Here’s something I didn’t know before that is somehow relevant to Second Life geeks. From the Wikipedia article on Carl Linnaeus, aka Carl Linné:
When Linnaeus’ father went to the University of Lund, he coined himself a Latin surname: Linnaeus, referring to a large linden (lime) tree, the warden tree of the family property Linnagård (linn being an archaic form of Swedish lind, the linden). Nils Ingemarsson Linnaeus gave his son the name Carl. So the Swedish name of the boy was Carl Linnaeus.
In other words, had Linden Lab (the makers of Second Life) been founded in Sweden, they’d likely have been called Linné Lab; or conversely, Carl would have been called Carl Linden.
In his three-hundredth anniversary year, Carl Linnaeus is branching out — into a virtual world.
On Friday, November 2, at 4-5pm Stockholm time (8-9am Second Life time), the Swedish Institute is inaugurating a new permanent exhibit about the famed Swedish scientist at the Second House of Sweden, Sweden’s virtual embassy in Second Life. To kick off the exhibit in style, we’re planning a range of activities.
About the exhibit:
The exhibit consists of the Linnaeus Room inside the Second House of Sweden, and the Linnaeus Garden, on the archipelago. You can teleport between them.
- In the room, watch Herbarium Amoris, a photographic tribute to Linnaeus by Swedish photographer Edvard Koinberg. (www.herbariumamoris.se)
- Pick up a free PDF book about Linnaeus, available in nine languages (a L$2600 value, USD$10)
- Discuss the scientific question of the week posted on the Linnaeus300.com website.
- In the garden, enjoy the typical Swedish flowers, each one hyperlinked to more information.
There are special events planned on Friday, November 2, 2007:
Inauguration — Linnaeus garden, 4pm: Director General of the Swedish Institute Olle Wästberg opens the exhibit. Anders Backlund of the Biomedical Centre at Uppsala University — Linnaeus’s alma mater — discusses the relevance of Linnaeus today.
Costume contest 4-5pm: Come dressed in your finest 18th-century costumes to be eligible for prizes. Best costume wins $L20,000, with second and third prizes at $L15,000 and $L10,000, respectively. Winners will be announced at 5pm in the Linnaeus Room.
Film documentary — all weekend: In the auditorium, watch “Expedition Linnaeus”, a full-length documentary on Linnaeus by the noted Swedish photographer Mattias Klum. The movie will be looped continuously for the duration of the weekend, so you can discuss it with others as you watch it. Film viewings are courtesy of Sandrew Metronome. (Swedish, with English subtitles)
The Linnaeus plant-building competition, November 2-9: If you’re a Second Life builder, submit your plant to the garden — the best plants win prizes: First prize L$50,000, with second and third prizes at L$30,000 and L$20,000. Winners will be announced after the contest ends on November 9. (Full contest rules available at the garden.)
See you there!
How to visit the Second House of Sweden:
First-time users of Second Life: Get a free account at http://www.Sweden.se/secondlife. Download and install the viewer (Windows, Mac or Linux), log on and you will be instantly transported to the Swedish Institute sim. There, a short orientation course teaches you the basics of navigating Second Life. After about 15 minutes, you’ll be ready to join the activities at the Second House of Sweden.
Seasoned users of Second Life: Using maps, search for “Swedish Institute” and teleport there. You can also use this SLurl.
Several institutions thinking of doing something like the Second House of Sweden have been asking us for metrics. As we’re a public agency, we’re only too happy to oblige, especially if it encourages further projects like this:-)
Overall, we get between 300 and 400 visitors per day to our two sims. Around 80 people per day register via our branded online registration page www.sweden.se/secondlife; the others teleport in. These numbers are an order of magnitude smaller than the visitor numbers of the websites that the Swedish Institute manages, but such a comparison would be deceptive, for two reasons:
- The pool of potential visitors for the Second House of Sweden is limited to Second Life users, and conservative numbers put that figure at around 1 million regular users, vs the 1.25 billion that use the internet.
- The experiences of visiting the Second House of Sweden is best compared to visiting a real space, because that is what it is trying to emulate. How many visitors does a real-world cultural center get in a day? What is the cost involved in servicing these visitors? What would the cost be to bring visitors from far-flung places, where there are no such cultural centers, to a real-world cultural center? When these kinds of questions are asked, building a virtual embassy makes eminent sense.
Several metrics support our conclusion that the embassy makes for a good proxy for a real-world Swedish cultural experience:
We already know that the users of Second Life are technologically savvy, curious, and future-oriented — that’s sort of a prerequisite for being in Second Life, and it is exactly the target group we believe is most receptive to the message that Sweden is a modern, tolerant, nature-loving country. But we also know that our visitors are incredibly spread out geographically. Look:
Furthermore, we also see our visitors spending a much longer time at the embassy than on a conventional website; around three times longer, in fact: (This charts shows average visit length)
From these charts, we conclude that it makes good sense to experiment with Second Life. It allows us to pursue immersive and prolonged cultural contacts that have a clear social aspect — the latest example being the free Swedish lessons we are currently giving:
Finally, some other stats that may be of use; here’s when most people visit, in Second Life (=California) time:
Basically, European evenings are the most popular times to come by.
Join us at the auditorium of Second House of Sweden for free Swedish lessons on October 22 and November 5 — at 4pm Stockholm time.
Instructor Kvint Larsson will use voice chat technology and a live video stream to take you through basic conversational Swedish. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions about the Swedish language. The lessons take about an hour.
October 22’s lessons will take place at 7am Second Life time (4pm Stockholm time). November 5’s lessons will take place at 8am SL time (4pm Stockholm time), because daylight savings time will have ended in Sweden by then. Please calculate your local time accordingly.
Directions to Second House of Sweden: Second Life is not a physical place but a virtual 3D world that is accessed using a special viewer that you can download. Once logged into Second Life, you can travel to Second House of Sweden, which is on the “Swedish Institute” island. The lessons take place at the auditorium, near the main building.
To get started in Second Life, get a free account and download the software here. The first time you log in you will land at a special training area near the Second House of Sweden. Expect to spend around half an hour downloading the application and learning to use Second Life, so be sure give yourself enough time before the lessons begin.
To hear the teacher, you will need to turn on voice chat. You can do this in the preferences window of the Second Life viewer. You also need to have Quicktime installed in order to see the streaming video. If you have iTunes installed you have Quicktime installed. Otherwise, you can download it here.
On October 9 at 7am SL time (4pm Stockholm time, 10am New York Time) we’ll be having another installment of our series of free Swedish lessons for beginners. They’ll be held at the auditorium of the Second House of Sweden on the Swedish Institute sim in Second Life. Join instructor Kvint Larsson for a half hour of basic Swedish followed by a period of free-form discussion – for example for questions from people who may already know some Swedish.
Second Life is not a physical place but a virtual world that anyone with a computer and a broadband internet connection can reach. To take part in the lessons if you have never been in Second Life before, start here. You will be asked to download some software, open a (free) account, and then begin with a tutorial. If you want to attend the lessons, give yourself at least half an hour to download, install and familiarize yourself with the controls.
Last week’s lesson provided us with some valuable feedback as to what works and what doesn’t. This next lesson will be a lot more structured, as requested by those who attended. See you there!