Monday, May 21, 2007

Second Life, Same as the First

The buzz about Second Life is deafening. I can't read a blog or go to a conference without hearing about how it's the next thing. I've read "Web 2.0 is dead" at least three times in the last month. Between the lines bloggers Farber and Dignan recently posted about Mitch Kapor's keynote at a recent Second Life convention. His message was essentially a warning: "The most important thing I want to say and leave you with is that with the privilege of creating a new world or new worlds, I believe, comes responsibility. And really the responsibility is to make that new world a better place." He dreams that Second Life can be a better, more inclusive and accepting world than the Real World. But, Mitch, we're all still humans living out our second life online. Idealist, you are. People are people. Existential Paine (really?) recently posted on the Tech Learning blog: You don't have to believe everything you Think. The post included a reference to a high school student's essay in her school newspaper about how Second Life separates us from one another. This girl, Carly F. has this to say:

Beyond the idea that Second Life does not exist are the consequences society will pay. If we lose human contact, we lose our social skills. If we lose honesty, we're only assuring ourselves that deceit is a natural human concept. If we forget how to accept others as their true selves, we're only promoting more prejudice and assumptions. And if we think cheating the real world to succeed in Second Life is okay, we're wrong. We can't always get what we want, we can't always be what -- even who -- we want to be. But that's life. Real life. Second Life only provides a false sense of assurance that all of our aspirations can be met. And I don't need to waste my money on an imaginary house so I can buy imaginary clothes to look good at the imaginary club in the imaginary world. Way too much imagining and way too little reality. For now, I believe the bad outweighs the good, and I won't be joining Second Life anytime soon.

Here I am, nodding my head in agreement with this high school girl. I have never been the early adopter unless it's glaringly clear how it will help me accomplish some task more efficiently or effectively. A good example is Yack Pack. I'm all over that like a cowboy on cheesy grits. It saves me money and time. I do have some perspective--I see that this is where we're going. I have read enough science fiction (eerily prescient) to know that the future holds ample virtual reality for our race. I'll be the one in the back of the pack, yelling with my megaphone about how to help children understand what it is they are winning, and losing in the Second Life experience. Until then, I'll be the hypocrite who hasn't read Harry Potter talking about what devil's work it is. Like these brainiac folks at Maybe I understand that group a tiny, wee bit better because of this whole thing. That doesn't stop me from laughing at them....and definitely at myself.

1 comment:

Ryan Bretag said...

Yep, that is my avatar name :-) I take it by the really? you were wondering what in the world... hahaha

Well, I struggled with a name for my avatar until my students offered one based upon a variety of English courses taken with me. Thus, Paine was based upon their time in American Literature and Existential was based upon Phil. & Lit and AP Lit.

Perhaps I need to blog on that since it has raised more than one eyebrow ;-)

Great Post!