I’m having a blast in Second Life. Working, collaborating, meeting interesting people. Flying, building, exploring. But am I just playing? Is Second Life just another video game?
I’ve created a list of reasons to justify my time spent in this alternate world:
I’m watching technology trends.
Second Life is essentially the next version of the internet. Remember when the net was text-based? And how exciting it was when our computers finally had enough memory and processing speed to start including pictures on our websites? In the early days, you had to be a Photoshop god to put graphics on your site. Later, we added sound and video. As our machines get better, the web becomes more and more like real life, and Second Life is the obvious next step toward putting usable content online and creating a life-like way for users to find that information.
I’m learning to work in a 3D environment.
Maneuvering in 3D takes some practice. At first I was walking into walls, falling off stairs, and having a difficult time reading signs. It gets easier with practice. As library staff, being able to help newbies get around in this world is a key factor in getting these new users to come back and see what we have to offer. We ourselves need to be comfortable in virtual reality if we want to be able to provide service here.
I’m helping to create “what’s next” in terms of library (or web) services.
Putting information into a virtual environment is quite different from putting it on a 2D website. You have an opportunity to communicate with your users in a new way. Thinking through the possibilities of how to present information has changed the way I look at my static website. We don’t need to create an environment that is identical to real life (i.e. brick and mortar library building); we can use the endless possibilities in VR to enhance real life, not copy it. It’s a valuable thought experiment.
I’m creating relationships in my field.
I’m enjoying this part of Second Life most of all. I’ve been working with library people from all over the world and from all kinds of libraries: public libraries, academic libraries, medical libraries, engineering libraries, arts libraries… We collaborate and build friendships. We work with museums. We work with astronomers. We work with historians. Second Life has taken down the walls between information providers and has given us a place where we can all meet and share ideas.
Am I playing in Second Life? Yes. Am I having fun? Yes. Am I positioning myself for the future of information sharing? Yes. It is real-life work; but it’s work that is extremely enjoyable and rewarding.