Montag, 26. Januar 2015

Interview: Dabici Straulino

The "Hyperzette" reported about the Christmas Market on the Grid "CreaNovale" of the Canadian Lady Dabici Straulino. Right now we have finished a series of reviews of the grid as a whole. Main chance to get an exclusive interview of Dabici.
Kelso Uxley (l) and Dabici Straulino (r)

Hello Dabici, as always my first question is: How did it all started in the virtual worlds and let me guess, it was Second Life?

As part of a career shift move, I began graduated studies in ‘Creativity and Change Leadership’ at State University of New York (SUNY) in summer 2009. This is an international program with half of the courses on site and half at distance. As part of a fall course on creativity assessment, we had to work in small teams with colleagues scattered around the world. If you want to learn more about Creative Studies programs at the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY and the upcoming MOOC on
How to ignite Everyday Creativity see:
Although students were free to select the online platform they wanted to use for their collaborative work, in fall 2009, our instructor suggested that we could also consider using Second Life. Nobody in the group had a clue what Second Life was, and only two of us gave it a try. I believe that our openness to try it, was due to the fact that we both had played Myst and that our previous academic backgrounds made us less stressed by an upcoming course with strong probability and statistics component.
We got some instructions on how to register an avatar, download a viewer and how to find Buffalo State College virtual campus. I registered on August 25, 2009 with a werewolf avatar…
At first entry, I was immediately amazed by the possibilities that I could envision for such platform and my next question was
‘can I learn fast enough how to use such platform and is there training available ?’.
The first training I found was the ‘3D Online Pass’ offered by the Volkshochschule (VHS) Goslar in Germany with sims in SL, OSGrid and Metropolis. I subsequently registered in fall 2010 to the 3 semester ‘Virtual World Certificate’ which was offered by the University of Washington. In spring 2011, our cohort created the Maya Island, which integrated three main facets of Mayan culture: Myths & Spirituality, Health & Medicine and Astronomy and Agriculture. I created the agriculture component of the island, which reflected both my background and interest in agricultural science and history. This particular experience with UW contributed to confirm my impression of the potential of 3D virtual immersive environments (VIEs) for learning, training, collaboration and creativity.
My vision of this potential is nicely encapsulated by the Seven Sensibilities of VIEs coined by Kapp & Driscoll (2010):
Sense of Self
Death of Distance
Power of Presence
Sense of Space
Capability to Co-Create
Pervasiveness of Practice
Enrichment of Experience
Kapp, Karl M., & O'Driscoll, Tony. (2010). Learning in 3D : adding a new dimension to enterprise learning and collaboration. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

When and why did you change to Opensim ?

As part of the UW certificate, we were exposed to different VIE platforms such as Second Life, 3DXplorer, Unity, Opensim, Vastpark, Bluemars, Twinity. In early 2011, I spent a few months in InWorldz. It was then in its early development; the lag was quite important; and, after a while, I left. My coming to Opensim really started in November 2012 with one SIM on OSGrid. It has been a slow development. Moving from SL to OpenSim at that time was like moving from a large city to a rural environment. You are faced with a limited affordance (fewer people, limited communication, less products and tools) which, however, can be a great incentive to keep learning and deepening your skills and abilities.
In June 2014, my partner in RL and I decided to take advantage of recent development of Opensim, now supporting Variable regions, to update our region to a VAR 2x2 region and adding a second one. Then in mid August 2014, OSGrid crashed and forced us to reassess our situation and to examine other options. We finally opted to having our own private grid, a process which was greatly facilitated by the quality and diversity of hosting services offered by Dreamland Metaverse who was already hosting our OSGrid regions.
Why Opensim?
Many factors have influenced our decision to bid on Opensim for our future development: lower price for land, no fees on imports, higher limits of prims, possibility to save IAR and OAR, no bounding box around sculpties, integration of mesh and bullet physic capabilities, improvement of viewers, development of hypergrid, variable regions and our increased confidence in our own complementary abilities in building and scripting. We are still present in SL; it is like keeping a little week-end loft in a big city, but since we decided to develop training programs, we did not want to develop original training material and curriculum in the context of SL Intellectual Property Policy.

Visiting the CreaNovale Grid, one can see that it directs the attention to the topic: Creativity. Would you please tell the readers more about that ?

