As I spend more time in Second Life, I look for interactive events to see how people are using this exciting new medium. So far, for me, it does a good job of bridging the tyranny of distance and providing networking opportunities.
However, I think replicating a real-world event online isn’t always the best use of this medium. First of all, there always seem to be audio issues — which can be distracting. Crowd management can also be an issue — late comers can show up with their mics in the locked on position and raise hell with everyone else’s audio. Secondly, people can get so distracted wtih trying to navigate their avatar that they miss out on the message.
An event I attended this morning featured what amounted to an infomercial for a Facebook application called Second Life Link. It was a really good attempt and the audio was decent. The presenter was patient with people having problems and even created slides on the fly to address issues. However, I thought it a shame that the seating was so traditional – benches with everyone in neat rows facing the slideshow. One taller avatar had to be told to sit down when I suspect he was just trying to get a better look at the screen.
Aftewards, the presenters did a great job of answering questions and the networking was great. For me, this is where Second Life is far superior to online conferencing software like Elluminate or Live Classroom. You can have face to face conversations and others can walk over to join in. My edna t-shirt was a great talking point and introduction to what our organisation does (note to self: need to create a notecard and have it ready to hand out).
I think communicators and educators need to use the program differently to get maximum results from it. For those people for whom using SL is a struggle – we need to make it worth their while. Their has to be a sound learning benefit for using SL. However, I don’t think we should stop playing with it and learning from it — otherwise we’ll never figure out what the learning potential of this medium is.
I found a great interview with the founder of the Second Life ICT Library
that crystalises this thinking – hope you find it of interest.