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thoughts on second life and week 14 learning objectives

May 5, 2010
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1. Well, if seeing SL is seeing the internet, I guess I did… but to be totally honest, even though I have a grasp on what the internet is, I’m still not too sure about what it means. Same goes for SL.

2. A mental conceptualization of the net is, by nature, an abstraction; the mind finds abstractness a hassle and a bore, so you get stuff like SL; this process (moving in hierarchy without changing in nature) reflects the principle of the strange loop.

3. The SL interface is a little clunky. It seems inspired by videogames, but has more to learn there I’d posit.

That said, almost all videogames are incredibly simplistic in terms of what can actually be done in the game-world – I’m always surprised that generally all you can really do in videogames is kill stuff in various different ways; it’s kind of creepy from a social POV, and kind of primitive from a design POV. SL has more going on (or at least aspires to have more going on) action-wise and though the action possibilities are variegated, the interface has suffered due to that complexity.

4. Generally I’m cautious about things that are new to me; I don’t think I’m alone in that (we’re all mammals, after all: fairly paranoid creatures by nature), although when it comes to technology sometimes it feels like people embrace it without feeling the typical mammalian uneasiness. Not sure why that is – maybe we’ve learned to associate technology with convenience, efficiency, entertainment, and additional good stuff, and have been conditioned to take pleasure in the newest thing regardless of what it actually is or offers us.

I don’t really care to elaborate on my SL reservations because I really just don’t know a lot about SL, what it’s capable of, what people get out of it, etc. I will say this: having tried it with as open of a mind as I could muster, I saw some glimmer of hope that the software has some good stuff going on – for example, people who can’t stroll around at the park and talk to folks in real life can use SL to do so virtually.

5. Human-computer interaction has significant limitations and IMO that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps people have forgotten that human-human interaction has some pretty darn significant limitations, too… Why should we get on better with boxes of electronics than with our fellow humans?

I suppose the argument is that computers are a tool and that the ultimate tool should have no barrier between it and the user. (If people had patience enough, they could just wait for mutation/evolution to fulfill their biotechnological needs. There’s another strange loop, BTW…). But the hurray-for-the-singularity types look forward to AI, too; I have to ask… do we really want to have a computer that is smarter than us plugged into the old noggin?

Sigh… some mad scientist somewhere just won’t rest until computers plug straight into our brain, so I guess I had better just come to terms with it… For the record, though, I think it’s a very very bad idea. In general, our inventions have a much higher birth rate than our rational thoughts… and sci-fi tends to be gloomy for a reason…

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