Thursday, November 02, 2006

Your Second Life is ready!

Explore Second Life, "a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 1,221,392 people from around the globe." Read the Popular Science article on this amazing virtual world.


Amalia | Mingamedia said...

LMSP Fellow AC

1. First impressions on Second Life

I tend to work online with a plural voice and address my constituency as a collective. Constructing a personal avatar took some effort in overcoming a certain resistance to personal virtual identity management.
- created Avatar after 3 tries.
- was disconcerted by lack of choice /pre-determined last names (where is my cultural specificity?)
- did not choose a biotype for my avatar.

2. The Premises of Second Life

As a bilingual, Latin American museum professional working with web resources, I think deeply about audience, accessibility and language. I was surprised that the Second Life interface was in English and offered (at first glance) no language options, while posing as a global network. At the bottom right of the screen I finally found four flags indicating language options. None were in Spanish.

The What Is Second Life? page poses three statements of what I should find on Second Life. As a cultural worker, I have no immediate attraction for the idea of ownership (I basically work in public education), private property and its capitalization (“The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions…”). The language used is so eminently capitalist that I am immediately turned off. I see the Internet as a space for possible words, alternative models of transcultural communication, empowerment, exchange and education; I am disappointed to find a utopian replication of the western free-market economy.

Amalia | Mingamedia said...

7.30.07 Comments on Second Life

Anonymous said...


Your comments are insightful and are extremely helpful to the work we are trying to do in creating LVM. I liked that you commented on the pre-determined last names...I too have issue with that.
I need to inquire with Linden Labs regarding that...and how that can evolve to allow the user to determine last name identities.

RE: Premises of Second Life...I find your evaluation fascinating. As a cultural worker too, I am very much interested in the intricacies of cultural identity and how it is produced as well as how it is consumed. As a museum professional working in the matrix of the web...I am always interested in exploring the possibliities of internet technology to create and facilitate new ways of thinking and design.

The internet is a place for eCommerce there's no getting around that...and Second Life is part of that ---but that's not all it's about. It is a 3D platform that has great potiential when you think about about alternative models of transcultural communication. We are leaveraging the technology not the mission statement of Second Life. We want LVM to be a place to explore Smithsonian Latino Collections from outside the box. But this is exactly the type of dialogue I crave from within the Institution ---to think outside the box.

AC said...

Third Life, Fourth Life

Once I accept that animations are the main interface we are offered in Second Life, I can start to think of alternative imagery that might inspire its visuals. Could I just be a red sphere, say? Or a halo of light? I find interesting what appears to be the hawking of SL "bling" and flaunting of choice of atavar body-type; again, the packaging.

I understand that Second Life is an experimental technological platform whose possibilities are still in the hands of a few. Hopefully the interface of new spaces created in Second Life may offer more creative uses and culturally sensitive options for virtual engagement and- one would hope- education.

I searched several terms on the main page: "Comandante Marcos" had no match. "Latino" and "Latina" brought me mainly sex-related and "mature" sites, which will be something to keep in mind; this is what we are up against!

I searched "Indigenous" and it yielded precious few groups; "Native" had a variety of groups, though I suspect few are Native run/created.


I explored the SL's "Education" page: no links to pages actually posted, but links to tutorials. There are no demonstrations, whereas SL's "Media" section shows clips that are actually posted on YouTube, created in SL.

In a visit to the NMAI's CRC I was shown several prototypes of community-made virtual museum exhibitions. I found a certain comfort in knowing that the places shown actually existed... maybe that's just my documentary self coming through!


I wonder if we had incredibly realistic immersive environments that duplicated actual revered or exoticized sites, like the Amazon, for example, if people would cease to feel the urge to tour/to be tourists. Would this aid in conservation of fragile ecosystems, or just whet people's appetites for the "real" thing?

More tomorrow.