One of the efforts the Mentors group has been focused on these last few weeks has been on this project of collecting news and other interesting items that would reflect the kinds of positive work being done in Second Life and other virtual worlds settings. The idea has been to then share this perspective with the world at large in order to help balance out the general image presented by popular media, which tends more often to focus on Second Life and virtual worlds as places for purely recreational gaming or which tends to take a perspective that perhaps highlights more potentially sensationalistic pursuits, like virtual sex.
So as part of this effort by the Mentors group over the last several weeks, I’ve been gathering items I thought were especially interesting from this standpoint to share. As I collected and began to study the items that caught my attention, I realized they were falling into three general categories for me…
First Category: Items Focused on How People Think of and Behave Towards the Virtual & One Another.
These items provide opportunities for exploring and perhaps changing how we perceive & understand virtual spaces, as well as opportunities to consider how we relate to one another both concerning virtual spaces and within them. These are topics I find especially interesting to consider given my intrinsic interests in the social sciences, philosophy, and the human experience.
- TEDxVictoria ~ Alexandra Samuel: Ten Reasons to Stop Apologizing for your Online Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui2ZwO-efo0
- National Geographic Assignment Blog ~ The Great Online Migration by Alexandra Samuel: http://nationalgeographicassignmentblog.com/2012/01/19/the-great-online-migration/
- The Society Pages, Cyborgology ~ There is No “Cyberspace” by PJ Rey: http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/02/01/there-is-no-cyberspace/
- The Society Pages, Cyborgology ~ The Real and the Loss of Cyberspace: by PJ Rey: http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/02/08/the-real-and-the-loss-of-cyberspace/
- The RSA Networked Blogs, Social Brain ~ Twitter is to humans as….grooming is to primates? by Jonathan Rowson: http://networkedblogs.com/utx0H
Second Category: Items about Second Life Being Used to Help & Empower Others and for Self-Development.
- ScienceDaily, Science News ~ Avatars Help People Develop Real World Skills by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) [content of the news article was based on findings from the Inter-Life Project: http://www.tel.ac.uk/inter-life (I found the YouTube about the project very interesting.)]: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111207104817.htm
- U.S. Army ~ DoD gives PTSD help ‘second life’ in virtual reality by Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown: http://www.army.mil/article/50751/dod-gives-ptsd-help-second-life-in-virtual-reality/
- Mayo Clinic, Center for Innovation ~ Transform 2011, Breakout Sessions: Delivering Care in Second Life by Davee Commerce, Gentle Heron, Panacea Luminos & Silver Evensong: http://centerforinnovation.mayo.edu/transform/2011/breakout-sessions.html
- BBC News, Health ~ Virtual gym ‘helps weight loss’: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13643471
- Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication ~ An Exploration of Why People Participate in Second Life Social Support Groups Sara Green-Hamann, Kristen Campbell Eichhorn, John C. Sherblom: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1083-6101.2011.01543.x/full
- For Equal Rights ~ Text in Virtual Worlds (“Chat”) benefits all. BUT HOW? by Sister Abeyante: http://4equalrights.blogspot.com/2012/03/text-in-virtual-worlds-chat-benefits.html
Third Category: Items about Second Life Being Used for Education & Learning:
- eLearn Magazine ~ Second Life for Medical Education by Nicholas A. Spooner, Patrick C. Cregan, Mohamed Khadra: http://elearnmag.acm.org/archive.cfm?aid=2035934
- Advances in Human-Computer Interaction ~ Research Article: 3D Interactions between Virtual Worlds and Real Life in an E-Learning Community by Ulrike Lucke and Raphael Zender: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ahci/2011/684202/
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ~ The James Webb Space Telescope: Come visit the Webb Telescope on Second Life!: http://www.jwst.nasa.gov/secondlife.html
- U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) ~ Second Life as an Archaeological Tool (Podcast 5)(a transcript & audio podcast with Ruth Tringham about her work on Okapi Island): transcript: http://ncptt.nps.gov/second-life-as-an-archaeological-tool/ & audio podcast: http://www.ncptt.nps.gov/Podcasts/archive/Preservation-Technology-Episode-5-Tringham.mp3
- The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 5th Annual Conference: http://www.vwbpe.org/
- A Virtual Worlds, Games and Education Tour MOOC (VWMOOC): http://vwmooc.wordpress.com/
Finding and studying these examples has really opened my eyes to the kind of creative thought and innovative, constructive work being done in virtual settings. As I’ve encountered and studied these items, I’ve also shared them with friends & colleagues as well as with others in the broader social network environments I inhabit.
I hope that you’ll find some of these items as interesting as I did and also consider sharing them with others. And speaking of sharing, if you’ve encountered similar news or other similarly interesting items I would invite you to please share them with us here!
P.S. I’m realizing in hindsight that I’ve entirely missed items related to the arts, which is a glaring omission! From my own experience, I know that Second Life has a great deal to offer in this area of endeavor as well, so there must be news or other items out there highlighting some of the incredibly creative work being done; I would personally be grateful if people could also share items related to the arts and making a difference.
Written by: Jerry Buchko