A couple weeks ago I went to a workshop on Second Life (http://secondlife.com/). It’s “an online, 3D virtual world imagined and created by its residents.” It’s kind of like a video game. To play you have to create an avatar (online persona). To move around in Second Life you have your avatar walk or fly to different places. You run into other people/avatars and interact with them by typing or talking depending on what you and they have for technology.
It’s not like a video game in that there are no winners and there’s no prescribed action. You don’t try to get a frog across a road or shoot asteroids. Lots of schools and businesses (OK primarily tech businesses) have islands in Second Life. An idea is what they call a server or kind of like a web site. So you have to find these islands and can then visit. So there’s a newbie island or maybe you decide to check out NPR’s Science Friday Island.
I heard of two cool examples of Second Life islands: The Human Genome (http://connect.educause.edu/Library/EDUCAUSE+Review/GenomeIsland/47234?time=1223479496) and NASA’s replication of Mars (http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/01/nasa_virtual_worlds).
I took a video of our stroll in Second Life, which I’ll post below. I just thought it might be interesting for folks to get a glimpse of Second Life without having to create an avatar.
So am I buying stock in a Second Life Island? Not yet. We tried to do a search to find and visit the Louvre – we couldn’t and this was a room full of librarians. I’ve heard that it take a couple of hours to create an avatar and even longer to really get the hang of hanging out. I’ve met folks who I respect who really like it. I’d love for my kids to visit the Genome Island in high school – in fact it’s the education applications that I find most interesting. But what I saw did not inspire me to block off a day or so to get into it.