SLiterary – writers journal in Second Life

Posted by jerry on October 15th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

A while back I joined an online writers discussion group in virtual world Second Life – one of the things they discussed was the forthcoming issue of SLiterary journal – a literary arts journal in Second Life and using fictions based on or in second life. The journal pays real world rates for stories.

Sliterary journal

You can pick up the latest edition of the magazine in-world or download the PDF (or click on the image).

The journal is interesting as it is an old media format crossing into new media. The fact that it is primarily available as a notecard in SL means that the reader has to be new-media savvy and familiar with how this virtual world works. It requires a form of new media literacy to access the journal – although it will subsequently be released as a web-based document too.

The journal is edited by a real-world journalist and supported by a small editorial team. The whole thing is paid for by advertising sponsorship – mainly companies with a presence in Second Life. We are a long way from seeing writers able to support themselves on Second Life journalism, but it is interesting to see the first signs of Second Life being taken seriously by old(er) media. The presence of old(er) media in Secondlife is growing with sites like the Australian ABC broadcast media proving quite popular. I suspect it will not be too long before serious academically refereed journals appear in SL. Already there are signs that SL is being taken seriously by major educational institutions, such as MIT and used as a teaching space for new media literacies.


Unique pens

Posted by jerry on October 14th, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

These are unique pens – they are made from the timber with which I made the Bushfire table.

The reddish pen is from some jarrah I had left over from making the table aprons and the lighter pen is from the ribbon gum – the tree that burnt in our front yard during the 2003 Canberra Bushfires – that I used to make the table top and legs.

handmade pens

The fountain pen was a bit trickier – but is also made from the ribbon gum tree from the bushfire – this one I made for Sharon.

handmade pens


Dining table – a finishing touch

Posted by jerry on October 13th, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

Keeping the frame light and unobtrusive, yet strong enough for a long wide dining table meant I had to use knockdown bolts to keep the structure tight. But that left some unsightly holes where the nut/dowels were inserted to intersect with the bolts. So, a decorative trim was in order.

table design

I took some Australian red maple left over from the bookcases and used the roundel cutter in the drill. Then sanded off the outside risers and glued them each side of the table legs on the apron – it adds a nice feature to the table 🙂



Why write in English?

Posted by jerry on October 9th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, New media, Technology, Writing

That was the question posed by Slovenian virtual world expert Alja Sulčič. The dilemma is that most readers of commentary on virtual worlds are native English speakers, but with English as a second language, there is always the issue of whether something has been expressed poorly or simplistically due to limitations of vocabulary.

That’s certainly something Alja doesn’t have to worry about as her English is as good as most native speakers – but here she has an advantage insofar as she is able to think in more than one language – potentially increasing the available structural metaphors and moving beyond what ‘goes without saying’.

For that reason I try not to restrict myself purely to English language websites – I have a very little French language and try to extend myself there, but also I use machine language translation tools, like Alta Vista’s Babelfish – imperfect, but then I try to interpret beyond the words into what were the key concepts the writer was seeking to express. And that is an amazingly useful thing to do because the translations make me see my own language in new ways, such as where different root morphemes have led to different terms for things.

An example is the French word for computer – ‘ordinateur’ – think of roots of English words like ‘coordinate’ – and suddenly you have a picture, not of a calculator (from counting stones) but of a bringing together, or juxtaposing – which is a more accurate description from user’s perspective of, for example the results of internet searches.

In short, I recognise the dilemma but urge writers using English as their second language to keep writing in English, but also to write in their own language too – as that serves to extend the expressive power of the internet, cuts across the hegemony of English and demonstrates the remarkable gift that some people have of being able to think in two or more languages – thus extending the thinks you can think!

Table update – finished at last!

Posted by jerry on October 7th, 2007 — Posted in DIY, Journal, Woodwork

Okay it’s been a while – lots of sanding and two coats of Rustins Plastic Coating then a final sand at 1500 grit and then an organoil wax/oil finish with lots of buffing. But here is the finished table

dining table

And it’s a table with a story. Back on 18 January 2003, the Canberra Bushfire – the Great Fire of Canberra came through our suburb without warning. Within hours Canberra lost 563 houses – including five houses out of eighteen in my street, and four lives were lost. Next door neighbour’s house was badly burnt and we lost the garden and fences – and our front door mat – we were lucky.

Canberra bushfires

Our ribbon gum tree out the front was not so lucky, it caught fire about the time the wind changed and put us back in the business of saving the house. The gum tree dominated the yard, but was too far gone to save. So about a fortnight later we had the tree felled – but in the process I located a bloke at Hall with a portable Lucas saw mill. So I got the tree fellers to leave the trunk next to the road and in the afternoon a truck arrived and took the trunk away to to be milled. I spent that Friday at the saw mill learning how to mill my tree into boards.

When I saw the number of boards I thought then that I would make a new dining table from the timber. I stacked and stickered the timber in my shed to dry slowly up until a month ago when I figured that I had some holidays, I had the technology, and the time had come to make a fine dining table.

Hopefully I’ve done justice to the the tree and to what it represents – hope out of a devastating natural disaster.

dining table

The Legs are ribbon-gum (Eucalyptus viminaris), as is the main part of the top, and the aprons and breadboard ends are from jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) which provides a nice contrast.

It’s been a lot of work but well worth it to see the finished table 🙂