At the Online News Association meeting earlier this month, I asked a panel on “community” about Second Life. I was greeted with blank stares by all but one of the panelists, Jennifer Sizemore, vice president and editor in chief of MSNBC.com. (Hurrah for the home team!)
Even though I knew it was coming, I missed the hoop-de-doo-dah surrounding Reuters‘ entry into the virtual space. [The BBC has a news ticker. cNet launched in September. ] Every day, up to a half-million dollars (US) in real money changes hands, although it has been converted to Linden dollars. So it’s a real phenomena … and it seems to have reached some sort of critical mass, if a mainstream media company has bought land.
But it’s not just media firms.
Harvard is teaching a course, Law in the Court of Public Opinion, in SecondLife. “It is a course in persuasive, empathic argument in the Internet space.”
The Christian Science Monitor writes: “Some 60 schools and universities have set up shop
inside Second Life – most in the past year. They join a population that
includes real-world business people, politicians, entertainers, and
more than 800,000 other “residents” of the virtual world.” [See a list.]
Other universities featured in the CSM article — Ball State and Pepperdine. Because students can change their appearance and gender by how they mold their avatars, this seems like an excellent environment for teaching a class on race and gender.
And former Virginia Governor (and 2008 Veep Hopeful?) Mark Warner held the first political event in SecondLife in August.
I feel almost like a jane-come-lately … Robert Scoble told me in March that I needed to get on board. [Maybe next time I’ll take his advice!] I did create a persona — well, I made up a name. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I haven’t gotten any further in my character development.
Here are a few sites to check out if you want a crash-course in SecondLife:
- Economist feature, September 2006
- InfoIsland.org (for librarians)
- New World Notes
- Popular Science feature, September 2006
- SecondLife blog
- SecondLife Education Wiki
- SecondLife Insider
- SecondLife on Flickr
- Steve Rubel’s Second Life Del.icio.us Links