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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Drexel Triangle Second Life Article

The Drexel Triangle published an article about Drexel Island on July 27, 2007.

I think it is great that the library is installing Second Life on its desktop computers:
Drexel opens Second Life campus
By: Nancy Lan

The next time you log in to Second Life, the 3-D virtual world run by its residents, you might run in to a Drexel professor teaching a course.

The University bought land on Second Life, May 9. The property has been named Drexel Island and cost about $900 to purchase plus an additional $150 per month for maintenance, according to Jean-Claude Bradley, E-Learning Coordinator for the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bradley said Second Life can help faculty members take their classroom materials to a new level.

"It's a more engaging kind of environment than, say, a message board or instant messaging … it's a lot more intuitive, I think, than blind chat," Bradley said.


Second Life will also be available soon on all desktop computers in the library. Siftar said that this implementation will provide "Heightened fun … all on your own computers collocated in virtual space, flying with one another, going and teleporting to different sites. That's a very teambuilding experience."

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Philadelphia Inquirer Second Life Article

The Philadelphia Inquirer published an article on Drexel Island Sunday July 29, 2007.

Here is a sample:

Adventurous avatars
Drexel opens a new educational frontier in cyberspace.

By Katie Stuhldreher
Inquirer Staff Writer

Drexel University professor Jean-Claude Bradley can log in from his lab or home and teleport to his organic chemistry classroom, fly around his three-dimensional molecular models, and teach wearing a cat suit.

Bradley, 38, uses the virtual world of Drexel Island - an e-campus shaped like a dragon, Drexel's mascot.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Upcoming Second Life Talk at Drexel

New Guest Lecture Series: Jean Claude Bradley on "Second Life"

New technologies and tools emerge every day in the marketplace to enrich and expand our computing experiences. Social networking, virtual worlds, digital object repositories, all are intriguing and promising. Students dive right in to use these resources for recreational and social purposes. Faculty members wonder if they have merit and relevance in the academic experience.

IRT is starting a “guest lecturer” series to highlight some of these innovations, explain what they are and give examples of their applicability. Technologies featured will include both those that are part of the Drexel supported repertory and those that are currently outside it.

We begin the series with a review of "Second Life" by Jean Claude Bradley. He will demonstrate what it is and discuss how he is using it in his courses and what impact it has. Please join us in Korman 116 at noon on Tuesday, July 24, 2007, to find out about "Second Life" and what it has to offer.

Bring your lunch - IRT will provide drinks and dessert. If you are interested in attending, let us know at olt@drexel.edu so we can save a cookie for you!


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bora and PLoS ONE Need Your Help

Bora Zivkovik recently sent out this request after starting his position as Online Community Coordinator at PLoS ONE. The fact that he actually got this job from recommendations on comments in his blog should be a wake-up call to people who still think social software is about teenage diaries.

See if you can help him out:

So, my #1 goal is to dramatically increase the number of comments and
annotations on the PLoS ONE papers, without compromising their quality.
I have many ideas how to go about it, but I am always interested in hearing others.

Scientists are generally shy about posting stuff online, but a growing number of science bloggers shows that it is possible for them to change their habits! Please help me in that difficult task ;-)

While my CV and the cover letter were fine, what really got me the job were my
blog commenters! They demonstrated my ability to build an online community
better than any Resume can reveal.

- take a look at the visual/psychological effect of the changes I made to the site and give me feedback about it
- test a new application I introduced on the site and let me know how it works and how it can be improved
- post a comment or annotation yourself
- ask the readers of your blog/website/newsgroup/mailing-list to do
some of the above.

