it’s been a great couple of weeks hanging with Oscar and bon. So far being a dad is pretty cool. But time to get back to work, at least back to blogging.
Second life is not a game. That is the first thing that I came to realize after about fifteen minutes into the virtual reality environment. In order for something to be ‘a game’ there need to be clear defined rules, and, most would argue, a way to win. True, you could measure ‘winning’ by how much money you have, a common path in our own ‘meatspace’ world… and not one I particularly subscribe to. You could play a game IN second life… much like you could in ‘first life’. But, in and of itself, it is not a game.
And it is this potential for creating ANYTHING that both supports all the potential and all the difficulties with using it as a educational platform. At worldbridges we’ve been testing bunches of different ways to use second life.
- we’ve webcasted.
- we’ve met.
- we’ve built stuff.
- we’ve bought and sold.
- i bought a blackjack machine.
- i’ve won a lost money playing it.
- i built some furniture.
- jeff bought and configured an amphitheatre.
- we’re designing a conference environment.
- jeff built a soju tent.
- i’ve met new people
The 3.0ness assuming that makes any sense, comes from the feeling of ‘actually being there’. During our various live, participatory events, we’ve often gotten a great deal of feedback that people felt disassociated from other members, who were confused about ‘where to go’. In second life – you can follow. If someone turns to go into a group, you can follow them… chatting works by proximity, communities of conversation can form naturally, according to the needs of the people involved.
The interactivity of blogs and podcasts still comes from the old ‘expert central’ model. yes, you can respond to a blog and a podcast using your own blog or podcast, but it is still an exchange of expert opinions… and i’ve had some very nice conversations that way. But very little gets BUILT that way. How many projects have actually gotten DONE through blogging and podcasting? Even with live webcasting, there still tends to be a central voice, or voices that control the conversation. A conversation in second life, however, allows for an open conference without the without that central expert opinion.
Now, you might say, sounds life a real life conference, except with less beer. Well, that may be, but in a real conference, the money, the control of the agenda, no matter how open, still has a great deal of effect on the outcome. If Star Macrosystems supports a conference, is it really possible to openly criticise their work? A second life conference takes one call out, and it can begin. It’s completely supported by Linden labs.
The catch? They want your credit card or paypal account. but you can play without paying cash. And the sign up process is long and tedious. Ostensibly, the process assures that you don’t wreck the economy by signing up a million times and gathering the cash. and it does do this. But it does mean that anytime you find something appealing to purchase, you are that much closer to buying it.
Educationally, especially with adults and by distance, this environment is without equal. The opportunies for interactivity and to deal with the alienation that comes from virtual classrooms is amazing. With the K-12 system i forsee many, many more problems. A system of control would need to be very tight in order to stop students from simply skydiving away the whole class. It would be possible, but difficult.
We will be doing a conference there soon, and are in there working on stuff all the time. You are all invited. My name in SL is coarsesalt Warrigall. say hello.