Kira has rapidly evolved, over the last few months, into an even more democratic and decentralized organization, in tune with the more open and porous nature of virtual worlds, especially of Second Life. Specifically, we have formed a Kira team, and we are in the process of switching towards an all-volunteer structure of the Kira Institute. One trigger for this switch was that we have realized that the funding climate is unfavorable for Second Life based activities. While there is funding available for “bread and butter” philanthropy organizations with an SL presence (third world and urban poverty, life threatening illnesses, and K-12 education) there is little funding for Kira's type of community building activities. Thanks to the kind support of the Kira “Senators”: Barry Hershey, Maxine Anderson, and Piet Hut, we were able to keep fulltime staff in place over this last year, who were critical in establishing a base for Kira's activities in Second Life as well as in guiding the formation of the Kira Team. Starting this fall, however, we'll embark on our new all-volunteer adventure.
The Kira Team is a group of 16
volunteer members, involved in Kira activities in some capacity
either as workshop leaders or as outreach, coordinative, and
technical support. The Kira Team began meeting once a week starting
at the end of April of this year. The first project was to
clarify the original Kira mission resulting in a new
mission, blending the old Kira vision of a “synthesis
between involvement and universality,” with its new objective in
Second Life to provide programming in the form of
workshops, exploring topics in science, technology, art, and the
humanities that are useful for society, well informed, and offer
fresh perspectives and insights into the nature of human existence.
The goal of the Kira Team in the
coming months will be to decide how to promote this new mission and ensure Kira's continued growth of workshop
offerings. Click here for more on the Kira Team.
Moving Towards a Volunteer Sustained
Since our last newsletter, Kira has
gone through a number of changes, the most recent change being
Kira's shift to a completely volunteer run organization. The Kira
Team will completely takeover the operations of the Kira Institute in
Second Life, with the Kira Board continuing to function as a guidance
and oversight body. Many of the Board members are also members of
the Kira Team and will continue to actively support its activities on
a volunteer basis.
The first Kira Team Chair, starting
this week in his new role, is Adams Dubrovna. Adams has been a long
time member of Play as Being and hosts a workshop with Kira on Art
History, exploring the presentation of art in the virtual world as
well as the history of art in the real world.
Adams Dubrovna, as the RL avatar,
Donald Beetham, has been an image librarian at Rutgers University for
more than 30 years, managing a collection of almost a half million
images in various media. Before that he studied architectural history
at the University of Pennsylvania, developing an interest in the progression of
architectural styles in Anatolia from Byzantine to Seljuk to Ottoman.
We are very lucky to have Adams as our
first Kira Team Chairperson. Welcome Adams!
Looking Back on the Highlights of
this Year: Kira 12th Birthday Event
On February 24, 2009, the Kira
Institute celebrated its 12th birthday with an academic international
symposium, "The Future of Virtual Worlds: the Possibilities for
Science and Civil Society" conducted in both New York and Tokyo
where the Kira Campus in Second Life was shown on a big monitor
screen at the Uchida Yoko Tokyo Shinkawa Office.
At the Kira Café , the proceedings of
a lively discussion held between Japanese researchers logging in as
avatars from the Tokyo forum and the American researchers logging in
from New York were displayed on a life-size monitor screen in Tokyo.
This first ever publicly open international conference simultaneously
connected the virtual-world and the real-world as an experimental
endeavor exploring the possibilities of virtual communication.
Speakers included Junichi Ushiba, Assistant Professor of Life
Information Science at Keio University Department of Engineering on
“Neurological Interface and the Virtual Realm” and Eiko Ikegami,
Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at The New School
for Social Research on “Possibilities of Virtual Worlds for Civil
Society.” To read more see Kira Japan in the News.
The US event featured a Q&A
discussion panel with the Kira Board, a booth circle of Kira events,
and field trips from our Science Park to other science related sites.
ReLaM is a weekly talk forum to learn
about leading edge projects taking place in virtual worlds and
provides an opportunity to hear about projects and research, ask
questions and engage in a dialog with the project innovator.
