Seriously? Are We Still Using Second Life?!

<rant> A recent post on an article hipped me to the fact that some library organizations might still be active in Second Life!! I couldn’t believe it. But maybe I’m just totally wrong on this one so I’m open to your criticism of my criticism. Here is why I think that Librarians should get off second life.

Second Life is for Geeks and Pedophiles

It WAS cool. At one point, a long time ago in the way back machine. It looked like it would turn into the next Facebook but then it kind of fizzled out to become the next Myspace. I take that back, that’s kind of harsh, they do boast about having 15 million users so I guess it’s more like G+. Everyone has an account, but nobody actually goes there. (the soundtrack to Second Life should just be crickets and wind blowing and investors being sad).

It WAS innovative. Part of being innovative is knowing when to know to walk away from something. Sometimes I think innovation is as much doing something as it is not doing something ridiculous. Here is a good example – a tumblr of people using QR codes.

This program also boasts a completely ridiculous learning curve for use. Basically, what someone has to do is re-learn everything that someone had to learn to live a regular life all over again. That is, walk, talk, move, dress yourself, pick things up, put things down, etc… (you do get to learn to fly though). I already learned that crap, why do I have to learn it again to get the same effect I do in first life?

Here’s the deal. After learning (relearning) all that garbage you then have to find the place you have to go on a map then get there however you want to get there, then interact with that space in some way to get what you want. All the while you spend massive amounts of time dodging people asking “ASL?” But, what really irks me is that once you get there, you sit in a room and watch… wait for it…  a freaking webinar!! WTF!!? People!! WTF!!?

You know what would make it all easier? Turning on your computer and clicking ON A LINK FOR A WEBINAR!!!??? I’m a freaking genius! Why has nobody thought of this before!?

Anyway… I have more, but I just feel like being done now.</rant>

40 thoughts on “Seriously? Are We Still Using Second Life?!

  1. BAH!!!!!!!!!! I literally guffawed out loud (GOL?) when I clicked on that QR code tumblr link. Hilarious. I tried QR codes in my library once. My students looked at me like I was an idiot.

  2. I love SL – I teach there, attend conferences there… there are a huge group of educators there, it seems sad that you have so little idea…

  3. I totally agree with you. If all you’re doing in-world is showing PowerPoint slides — well, there are much, much easier ways to share PowerPoint than by having people download, install, and learn to use Second Life. SL is massive overkill for that. Existing webinar software — like GoToMeeting and WebEx and even the free tools available such as Google Present — are much more stable, more lightweight, easy to use, and so much faster.

    However, Second Life — and it’s lower-cost, open-source alternative, OpenSim — does provide some features that you can’t get in a webinar, that you can normally only get in face-to-face interactions.

    Say, for example, you wanted to teach people how to navigate a building, or how to fit two machine parts together, or how to evacuate a ship, or how to interact with customers. Basically, anything that requires involved interactivity with an environment or with other people, can be expensive, dangerous, or impractical to do in real life.

    When you look at the six-figure virtual world projects that corporations and governments are doing now, it’s about training and simulations. Second Life and OpenSim makes it easy and affordable to create your own interactive training and simulations, without having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Meanwhile, if you happen to be in Second Life or OpenSim for other reasons — say, you’re building a replica of a historic event, or helping students model protein chains in 3D, or networking with your colleagues over virtual coffee in a Paris bistro — then it can be quicker to hold a quick PowerPoint presentation there than to leave Second Life and boot up some other program. I believe most people who show slides in Second Life fall into this latter category — they and their colleagues are already there, doing immersive, interactive stuff that they can only do in a virtual environment.

  4. Spot on Maria, my university is geographically quite a distance away. Through SL I am able to interact and bounce ideas off my lecturer and other students in-world which is a lot more productive than ringing or emailing everyone (it also personifies the experience for me). I am also developing the virtual skills needed for teaching in my primary classroom as the students’ are using a virtual program to work collaboratively on their science, HSIE and other projects and being supported by student experts located in different parts of the school. I think it is the collaboration of ‘when you can’t be in the same room at least you can be in the same virtual space’ that I see so much value in. Therefore SL has been critical in allowing me to develop and transform my classroom pedagogy and afford my primary students the opportunities to experience success with their learning outcomes.


  5. I tried SL back when it was new and I was not computer geeky enough…(I’m middle aged, come to technology relatively late and librarianship late). Now I’m the geekist in my library besides the IT guy…go figure? Still didn’t have reason to try SL again. My avatar is out there wondering what happened, MAN!?

  6. You raise good points, I have to agree with many. Linearly transferring real life to second life makes no sense but I like SL for the creative opportunities which present. I’ve seen some amazing kinetic art, dynamic fractal art, interactive art and architecture, all created in the virtual realm. Much of it would be near impossible for a humble soul to do in this real world. As for sitting in a virtual classroom watching a virtually boring lecture, I’d still prefer to be really bored.

  7. The learning curve for SL is very steep and the pa back small. I really enjoyed playing on SL but it’s too time consuming for the results to generates. Other than fulfilling class requirements and trying to meet up with other virtual students at a lame SL disco, oh! and an evening hanging out virtually with one of my kids, I haven’t found a use for SL. I suspect you’re right it is passe. It is like one of things that we aren’t really ready for technologically yet. That is sometime in the future it may re-emerge in a more user friendly version.
    I have to confess that I use my SL avatar as a profile picute on FB. I guess that has a retro aspect!
    A refreshing note Mr. Sweeney.

  8. If you never learn, or teach students, how to build, which is the best possible thing one can do in Second Life, then you’ll never “get” it. Second Life remains the only environment in which four people can get together from anywhere in the world and create something together, using a huge archive of free objects and full permissions objects that other residents have made, to give away free.

    If you decide to come back, you can come to Burning Man and pick up a copy of the car that I am making with my boyfriend who lives in Germany and with other friends who live in other states here in the U.S.

    Be glad that you are not isolated by disabilities, like many in Second Life are.
    Ask yourself why you might be prepared to go into any neighborhood in the world to teach, except that one.
    Real disabled people are in Second Life, and if you continue to try to talk educators and your administration out of funding educational opportunities there, you’re attempting to kill one of the only places they can walk around and interact with other “felt” bodies.

    What’s your gain here, really?
    What do you gain by being so negative about something that others need so badly?

    I can’t wish you good luck with that.

    Why not use your small bit of this life’s breath to promote something positively instead of trying to encourage others to abandon an environment that, for some, is the only way they have of interacting in any near-physical manner with new people at no monetary cost?

    1. Deanya, thanks for asking the question What’s your gain? It almost seems like a troll. “I have nothing to write … let’s throw up a slam on SL.”

      As I pointed out on my reply to Patrick’s Facebook post, there is a consituency of SL residents to whom the volunteer virtual librarians are addressing library needs in ways particular to a virtual world. Patrick belittled the number by pointing out to me what the world population was. Good grief! By that measure, we should shut down the local library because it’s not serving that much larger population.

      The activities of most of these librarians, be the way, is not a waste of some institution’s money because they are not being paid! So what Patrick ended up doing was insulting them.

      1. Some of my best friends work with Caledon libraries, and the efforts they make there are professional and great in any world. Thanks, Donavan, for continuing against difficult odds.

  9. I don’t think SL is ultimately intended for this generation, rather the next… There are tons of middle school students playing with Minecraft Religiously! What ever the next iteration of virtual world technology will be, they will be there…

    … And it will be as natural to them as a classroom is to us.


  10. Hi – I have got a lot out of SL professionally: I have written an article with a professor in Hawaii (I’m in the UK: Sheffield) who I’ve only got to know through SL, I’ve organised and participated in events that had people contributing from literally all over the world, and I organise a monthly Journal Club with a librarian in Edinburgh (which is several hundred miles away). The journal club meetings are fairly small, but we’ve always had people from more than one country participating. For me the 3D, visual and “physical” impact of a virtual world has made this all more meaningful than just using a 2D or text forum, or video conference. It sounds like you had some negative experiences: I would never drag my students into SL to listen to a webinar or watch a powerpoint, they go into SL to participate and be active.
    Of course i respect your right to your own opinion, but as someone who teaches librarians (at Sheffield University iSchool) I would say that having that slogan saying that “Second Life is for Geeks and Pedophiles” is offensive and disrespectful to a community that you don’t seem to know that much about, and not what I would expect from a public librarian. (To make it clear, it’s not the geek part that I object to 😉

  11. Second Life is the way station to the metaverse. The current SL execs think it should be more about game play. Not. It’s always meant community to me and my SL Community. Check out Virtually Speaking – do a search in world. Or online search for Virtually speaking on Blog Talk Radio. VS produces about 5 talk shows – some science, some politics, some culture. Lots to choose from and archived shows are also available at iTunes.

  12. Looks like my 2 cents in defense of librarians in SL isn’t needed. Great points everyone, but I just can’t help myself here… Community Virtual Library (Alliance Virtual Library)has been in SL for six and a half years with a great volunteer staff! Virtual worlds aren’t for everyone, it isn’t FB, it isn’t better than a webinar. Why does it have to be better or best? It is an option for those who enjoy the creativity and community. The librarians and patrons aren’t names scrolling on a webinar screen you see for an hour and then they are gone, they are people we get to know over time…just like just like a RL library. I can understand people not getting it, I can understand the so called learning curve being a problem especially for those who aren’t “getting it”. What I can’t understand is why people want to belittle others for being involved in any aspect of librarianship… maybe storytelling isn’t my thing, but I am happy that we have librarians who love to do it. The SL librarians (and educators) are a dedicated, creative, enthusastic, group of people who see the potential of virtual worlds. Kudos to them!

  13. I can tell by what you wrote that you know nothing about Second Life. Sounds to me that the learning curve was to steep for YOU so you just gave up, but it isn’t for the hundreds of thousands of people that still use SL. When i joined SL it took me only a day to learn enough to get around and do most things. It isn’t rocket science. Sure, learning the building and scripting aspects take longer, but what 3D modeling program and computer programming language exists that you can master in only a few hours?
    SL even now has an economy larger than some third world nations. There are enough people on line at some point every day to populate a city. It is a world in all sense of the word. Maybe we are all geeks, but geeks rule now days. Some of the most intelligent people I have met in life I’ve met in SL. Even today SL Is the most advanced virtual world in existence. Some of the ‘games’ may be prettier to look at, but you are restricted to following their story line and only interacting with things made by the people that run the game. In SL you can do and be anything you want to be and create anything you can think of.
    As far as pedophiles, there are some, just as there are in ANY population, including any social media site you can name. Lately we’ve seen that they exist in any setting in RL too, including every profession – even librarians. Pedophilia is taken very seriously in SL and residents themselves will report it in a heartbeat if they discover it going on and the person not only will be banned but proper authorities will be notified.
    As some one pointed out, a lot of SL residents are seriously ill and/or disabled and can’t socialize much in real life if at all. SL is the only place they can go to lead a ‘normal’ life and do things that are physically impossible for them in the real world as well as socialize with friends in a way that is not possible on platforms such as Face Book. Many of these residents don’t tell anyone of their RL problems, unless you become very close to them and they trust you, because by not telling anyone they are treated just like everyone else. That is a very valuable feeling for them.
    SL is not for everyone, that is true. It is not for people like you obviously. But that’s ok, based on your nasty closed minded rant, I wouldn’t want to meet you in SL or in person.

  14. I just have one simple question: what happened to basic face to face interaction??? why are you people spending majority of your time in an imaginary world? Is real life that bad?

    1. OMGZ KT has hit on something none of us SL-recluses EVAR considered!! Our lives are indeed so bad! But, thankfully, not as bad as it is for people who spend hours watching TV, write insipid blogtrolls, think telephone conversations are real, or have poor reading comprehension.

  15. I personally found the learning curve associated with basic navigation of Second Life to be minimal, up arrow to go forward, right arrow to go right etc. I saw something on National Geographic Channel where chimps and orangutangs learned to navigate similar fashion as well. It was not excessively challenging to learn how to click items I wanted either.

    I do spend time in Second Life, it is a great medium for 3D artistic development. Last year Second Life brought the capabilities of Mesh in the form Collada and Pathfinding to the grid. Which allows 3D Artist a different view of our work.

    The HAVOK physics engine is one of the better engines available, I could be wrong but I am not sure of other Open SIms that have implemented a better physics engine. Second Life also offers the compatible physics.

    Simply because Second Life eluded your comfort zone does not make it irrelevant. If you think about it; many technologies such 3D Movies,CGI (Computer Generated Graphics), the web and personal computers took a while to find their way in to the main stream. It is entirely possible that the concept of virtual worlds could still yet find a way into the marketplace.

    I feel sad that a well educated librarian would choose ridicule and belittle something with such great educational potential.

  16. lol I don’t know about the rest of you or the OP of this artical. But I still make a living out of SL in the game/sports area.
    Most people in SL find one or two communities they stay with. And bring friends into it. I know some who only use SL for surfing, simboarding, hockey, etc. And they do nothing else in SL.
    If a library exists in SL, it’s because some use it.

    So many naive people think it’s all about hookers. Hey it’s the internet, do you say CNN’s website is associated to porn websites just because they both exist on the internet? No.. so why say one place is bad in SL if only a few are?
    Morons that’s why.

    1. Yes, I do think it has value, but I’m very skeptical of its use for libraries. This is a library blog, so any information you get is through the lens of librarianship.

  17. People with limited imaginations generally don’t see the point of Second Life. They do first life things there (for instance,attend webinars) and wonder– “What’s the point?”

    It requires imagination to see and exploit a three-dimensional virtual space that frees one from real-world constraints of gravity and space.

    And you know what’s sad? Telling the world about your lack of imagination by demeaning something you don’t understand.

    1. not necessarily true. Yes there is art and imagination in SL and also education potential, but sadly it seems for the most part ( with a few exceptions) to be totally caught up within SL. And sadly there is a lot of crap to wade through there as well- as if real life wasn’t hard enough!! lol. News flash, it’s only 3 dimensional by an illusion of sight. You are staring at a one dimensional screen. I was inspired to begin with in SL but if reality is limiting for some then for SL too became limiting so I took my creativity back out into the real world of 5 senses. If people enjoy flying and meeting virtual strangers (who are they really?) or if they enjoy the creativity or so called education they can have there then that’s fine but let’s keep a balance here. I think there is actually more scope and more to share in the real world.

  18. I don’t use SL, but I know about it. And like everything else: Facebook, MySpace, and Google+ -it has or had the potential_ even web seminars.

  19. Some of the comments are longer than the post itself! I have a friend that loves SL, and to that person- SL literally is her ‘second life’! (details excluded for obvious reasons) HA

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