We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

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Janet Rossini
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We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Janet Rossini » Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:52 pm

We shape our buildings, and thereafter our buildings shape us. -- Winston Churchill
There is an effort afoot to remodel South, and some thinking going on Beach, and perhaps other remodeling ideas going around. I'd like to inject what I think is a different viewpoint on how to think about remodeling. This will probably be a series of articles, and I'd love to have constructive feedback.

Arranging Our Space is About People

If there is a theme to what I'm saying, it is that our space arrangement is not about geometry, but it is about people and the impact that the space has on them, and vice versa. Let me start with an example, which I got from Beverly.

I was looking at the Kuula layout, and noticed that you can't see the freebies from the landing point. I suggested that opening up that wall between landing and freebies might be good.

Beverly pointed out that that's not such a good idea. The way things are now, people are drawn to the stage area and the open area right next to it, where the people are!. That's a very good observation. Let's build on this notion.

Kuula Works

It seems to me that NCI Kuula "works" in a certain way, and our other locations work less well from that viewpoint. i'd like to explore why that is, so that we can make Hamnida and other locations work better as well.

Certainly there are also some things not to like about how Kuula works. We should explore those as well. I'll try to mention some of those aspects. I hope others will mention other issues and factor them into the planning.

To over-simplify, Kuula works because there are almost always people there, and things are going on. When people come in, they see other people doing things. They are drawn closer. People are often friendly to them. If they have questions, they are often answered. They are quite frequently directed to the freebies, the class schedules, the sign-up penguin, the translator, and so on.

Bev helped me to see that people asking for directions and help is a good thing. At first glance, we might think that the space does not work well, because people should be able to find things for themselves.

However, this may not be the best thinking. As human contact is our strongest value, a space that draws people to other people, getting them to talk and relate, may have more value.

Kuula works in this sense, almost in spite of huge spaces that do not work. Few people go to the news stand. Few people go into the back information area. Some people do hang out in Ginny's Park, which is a bit surprising as the layout makes it hard to find.

To me, the strength of Kuula is in the people mix, which forms a community and draws more people in. The physical space is often irrelevant and perhaps sometimes work against our goal of engaging with and helping new citizens.

A Starting Notion

Current thinking in the space remodeling seems to revolve around figuring out what we have and where to put it. I'd like to suggest something quite different: Start from a clean slate. Place just a few things, that are clearly needed. Build around groups of people, and their interactions.

Here are some starting thoughts. They are all just ideas. Some of them may be flat wrong.

Build so that new arrivals join the people already there.

Arrange things so that it is likely that there are people there. See below for more details on that.

Place the inbound teleport a bit away from people. It may be daunting to suddenly find yourself in a crowd. Instead bring people in near the crowd, but safely away.

Arrange the area around the teleport so that the only obvious path to go is toward the people. Perhaps place something interesting just beyond them as well.

Now, how do we get people to congregate?

Build so that people congregate.

The stools in Kuula work, I believe, in two ways. First, they make a place to sit, and sometimes people sit there. I think it is more important that they define a little area or space. People are inclined to go into an inviting defined area.

So the circle defined by the stools is a natural place to be. People tend to hang out there, and sometimes they work. Sometimes, though, they want to work on something a bit larger, or just want not to feel crowded. So they drift out into the open grassy area. Still they stay near, because the space is inviting. So there is a cluster of people ... which draws in people arriving.

The cluster becomes self-sustaining over a pretty wide range of visits, and invites people to join in and ask questions.

Tentative Conclusions
  • Build a defined space that seems inviting. Could be tables (be concerned about cllques at tables) or chairs or low hedges ... anything at all.
  • Arrange teleport area just a bit away so that arrival isn't right in the mass.
  • Arrange teleport area so the people are seen, and nothing else really distracts from the people.
  • Arrange frequently needed information and items near the people area ... visible from the people area but not necessarily from the landmark area ... we want people to come to the group area.
  • Do not clutter the area with things that are not needed. Most commonly used may be Freebies, class list, and the grassy build/rezzing area. (P.S. Almost everything we have is needed rarely or never. See below regarding measurement.)
Measurement

I suspect that most of our information displays, the news stand, and such, are used almost never. We might consider putting detectors near them to measure this. I have seen the photo area in Kuula used seldom. Most people in the news stand appear to be lost. Ginny's park gets used primarily by people who know it and hang out there, I believe.

All of this could be measured with some detectors and verified with some surveys, even informal ones.

Summary

OK, this is a lot to digest, and possibly no one is interested. The basic idea is that our spaces are primarily social and we are doing social engineering when we arrange them. So we should think about the people and how they interact with the space, and with each other, not think so much about where to put the Simon game.

Moving forward, we would think about what people need and how to build to provide it. One such "teaser idea" I call "Level Up". People who come in new lack basic skills, like walking. Suppose we had a series of experiences or exercises, like little games, called "Level Up". The idea is that people who come in know they need to build up their skills, so we provide things to do that will help them do it.

But that's for another day. I look forward to constructive comments.

Thanks,

J
I don't work here: I volunteer here. I don't have duties: I have small gifts which I offer.

Janet Rossini
NCI Supporter
http://valkyriejanet.wordpress.com

colleen Criss
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by colleen Criss » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:30 pm

I think a welcome are should be just that ....welcoming and Ive always felt the Jennys park needed a more opened view its a great place to hang out and just chat. Newcomers need to see 1. a nice surrounding 2. people to talk with and ask things and 3. direction on *how to*. Hit them with too much info at one time can be like a nerve tap from a dentists drill.

The new *library folder* has some great things in there I've looked its missed often and maybe we should direct them there. I think the NCI *freebies* some are a bit antiquated. Anyhow think
Feng shui,your work environment should be treated the same as your home,clear your environment of clutter .

Seeing the sandbox soon after landing is also a great thing because they can actually get the chance to *see* others building , playing etc.

Imnotgoing Sideways
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Imnotgoing Sideways » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:30 pm

In its time, the build of the freebie area was deemed necessary in order to offset the center of the linkset so that the bridge over the Gov Linden land wouldn't be returned. Or, so I was told. (^_^)

Now that that's gone, I'm sure we can be a bit more adventurous with the layout. (^_^)

I like your list of ideas. Kuula is a pretty common 'drop point' with a very well designed landing. From there, it's practically as wide open as SL itself. It would greatly help by creating a path or choice of paths people can follow using low resolution - fast loading textures. The arrows on the floor of Oxbridge comes to mind. Simplifying to triangular prims with text applied would surely be a direction I'd take. "Freebies", "Translator", "More About SL (Library)", "Discussion and Questions" could make the four corners of the compass around the landing point. Point the way as soon as possible and as visually striking as possible without going "Vegas". (^_^)

As for freebie area layout; could we run a survey of places that host help and freebies to see if people go freebies first - help later or vice-versa depending on the layout? It seems both have their advantages and a little surveying could give us what would work best. (^_^)

Measurement makes sense. I have an idea for a device on my own island that will gather what I would call micro-traffic data without splitting up the place into parcels in order to weigh the consistently popular places over the less-than-popular locations so that I can develop the area to further encourage visitors and concurrency. (( Knowing how flaky I can be about projects, this may vapourize. DX ))(^_^)

The other thing I'd look at is the aesthetic of NCI. It's still very SL-2005-esque. This is not a bad thing but it also contributes to an overlying opinion to people outside SL for the "crappy graphics" that SL has. In addition, it contributes to a rather cold and corporate look that may be a bit less than inviting. If anyone remembered Snow Country, that was a good example of a very warm and inviting place. It was anchored in a real life setting with just enough not-possible-in-real-life to draw on the possibilities of SL. Even if we don't change the build... Possibly a shift to more detailed textures would be good. The LDPW moles have offered a lot of free textures at the Linden Home infohubs and some of the Tahoe and Japan themed textures could be put to good use. (^_^)

When Grandma suggested I rebuild the mall, I actually didn't use a single texture from the NCI collection. I went the route of freebie textures available from LDPW's Bay City collection and some gathered freebies from Burning Life builders I've met. So, I'm convinced that much of this can be done with little to no expense... Other than time. =^-^=

Wonderful ideas, Janet. I'd like to see them turn into a change for the better. I'm not sure how much of my own time can be dedicated to any projects, but, we're a large enough group to make some pretty major moves. (^_^)y
What would life be like in a world without nipples? =^-^=

Imnotgoing Sideways
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Imnotgoing Sideways » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:32 pm

colleen Criss wrote:...Feng shui,your work environment should be treated the same as your home,clear your environment of clutter...
Careful. I have an inworld bagua. =^-^=
What would life be like in a world without nipples? =^-^=

colleen Criss
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by colleen Criss » Sun Jul 18, 2010 3:42 pm

Imnotgoing Sideways wrote:
colleen Criss wrote:...Feng shui,your work environment should be treated the same as your home,clear your environment of clutter...
Careful. I have an inworld bagua. =^-^=
LOL well it makes sense to me . Lets start with yellow/gray/black/purple! :)

Beverly Montgomery
NCI Officer
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Beverly Montgomery » Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:06 pm

first the building welli told me was to be at the theater/news stand area at kuula........

however why does kuula work, cause they have to walk around to see where what is, everything is not in one place, and with us being on the stage/dancefloor/social area, they see that people are there, and can find help easier, and they have to explore the area a bit more to find the freebies, as that and info is what we have to offer, i'd appriciate if that area continues to stay as it is. my openion, hope i've not offended anyone, in saying that.

as for the back 2 rooms have at it if it comes to that, frankly i dont care what you do back there. i do however care about the building tutorial, alot of people still venture back there and seem to enjoy it...

so back to the beginning of this, welli said that some build at the theater area might happen, that was all.

but think about this, what is with all the rebulding, remodeling, if there is no one to come see it. we need to think more on how to bring folks in, how to help them. not tp out, or poof or go on afk, the minute someone says they need help. or soon as newbies start tp'ing in. wth is with that.

so lets think. we need to work more on getting folks at the nci's not how they look, how they look is not the big issue. do we really need more prims more scripts, lordy dont we have enough now.. we are over taxing ourselves now with so many prims, so very many scripts, and it seems not many today can build without scripts, or geeez sculpties. i tell ya what kuula does not need any sculpties, there is enough there now. yes alot will dispute me but alot of sculpties in one area causes lag. i can tell you a few others who feel this as well.

so before decideing to build anything, ask first do we care about looks or people.. personally i care about people, i also care about the fact it wont be long LL will impliment the script usage thing, you all know we have alot of scripts. to bad we can't work harder to populate the areas, and the helping of the new residents, that we have to stress on the act of updateing, remodeling, etc etc etc.... remodeling/building isn't gonna bring anyone there, i guarantee it... it has however in the past run some off. watched that happen first hand.

standing now in the sidelines watching!!!!
bev

Afon
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Afon » Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:05 pm

My view is that the landing point should be within 20m of the congregation place. At beach we used to welcome folk who tped in, and we got quite a few come join us (and keep coming back). There needs to be a congregation point with plenty of seating. At South, there are some seats on the wall of the fountain, but there could be a better setup. The classroom needs to be visible, but well away from any other things. When it was central at South, classes were often being disturbed, either with folk walking through it, or conversations behind it. The location of the classroom at South is now pretty good.
Any sufficiently advanced information is indistinguishable from noise.

wendi
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by wendi » Tue Jul 20, 2010 1:07 am

Ok, I would like to share my opinion here. I'm a professor in Real Life and I manage and own our school's virtual presence in SL. We send all our "n00bs" (faculty, students) to NCI because I "grew up" there, I love it and the people are helpful. We have a schedule board at our landing point and include information about NCI in our orientation materials. However, the only campus we recommend to the students is the South campus in Hamnida. The reason for this is that it's wide open and easy to navigate. It's clear where the Freebies are, where the schedules are, where the classroom is, where all the intro-to-SL information is, etc. When you land at South, you can clearly see almost everything organized and laid out in front of you. I rarely have to explain to any of our new residents where to find something at South. We don't ever send them to the other campuses, and in fact we (and a few other schools I am "friends" with) avoid Kuula completely, because it's like a labyrinth of information. It's very difficult to navigate the maze of walls and find what you're looking for if you've never been there before. I gave up including the Kuula landmark in our materials because I just became fed up with having students and faculty complain about not finding what they wanted. We have always preferred to send people to South when we want them to find NCI and SL-related information quickly and easily.

I would love to see South get a makeover, brighten it up a little, maybe move the fountain or make it smaller so it doesn't block out the south end of the structure, add a more clearly defined social area, but I think South is considerably more newbie-friendly than any of the other campuses and it should be the example to follow.

So that's my little bit, if it matters.
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"Coffee, the finest organic suspension ever devised. " ~Star Trek: Voyager Image

Wendi J (aka Wendi Lavendel in SL)
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Beverly Montgomery
NCI Officer
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Beverly Montgomery » Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:25 am

wow, i apologize if i offended anyone, i am truly sorry anyone feels kuula is not to their likeing, some of us like it, but i apologize. i also apologize i've not met everyone! guess i should know everyone. sorry
bev

ps.. i need to add, when i typed what i had here, i thought someone i totally didn't (and still dont know) was in the wrong group here. i thought this was the officers/sr officers area. and was totally confused by someone different being in here.

and janet, true, not my normal reaction, but because of that situation. put yourself in my position. you might a felt the same way, if someone that was not supose to be in a spacific group spoke out, and against something that you rally toward.

i apologize to all of you, seems lately it does not matter, no one ever agrees with me anyway. This obsession to change kuula gets to me, it works, its not broke, i say leave it alone!!!!!
and im entitled to my openion, read up what i said earlier in this thread.

hugs all
Bev
Last edited by Beverly Montgomery on Tue Jul 20, 2010 7:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Janet Rossini
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Re: We shape our buildings ... thoughts on remodeling ...

Post by Janet Rossini » Tue Jul 20, 2010 8:38 am

Hi Wendi,

Sorry for the odd welcome from Bev: she's quick to defend Kuula.

We recognize that you're one of our "customers" and one who recommends us. Thank you for that. We respect it.

I'm interested in your view primarily because it is different from mine.

Now in fact, yes, it is easier to find things by yourself in South than in Kuula, because, as you say, it's all in sight. In Kuula, for example, to find the Freebies, you have to walk a ways forward, then a bit to your right, then turn to your right. To find things, you may need help.

Where we differ is that I think that's a good thing.

We had some students come into South just the other night. We had four or five NCI representatives there to greet them and answer questions. The students came in, wandered around, looked at things, tried on freebies, mostly on their own. There were very few questions and many of the students didn't hear the answers because they were out of range. They explored the area ... and they missed the people who were there to give richness to their SL experience.

Now it's good that people explore on their own, and certainly South is easy to explore because you can see almost everything by just turning around.

Where we differ is that I think--for NCI's human purpose--that's a bad thing.

To me, NCI is a social entity first, not a collection of freebies and info walls. We're not a passive bulletin board, we are a group of "people helping people". We are a society. We represent the good people of Second Life. We represent the spirit of helping. We're what makes Second Life a world, not a wasteland.

As such, I believe we want to draw people into our conversation. We want them to see NCI first as a group of helpful people and a group of teachers, and only secondarily as a place to explore on your own.

For that purpose, the strength of Kuula is that its layout invites people together, which makes a core of people available to meet, greet, and help. We don't always do that perfectly, and if someone shows up and talks to no one, yes, South is easier to navigate all alone.

NCI is not about "all alone". NCI is about people helping people. I'm asking us to consider creating a space that brings people together, creates a space for conversation and person to person learning, not just a wall of information.

I'm interested in your reaction to these thoughts, truly. I hope to hear them. Thanks!
I don't work here: I volunteer here. I don't have duties: I have small gifts which I offer.

Janet Rossini
NCI Supporter
http://valkyriejanet.wordpress.com

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