I’m working on the finishing touches to a presentation, introducing Second Life to a class at Columbia University. Some of the students in the course have some really good questions, surrounding the topics of brand identification, and the long term validity of the platform. While I’ve introduced Second Life to groups before, I find myself reinventing the wheel a bit. For others who have introduces Second Life to new groups or friends, what key aspects do you highlight in your presentation or introductions to Second Life? Do you focus on the creative aspects? The social workings? Specific builds and locations?
A study from Northwestern University states social and racial biases are carried into virtual worlds; this isn’t surprising. It’s human nature to stick to the familiar, either by engaging in familiar environments or seeking those with like opinions, thoughts and preferences. This is easily seen by the familiar clothing, buildings, and objects (such as cars) that exist in Second Life. By design virtual worlds do not care for each individual thought, opinions or preferences, they are neutral to human subjectivity. They do have parameters users much abide by, usually these parameters do not penalize you for choosing a specific gender, ethnicity or hair color. Virtual worlds are built by humans, all with different point of views, opinions and thoughts lending for the possibilities of differences concerning the choice of one’s gender, ethnicity or creature.
The representation of ethnicity and avatars does play out in very interesting ways. The same way men create female avatars in virtual worlds, ethnic identity is carried out in very similar but more complex fashion. Like the ability to represent one’s gender in a virtual world, ethnic identification is just as important. Many develop a bond with their virtual avatar as it is a representation of their own identity. In order to delve into the differences of ethnic identity in virtual world, I believe there are four factors to example: accessibility, preference and perception, life experiences, and “the goal.”
Although I consider the introduction of Linden Lab’s Homestead product a resolution to the Openspace Sim controversy, the reactions around the community seem to be split. Some people (including CodeBastard) disagree with my thoughts (and have slapped me), the consensus throughout the community is the introduction of the new product and changes is a reasonable compromise between the community wishes and Linden Labs needs. Two days before the announcement of Homesteads, hosts Dousa Dragonash and Dietrich Finesmith of Metaverse.tv MBC invited BNT CEO Intlibber Brautigan and I for a round table discussion of the Openspace issues.
While some of the topics raised here are irrelevant, there are some that remain very relevant and I feel hold true and will continue to remain relevant to the future as hardware specifications and limits are completely defined.