Month: August 2009

SL gives voice to the repressed

I remember when FAX machines made possible protests by Chinese dissidents against the Chinese government. That has been a few years. Now, Second Life seems to be providing an outlet that not only facilitates protests of a similar sort, but also brings people together in ways even beyond the Internet. The Web site “Foreign Policy in Focus” has a thorough article about “The Iranian Opposition’s Second Life” that is thought-provoking in a number of ways. It seems not only to have been a means of free expression, but also of providing something like face-to-face meetings in a “place” where face-to-face meetings otherwise can be very, very dangerous.

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Second Life Web page update aids functioning

Linden Lab seems proud of their new Web site, and so far it seems justified to me. They have aggregated several useful features on the Web that makes using SL itself easier, and that enables some quick functioning without having to log into the grid.

One of the neatest seems to be the dashboard, reachable by http://secondlife.com/my. This page brings together several of the most popular pages of information as well as account information.

For instance, at the very top you find What Next, World Map, Shopping, Buy Land, Community, and Help. What Next has several items like the Quick Start Guide and links to video tutorials (which are also linked further down the dashboard, which seems redundant to me, but heck, I’m old-school).

The World Map actually is a piece of the SL Search Engine, enabling you to search for both places and events and, once you’ve located the point on a Web-based map, teleport directly there.

Following the pattern of “more there than what the label would suggest,” the Buy Land tab certainly lets you buy land, but also gives you link to information such as the location of land owned by groups to which you belong, and the location of land that you own.

Other widgets on the page give you access to your account information, your Friends list, the Linden currency exchange, XstreetSL (including merchant tools, and several other informational links.

And that’s just the dashboard. Linden Lab also says they have streamlined the registration process (and God knows it needed streamlining–the new page is accessible via http://join.secondlife.com/), and they’re planning to improve the orientation experience as well.

I’m personally looking forward to seeing what’s involved in the Viewer 2.0 thing. Tateru Nino wrote about the plans back in June, which is forever in SL terms. Back then, the major change was a rearrangement of menus in an attempt to be more intuitive. Lots could have changed since then, of course, and I’m hoping for the better–not that the interface is bad now, but that could just be because I’m used to it. Anyway, I’ve not seen recent updates on its design or status, and I couldn’t help but notice it was the one thing on the LL blog page that was not linked to another story.

In any case, it does look as if they are trying to make things easier for experienced users as well as n00bs.

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SL moving closer to real life

Here we are with a new academic year starting, and among other things this year holds, I’m getting back into Second Life again. Much has changed, and much remains the same. I’ll be sharing observations more frequently than in recent months.

One thing that caught my eye today: Paul Sweeney has noticed an implication of recent announcements by Linden Lab, i.e., that “Second Life [is] getting closer to real life.” Part of that announcement revolved around an upcoming viewer upgrade that will allow the viewer to handle HTML, Flash, and embedded browsers, and it may even be able to talk to real world applications like Excel. Such capabilities will make virtual meetings seem/feel more like real-world meetings, making them feel somewhat like face-to-face (where it’s so easy to just say, “Look at this!”) while retaining the advantages of using the Internet for distributed meetings rather than having everyone hop on a plane.

That has implications for distance education as well, of course.

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