NY Daze

I made a trip to New York last week as part of a recent frenzy of activity around VR. My original plan was to document my day in pictures for my Digital-Den blog, but it turned out to be a very windy, rainy day so that plan didn’t work out as well as I had expected. Instead, I found myself snapping all sorts of odd “off-topic” pictures that I wouldn’t normally have taken. It seemed a shame to waste them, so here is my day in NY.




Global STEM

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…

Or, well maybe not all that long ago, and not really that far away, I was once a Professor of Technology in Education at Lesley University, and Educational Technology was a field that I worked in for 20+ years.

Every once in awhile it is nice to go back and be reminded of how much I cared about the discipline and why. Thus I was happy to have the chance to attend The Third Global STEM Education Center Symposium that was co-sponsored by the Harvard Graduate School of Education on their campus (Friday, May 6th).

The symposium was chaired by Isa Zimmerman, my former Program Director back during my days at Lesley University, and also the current President of The Global STEM Education Center (co-sponsor of the symposium). They are engaged in a bevy of exciting and valuable work. Be sure to check out the site.

It was a wonderful event where I got to re-connect with former colleagues and meet new ones as well. Most importantly, I found out, yes indeed, I am still very passionate about STEM in general and Educational Technology in particular!

Here are a few snaps I took to give you a sense of the event…

What’s up?

A lot, actually!

It’s been looking quiet, but looks can be deceptive. Sometimes when it looks the quietest is when the most is going on behind the scenes.

This is definitely one of those times.

It is too early to share details, but watch for news about these soon!

♦ Events where I will present and do VR demos in May and June.
♦ A major new version of Cosma will come out in June.
♦ Then there is that “real life” move that is in progress…

Busy, busy times! Please stay tuned… -Mary

Heading South

It’s feeling like a typical spring in the Boston area. At least it’s not as bad as last year, by quite a lot (thank goodness!), but there’s still the usual random weather that ranges from “sort of springtime” to “down right awful” on a random schedule, although it generally leans towards a smorgasbord of hard to take all the way into May or even June. There’s actually snow in the forecast. But enough whining!

I’m very happy to say I’m getting a break from it this weekend and heading down to the Vintage Computing Festival Southeast 4.0 being held at the Computer Museum of American in Roswell, Georgia which is just north of Atlanta. This is actually my third visit there.

I went down two years ago to visit and give this presentation.
Hopper, M.E. (2014, April). Computer museums: Here and there, now and then [Presentation]. Vintage Computing Festival Southeast 2.0, Computer Museum of America, Roswell, GA.

I also just had a great visit there in February, and given all the exciting news I heard then, I know it’s bound to be another exciting visit this time.

While I’m there, I’ll also be exhibiting my New Computer Museum: 3D Edition and giving a related talk entitled Virtual Computer Museums: How to Visit, Exhibit and DIY. All in all, I’m really looking forward to the trip as well as sharing stories about it when I return. Please stay tuned…


One of my projects on deck “right now” is elaborating my Cosma 3D interface to include more content and better interface objects. The “library” and “books” are one of the things I am working on improving for Cosma 3D v.1.6. If you watch the video or actually download and use the Cosma 3D v.1.5 application, you will notice that there is already a bookshelf and poster (both of which link to WebGL Bookcase. There are also some books that link serve as links.

These are really just place holders for what will become a more elaborate and functional “virtual library” in Cosma v.1.6. In preparation for this, I’ve been looking for inspiration by spending some time re-immersing myself in the library and book worlds lately. It has been quite awhile since I took my courses at Simmons College GSLIS, and so I’m rusty. Time for a refresher!

I started getting my feet wet by simply wandering through some iconic bookstores in Cambridge and Boston — there are many of them! Here is an article that covers some of the best (including some of the ones that I visited).
Get Your Read On: 7 Independent Bookstores in the Boston Area (Anne Karasek, BostonInno)

Then I reviewed how I and others have represented books and libraries in Secondlife as well as some game worlds. Am I the only one that remembers those great old books in Myst?

Then back on January 27, I had the chance to go out to Phillips Academy in Andover to see Teaching & Learning with the Digital Public Library of America. Since then my brain has been in high gear contemplating the look and feel of my virtual library as well as figuring out how the “virtual books” will work.

Finally, numerous circumstances colluded into making this last week a major library fest. It was full of library related activities end-to-end, and resulted in what can best be thought of as an impromptu “librarycation” (vs. the more generic and well known “staycation“). Here’s a rundown of the fun…

First, between my design activities and the unexpected clustering of library related activities on my calendar, last Sunday I decided to finally get over to do the Boston Public Library Art and Architecture Tour that I’ve always been meaning to take ever since they finished the last round of renovations. If you’ve never gotten around to it, then I highly recommend it. Here’s a very quick little one minute thumbnail about it.

One of the many things not mentioned in the video are the wonderful John Singer Sargent murals and the nice dining options.

In the same spirit of using my calendar of events to motivate myself to embark on long overdue activities, I scheduled a visit on Tuesday afternoon with Gavin W. Kleespies, former Director of the Cambridge Historical Society and current Director of Programs at the Massachusetts Historical Society. He kindly gave me a tour of their new exhibit about Thomas Jefferson. It is very impressive — be sure to catch it before May 20th.

Thursday brought the big highlights of the week — there were back-to-back events at Harvard and MIT about the future of libraries. They sure sounded relevant, and they were!

The first event of the day was the third in the Sightlines series sponsored by the Harvard University Digital Futures Consortium, and it was held in the illustrious Harvard Lamont Library Forum Room. A visit to that grand old library was inspirational in and of itself. All of the speakers were fascinating, but of course, my favorite part was Rus Gant’s whirlwind tour of the history of VR from ancient times to the near future. I’m no slouch when it comes to the history of VR myself, but this was by far the most extensive and entertaining presentation on the topic that I’ve ever seen.

Then Thursday evening I trekked from Harvard down Mass. Ave. to MIT for the Future of the Library Panel sponsored by MIT’s Council for the Arts. Again, all of the speakers were world class and fascinating, while I found Ginnie Cooper’s statements about the role and importance of Public Libraries particularly inspirational. She is the former Chief Librarian of the District of Columbia Library, and she did a powerful job of explicating the difference between the roles and missions of public libraries relative to those in private institutions such as Harvard and MIT. It is something I take seriously in my own work which I consider more aligned with public libraries. That is why my week ended on just the right note, because it concluded right back where it began, which was the Boston Public library.

Finally, Friday afternoon I had the opportunity to go over to meet Tom Blake who is the Manager of Digital Projects at the Boston Public Library. We had a lovely conversation, and then he took me on a tour of some of the spaces in the library that we had been talking about. While we were talking, guess who should just happen to wander by? Ginnie Cooper!

It was a great coincidence — she just happened to have stopped by with a friend on her way to the airport, and we had a short, but nice conversation before she left. That was the perfect end to my wonderful “librarycation” — I highly recommend you take one sometime. It certainly gave me plenty to think about while I am designing the library and books for Cosma v.1.6