"But you’re not supposed to use it that way!"
John Lester, known in Second Life as Pathfinder Lester, has been working with virtual worlds and online communities since the 1990s, creating online patient support groups at Massachusetts General Hospital for people dealing with neurological disorders, developing online immersive learning environments for students at Harvard, and helping build communities in Second Life that assist people living with disabilities. He worked at Linden Lab for 5 years where he founded Linden Lab's Boston Office and led the development of the education and healthcare markets in Second Life while evangelizing the innovative use of virtual worlds in research, art and immersive learning. John has also worked on multiuser virtual world development using the Unity platform, built bespoke multiuser VR worlds for education using the Oculus Rift, and dabbled with artificial life in augmented reality.
John continues to follow his passion for online communities and virtual worlds through his consulting and contracting work, designing and building immersive learning experiences using platforms such as OpenSimulator and Unity. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Virtual Ability, Inc., a non-profit organization that enables people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds like Second Life. At his day job, John works as a Product Manager at OpenText where he does R&D in unstructured data analytics and enterprise information management.
John has been working with online communities and virtual worlds since the early 1990’s, beginning with modem-powered BBS systems through early web-based forums and chatrooms and continuing with immersive multiuser 3d virtual worlds. Focusing on education and support, John has experienced a wide range of use cases and insights into how human behavior simultaneously shapes and is shaped by these tools.
John will present at this year’s International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference on Saturday, November 19, at 11am Pacific. The title of his presentation is: ‘“But you’re not supposed to use it that way!” - Exploring how people shape technologies to empower online communities.’ In this presentation, John will tell his story of how a continuing quest for more emotional bandwidth and perceptual immersion was enlightened by communities of people who often used technologies in completely unexpected and breathtakingly beautiful ways.
Photos courtesy Alice Krueger