Sitting around in my second life

One of the questions that came up repeatedly during the Government Consortium on Virtual Worlds on Friday was “Why do our avatars need to sit, when they don’t get tired?”

I think it’s because sitting is part of our language. Now, I’m not a language expert, but I do know a little bit about communication. Sometimes my avatar stands around in Second Life. More importantly, sometimes I see avatars standing around in second life and it’s clear that …

What?  That the avatar is idling while the user is working on other things? That the user was suddenly called away from his or her desk?

Rather than looking at sitting, dancing, or any other of the actions and animations our avatars as being actions, aren’t they part of our communication? When I’m sitting in Second Life, I’m communicating (as some pose balls imply) that I’m lounging. I’m not shopping. I’m probably parked for a while, perhaps searching, perhaps lurking, but… I’m not going to up and disappear short of.. ahem, getting abruptly called away from my desk for a longer-than-half-hour idle sesson.

So rather than talking about the relationship between our actions and our bodies and how avatars don’t have the same requirements, let’s talk about our avatars’ body language and how actions enhance our ability to communicate online.  Because honestly, that’s part of what makes a virtual world more than a series of chat rooms with pretty pictures on the walls.

My other association hat: Education

I serve on the alumni advisory council of the community college of which I am an alum. I also frequent a number of listservs administered by the Council for Advance and Support of Education, which is an association of advancement and communications professionals in higher ed, including those running alumni associations.

One of the tracks offered in the degree program at George Mason I’m applying to is in community college administration. I don’t think I’m going to go that route, but rather the one on nonprofit and association management. Still, I have a keen interest in community college and the bridges it builds for students who are financially strapped or academic late bloomers (I was both). Now, my CC is trying to figure out how to build a community of alumni, a daunting task.

I’ve volunteered to start building the social media side of things. This means that I’m now doing this for work, school and church. (Ha!)

But anyway. Facebook doesn’t seem to have networks for community colleges, at least not the virginia ones I’ve looked up. And I’m wondering why not? And there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to propose it as a Network. (I shouldn’t be surprised, seeing as they didn’t even answer me when I wrote about the fact that my work organization’s name had been coopted as a Facebook group by three young Booz Allen Hamilton employees who didn’t really seem to care about the organization. It’s like a new variation on FIRST!)

For that matter presenting it as a networking might be very difficult, seeing as the community college doesn’t offer email addresses to alumni. But even if we could get the students started in a network, that might go a long way toward including community colleges as part of the education experience. I think this is going to become more and more important as the money crunch gets tighter for kids whose parents were banking on home equity as a college financing option. (Bear in mind, I live just outside of one of those bizarre equity markets, and even my own real estate value is pretty inflated.)

But anyway; it’s official. I’m looking into it, so I’ll be expanding my social networking sphere to include those working in advancement and alumni relations.

ETA: I’ve found that Facebook does have the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) listed under its networks, very unhelpfully under its acronym rather than its full name, which is why I could not find it. That isn’t going to stop me from petitioning Facebook to grant individual community colleges the ability to have their own networks. Part two is figuring out how to grant alumni access to community college networks. The reason I can do this for my four-year schools is that I have permanent alumni email addresses for them. Can community colleges do the same, if the ROI is better alumni engagement–and we know what that translates to!

Ten years after the apocalypse

Well that didn’t work.

Try this the old fashioned way. I know a couple who are having problems because one person’s behavior was hurting the other and the former didn’t understand why. Too often, people think of “cheating” as being sexual infidelity, but it can take other forms; if a couple is accustomed to trusting each other completely and expecting openness from one another, for instance, finding out that a close friend actually gets more of that trust and openness can lead to a similar sense of jealousy, and it’s a lot harder to pin it down. In this essay, I explain how partitioning off bits and pieces of one’s love for a spouse can disrupt balance and harmony within a relationship. I say this because it happened to me, once.

You can read it, if you have an account, at Facebook, here. And if you don’t have a Facebook account, it’s become my favorite 2.0 platform, and I’d love to see you there.