ReLaM is also a nexus for the speaker
community to meet and network with each other. The ReLaM network is a
focal point for virtual world leaders to share their experiences and
collaborate with each other. The technologies showcased at ReLaM
highlight the depth and breadth of the ground breaking work taking
place in the virtual world community. ReLam's impressive list of well known speakers were selected and the sessions moderated for the first three months by Piet Hut and the second three months by Stephanie Smith. Past speakers include: Henrik
Bennetsen, Associate Director, Stanford Humanities Lab, Greg Nuyen,
CEO of Qwaq, Mic Bowman, Intel, David Levine, IBM's TJ Watson
Research Center, Bruce Damer, and Crista Lopez of Open Sim.
This weekly workshop discusses how to
set up N-body simulations in virtual worlds, starting with Second
Life, and moving on to OpenSim and other worlds. The wiki will
provide a complete open-source description of our algorithms and
their implementations, together with elementary introductions to the
mathematics and physics of Newtonian gravity, and numerical methods
used to solve the differential equations that correspond to Newton's
laws. Another aspect of this workshop is a collaborative effort
called “AstroSim.” AstroSim stands for Astrophysics Simulations
and is a collaborative visualization project in Second Life. AstroSim comprises a software package that has been produced by Arturo Nakasone and coworkers, from NII, the national Institute of Informatics, in Tokyo, with assistance and feedback from colleagues at NAOJ, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, also in Tokyo, and IAS, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, USA.
The primary objective of the project is
the development of a visualization tool within Second Life and in Open Sim, an open source version of Second Life, initially
for playing back previous simulations, and ultimately for real-time
visualization of simulations running elsewhere.
Here are some more of the workshops
added this year, please click on the links to read more:
Time Workshop: Case Vyper (Adam Frank), Fefonz Quan, Lia Rikugan,
Kira continues to host groups that
align with its mission of providing quality programming exploring
science, technology, art and the humanities. This year we have been
honored to host Spirit of the Senses.
Since the summer of 1983 when Thomas
Houlon created Spirit of the Senses, this Phoenix based cultural
organization has created more than several thousand art, science and
cultural experiences called The Salon, which are candid conversations
with talents and thinkers on their work and ideas.
Enhancing the salons with the
architecture of private homes and spaces, Spirit of the Senses Arts
and Cultural Organization provides a means to exchange ideas,
question opinions, wonder about new possibilities, learn about our
world, and appreciate the visual and performing arts. Members enjoy
the art and cultural salon in a relaxed and inviting way in homes and
private spaces in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and other
In addition to the art and cultural
salon created in the metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona area, Spirit of
the Senses Directors, Thomas Houlon and Patty Barnes offer art,
science and cultural salon tours to the New York City area for their
Speakers include Adam Frank, Professor
of Astrophysics and author of “The Constant Fire,” artists Thoth
Jantzen and Jan Northoff, Rita J. King, CEO and Creative Director of
Dancing Ink Productions LLC and many more.
Kira Japan and Kira Japan Language
Kira Japan launched its website in
February of this year : http://kirajapan.org/and the Kira Japanese branch officially opened at the time of
Kira Institute’s 12th birthday celebration in February 2009. Now,
Kira Japan is getting ready to start a couple of monthly workshops,
which include Japanese language study workshop, Medical education
workshop, Reading Club, Japan Sim tour for foreigners. There will be
more in coming months.
Since the 12 year Kira celebration, weekly cafe talks in Japanese have been regularly held at the Kira Cafe inviting various specialists. Thanks to the hard work of the Kira Japan Core members, Kira Japan has quickly become known as one of the most intellectually active sites in the Japanese speaking SL world. Topics and speakers at cafe talks include: 'Sign language and SL' by Yumix Writer; 'SL from a viewpoint of an architect' by Terra Zehetbauer; 'Beyond Snow Crash' by Hyo Yoshikawa; 'The Way of the Samurai: a Marshal Artist's View' by Ryuji Racer; 'Pandemic Influenza; what SL can do?' by Naoki Turbo. In addition, RB Lemon, a medical doctor in RL has been also conducting a monthly 'Medical Education Workshop' while a Japanese Sim tour has been organized for foreign SL users.
