Archive for August, 2007

Condom Tac Toe, pamphlets, new quality links, map, historical posters and flowers!

August 26, 2007

Condom - O wins ;-)26 August 2007: We have a new two-player board game, Condom Tac Toe (pictured below). Come with your friend(s) and play by the ocean, while listening to soothing music streamed over our SIM’s audio channel! The game’s key message is ‘Safe Sex Always!’ 

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Condom Tac Toe!

Other additions: There are free sexual health pamphlets below the laptop in the glass building. Please help yourself! We have also added new links, including ‘DIPEx Sexual Health of Young People Module’ and more, to the blue http cube, which is now also animated. The voice-enabled STDs info kiosk/atlas beside the cube also has an additional slide/link to an ‘Interactive Map of STDs in London PCTs, 1997-2003’.* And lastly, we have some new giant flowers beside the fountain. Enjoy!

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Pamphlets, new links, map and flowers!  (Inset: The new pamphlets rack; touch to get a pamphlet.)

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Historical STDs posters stand.

*The map is described in Boulos et al. Int J Health Geogr. 2005 Jan 18;4:4.
P.S. A Notice entitled ‘UK: Rise in sex infections continues’ (with a Notecard attachment about the latest UK STIs stats from HPA has been sent today to members of our in-world public group.


Live meetings in 3-D virtual worlds vs. conventional interactive webcasting / Web videoconferencing

August 24, 2007

For those attending in-world, 3-D virtual worlds like Second Life add emotion / pseudo-body language communication (thanks to sophisticated avatars — closer to face-to-face contacts, but less “threatening” / with more “protection” for those needing this) and a shared pseudo-physical 3-D space. These features are lost when watching a live Second Life broadcast on SLCN–Second Life Cable Network or via Mogulus (if you don’t already know this, Mogulus can be used to broadcast / stream in-world events live to the Web, when combined with tools like ManyCam, which can be set to directly stream a user’s Windows Desktop/Second Life client instead of a webcam–Windows Vista users having difficulty capturing / streaming sound can additionally use SoundTap). (To do the reverse, e.g., stream a RL surgical operation live in Second Life, you will need a service that outputs in QuickTime like Veodia.)

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M.N.K. Boulos‘ comment on above slide from IBM (click to enlarge): A 3-D virtual world offers a shared virtual space, enabling students and tutors to feel more naturally, closely and strongly together because of the shared spatial dimension, which can also have other educational uses during a voice conferencing session, including scenarios involving avatars and various in-world objects. You don’t get the same shared pseudo-physical spatial dimension in conventional flat text (and emoticons) / voice / video conferencing and chatting over the Web.
(To see the above slide in-world, visit Info Island (54, 95, 36).)

A custom Intute search engine for our in-world visitors

August 24, 2007

24 August 2007: We have just installed a custom Intute search engine inside the glass building in our SIM (pictured below). The object was created and donated by SL:Csteph Submariner and lets the owner specify multiple search terms on a notecard inside it. We currently have four search terms specified, covering sexual health and related topics.

Intute is a free UK online service providing access to the very best Web resources for education and research. All material in the Intute database is evaluated and selected by a network of subject specialists from a consortium of seven UK universities. ‘Intute: Health and Life Sciences’ is led by the University of Nottingham.

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Our custom Intute search engine retrieves quality search results from and displays them in-world.

Latest stats: Our Technorati blog authority is now 14 (up from 5 at the beginning of August 2007). Also our overview machinima clip has been watched 5,679 times during the first month after its posting on YouTube (25 Jul 07 – 24 Aug 07 noon BST). Our in-world public group launched on 10 August 2007 now has 42 members as at 24 August 2007 @ 13:00 BST (up from 25 members on 12 August 2007), and as at 23 August 2007, our SIM received more than 340 unique visitors/avatars since our initial launch on 12 July 2007, up from about 210 unique visitors on 11 August 2007 (12 Jul 07 – 11 Aug 07) — the corresponding figures with repeat visitors would be much higher. The total visitor-minutes spent on our land during the past 12 days (12 Aug 07 – 23 Aug 07, owner minutes excluded) was >850 minutes.

A visitor from Singapore!

