|HVX: Machinimista Extraordinaire|
Silverstar first came to Second Life in October 2006 with her first avatar, who is now on the teen grid. At this time, she works entirely on the main grid – and according to her, “I say ‘work’, but that’s how I see Second Life, as an extension of what I do, or would like to do, on my job.”
When she first heard about intellectual property issues on Second Life, she immediately logged in, and couldn’t even make it to the library for a tour. She then listened to a podcast about movie capture, and she was hooked. She thought that she would solve all her Second Life navigation problems by capturing movies and watching them, as she is a self-described visual learner.
Having become thoroughly involved in ‘capturing movies’ in Second Life, Silverstar now simply buys new hard disks, one terabyte at a time – something that most of the rest of us are still far from doing.
For Silverstar, the importance of Second Life is that it’s international, it’s all right to make mistakes, and it’s an environment where we don’t have to hold back or remember what department we’re in or what our job description is. We can take advantage of the technology to extend our skills and our creativity. She finds these characteristics in Second Life, where they may not be present in real life environments. She would like to see more organizations in real life using Second Life for its creative opportunities, team building potential and similar traits.
When asked about machinima, she waxes enthusiastic. Silverstar sees machinima as an economical way to create media and to allow individuals to express themselves and create content. Added to these is the benefit of being able to express or demonstrate a point in a visual manner. Machinima is not a substitution for actually performing a task, but it is a reflection of that task that can be a very effective learning tool for people.
In real life, Silverstar was born in the United Kingdom and moved to Canada later on with her family. After attending library school at the University of Western Ontario, she went back to England, where she was on the staff of UKOLN – the UK Office for Library Networking, located at the University of Bath. Her greatest experience at UKOLN was simply ‘finding her people again;’ she says that “going home is a powerful experience.”
She has now been in the US for nine years, and is currently at the University of California at Davis. She was asked to participate in a health informatics conference, which in real life offers her the opportunity to work closely with the health informatics department and also psychiatry; she is now liaison to both departments. Based upon this experience, she has been invited to speak internationally and has been to South Africa, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Singapore, among other countries. (She is a wonderful example of how being a librarian can make one a very experienced worldwide traveler!)
In addition to her university experience, she was at an earlier time employed by other types of libraries. She was at the Maricopa County Library District in Arizona for several years, managing the Fountain Hills branch, which was featured as a tour stop for the Public Libraries Association conference in Phoenix in 2002.
Silverstar would like to put more emphasis on training and supporting staff as they gain new skills. She believes that this is the only way to keep libraries relevant as they are catapulted along. She thinks that at least some of this training can take place in Second Life, which she describes as a clean new environment with freedom to do what one cannot do in real life.
Second Life offers to Silverstar a sense of camaraderie. She has friends in Second Life – people with whom she has worked over the past two years who have inspired her and yet whom she has never met. Her machinimas are an inspiration to all of us, and fortunately are widely available on YouTube. She’s currently working on a series that can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbr9YAXOWDE&fmt=22. She has also recently put together a series of six videos about the Golden Leaf Awards – if you haven’t yet seen them, you should log onto YouTube to check them out.
Silverstar has her real life hands full with three children at university, but she says that “standing on the chairs and tables is most definitely one of the compelling reasons I am here in Second Life!” Welcome out most recent Volunteer of the Month!