Virtual Conference Report: Day Eight (28 Oct, 2009)

Japanese_textbooksBy Paula Bowles

Day eight of the conference was once again marked by some excellent contributions. The first paper ‘Cultural Sociology and Other Disciplines: Interdisciplinarity in the Cultural Sciences’ by Diane Crane (University of Pennsylvania) suggests that for many scholars ‘disciplinary isolation is the norm.’ However, Crane proposes that by utilising what she describes as ‘free‐floating paradigms’ such barriers can be removed.

The second paper of the day by Christine Mallinson, (University of Maryland) entitled ‘Sociolinguistics and Sociology: Current Directions, Future Partnerships also takes sociology and interdisciplinarity as its main themes. Mallinson’s paper concludes with practical advice as to how best to achieve research partnerships.

Together with these exciting papers, Catherine Sanderson (Amherst College) offered advice in her publishing workshop: ‘The Joys and Sorrows of Writing an Undergraduate Textbook.’ There was also an opportunity to spend time in the Second Life cocktail bar with the Compass Team.

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Virtual Conference Report: Day Seven (27 Oct, 2009)

By Paula Bowles800px-Three_chiefs_Piegan_p.39_horizontal

The seventh day of the conference has continued with the key themes of ‘breaking down boundaries’ and interdisciplinarity. Roy Baumeister (Florida State University) began the day with his keynote lecture entitled ‘Human Nature and Culture: What is the Human Mind Designed for?’ By utilising the concepts of evolutionary and cultural psychology, Buameister is able to explore the intrinsic significance culture holds for humanity.

Two other papers were also presented today. ‘Text as It Happens: Literary Geography’ by Sheila Hones (University of Tokyo) and Stefan Müller’s (University of Duisburg‐Essen) ‘Equal Representation of Time and Space: Arno Peters’ Universal History.’ These contributions have utilised a wide and diverse range of disciplines including history, cartography, geography and literature.

Finally, Devonya Havis’ publishing workshop entitled ‘Teaching with Compass’ offers some interesting ideas as to how best implement technology within the classroom.

Virtual Worlds: A Social Experiment of Real Value

Ludlow's dual life
Ludlow's dual life

Yesterday, Peter Ludlow opened the second week of the 2009 Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference with a riveting presentation on virtual communities, cultures and governance. This year’s conference is titled ‘Breaking Down Barriers.’ Accordingly, Ludlow takes us into the virtual world of Second Life and provides a glimpse of how individuals, from a standpoint of anonymity, nonetheless construct communities, cultures, and even forms of governance that resolve inevitable conflicts.

Second Life is the height of embedded social networking. It is a platform where people can assume any identity they wish by constructing a highly customizable avatar. The content of the virtual world is also completely user designed. Players construct objects, buildings, business establishments, and much more. Each player travels through the virtual world as his avatar, and can engage with, modify, and construct, various objects, and most importantly can interact with the avatars of other players.

These interactions create various communities. Ludlow defines a virtual community as a group of individuals spatially separated but engaged in a broad range of shared social activities through non-face-to-face forms of communication. A community might form around a virtual night-club; regularly meeting at the same spot and intensively interacting. Or, a community might form around a business venture, for example, constructing a new virtual night-club. The opportunities for interaction within Second Life are plenty. And, as in the real world, these interactions provide the basis for enduring relationships, friendships, alliances, but also enmities.

Continue reading “Virtual Worlds: A Social Experiment of Real Value”

Virtual Conference Report: Day Two (20 Oct, 2009)

by paulabowles

Conference_clappingThe second day of the conference has been filled with three more interesting and innovative papers. David Crystal’s (University of Bangor) keynote lecture entitled ‘Language Death: A Problem for All’ highlights the troubling statistics that ‘96% of the world’s languages are spoken by just 4% of the people’. Given the interdisciplinary nature, and the methodology of this virtual conference, Crystal’s paper draws attention to the use of language as a way to ‘break down barriers’.

The two other papers presented today relate to disability, albeit with very different approaches. The first was given by Wendy Turner (Augusta State University) and is entitled:  ‘Human Rights, Royal Rights and the Mentally Disabled in Late Medieval England.’ In her paper Turner suggests that modern preconceptions of medieval disability are not generally supported by the empirical evidence. The second paper ‘The Status of the Learning Disabled in Philosophy of Mind and Disability Studies’ by Maeve M. O’Donovan (College of Notre Dame of Maryland), approaches the subject of learning disability through personal and academic experience and research.

As well, as the ongoing ‘battle of the bands’ competition – plenty of time still to vote! – today also saw the first ‘winning comment’ prize awarded to Rebecca Wheeler.

Free Virtual Conference in October

Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference Registrants Google Map

Many thanks to all those of you who have already registered for the upcoming Compass Interdisciplinary Virtual Conference. We’re very excited to see so many delegates from around the world and look forward to a truly global conversation during the conference.

Why register?

The conference website will be completely free and open to all, but registrants will receive something extra; a Virtual Delegates Pack, which will include the full conference schedule, details of the discounts available on Wiley-Blackwell publications (as part of our book exhibit), our new Online Author’s Survival Guide and much more.

Judging by the feedback we’re receiving, many of you are looking forward to participating in this online conference, as travel to a face-to-face event would be much more difficult (and less ecologically friendly).

We’d encourage you to spread the word about the conference amongst your friends and colleagues. You can direct people to http://compassconference.wordpress.com or our Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/CompassConf.