06 March 2008

Second Life

I have been reading about Second Life and having a look from an aerial distance at various university and college islands from around the world - not that I can see much without signing in. I've also watched some introductory videos on YouTube, such as Murdoch University's video. What I find interesting is the idea suggested in the above video that the Web as we know it may in the future lose its 'flatness'. Although Second Life may not hold a great deal of attraction to the general public at present, its "3D-ness" might be a precursor to the Web of the future. Perhaps navigating the web with an avatar and moving through our daily activities in a three- dimensional cyberspace might be as banal as keyboard and mouse navigation through flat pages is now.

I'm not sure about Second Life's usefulness for libraries. Sure, libraries are teaching clients how to create an avatar and move around, universities are conducting forums and classes, but is it really so popular that there is a need to reach students 'in world'? How is a reference librarian answering a student's question in Second Life different from answering the question in person, by phone or email? Well, I guess the librarian in Second Life has wings...

Isn't the quality of information provided more important than where or how the interaction takes place? And if the information can be provided quickly and easily by the means we use now, why spend big bucks on IT building a virtual space that might go out of fashion next month?
O yeah, and it costs money just to hang out in Second Life, doesn't it?

I can see how Second Life is a great space for artists, architects and musicians. It is a way to reach a whole new audience that may not have been reached. However, art, design and music are audiovisual and have to be seen and heard. Information at the moment is just written or spoken, so how is it more attractive in Second Life? Maybe for remote users and those with a disability? It is a way to get people together to interact in transcontinental conferences or forums - but so is Google Docs, videoconferencing etc.

Hmmm....Maybe babies born now will laugh at this later.

Right now I'm back being interested in the Singularity . They were talking about it on the radio this week. It's my concept for the week. Take a look at the Singularity Institute's Web Page for more info, or read some Raymond Kurzweil. This guy is really interesting, whether you agree with him or not - and he's invented a heap of stuff.
If you think Second Life is creepy, wait till the Singularity, ha ha.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great and really thought-provoking post. You clearly 'get it'; library services are library services, whatever the medium! I agree that we should stop and think whether we need to use the latest fad to connect with users, or whether we're doing ok without it. You also make an excellent point about cost; it's a really important element in the relationship between libraries and their users -- particularly in the public library setting.