Yesterday Glitter, Jessika, Ine Kenzo, and Beth Kavka were all presenting in-world for the California Association of Nonprofits conference. As a last minute idea, I decided to join the conference in-world as an audience member. Glitteractica Cookie sat across from in the real world as her avatar fielded questions and answers from the presentation.
I’m a relative newbie to Second Life and this was my first trying out voice chat. It was a challenge to get the audio to work just right. We experienced some connectivity trouble at our end, which meant we had trouble hearing the speakers; other times, it sounded like voices were gargling when they spoke and a couple of times we lost audio completely.
However, when the audio did work, it was this amazing experience. There were so many levels of simultaneous communication: audio from Second Life, the visual in-world slide presentation and text chat conversation. Then in real life, I could see and hear Glitter speak in the room with me, then hear her voice echo back in-world. I couldn’t hear the questions from the live conference in Los Angeles, but that adds yet another layer to the multiple communication channels.
I was nervous because I was trying out many things for the first time in-world. In addition to juggling the audio, I played around with taking pictures of the event and even teleported another avatar into the session. I’m finding that Second Life is a lot like learning a new sport. It’s hard not to get discouraged at first because you don’t yet have the skills or the rules down to be a competent player. But just as exciting as it is when you make that one catch or hit that one ball, when I’m successful in doing a new thing, it adds to my confidence and interest in wanting to keep practicing.
I can see where many people might try out the voice chat and after finding the configuration and sound quality to be frustrating, dismiss voice as something too problematic to use. There were certainly a few times where I felt the same way, but then I thought back to the earlier days of the Internet. I remember when it took fifteen minutes to send an email or I’d have to try to dial up multiple times to get an Internet connection. Technology has come a long way since then, and I think voice chat is the same way–it’s still a relatively new feature in Second Life and it will gradually become an easier tool to use over time.
Written by: penguin kuhn