Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is that a Holodeck in your pocket? An introduction to rezzers

Tonight's class in Second Life included Second Life rezzer tips and an introduction to Christakis's case studies.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could create content that appeared when requested and disappeared when it is no longer needed?

To understand how rezzers work, we examined a simple rezzer, an object that copies and renders new objects when touched, and how rezzers work. Our example uses the Builder's Buddy rezzer design by Newfie Pendragon with its base and component scripts.

We rezzed and tested the Builder's Buddy interface, building and cleaning up our component objects, then discussed the primchannel variable in the Builder's Buddy program.

A primitive is a basic shape and the channel is a communication path. Prim = a primitive shape. A primchannel is a channel that the object uses to communicate with other objects. It is a variable name in this program.

Objects communicate over negative or positive channels. Avatars only use positive channels. The local chat, our default text chat channel, is channel 0 (zero) and does not require specifying the channel number to use it.

When objects are communicating only with other objects and not receiving instructions from a user over a channel, then use a negative primchannel (a negative number).

Our first task is to ensure that the base and component scripts use the same prim channel. You want to reset it to a matching number in both scripts so your object is not sending instructions and listening over the same channel as other objects.

When we did not reset the prim channel number, one student could request his rezzer to clean or delete his component object and everyone's component objects were deleted.

Next, we linked the primitive shapes into an object by editing a prim, holding the shift key, selecting the remaining objects and using the ctrl+L command to link them into a single linked object.

The four prims in the image to the left are linked. The prim with the yellow outline is the parent object. Child objects have a blue outline around them in edit mode.

After a brief study of rezzers and linked objects, we tore down the tree house with a single command and rebuilt it with a second command.

Next, we discussed a review of the Christakis' case study from Chapter 14 on how to get a drug developed and to market faster [1]. In addition to being an excellent example of using SDP to facilitate change, the case studies also illustrate alternative research methods using an action research approach.

Rather than read the case studies passively, we urge scholars to consider how to employ the method as a catalyst for social change.

As we shift to online collaboration, we recognize that document management may be insufficient for stimulating effective communication and rapid change. Christakis' observes that the 3-6 days of dedicated workshops accomplished the tasks that would normally take weeks or months to complete [1].

Next week, we will continue our discussion of Christakis' research and develop some new Second Life skills. To obtain a copy of the rezzer exercise folder, send an instant message in Second Life to Lyr Lobo.

[1] A. N. Christakis and K. C. Bausch, How People Harness their Collective Wisdom and Power to Construct the Future in Co-Laboratories of Democracy, 1 ed. Greenwich, Connecticut: Information Age Publishing, 2006, pages 93-98.

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