Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Week in Second Life


It is hard to imagine that Linden Lab’s, Second Life, has thirteen million accounts who logged in some 28 million plus hours during January 2008. What is life coming to? It is coming to Second Life and other virtual worlds: IMVU, There, Active and Kaneeva.

Anxious to get started, I downloaded Second Life onto my computer. I named my avatar Esther Rappaport. She had a difficult time adapting to her second life. First of all, as hard as her creator tried, Esther’s appearance was quite hideous. From her hair down to her shoes, she just didn’t seem to fit in. At long last, on Esther’s last day in Second Life she met an avatar, Icarus Hastings, who was willing to show her the ropes towards getting outfitted in decent attire. Icarus teleported Esther to different locations where she opened up boxes containing new clothes, skins and hair. Esther was delighted!

Esther flew, walked, and danced her way through various locations including The Pham, Skin Oasis, and Welfare Island. She danced at the Sweetheart lounge and joined Flashbacks hoping to earn some Linden Dollars, which never panned out.

Shocked by the nudity in many locations, Esther did not know what to do. Her second life was not what she expected. Although Esther had a difficult time with her second life, many residents actively pursue full second lives. They purchase property, attend virtual class, shop and some earn a pretty good living selling their wares. (Hof, 2006)

Second Life is an entirely designed and created by its residents, spending up to one quarter of their log-in time creating and contributing to Second Life. In fact, resident actually pay to contribute their ideas to Linden Labs, “anywhere from $6 to thousand of dollars a month for the privilege of doing most of the work.” (Hof, 2006)

The virtual world is rapidly making its way into many facets of life including, “virtual classrooms for major colleges and Universities.” (Wikipedia) Many wonder what the value of a virtual class brings to students. According to Wikipedia, “Second Life fosters a welcoming atmosphere for administrators to host lectures and projects online.” (Wikipedia)

According to Tim Goral, Second Life has a bright future in the world of academia. The number of colleges and universities using Second Life is increasing; currently 70 higher education institutions have sites. Collaboration through interaction is one of the biggest draws, sharing knowledge and bringing together diverse opinions. In addition, Second Life is a marketing tool for higher education institutions. (Goral, 2008)

However, some kinks need to be worked out “because Second Life is largely an ‘anything goes’ world, schools may be opening themselves up to enormous risks for liability, especially in the areas of assault and harassment.” (Goral, 2008) One of the concerns is the crossover from a virtual world to real world. But educators are trying develop a plan for zero tolerance. Some of the ways to guarantee safety incluide “closing specific spaces off, having students register their avatars, and having faculty retain logs of any discussions that go on in a particular space.” (Goral, 2008) Just as Linden Lab’s creation of the infrastructure has been no small task. Educators will have to develop a social contract.

I have a difficult time getting my head wrapped around the idea of communication with friend via a virtual world such as Second Life. The whole idea goes beyond instant messaging; using an avatar to express body language seems crazy. I would rather socialize in person, or in the very least via a video conference. However, I understand the benefits of Second Life in the work place and in education, but as a source of socialization, no thanks.

It was challenging for me to adapt to my avatar’s life in Second Life. I supposed, like anything new, there is a certain amount of dissonance. After meeting Icarus, Esther’s life turned around. She had someone to talk to and someone to help her navigate a new world. Perhaps that is what Second Life is all about – working together to create a harmonious world.

References

Goral, T. (2008). Sizing up second life. (cover story). University Business, 11(3), 60-64.
Retrieved April 3, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.
Hof. R. (2006). My Virtual Life. (cover story). Business Week. Retrieved April 1, 2008 from www.businessweek.com/print.
Linden Lab. (2008). Retrieved April 3rd, 2008 from: http://lindenlab.com/
Newitz, A. (2006) “Your Second Life is Ready”. Popular Science. Retrieved April 2, 2008 from http://popsci.com
Second Life. (2008) Wikipedia Retrieved April 3, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/

3 comments:

Marcy said...

Pam, You mangaged to find a nice outfit. The city you are in along with the long southern-like dress makes one feel a certain nostalgia. It sounds like Esther found her way around Second Life easier than some of the other avatar characters. Tulle wishes someone would have shown her where the trunk of clothes was located!
Good blog.

badestdudeintown said...

Sounds like you had a much more interesting experience than I. I couldn't find anyone that wanted to talk to me.

Cole said...

So glad Esther met Icarus. And she's now soooo beautiful.
Perhaps if you posted pic of Ic badestdudeintown would know better how to get girls to talk to him? ;)