About two years ago I first discovered Second Life. I just sort of dived in and explored. It was interesting learning to walk, touch, sit; and really fun to fly. I traveled hither and yon, exploring strange new worlds. After awhile I got bored and stopped visiting. Also, it got kind of weird, especially after some entity in a hospitality venue for SL newbies propositioned me. Sort of creepy when I think about it.
Anyway, I’ve just started to visit again, partially as a result of a homework assignment for the EdTech class I’m taking. This time my visits are purposeful and very fruitful. One of my class assignments was to describe my favorite place in SL. That’s really hard to define. Favorite for which purpose? I don’t have one I love the most. Here are a few that have made an impression on me:
The most informative and relevant to my work is ISTE. (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/ISTE%20Island/101/50/30) I think this world has the most to offer educators in things related to virtual reality and how it applies to the work we do. I think it is a great jumping off point. It can help you find other universes that have educational value. The docents are very helpful. I met some who I will meet again in RL (real life) at the ISTE conference next week. I can see spending a lot of time in SL ISTE, expanding my professional learning network.
Second Life Synagogue (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Nessus/23/142/103) is fascinating, though a tad bizarre. You can light Shabbat candles, meditate (!), read from a virtual Torah scroll, and even pet a dog named, of all things, “Saba”. There are communal Shabbat candle lighting ceremonies - by time zone of course – an amphitheater where concerts are held, a bar and a dance floor. There’s a lot more. It’s an attempt to create a Jewish inworld community.
I think Jokaydia Estate(http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/jokaydia/196/81/24) is fantastic because it provides you numerous portals to interesting worlds. It’s sort of like ISTE but different. More surreal. Upon my visit I was attacked by a green robotic thing shooting death rays at me. All in jest I suppose. I think it didn't like the fact that I was trying to get through a door that wouldn't open. I also got to ride a gyroscope. All in all, though, I think it is a great introduction to what SL has to offer.
One of the most intriguing visits I had was at UC Davis Visual Hallucinations (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Sedig/26/45/22), which was created to teach about schizophrenia. I have to say that this experience, designed to replicate the hallucinations associated with this disease made a big impact on me. It was sort of chilling and intense.
And of course, I found SL Dark Star Headquarters and associated sims (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/DarkStar/128/128/32), devoted to the Grateful Dead. There's a virtual parking lot where deadheads sell their wares, an interactive museum with video clips of concerts, all with Grateful Dead music playing in the background. All in all, an amusing and great way to waste time.
I love science fiction, especially the genre called “cyberpunk”, pioneered by authors like William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. In these novels, the characters interact in virtual universes. In some, most of the action takes place in virtual reality. Second life intrigues me because it is a primitive form of the kind of virtual life these writers (and the TV series “Caprica”) depicted. It excites me because I believe that it has the potential of changing the way we learn, teach and interact with one another. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future the classroom will not be made of bricks and mortar, but will be constructed out of code.