pertinent, a white-suited avatar named "Hamlet Au," the first embedded journalist in a virtual world, beginning in 2003 a role he still plays on his blog, New World Notes (nwn.blogs.com). His work in Second Life has been cited or profiled in The New York Times, the BBC, CNN International, NPR, Wired, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, among many other publications and television programs. He also covers the game industry and online worlds for GigaOM.com.
John Lester joined Linden Lab (the creators of Second Life) in 2005, bringing experience in online community development as well as a background in the fields of healthcare and education. Previously, John was the Information Systems Director for the Department of Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he pioneered the use of the web in 1993 to create online communities supporting patients dealing with neurological disorders. As a research associate in Neurology at Harvard Medical School, he also created online collaborative education environments for professors and students to advance the case-based teaching method in medical education. John leads Linden Lab's customer market development in education and healthcare. He acts as a strategist and evangelist for people using Second Life in teaching, academic and healthcare research, medical education, simulation, and scientific visualization. He also acts as Linden Lab's Boston Operations Director, having founded Linden Lab's Boston-area office and helping it grow successfully. John lives in Boston and is commonly referred to by his avatar's name in Second Life - "Pathfinder Linden."
Eric Gordon is a professor at Emerson College, director of the Engagement Lab, and Assistant Dean of Civic Partnerships in the School of the Arts. He is also a research affiliate in Comparative Media Studies at MIT. His current research focuses on how new technology and media impact the way people trust institutions. He specializes in collaborative research and design processes, and has served as an expert advisor for local and national governments, as well as NGOs around the world, designing responsive processes that help organizations transform to meet their stated values. He has created over a dozen digital games and apps for public sector use and advised organizations on how to build their own inclusive and meaningful tools. He is the author of four books and over two dozen journal articles on digital media, civics and social justice.

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