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Dude, where’s my hair?

November 29, 2010

This was my second time experiencing Second Life. My first experience was for work I was doing for a research project related to young adult library spaces. For that project I was charged with gaining security clearance and a host to go to a teen island and look around. The teen spaces in Second Life are entirely separate from the adult spaces and for an adult to go to a teen island they must pay for and pass a criminal background check and be invited to an island by a host. Once on the island I was to observe what teens were doing with “space” and report on how second life might be used as a tool in designing teen library space.

This experience ended up being incredibly logistically difficult: I had to find a computer that could handle the software and find a host—a harder task than I anticipated. Once I had passed security clearance, the island that had agreed to host me announced they had lost funding and would be shutting down so I had 24 hours to observe the island, which was pretty barren by this point.

For this course, I had to create a new avatar because my old avatar is no longer able to return to the “adult grid” (another security rule). As with my previous experience, I found the logistics of Second Life challenging. My computer cannot easily support the Second Life software, so I had to find a computer I could use to access the program, and this limited the times I could go into Second Life.

I’ll admit that I’m not much into Second Life, but I do appreciate that this is one of those things that challenges me to think outside of myself and learn about what others are interested in. Though I grumbled at first, the class was really interesting to me. I noticed two things:
1) People in my class were really nice to me. I didn’t know how to do anything, and they actively checked in on me and answered all my questions. I thought this was interested because I often feel like the Internet can inspire something like road rage: people will say the meanest things to each other virtually because they aren’t saying it to someone’s face or being seen saying it. I found this experience to be the opposite. Everyone was really patient and helpful.
2) Being so disoriented by the environment (I had to ask how to sit down) made me aware of what it must be like to be totally new to a culture or to have a hard time navigating the environment. I have had this experience before in my not-second-life, but it’s been a long time. This experience reminded me how hard it is to navigate in an environment where tasks that others find simple you find completely foreign.

Oh, and the hair. I completely changed my physical appearance at least three times without meaning to. I tried to change it back, but I couldn’t figure it out, so I ended up walking around bald with a skirt and plaid pants on.

One Comment leave one →
  1. clementmunns permalink
    December 4, 2010 2:03 pm

    High levels of frustration can very instructive if we know that there’s no negative (real) outcome and we know ahead of time that it’s coming.

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