August 14, 2007

Vanessa Tan (SL:Vantan Gray) visited our SIM today and blogged about it on her blog–read her article:
Sexual Health in Second Life (15 August 2007) –

She also uploaded a nice Flickr collection of snapshots that she took during her visit to our SIM:

Vanessa works at the Health Promotion Board of Singapore, handling the new media aspects of their HIV/AIDS campaigns. Welcome Vanessa!

Snapshot by Namro Orman.Guus van den Brekel (SL:Namro Orman), who oversees HealthInfo Island with Carol Perryman (SL:Carolina Keats), also visited our SIM this week and blogged about it:
Sexual Health Info Station! (14 August 2007) –

A new interactive STDs info kiosk / atlas with voice

August 12, 2007

12 August 2007: We now have a new interactive mulitmedia STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) info kiosk/atlas with voice (pictured below). It is located by the fountain, beside the blue ‘http’ cube in our SIM. Operating the new kiosk is very simple. Touch the <o> arrows to navigate the slides/topics; touch a slide to listen to associated voice narration (thanks to Microsoft Anna) or load associated material (PowerPoint quiz game or Web page). The aim of the new kiosk is to send a serious and strong message about STDs to young adults visiting our SIM. Happy learning!

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Our new interactive STDs info kiosk/atlas with voice narration. The pre-recorded voice files are stored on the Web outside Second Life to ensure faster access, and also to avoid playing them in-world, (which may annoy other visitors in our SIM), and give our visitors more individual control over voice clip playback without interference by others.

Other news: Our public group launched on 10 August 2007 now has 25 members as at 12 August 2007 @ 20:30 BST, including three admin members (the core project team). We have also installed a new advanced traffic monitor that can track repeat, as well as unique/new visitors, and provide us with useful statistics, including visitors per day, peak visitors and total time visiting (owner’s visits are not counted/monitored). The latter statistic (‘total time visiting’) can serve as a rough measure of visitors’ interest in/perceived utility of our SIM (see this related news item: [1]).

Resources on Sexual Health

August 11, 2007

11 August 2007: The Sexual Health SIM represents a synthesis of current approaches to both MUVEs and sexual health. More content on sexual health is under development, including its socio-cultural context.

Key resources that we have consulted and are currently using to guide the development of this content include the UK’s Independent Advisory Group on Sexual Health and HIV/AIDs publications and selected peer reviewed articles on interventions targeting sexual health. For an excellent perspective on the social and contextual factors contributing to HIV/AIDS, see Logan, Cole, & Leukefeld’s (2002) meta-analysis in the latter.

Hand-picked Web resources that our SIM visitors currently have access to via in-world links include:

Join our new in-world public group (L$0)

August 11, 2007

10 August 2007: Designing a proper 3-D virtual world service in Second Life presents a social engineering challenge. As Kemp [1] stresses, this is not (just) one of ‘technology and scripting’ but of ‘community scaffolds’. Second Life is part of the Web 2.0 movement, which is all about people and online communities/social networks [2,3].

Second Life is a unique and rich 3-D social networking experience. It allows people from all over the world to meet, share objects and collaborate in many novel ways, using a comprehensive and well-integrated suite of asynchronous and synchronous multimodal communication tools. One of these powerful social networking/ communication tools is the ‘Groups’ functionality in Second Life.

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Our public in-world ‘Sexual Health SIM’ group. Joining this group is FREE (L$0) and open to anyone in Second Life. Note our new ‘Touch to join our Group’ ball inside our glass building.

We have now created a new in-world public ‘Sexual Health SIM’ group (pictured above) for young adults and health educators interested in our subject. (Creating a new group in Second Life costs L$100. This is our second group; we have another private/closed group limited to the project’s core team and tied to our land, which we created at the start of the project to enable us to collaboratively create and edit objects on our parcel.)

It is hoped that our new public group and communication channel, and the material/info and forthcoming event notifications that will be exchanged through it, will grow to attract and accommodate dozens or even hundreds of users and supporters over the course of the project. The group has been set so that all members can:

  • Invite others/friends to join the group;
  • Join Calls/Send group IMs (Instant Messages/group chat that can reach all group members, irrespective of their locations in-world, with a single click — we will be closely monitoring this functionality for any abuse/spam and will eject abusers from the group);
  • Receive Notices and view past Notices; and
  • Vote on Proposals.

The new group charter reads as follows:

An open group/communication forum dedicated to ‘Sexual Health’ public education and outreach in Second Life.


