Saturday, June 23, 2007

High-Tech Beatrice

At the Calit2 event, I also met super-cool computer scientist Cristina Lopes, who demonstrated her wearable search engine for the 3D online multi-user world Second Life. Most obviously, Lopes defied what are now trite outdated stereotypes about women in science. She was there with her young daughter and spoke about her teaching commitments, but she also was eager to represent herself as a programmer and showcase the code.

With her souped-up system, I must say I was very pleased with the zippy performance of the SLBrowser. Much like many Web 1.0 and 2.0 search engines, it uses the metadata associated with the objects and the built environments created by Second Life inhabitants to rank results. Although advertised largely as an online shopping tool, the SLBrowser proved remarkably effective at finding sites for abstract concepts as well as concrete products. I'll admit that I haven't tried the offerings of competing brands, such as Electric Sheep, but with SLBrowser I easily found sites for social interaction for everything from gathering places for those with HIV/AIDS to staging grounds for academic public diplomacy events.

Later, when I actually went into Second Life myself, as Malaise Etoile, my SL avatar, it was easy to get the free browser from their storefront on a commercial street on Neptune. (In the immediate digital vicinity, there was also a support group for agoraphobics, an escort service, and a high-end virtual clothing boutique.)

A word to the wise, however, there are places in Second Life that don't allow the SLBrowser to work. Cristina tells me there's a little icon on top of the SL client, towards the left, that indicates "no scripts," if this is the case. You'll also need to change the size of the frame by clicking on the yellow triangles on the top left of the browser or you may not have a legible display. Because it's free and powerful when it is working, I'd still recommend trying the SLBrowser for yourself. For finding things in Second Life, it is much better than their own proprietary search box and much more efficient than some of the guide books on the shelf.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

It also, unfortunately, lists any residential/private parcel by the parcel name and description. It makes no differentiation. Currently, the only way to avoid being listed appears to be to leave those entries blank, though I have no idea how long it would take to clear existing data or if it would repopulate old data fields with nothing.

Still a lot of work to be done on this one before I can feel warm and fuzzy about it.

Also, it has no way to read items sold only via vendor at this time, or out of a box with a scripted sell process.

Charlene Trudeau

11:21 PM  

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