Virtual living — what can’t you do in second life?

When I have a bit of free time (as if – ha!), I’ve been wandering around second life. Honestly, I still don’t get it. I’ve been to a couple of academic/IT related presentations, I’ve gone shopping (for free clothes), and I’ve been to a few museums/art galleries. I’m still trying to see how I could use this for learning or teaching. I see some of the potential (emergency services training, language classes/conversation, virtual meetings, museums, interactive multimedia art projects, etc.) , but I’m thinking the technology is still too new to be of greater use by the general population.

Why? Mostly the usability sucks.

  • Navigation is not very easy — the navigation has gotten easier, but it still doesn’t work very well with a traditional keyboard and mouse. I can’t imagine trying to use it on a mobile device. I expect to be able to move my mouse and my avatar will follow — in as much as I can see, that doesn’t happen. The mouse is more an extension of your hand, in that anything that you click on, interacts with you in whatever way that it can. Your avatar will not walk over to the object first.
  • Directions / help are terrible, if available at all.
  • Design is hard — Although I can find my “closet” aka in second life terminology, inventory, I haven’t found an easy way to see what the clothes look like before I put them on. I’ve also found a couple of places where I can create/design artifacts via secondlife. End user / community generated content should be easier.
  • Slow to load / high demand on computer resources — Even on a decent enough computer setup for multimedia/video (albeit, not a gaming computer), some “lands” (think: villages or cities) are very slow to load. I think my avatar is getting bored waiting for the graphics. đŸ˜‰
  • Other users — well, there’s another issue altogether. Given that I’m still learning my way around, I’m not spending a significant amount of time talking to others.
  • The cost factor — It’s a little bit hard to find the free stuff in SL. Searching for free stuff is the best way (or join a “freebies” group), but for the most part, there are quite a few people attempting to make REAL money in SL.

However, I did go skiing in SL a few days ago. Was it as satisfying as the real thing? Absolutely not, but then again — it wasn’t cold, I didn’t get knocked down by another skier, and probably more importantly, I didn’t fall down, either!

(btw, this is NOT me)

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