In order for you to be able to do this, i.e., to be able to compare the before' and 'after', I'd like you (and your readers and friends/colleagues) to go over the next few days and familiarize yourself with PLoS ONE, its look and feel:


Also, you may want to get more familiar with PLoS as a whole:


...with all of its journals:


...and with the principle of Open Access:


It will also be helpful if you register for the site, subscribe to RSS
feeds of journals, and to e-mail notifications of new articles:


You can also help me if you use
some of these ready-made PR materials:


...and here are some
other ideas of the ways you can help:


You can join the PLoS group and PLoS cause on Facebook and invite all
your 'friends' to join:



One of the first things I am going to do is try to breathe new life into the PLoS Blog and make it a pretty central (and frequently updated) spot on the site. This may also require some re-design:


So it is not a bad idea for you to subscribe to its feed and to check in regularly and post comments. Linking to its posts or placing them on services like digg, delicious and redditt will also be appreciated.

Oh, almost forgot - think about publishing your papers in PLoS-ONE. As long as it is good science and well written, it is acceptable. It does not need to be Earth-shaking, revolutionary stuff that goes to Science or Nature (though that is certainly acceptable!). It does not need to be of 'general interest' either - a very specialized paper is fine.

The pre-publication peer-review is fast and simple - the papers are evaluated on 'correctness' of methodology and writing. Once a paper is accepted and all the editing and modifications (if suggested by reviewers) is done, the average time between the date of acceptance and the date of publication is 19 days. No other journal can beat that!

Then, and this is where I hope you will help me, the post-publication peer-review kicks in. The community at large, over a span of time, decides if the paper is 'Earth-shaking' or not. Thus, unlike on a blog where only the latest posts are commented on, on PLoS ONE papers, comments may appear, with validity, months and years later as new information on a topic comes to life.

Finally, a study by PNAS last year showed that papers published in Open Access are substantially more likely to get cited, than similar papers hidden behind the pay-walls of subscription-only journals.

Also, while currently most of the papers in PLoS ONE are in the biology/genetics/medicine areas, the journal takes anything from math and astronomy to archaeology and anthropology, so please help us become more diverse!

Monday, July 09, 2007

Finding Molecules in Second Life

As I've recently commented, there has been media interest in the use of the virtual online world Second Life for chemistry. We also recently demonstrated on Drexel Island that it was possible to visualize molecular docking using the molecular rezzer developed by Andrew Lang.

Nature Island also hosts several common molecules, including buckyballs. As more people start to experiment with representing chemicals and chemistry research in Second Life it would be nice if such examples were discovered by a simple Google search.

All that really needs to be done to accomplish this is to co-locate molecular descriptors with corresponding SLURLs (Second Life URLs) on the same web page. When clicked, the SLURL will automatically start Second Life and teleport the user to the location where the molecule can be found. If the user does not have Second Life, a page pops up explaining how to set up a free account and download the software. This could be a good way to introduce the mainstream chemical community to new modalities of communicating science.

As for descriptors, I am suggesting that we use InChIs and common names at the very least. Google does a fairly good job of finding molecules by InChI.

I created a wiki,
and seeded it with a molecule from our malaria research that I've used in several places and with caffeine, which is displayed on Nature Island. I invite anyone to contribute to the wiki and add information that could be useful. (The indexing on Google can take a few days for a new wiki)

There are several other ways of creating this index and I think the more redundancy the better. For example, we could make Second Life a "supplier" on ChemSpider. It might also be possible for Andrew's molecule rezzer to note the location of a molecule when it gets created in Second Life and automatically send off an email to a Blogger account to create a post.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Drexel Island Mailing List

I created a mailing list to discuss Drexel's Island on Second Life.

Although I'll still use this blog to post about major events relating to our island, the mailing list will make it easier for users to ask questions and respond.

Trash Can Be Fun

We just had our third Drexel-wide Second Life workshop last Thursday. Most people brought their laptops and we were able to do more hands-on work than previous workshops.

We currently have 10 floors assigned in the main building and Neo has added as many floors as possible (15 total). In fact the top floors are literally in the clouds :)

Beth (Desideria) has also added some more goodies in the School Store. Check out the trash can - just right click it and select harvest - you'll get a free random gift!

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