So what’s the big deal about Second Life, anyway?

I got into Second Life in 2007, out of curiosity about what might be in there. I don’t think I had any idea what it would be like, and every few months, I must again reevaluate my assessment of the environment.

The point of this blog is to talk about the learning opportunities open to you in this 3D virtual world. You can meet and learn from other people in here. It’s really all about the people, which is a nice way to use the Internet, if you think about it.

First, the basics. Second Life (SL) is a 3D virtual world that allows chatting, animations, creation of objects, and use of vast amounts of virtual space. All in your one “real life (RL)” computer on a smallish desk in the corner. It’s a compact and non-messy way to learn stuff and interact with others. No glue, no project tables, no display shelves as with model airplanes, jigsaw puzzles, or scrapbooking. It’s a social venue, a free commerce zone for virtual goods and services, a meeting place, and a zone for unstructured play time.

Second Life is NOT a game or a dating service, although you may occasionally find both of those items within the world. In general, there is no winning and losing, and you get out of it what you make of it. It is also not the only 3D virtual world out there. In fact, more than 100 of them exist. Do check out as many as you have the patience to investigate, as I am certain there are wonderful things happening at each.

If you are new to Second Life, perhaps you should ask yourself,  “What do I want to get out of this experience?” Because once you get past the irritatingly long learning curve on how to move and customize your avatar, you are going to be dumped into a world with about 50,000 other avatars at any one time.

Common Second Life residents include:

  • Casual visitors to SL, just checking out the climate or coming on to hang with friends or family
  • Artists who make 3D art and find ways to display it to the public (and hopefully sell it)
  • Architects who make 3D buildings and other types of objects, often with scripts added which give them extra functionality (and hopefully sell them)
  • Entrepreneurs who find hot-selling content and arrange to resell it
  • Venue owners, hosts and hostesses, DJs and live musicians in dance clubs which operate on tips and related merchandise
  • Existing brincks-and-mortar businesses using the space as a new way to reach the public, such as the journal Science, which has an island and does live scholarly paper presentations.
  • Organizations (for-profit or nonprofit) which see the value of 3D space for meetings between participants that are physically far apart.
  • The general public in SL which consists of dancers, meeting participants, lecture attendees, shoppers, daters, socializers, learners and more.
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