This Gamasutra article explores one Google Earth gaming project. Mars Sucks takes up the scavenger hunt model and adds some shooting. Interesting structure, using a PHP script to get content from Google servers, interacting with local KML files.
I just found an educational project which reminded me of an idea I once wanted to implement earlier in my career. Sf author David Brin cocreated the Exorarium, a museum variant where participants help create alien life forms. It's a first contact pedagogy.
Back at Centenary College, I dreamed up a first-year seminar along related lines, emphasizing interdisciplinary thinking and learning. The goal: for small groups to collaboratively create an alien world. Each week a different faculty member would teach from their speciality. For example, as astronomer would teach planetary formation during the first two classes, and each group would build a world. Next week, a biologist would introduce biomes; each group would then add life to their worlds. The following week a geologist leads the groups to construct weather systems and spatial diversity. Sociology: the creation of societies. And so on. Ultimately a writing instructor would lead each group in sharing their world with the rest of the class (and campus).
Notice that Google is missing, since they cut their own social answer effort. Microsoft and Amazon remain in the field as big corporate players. But they, and other, lesser known entities, lag significantly behind socially-minded Yahoo!, in Roush's estimate.
Are there any other studies in this field? Kudos to Roush for the work.
I'm reading and enjoying Peter Watts' Starfish (1999), thanks to Steven Kaye's recommendation. So far the plot concerns an attempt to build a power station upon seabottom crevice, and the perilous mental states of workers. Brooding, intense, sneaky stuff. Some fine writing so far:
Ballard makes a strangled sound and dives into the mud. The benthic ooze boils up around her in a seething cloud; she disappears in a torrent of planktonic corpses.
If Google Reader aggregated and displayed how many people Shared each post and then calculated the most popular ones and displayed them in a separate label (like they have for Stared and Shared) they could have a feature that kills Digg!
I could see this approach applied to political news as well, a la Memeorandum and Tailrank. Or, and more likely, to Google's own news project, Google News. Google would have to emphasize this sharing feature much more strongly than it currently does.
I've been impressed by the recent improvements in Google Reader (cf Alan Levine's jubilation, which shows a big change after he and I talked about this a year ago). Not enough to jump ship from Bloglines, which I love, use, and teach, but perhaps this social angle is the deal-maker.
Intellagirl has a great post offering a taxonomy of virtual spaces. It's a nifty approach to thinking through MMOGs, Second Life, and Web 2.0 all at once. Headers include relationships with other users, document/object ownership, size of user base, persistence of content, open access, etc.
That post is towards a chapter in her upcoming book, which I'm looking forward to.
"In today's schools many instructed processes, not least those connected to learning to read, involve practicing skills outside any contexts in which they are used by people who are adept at those skills (e.g. good readers). If this is how children had to learn to play a computer or video game--and, remember, these games are often very long and quite challenging--the games industry would go broke." .... "...as schools turn reading into an instructed process, today's children see more and more powerful instances of cultural learning in their everyday lives in things like Pokemom and computer games. Modern high-tech society--thanks to its media, technology, and creative capitalists---gets better and better at creating powerful cultural learning processes. Schools do not." (emphases added)
Very provocative, exciting writing. So far this sort of comparison tends to leave higher ed audiences unmoved - I usually try the "what can we learn from computer games?" angle, as per another Gee work (2003).
This excerpt is from a larger discussion about "affiliation spaces," which reminds me of, among other things, anarchist polities, self-organizing communities, Hakim Bey's temporary autonomous zones (1985), P.M.'s bolo'bolo... This is the kind of social learning I was dreaming about when I had higher hopes for m-learning (2004).
Such spaces are one thing I'm looking for as I read Vinge's latest, Rainbows End.
Hm, I should snag this other Gee book. Inter-library loan ahoy!
A history of computer role-playing games is emerging, with one part available for comment, covering the late 1970s and early 1980s. It's a fun read, with doses of nostalgia ready to strike anyone over 30. The comments thread is useful, pointing out still more games.
It's fascinating to see some current issues appear in embryonic form, like the struggle between avid game players and sysadmins, or open source versus closed.