A blog by George Engel

A Second, yet more disruptive Life


The video I have posted here is a discussion of the nature of the virtual reality call Second life. Second Life is an online world where people of any race, creed, color, culture, and orientation may go to socialize, learn, and even make money. Philip Rosedale speaks at length about why he created Second Life and its qualities. He mentioned several powerful and disruptive properties of the world that Second Life represents. The very nature of the symbolic nature of the world allows for a new level of learning. Concepts are represented as images and symbols instead of words. This is an amazing way to organize information. It reflects why so many instructors want us to symbolically represent our thinking through mind maps. According to Rosedale, this graphic organization enables a greater linking of information in our memories.

A second point that he made was that Second Life is a world that is inherently social. However, the social interactions are not limited to the English speaking population of the United States. People from all over the world are able to gather within the confines of Second Life. This gives them an opportunity to learn and gain from each other, creating a virtual blending of global cultures. This connection has the potential to change the world and disrupt the abilities of an established government to manage this behavior.

Another aspect that I found fascinating was the ability to explore a new identity in this realm. Sherry Turkle, in her book Life on the Screen, speaks of this identity development on the web. She says that our web identities are forms by this type of exploration. In Second Life, we can be any personality type we wish to be, bold, shy, arrogant, charismatic, and so on. Eventually, this leads to the development of an online persona that is a “pastiche” of these explored personalities.

Rosedale, finished the video by stating that virtual worlds like Second Life create the potential for its members to change, to become more than they are.


4 responses

  1. Orit


    Great point! It does open up so many possibilities, such as learning another language and being part of another culture. Although, I believe the main point of SecondLife is to create your own reality and world. I wonder what will be their next move , as new competitors’ are starting to come into the market.


    January 28, 2011 at 10:24 AM

  2. LOren


    Great post! Have you used Second Life in instruction? Or, as a student?

    I wondered if Second Life is something that Walden University courses could feature?

    January 28, 2011 at 8:30 PM

  3. bluejfm


    Thanks for sharing the video. Tools like Second Life provide an excellent opportunity for people to take on roles/personalities they would be hesitant to do so in a traditional setting. For this reason, do you think there is a danger in Second Life giving people a false sense of their abilities?

    January 29, 2011 at 6:07 PM

  4. Erin

    One thing that worries me is control…how can I regulate my students behavior in this alter world?

    January 29, 2011 at 10:58 PM

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