Wednesday, April 9, 2008


RSS stands for Rich Summary Site or Really Simple Syndication; it is an XML format for sharing headlines and content from your favorite websites. “The name "RSS" is an umbrella term for a format that spans several different versions of at least two different (but parallel) formats” (Pilgrim, 2002, p. 1). The original .90 version by Netscape was formatted primarily for the sharing of news via portals. A simpler version followed (0.91) and was picked by UserLand software. UserLand continued to experiment with various forms of RSS until it evolved to 2.0.

Today RSS is not just for news. Anything that can be broken down and formatted can syndicate through RSS. Changing news or related information can be forwarded directly to you by RSS, thus saving the user from seeking this very information from individual web sites or blogs. RSS allows the user to keep up to date on new information from a variety of sources: sports, travel updates, latest YouTube videos or even new music on iTunes. These are only a few examples, if you are new to RSS visit “35 Ways to Use RSS” which gives plenty of useful feeds for RSS information you never knew existed, some are a little different.

When I started this RSS assignment, I had no idea what information to deliver to myself. Do I even need news updates? I read the Arizona Republic every day! Upon reading the blog, “35 Ways to Use RSS,” I found a RSS feed to NFL teams with links- perfect! I signed onto Google Reader because I already have Gmail and wouldn’t have to create yet another account. I had a little difficulty in determining how to get the feed to work but realized how easy it is when I found the subscribe button. Just click on the subscribe button on the lower left side of the home page, browse and locate RSS feeds that are compatible with Google Reader. I easily subscribed to news from USA Today, Greenbay and The Arizona Cardinals. The Arizona Cardinals news is actually a blog. I want to experience updated blog information on the Cardinals and compare any content updates or differences between a blog and news websites. Now, I can sit back and let the news come directly to me, how simple.


Introduction to RSS. (2003, April 14). Retrieved April 7, 2008, from

Pilgrim, M.(2002, December 18). What is RSS? Retrieved April 8, 2008, from

Rubel, S. (2006, June 19).Micropersuasion: 35 ways to use RSS. Retrieved April 8, 2008 from

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Second Life

Second life is a unique shared experience created in 1999 by Philip Rosedale in San Francisco. Rosedale's "Linden lab" employs over 200 people in the United States, Europe and Asia. To begin the virtual experience, each new player creates a digital onscreen character called an avatar which can be personalized with specific clothing, objects such as wild hair, wings, leather accessories etc. This is not a "game" but rather a 3-D virtual world whereby the linden grid allows a player to visit various communities, clubs, countries, entertainment circles, concerts and even create their own environment (Linden Lab, 2008).

The social network environment is how this experience is unique. The people within the game can purchase Linden dollars that can be traded for US dollar (real money!) and thus land can be purchased, businesses opened to sell merchandise, admission charged for nightclubs, software sold for specific purposes and even college courses can be attended with the students interacting in this second life community. Many players have made actual money by becoming real estate moguls, software creators, and selling of licensed games within the second life game-sounds impossible but this is happening. What makes all the above appeal to users is the fact that each character has ownership of what is created in second life. All the characters act as citizens and work together to build and form the type of community, a better virtual world in which they wish to share. Money can be spent and earned by doing this. Some have spent as much as 100,000 US dollars-real money- and others are making thousands of US dollars yearly by their inventions (My virtual life, 2006).

Working together as a community is why this is a classic example of a social network. The participants are not merely there for entertainment, although this is the appeal, but to interact with their friends, meet new people, share in travel, explore, build, sell, invest in stocks and create. Second life is entertainment, a social connection, social interaction and gives the player full ownership via property rights for their creations in the game.

If you are new to second life Youtube has a video which explains how the game works and gives a deeper insight to why one may want to entertain themselves in this game. It is titled "Introduction to Second life" and was made in the UK. View it by going to:
My character in second life character is Tulle Grun, in photo above. I began my experience by changing my generic hair and outfit to represent my style. I didn’t want to be viewed as a newbie by all the avatar people. Next, to the disco I went. The music was great but it was not a busy night in the disco, but this was a good opportunity to figure out the controls for my avatar such as sitting, standing, changing my appearance and photographing my character as well. Teleporting was my next feat and is easy to do. I traveled from the disco, to the mall, to a concert. The concert was packed and had some interesting avatar characters. At this concert is where a lot happened. Someone gave me $20 in Linden money and invited me to be part of their group. I was leery at first accepting the money but since I was broke I took the chance and was invited to join a social group as well. I am now part of Purple Angel VIP Group and have been invited to many events by e-mail communication. The only problem with many of these invites is they all cost Linden money and I am broke after spending my money on snapshots to include in this blog. Being part of this virtual experience is strange, but it does feel as though you are socializing and having something in common with others. It doesn’t feel real to me but is rather like playing a 3-D advanced game of paper dolls.

There is a downside to playing in a virtual environment. The sexual freedom characteristic involved in role playing and seeing naked people walking around (orientation especially) is weird and uncomfortable. The sexual facet is unnecessary in my view and should be eliminated; however, if this game parallels our amoral real world, sexual inclusion may actually be a draw for many users. The second aspect that I found odd is virtual Linden money being exchanged for real money and the potential for abuse in getting caught up in a virtual world spending money you don’t have. It just seems foolish to spend real money on virtual merchandise and services. This is where the virtual social experience is blurred with the real world. The whole concept is bizarre and I don’t think I would spend my real money here.

Attending class or courses in a virtual world such as second life would definitely be a new experience. I think the experience would be most useful working in groups to complete a project, more like a team building experience. This would require a good amount of time and would be better suited as a classroom exercise rather than a work related activity. Preferrably, if in a classroom in this virtual world, I would prefer a regular type classroom to start and then it would be okay to venture into other worldly introductions. Second life as a teaching tool can be useful if the class is combined with other aspects of internet, software and interpersonal interaction rather than second life alone.


Linden Lab. (2008). Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:

My Virual Life. (2006, May 6). Business Weekly. Retrieved April 3rd,
2008 from:

Newitz, Analee. (2006, September 1). Your second life is ready.
[Electronic Version]. Popular Science. No pagination.
Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from:

SusiSpicoli. (2006, September 6). Introduction to Second Life.
YouTube. Retreived April 3rd, 2008 from: