I’m back from the first day of IBM University Days where a lot of attention, in fact the conference theme, is on NCSU’s Virtual Computing Initiative.

But there were two different presentations on Second Life alternatives and neither of them Croquet.

One on ALICE, which is a 3D Authoring system, from the Stage3 Research Group at Carnegie Mellon University. The presentation by Susan Rodger of Duke was about using ALICE for teaching programming (via a little stealth) to K-12 and to non-CS majors at Duke. Overall it’s a smart environment that you can download and run locally. ALICE is in a partnership with Electronic Arts (you know them as the SIMS people). This partnership greatly improves the images of people in the Alice worlds — they can now look as good as SIMS people.

The second by Moha Tabrizi of East Carolina, His virtualization, his Agent Virtual Reality is achieved by placing sensors all over his body thusly and interacting in real time in a virtual environment for distance education. No keyboarding necessary! He is his own avatar! Oddly Dr. Tabrizi was unfamiliar with Second Life and Croquet.

There was an interested discussion/rant by Ethan Zuckerman with/at Charlie Nesson at Berkman Center on SL and Croquet among other things back in December. Here’s the video of Zukerman expressing distrust of SL (“a privately held company that has build their empire on real estate and porn”) and his interest in Brewster and Open Content Initiative and his slander of the French — in short a great 10 minutes. (thanks to Nassib for pointing this one out).