The Japanese language evenings are at
Kira Cafe every Tuesday 6:00AM (SLT)
The Virtual Kira Japan Team
Eiko Ikegami (Kiremimi Tigerpaw in SL):
Kira Japan Representative
Yuko Wada (Almond Andel in SL) :
Kira Japan Executive Coordinator
Rina Yamada (Rianna Demina in SL) :
Kira Japan Webmaster
Michio Ozaki (Panda Kidd in SL) :
Kira Japan General Program Director
Richiko Beppu (marube Oh in SL) :
Kira Japan Academic Program Director
Piet Hut( Pema Pera in SL) :
Kira President (ex officio)
Play as Being (PaB) Update
November Piet Hut/Pema Pera and Steven Tainer/Stim Morane engaged in
a series of talks on the concept of “Being” and the PreHistory of
PaB. Since the beginning of this year the Guardians initiated a
series of dialogues with one another on a variety of themes
including: Dreams, the nature of Knowledge, No Self, “Appreciation
and Being,” and “One and Many” comparing Islam with “Being”
to name just a few of those sessions. Please see PaB Theme Sessions for complete list.
Milemarker: A letter from Piet Hut/Pema Pera to the Guardians!
Thanks to Dakini
(Rhode,) Play as Being has reached its first major milestone: to
populate the 28 sessions each week with 28 different guardians, so
that nobody has to take care of more than 1 session each week, as the
Thank you, Dakini,
first for providing PaB with the place in SL where it all began, your
tea house in Rieul, a year ago, and now for letting us reach our
milestone with your kind offer to take the last open weekly slot!
And thank you, all
other 26 of you who play a goc role, week after week, to keep PaB
running as a place to meet every 6 hours.
And thank you too,
all other guardians: your help of taking over the role of goc, when
one of the regular gocs can't make it, is another essential
ingredient in keeping PaB running so smoothly!
all of us!!!
PaB Chronicles and 1 Year Anniversary
Play as Being had its one year anniversary on April 1st, 2009 with a marathon starting 2 weeks before where many PaB members attempted to attend every single one of the four meetings a day in that time period. Sleep deprived and immersed in Play as Being, the participants arrived on the 1st to a completed "PaB Chronicles," a project undertaken by Adams Rubble and Corvuscorva Nightfire. Here is a brief snipped from this stunning 13 chapter chronicle.
"How does one write a history about the wind or the warmth of the sun on the body? Every day PaB looks much the same. There are four sessions six hours apart. Like the wind, people come and go, different groupings of people. There are large groups and small groups and sometimes no groups. There is the ebbing and flowing of energy like cloudy and sunny days. At times Pema has thrown out a challenge to stir us up and it generates shared energy and we find ourselves all excitedly talking about our common experiences. Other times energy has come from one or more of us getting stirred up and describing our own surprising experiences. Sometimes others can relate to our experience, sometime not, but always to the passion of reaching out to that which we do not see, or we think we do not see."
Piet Hut, assisted
by Steven Tainer is offering a five-day retreat at Pema Osel Ling
(http://www.polmountainretreat.com/) between August 24-28 2009 for
Play as Being participants. While founded by a Tibetan Buddhist
group, the retreat center itself hosts groups oriented along any kind of different philosophical, humanistic, and spiritual angle. We will take up some of the main themes that we have
explored online in Second Life, centered around appreciation,
integration of contemplative practice, and mindfulness in an
intensive manner through 20-30 minute sitting meditations and group
discussions. For more information on Piet and Steven and retreat
details please see the Play as Being Five Day Retreat page. This retreat is still open for PaB participants. Please get in touch with Saki Bailey, Program Manager for more details at