Crea will become primarily a creativity awareness building region, to raise awareness about WHY creativity is important in today’s increasingly complex and rapidly changing world, WHAT is creativity beyond arts, WHY creativity should be approached as a system, WHAT the creative problem solving and design thinking processes are all about, WHAT is the relation between creativity, learning, innovation, change and leadership.
The program activities, with registered access, will be targeting primarily at small community groups or geographically distributed work teams and will focus on HOW to foster and facilitate people and team creativity, HOW to develop and support a creative climate and HOW to implement creative problem solving processes.
In early 2015, Crea is still in its very early development. There are some of the supporting structures – eg. places and buildings but much remains to be built. Currently there are only a few content artefacts ‘rezzed’ here and there, with very little and no explanations. This will develop over the coming year.
Novale will be used more for our pet projects by Kelso and I. Beyond exploring the possibilities and affordance of virtual worlds as a platform to offer creativity, creative problem solving and change leadership training, Kelso and I have found a new mean of expression and we want to keep a free place just to play, to experiment for fun, to explore and create.

Is the theme creativity also a part of your RL living and if yes in which matter ?

I am a creative everyday person. Abraham Maslow was making the distinction between ‘self-actualized creativity’ (everyday creativity) and ‘special talent’ (eminent creativity). Everyday’s creativity has more to do with lifestyle and thinking style, less with the product or more with the journey and less with the destination; it can be compared to the difference between design thinking and design.
My first career was driven by my original academic background in agricultural science, where I gained experience in agriculture, market and policy development, in various roles e.g. officer, expert, advisor, manager and director, with a unifying bottom line way to operate as change agent.
My mid-career decision to consider making a M.Sc. in Creativity and Change Leadership was naturally unfolding from my interests and work experience, notwithstanding the many relations and parallels that can be drawn between creativity as a system (person-product-climate and products) and agriculture.
So, in which matter…? ‘Matter’ does reflect the more common perception on the domains usually associated with creativity. In such context, I can say that many my hobbies would fit as creative hobbies: e.g. painting, photography, flute, building virtual immersive environments. In the broader sense, I am a qualified creativity trainer, facilitator, and program developer with a particular interest for organizational and community creativity.

As far as I know CreaNovale is one or more Var regions. How big is the grid ?

As of early 2015, the grid CreaNovale is still in its early development. The grid is a private grid hosted by Dreamland Metaverse and it is hypergrid enabled. The grid currently consists in 2 VAR 2x2 regions: Crea and Novale. The current set up of the grid will change soon. We are considering to change both size and relative position of our two regions and to add a 3rd one, to which we would restrict access to registered program participants. We do not envision further expansion of the grid in the mid-term and its future growth will be determined by how much space we need for our programs. Registration of avatars on CreaNovale will also be limited to program participants and collaborators.  Hypergrid visitors will continue to be welcomed on our current two regions.

Is it just you, designing the entire grid or do you have helping hands ?

With respect to the creativity program, I am the main developer. Additional contributors are not excluded in the future. For the time being though, I must admit that most of my colleagues (creativity facilitators and trainers) have no clue about the potential application of virtual worlds to the domain.  With respect to building the sims and structures, I am the main builder but Kelso (who is also my RL partner), is getting more and more involved and fortunately is building a growing interest and capacity in scripting. Kelso embodied both the role of helping mind and helping hands.

One of your building styles reaches into Steampunk or can one say it is Steampunk ? But also I have seen other styles and you have told me that you do build replicas from real existing or formerly existing buildings in Canada (If i remember that right). Can you tell a bit more about that ?

As a passionate hobby builder I do not see myself limited to a particular style. I must admit though that I do have an aesthetic ‘penchant’ for bricks and rusted metal and that I love the imagination, humor and craftsmanship of Steampunk artists; I also have a passion for old photography notably from the Victorian and Edwardian periods. This said, so far in SL, I have built in a variety of styles including medieval, slum, Victorian, Renaissance, retro, early American civilizations, etc..
One of my pet projects which will unfold in the coming year is the reconstitution of the ‘Champlain Market Hall’ which existed in Quebec City between 1856-1910. I learned about this Market Hall through my interest in vintage photos and stereoviews. The Market Hall was located in the old town, along the St-Lawrence River, in an area where many houses were built in early 18th century, during the Nouvelle France period. As part of this project, I will aim to create an old town atmosphere inspired by the architecture of that period with most of textures developed from my own photos of historical buildings. By the way, Kelso and I are both quebequers.
On Novale, there is currently a little church which is a remake of a small little private historic chapel located on the country side near Quebec. The rational to make it was simply because I found myself in love with it and had taken enough pictures to create the textures.

Will CreaNovale stay an own grid for the next future ?

Yes, it will. With the development of hypergrid, it is less essential to be registered and hooked to a big grid to visit other grids and regions and receive visitors from other regions and grids.

What are the plans for the future ?

In the near future, we will continue to improve our two current regions and add a third one. Priority will be given then to finalize the development of Crea – both in term of structure and content, to develop the first element of training programs and to bring forward our pet project with the market hall plus a special exhibit on its history.

Thanks for answering the questions. 

Interviewpartner: Dabici Straulino, Creanovale Grid
For the "Hyperzette" : zaphod Enoch

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