In response to some of the recent coverage of Second Life in the Australian press I posted this:
I think there are some unresolved issues about what Second Life is.
Interestingly, many gamers (such as Tim who commented earlier) find that SL does not match their vision of WoW… they find the controls and interface relatively easy to learn and yet when they start interacting the world offers them very little – they seem to have the locus of control posited externally – they need to be driven by some external pressures.
On the other hand, there are people who find that games are not to their taste, but after an arduous learning curve (and frequent jibes by old time SL users who have a total of 3 weeks existence inworld) they find that SL offers them something different.
Social and networking opportunites that supplement nicely with their real life activities. Not everyone is glued to the screen as implied by some comments.
Educators and business people are part of the community of SL, as are thrill seekers and escapists. The strength of the world in my opinion is the diversity of culture that emerges – the model adopted by Linden Lab is one that accommodates difference.
It’s easy to poke fun at early adopters of any new technology. And Second Life is not the only MUVE that exists – we hear little mention of ActiveWorlds, There.com, Entropia Universe, or the emerging open-source Metaverse.
The scope of the discussion is fascinating, although I often suspect that the journalists who drop in for 5 minutes and pass judgement really do miss the point. Like many undertakings, unless you invest something of yourself in the endeavour – time, money, identity, trust, etc – there is often very little in the way of meaningful reward.
SL is still essentially an experimental platform and most of the big players, researchers and businesses are exploring the possibilities. Investment could be seen as R&D. There is going to be a major shift in the way we use the web.. SL may or may not present a window into the future… but is fairly sure to play a major role in defining the metaphors that will be used in shaping new interfaces.
While much of the rankling is ill-informed and amusing on some level, I think some of the reporting needs to rise above hearsay and conjecture and move towards a more considered analysis of the entire scope of activity within such worlds.
On a similar note, in response to the commentary at Australian universities in Second Life – the good, the bad, and the restricted
An interesting overview with some preconceptions about purpose that tend to colour judgement a little. I agree that what Lindy has done at USQ (not QUT, Gary!) is very interesting. The playgrounds and toys that are referred to are also simple devices to help induct students and new users into becoming familar with the interface – to play these games you need to develop some control of camera and movement, discover how poses work, etc
Although some comments do seem to reek of sour grapes it is somewhat understandable when reviewers wander into spaces and start saying how good or bad they are without a clear understanding of intended function. Imagine doing that in a real life space wandering in to see an electron microscope as a teenager left me less than excited when all I could see was a huge grey machine in a sterile room that looked like any other when I started studying physics and chemistry years later and was able to actually use the device I saw it in a completely different way – it isn’t designed to be looked at – its designed to be used in very particular ways
I do wish that people reviewing spaces in Second Life would take the time to talk with the managers of those spaces to get a clearer idea of what’s really going on.
Most of the work I’ve seen from Australian universities inworld is about learning and research – marketing generally haven’t jumped on the band band wagon as yet often single representatives of universities doing their own work for their own students not creating a playground or billboard for the SL population.
The example of drawing school leavers to these sites is not well thought through as most are only 17 and cannot legally access SL. And it appears you haven’t approached the Teen Grid where they might be.
Some interesting observations as I said but fraught with issues about validity and reliability.