Dr. Marie Vans: 14 Reasons Why Virtual Worlds Are Still Better than Social VR Worlds for Educational Purposes

PLEASE NOTE: My blog is still on indefinite hiatus; I have made a single exception for this blogpost. After this, I will be going back on my self-imposed break from blogging.

Dr, Marie Vans (known as Amvans Lapis in Second Life) is a Senior Research Scientist at HP Labs in Colorado, who gave the following provocatively-titled presentation on March 19th, 2021 at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) 2021 Conference, held in SL:

Title Slide from Dr. Vans’ VWBPE Presentaion

14 Reasons Why Virtual Worlds are still better than Social VR Worlds

A year ago, VCARA started the VR Exploder’s Club wherein educators meet up once a month to determine whether and/or which Social VR Worlds we should establish a presence thereon after exploring different platforms together. Whether we used VR headsets or desktop versions of these platforms, we looked at criteria such as learning curve, real-time communication, interaction capabilities, and more. I will describe specific issues that have been resolved in VWs that still need attention in VR.

Drawing upon a number of representative social VR platforms chosen from my November 2019 spreadsheet (which I need to update!), she gave a great presentation on why she thinks that social VR platforms need to pull up their socks when it comes to supporting education, and why these newer platforms should not be so quick to dismiss older virtual world platforms such as Second Life!

Because the following YouTube video of Dr. Marie Vans’ presentation has a absolutely criminally low 56 views thus far, I have decided to write up a blogpost about it! And here it is! (I am going back on hiatus again after this.)

Here is the video of Dr. Vans’ hour-long VWBPE presentation, followed by a question and answer session with the audience. It’s well worth watching the entire thing!

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: The CATWA HDPRO Queen Bento Mesh Head Is L$1, But TODAY ONLY!

PLEASE NOTE: My blog is still on indefinite hiatus; I have made a single exception for this blogpost. After this, I will be going back on my self-imposed break from blogging.

CATWA has announced that the one-day giveaway of their HDPRO Queen Bakes on Mesh, Bento female mesh head has been extended by ONE DAY ONLY, so you have until 11:59 p.m. SLT/Pacific time TODAY, March 26th, 2021, to visit one of the following four special promo sims to pick up your head for only one Linden dollar. After today, the Queen head will retail for L$5,910, so this is a truly exceptional bargain that you should not pass up, even if you already have a favourite Bento mesh head! Pick one up anyway today, when it’s 99.98% off, and stash it away in your inventory for a rainy day when you feel like switching your look!

QUEEN will be available for one linden purchase price until [26th MARCH 11:59PM SL TIME]. We thank you for the overwhelming response to this offer. We also thank Linden Lab for their help in setting up the additional sims. Landmarks are in CATWA groups. We have set up 4 sims for the promo, Landmarks were sent to both of CATWA groups. Make sure to use those LMs as it’s the only way to get in because all of the sims are NEW!

Each promo sim has 9 vendors; simply pay the vendor L$1 (it will not be refunded). The vendors all look like this (you do not need to join any group to use them):

If you are impatient and have received the message that you can use the delivery terminal, feel free to use the redelivery terminal on each of the promo sims or at the CATWA main store to get your HDPRO Queen head delivered (I found I had to do this for several of my alts).

Please note that all four sims are jam-packed with avatars trying to pick up this freebie today, so please be patient. You might want to use a tool like the handy free Teleport Hammer to fight your way in. (Remember that if you are a Premium member, you get priority access to overcrowded sims.)

Below is what theHDPRO Queen head looks like, with the included mesh eyes, and using one of the included head skins (a BoM tatto layer) and the default eyebrow shaper and body shape, without any adjustments to the sliders (you will have to find system/Bakes on Mesh skins to match the head tattoos included in the package):

Here is what the head looks like with the Elvira skin by 7 Deadly S[k]ins, paired with the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body (a freebie which is unfortunately no longer available):

Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATE 11:15 a.m.: Cat Pink SL has posted a 40-minute livestream on YouTube about the CATWA HDPRO Queen head (it’s in Spanish with some English):

Second Life Supermodel Vanity Fair Gets a Second Life on Real-Life Runways via the Reface App!

