Reflections on Experience with Second Life
Being a downloadable client programme created by Linden Lab, San Francisco, United States gives the participants known as ‘avatars’ an opportunity to socialize and interact with other people of the virtual community, exchange views, buy or sell land and present their talents to the community. As per the website of ‘Second Life’, presently more than three million people have registered themselves with the community. With the growth of the broadband internet connections especially in the United States, where there is an increase from 30 percent (2005) of the Americans having a high-speed connection at home to 42 percent in 2006 has enhanced the passion for participation in this virtual world. This paper attempts to narrate the experience on the environments encountered in ‘Second Life’, the potential social and political implications of this virtual medium and also the possible future uses.
As is being claimed by ‘Second Life’ this unique digital world offers a lot of opportunities to develop one’s own skills by exhibiting what they are capable of creating. Especially people who are introverts and shy of meeting the other people in the real world can improve their socializing behaviour by interacting freely with other ‘avatars’ of this virtual world. People can give concerts, draw pictures. build houses and hotels and trade in any other commodities. All the trading transactions will be just like as happening in the real world.
Because of the three dimensional effect of the site, one gets a feeling that he is interacting with the fellow community member in real life. This gives ample scope for the development of specialized skills of public speaking or playing musical instruments in front of an invited audience. People can shed their inhibitions. In ‘Showcase’-one of the environment of ‘second life’ one can bring out his or her real talent to be appreciated by the fellow avatars.
Second Life provides another opportunity of real time sales meetings with the customers and it is possible to make customer presentations through this media. Distance learning is another possibility which would be a very useful feature for the students to acquire a quality education. There are much more environments like business, property development and community interaction available in this virtual world which are distinguishably rare phenomena that need to be evaluated by one’s own personal encounter and experience.
3.0 Social Variables Influencing Participation in ‘Second Life’:
The social variables generally influencing any issue of importance are the Family Structure, Ethnicity, Language, Demography, Educational standards. Employment Status, Crime rates, Cultural Factors, Action by community based organsiations, Lifestyle issues, Recreational factors, Psychological factors and Historical dependence. This part of the paper analyses the influence of some of these social factors on the participation in ‘Second Life.
Of all these variables, recreational and psychological factors may have more impact on the participation than other variables. The people who feel shy and having inhibitions to present themselves to others in the real world may be more susceptible to participation in this virtual world.
Similarly people who have more time at their disposal for recreation may well be influenced by this engrossing multimedia interaction and may see this as a