Posts Tagged virtual worlds

Second Life midlife crisis? Details at 11 – or not

I find it kind of surprising there isn’t more discussion about Linden Labs’ decision to create an adults only section in Second Life, as reported last week in Information Week.  After a couple of years of struggling with the issues of adult content, the team is working with users to move beyond self-policing to establish more formal guidelines and boundaries.

Then again, we haven’t heard that much about Second Life lately.  After a year of intense hype, the alternate universe has slowly melted from the public eye.  No longer growing at astronomical rates, Second Life has settled into a sort of middle-aged comfort zone.  Ariane Barnes, a metaverse fixture, talked about the dwindling media coverage in a blog entry this week entitled Is the Party Over in SL?.  (Caution, the cover image of a g-string-and stockings-clad female avatar passed out in the gutter clutching an empty whiskey bottle may be misunderstood by coworkers.)

A comment to Ariane’s blog suggests that people may be having so many issues in their real life that they just don’t have time any more for a second existence, but that’s unlikely.  Escape and avoidance is a normal coping mechanism during periods of extreme stress, and what could be more escapey than running off to cavort in a fictional universe?  Still, the old Get a First Life satire page never fails to make me smile.

I think it’s more likely that the whole concept of metaverse technology has become sort of, well, boring.  It didn’t really change the existing world, businesses played with it and moved on and the graphics technology just doesn’t have the sizzle to make people go wow any more.  Maybe we need Pixar to jump in and create avatar as a service offerings.

What do you think?  Do you still have a Second Life?  Will the new red light district policies affect how you live it?

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Second Life and team effectiveness

The folks at Leading Virtually are getting ready to release the findings of some primary research they did on group effectiveness, and the preliminary results are discussed in a post from last week.

The research had two main parts.  One evaluated the impact of critical and supportive communication on the effectiveness of group problem solving, and the other sought to determine if virtual world technology, such as Second Life, would impact the tone of communication.

Not surprisingly, groups that experienced higher levels of critical commentary, that is to say more disagreements with team members’ ideas, did not perform as well as the groups where exchanges were generally supportive.  The inference here is that teams that can adjust their methods of communication to be less overtly critical can effectively raise their collaborative quotient.

This works because less confrontation and disagreement increases the cohesiveness of the team, ultimately improving their ability to reach consensus.

As far as the impact of Second Life at influencing the tone of communication, well:

Suffice it to say that Second Life was not associated with higher incidence of supportive communication or lower incidence of critical communication relative to instant messaging.

This is interesting to me.  I would have thought that the generally impersonal nature of instant messaging would result in more terse and direct communication that would skip the niceties and tend towards the critical, a manifestation of keyboard courage, if you will.

Still, I don’t care how well rendered the avatars in Second Life are, they give the impression of cartoons.  I find it hard to take a business meeting seriously when I’m sitting across the table, not from Barb and Simon from engineering and accounting, but from characters who favor Lara Croft and the Juggernaut.

But I mean that in the most positive way.

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