PLEASE NOTE: My blog is still on indefinite hiatus; I made a single exception for this blogpost. After this, I will be going back on my self-imposed break from blogging.

I jokingly refer to my main Second Life avatar, Vanity Fair, as a “Second Life supermodel”, because she appears so often on this blog, as my go-to model when I am showing you the latest fashionista freebies and bargains across the SL grid.

Second Life supermodel Vanity Fair 😉

Well, this afternoon, I discovered a new-to-me mobile app called Reface, which uses AI (artificial intelligence) techniques to allow you to magically insert your avatar’s face into still images, animated GIFs, and movie clips! As you will see, you can do some truly amazing things with this app that you can’t do with the WOMBO app I wrote about on this blog, starting from March 10th, 2021, a blogpost I have since updated several times.

Here’s an example, using as my starting point the following selfie (the ONLY image which is used to generate ALL of the still images, animated GIFs, and videos you see below):

Vanity Fair: my starting image

And here is Vanity Fair as the Mona Lisa:

Here’s ten more famous paintings and statues with Vanity Fair’s face superimposed upon the original (please click on each one to see it in full size):

But wait, there’s more!

Here’s Vanity in an animated GIF as Marilyn Monroe (there’s no sound). Isn’t this amazing?!??

Vanity Fair as Marilyn Monroe

Well, the rest of my Sunday just went entirely out the window, as I began slapping Vanity’s face on as many supermodel movies and animated GIFs as I could find using the Reface app! (They have a keyword search feature that easily pulls up dozens of GIFs and movies for just about any occasion.) After 13 years, Vanity Fair gets to escape the confines of Second Life and go stomping down some real-life runways!

Here’s some of my favourite results so far (some are MP4 movies with sound, while others are just animated GIFs with no sound):

But Reface can be used on more than just runway modeling!

Here, Vanity plays all five singers of the Spice Girls!

And below, Vanity Fair is the new star of the wonderful 2001 French movie Amélie:

Reface allows you a decent handful of face swaps before it imposes a 30-minute timer to slow down your use of the free version of the app. I signed up for the Pro version, which costs US$2.49 weekly, or US$24.99 annually (I signed up for the weekly rate just to put it through its paces, but I might upgrade to the annual rate).

So, as you can plainly see, Reface is giving Second Life supermodel Vanity Fair a second life! (See what I just did there?) The app is available for both iOS and Android mobile devices, so why don’t you take it on a free test drive? It’s great fun!

UPDATE March 23rd, 2021: Here I used a selfie from another one of my supermodel avatars in Second Life, Moesha Heartsong…

Moesha Heartsong

…and pasted her face onto a succession of Victoria’s Secret fashion model videos!

UPDATE March 30th, 2021: My new crazy stupid thing to do today is to paste Vanity Fair’s face on Marlene Dietrich’s body! I have always been a fan of Dietrich, and I love how well these turned out. Once again, here is my starting picture…

…and here are the resulting animated GIFs!

UPDATE April 2nd, 2021: Today we have several animated GIFs with Vanity Fair’s face on Greta Garbo’s body!

My Talk to the Students in VR Group About Social VR in AltspaceVR

PLEASE NOTE: My blog is still on indefinite hiatus, but I wanted to share this video of a presentation I gave this week on social VR with my blog readers. After this, I will be going back on my self-imposed break from blogging.

I gave a one-hour presentation about social VR to the Students in VR group on the social VR platform AltspaceVR on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021:

I was asked if I could fill in after the original presenter cancelled at the last minute, and I was happy to help them out! There is a Q&A session both before and after this 25-minute presentation. Thanks and a shout out to Carlos Austin, who led the three-person camera team recording this event, and edited the final video you see here.

Here’s a link to all the blogposts I have written about AltspaceVR.