March 15, 2007

Second Life, Get a Life?

My head is spinning with the events of the day. Today was the day that I showed my co-workers the world of Second Life.  Basically, it's a virtual world where people can communicate, discuss, attend events, and buy and sell. If you want to know more than that, I will refer you to this most excellent wikipedia article. Incidentally, Dean Koontz had an author visit in Second Life today.

The plus of Second Life over other cyberspace programs is that everything is so visual. You can see other beings and thus, interaction becomes possible on a deeper level than it is in just a text-based program.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg library has partnered with Sirsi Dynix to bring this to their teens by providing Teen Second Life, free of charge, to their teen patrons. Our technology ingenieur asked me if I thought our library system should consider the same thing. In result, I ended up doing a presentation and demo to some co-workers.

Everyone was highly entertained, but, as I anticipated, many were skeptical about the need for us to get involved. Not only is Charlotte-Meck offering the software, but they are creating a teen library (with help from a teen advisory board) inside Teen Second Life.

On a more personal note, I was also thinking about the possibility of starting a church in Second Life. Come to find out, they already have them, although it was unclear at what level these churches function. Are the churches just buildings? Are services held? Are there functioning church bodies where members can count on each other for emotional or spiritual support?

How far we can take Second Life remains to be seen, but one thing is clear. Almost 5 million people have created accounts. Some of them could be multiple accounts for one person, and many accounts were set up and used only once. But, here is a possibility to interact with a group of people that may not be comfortable coming in a library (or church) but would visit one inside a virtual community.

After you visit the Second Life website, visit the parody website, Get a First Life, for a good laugh.

And just for fun, here are 10 reasons to visit Second Life:
  1. You choose what you look like. Here is your chance to gain all of those physical characteristics you like that your friends have and you don't. I literally spent 3 hours adjusting my appearance.
  2. You can stay at home when you visit. While you are in your pajamas, you can be listening to a concert, meeting a famous author, going to a club, or taking a class (Harvard and Ball State already offer online classes in Second Life.)
  3. You increase your world. You can meet people from all countries and that speak many languages. So far, I have met a Spanish speaker and an Italian speaker. I actually speak a little Spanish. Making new friends is always a good thing.
  4. The humorous avatars make me laugh. When you are "talking" to someone, you are actually typing on your keyboard. So as you type on your real keyboard at home, your avatar starts typing in mid-air. It looks very odd and amusing.
  5. You can fly! You can fly around in cool poses.
  6. Money goes farther. One U.S. dollar equals 270 Linden Dollars.
  7. It's a chance to learn something new. Break up the monotony of your day by trying to learn how to sit down in Second Life. It can take you quite a while to acquire any new skill.
  8. Just so you can watch your friends faces as you try to explain what it is. They will give you a quirky, lopsided grin, say, "That's cool," and change the subject.
  9. ALA is already in this, holding trainings and events. Go here for a list of events.
  10. And finally, because one day, this will be really really big, and everyone will be using it. You'll wish you hadn't been such a fuddy duddy if you don't.


bookbk said...

Wow, this sounds fascinating and very, very dangerous. I have so many procrastinatory hobbies as it is....though seeing an avatar of me typing in midair might be worth it.

Also, Charlotte-Mecklenberg library seems to have an amazing teen department in general! I found their summer reading video on the teen library wiki a little while ago and was just astonished at it.

zeelibrarian said...

I won't lie. It can be a little addictive. During my training, I reluctantly signed off. You do have to limit yourself to maybe one session a day or you could actually start living inside that world and forget to go outside.