Wayne MacPhail produces a wonderful podcast, Who's On Second (now in episode 15). He normally focuses on conversing with people working in non-profit and education endeavors in Second Life. His questions are sharp and balanced. His podcast guests are doing some far-reaching work - and just plain interesting things - in Second Life. Some of this work is far more interesting - and take communication in the "medium" to far more interesting places than all but a very few of the "brand" presences. Go take a podcast or two. You will be fascinated by the things his guests bring to light that get very little SL buzz.
In his latest podcast, Wayne diverges from his usual format to throw out some less -than-enthusiastic musings about Second Life. It is worth a listen - a bit of reality, a touch of worry about an environment that is "broken" (says Wayne), and a wish for more "doing good" with this medium - i.e. introducing transformational moments for people.
Wayne also invited comments from within a discussion list he and I happen to share. I'm taking the liberty of sharing a few of these comments anonomously. Their comments are words an SL communicator should live by.
"I do not think that the SL environment should be discounted as a mere variation of a chat room. SL brings the element of shared experience to interactions which would be anonymous in an email/chat room environment. I may appear as a cartoon character in SL but I make choices over clothing and can invite colleagues to a ‘home’ which reflect my real personality. We can go exploring together and work in the same environment, discuss the same issues affecting us weekly and translate that into RL. All this forms similar ties to that of a conference over several days, where colleagues have a chance to form stronger ties that those from the occasional exchanged note, and these interactions are reinforced over days and weeks of SL association."
"I may get a few bits of good information from the actual meeting chat sessions but what I am really getting (and this is what SL DOES offer that differs from real life meetings) is the opportunity to scan profiles of the avatars; their time in SL, their
personal group associations and other information, including optional real life information. In and of itself, this is a new type of communication that SL offers. Add to this the fact that avatar appearances are self selected with a certain amount of decision, creativity and possibility not allowed in RL and you have, in meeting each avatar, the ability to experience one on one or multiple layered communication experiences that are very different from RL."
"I have had a few (not all mentioned here) transformational encounters:
- I have met CEOs of large, important corporations who interacted with me no differently then they would another equal corporate executive. They may have even taken a suggestion or two that I had back to a RL situation.
- I have met people from all over the world that are all ages and have all interests. Our conversations encompass wide ranges of topics and had I met these individuals in RL may not have even acknowledged one another because of various bias -- let alone been aware of similar interests of shared travels, etc (via profiles).
- I have "touched" an object to find its owner or designer and then searched their profile - ya can't do that in RL, and it has, a couple of times transformed my view of the world and its possibilities.
- The social networking tools that I access outside SL have very much expanded my in world experience. I am guessing that I am on at least 6 group e-mail lists, participate in several blogs and wikis, listen to Wayne's podcasts, etc. This is as much the experience of immersion into "virtual" learning as being in-world.
"I don’t think that voice features will necessarily make our experience better, but it will attract more users, so I think it is inevitable LL follows that route rather than fix what is breaking down.
March 2, 2007