The group covers Sexual Health topics like Sexually Transmitted Infections and Contraception. Joining this group is FREE!

The group is branded with the University of Plymouth logo. You can find the group and join it in-world, if you search for Groups and type in ‘Sexual Health SIM’. Visitors to our SIM can also request to join the group by simply touching the ‘white ball with the University of Plymouth logo’ inside our glass building (the new ball is also pictured above).

Our latest in-world visitor statistics show that we have had more than 210 unique visitors/avatars in the first four weeks after our initial launch, between 12 July 2007 and 10 August 2007, up from about 160 unique visitors on 4 August 2007 (12 Jul 07 – 4 Aug 07) — the corresponding figures with repeat visitors would be much higher.  

Ask Alice a question!

August 5, 2007

5 August 2007: Want to chat or ask a question but cannot find someone to talk to during your visit to our SIM? Alice, our new 24/7 in-house resident “expert” (pictured below), might be able to help you and also put a smile on your RL face! She never gets tired, but won’t allow you to repeat the same words over and over again. She will even direct you to some suitable Web sites if she is unable to fully understand your question/answer you!

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Ask Alice (our pseudo-intelligent chatbot) a question about contraception or STIs! Alice can be found 24/7 inside our glass building. Click her to hear a warm ‘Welcome’ in a female voice and then start chatting with her! Inset: Human help is also available using our new ‘online tracker’ gadget, which visitors can use to send us instant messages when we are in-world but not in our SIM.

Our ‘Alice chatterbot’ is intended to present some simple facts about contraception and STIs in a fun way, but cannot replace consultation with a real human expert. For best results, try including common keywords like ‘condom’ or ‘herpes’ in your questions, and only ask her simple questions, e.g., ‘What is…’ or ‘Tell me some info about…’ type of questions. (Her answers may sound silly or out of context sometimes, but at least will never harm you or offer you incorrect facts/info.)

Maged built this gadget using only one prim (plus L$20 to upload Alice’s picture and voice), and powered it by creating a modified version of SL:Dedric Mauriac’s public domain Eliza Chatbot script. (A second script is also included to play Alice’s sound when a user clicks the gadget.)

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We have also uploaded a few useful slides about the prevention of STIs into our in-world PowerPoint Viewer, which is located by the sea in our open-air seminar area. (Our 3-prim Slide Viewer object is a creation of SL:Eloise Pasteur and can be obtained from her in-world vendor at the ICT Library Shop.)

Our latest in-world visitor statistics show that we have had more than 160 unique visitors/avatars in the first three weeks after our initial launch, between 12 July 2007 and 4 August 2007 (the figure with repeat visitors would be much higher for the same period — the corresponding SL traffic figures for our SIM fluctuated up and down between 10 and >300 over the same three-week period; SL traffic calculation takes into account the length of visits), but our YouTube video has been viewed more than 1500 times between 25 July 2007 and 4 August 2007! Also during the same short period of about three weeks our blog’s Technorati Authority jumped from 0 to 5! (This blog entry describes a similar observation: “a SL presence has a ‘long tail of impact’ (including on the Web, outside SL) that’s measured in more than the number of avatars in any one place at any one point in time”.)

Automatic tracking of visitors’ interest in, and interaction details with, specific individual objects in our SIM would be more useful, though also technically much trickier to implement and sometimes not feasible, reliably or at all, with some object types/scenarios. But thanks to our in-world questionnaire tool we are still able to gain some insight about (some) users’ preferences/interest in, or dislike of, partcular objects or aspects of our SIM.

Voice at last!

August 3, 2007

3 August 2007: Our SIM is now fully-voice enabled, but visitors will have to install the latest main Second Life viewer from Linden Lab to make use of the new feature (some of the elements of the new voice interface are pictured below). Read more at

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Voice at last!

Access the latest CDC podcasts in-world

August 1, 2007

1 August 2007: Visitors to our SIM can now click a giant podcast player (pictured below) to start browsing and listening to the latest podcasts from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A few of the featured podcasts are about Sexual Health/STIs, e.g., ‘HIV/AIDS and Women’. Users can continue listening to the podcasts after leaving our SIM/teleporting elsewhere.

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Our podPlayer (powered by allows our SIM visitors to access and listen to the latest podcasts from the US CDC.

Latest news media coverage of our project: