The confessions of Landru Knight
I totally see the value of Second Life [Link], and other massively multiplayer role playing games, in education. It can provide for what Lambert Lum [Link] expressed a need for, experiential learning. That's not what this post is about. This is about the value of Second Life as "a place to be." I don't get Second Life as a place to hang out, meet people and play.
Maybe you have to get gaming (I do not). I would rather create and communicate on my computer than recreate. Don't get me wrong, I love my computers. To me they're incredible tools to greatly enhance my real life. I tried Halo 2, very cool, and X-box Live to me seemed much more compelling than the keyboard, video and mouse (KVM) interface of Second Life. Since the KVM interface is killing my hands, To me comparing X-box Live to Second Life is like comparing Skype to text chat. On the other hand I guess the level of abstraction offered in Second Life with its KVM interface allows greater abstraction of avatars (the virtual personae of folks you meet in Second Life.) I tried Halo 2 once, that was enough for me.
On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog [Link]
The cute barmaid you talk to in Second Life may actually be a middle aged guy from Ohio. And, that brings me to the truly weird part of Second Life, the mature (adult) content space. Peter Steiner's 1993 cartoon in the New Yorker, a parody of the then popular expression for folks advocating the use of computers by the disabled, "on the Internet no one knows you're a quadriplegic," has changed meaning and become remixed as a warning given to many who use and accept as truth what they find on the web.
In fact I do get Second Life as a great enabler for folks who, for a variety of reasons, are challenged in their ability to interact with others. For example, I think a Second Life conference with Stephen Hawking [Link] would be so awesome. In Second Life everybody can choose their age, gender, fitness level, can walk and can even fly!
To me it's the abstraction of Second Life avatars from real life that makes the so popular adult scene in Second Life seem so weird. Maybe later I will get it. I must admit I did not get E-mail at first. I remember telling a friend about 15 years ago, "why do I need E-mail, if you want to tell me something just call me on the phone." Anyway, if you run into me, I mean Landru Knight, in Second Life, be sure to say hi!