Monday, August 13, 2007

Second Life Backlash and Controversy

The Second Life naysayers seems to be gaining ground lately. And I'm not implying that I'm a Second Life naysayer. As you may know, I've only been there once.

1) Donald Taylor provides a little summary of some of the recent talk in Second Life Backlash:

After all the hype Second Life has had, there is bound to be some push back. In some cases I am sympathetic, in other cases it’s just professional complainers at work. But underneath all the froth, there are some real concerns and some real victories.
Donald does a great job recapping various articles and provides some useful links, including the following:

Second Thoughts on Second Life by Sylvia Martinez. A thoughtful post on one educator's experience in Second Life (and a nice historical perspective). The comments are insightful as well, including some more on the issues of gender in SL.

3) And then this morning, I was pointed to this one by my CTO: Gartner: five reasons why business should avoid Second Life by John Pospisil.

Apparently, Gartner has issued a warning about Second Life, citing these five main reasons:

1. IT Security Risks
2. Identity Fraud
3. Confidentiality
4. Brand and Reputation Risk Management
5. Productivity

The Gartner report that Pospisil is referring to, seems to be talking solely about corporations "setting shop up in Second Life" -- brand names with online spaces using SL for advertising purposes. It's not talking about training or education per say.

Steven Groves in the comments writes:
What the Gartner report went on to say that you left out was a recommendation to continue on in a SL effort anyway, albeit with eyes open and cautiously, keeping a lookout for all the problems they cited.

Christopher Simpson also comments:

As for doing business, holding meetings and such in SL, it's really a matter of what works and what doesn't. Second Life isn't always the answer, anymore than e-mail or phones, or face-to-face contact is always the answer. It takes brains and a bit of technological savvy to figure out what route to follow for any individual situation — something many corporations seem to lack when it comes to new media.

4)In yet another recent post on SL, Brent Schlenker writes, "If people don't have a reason to be in Second Life they will NOT go there." He cites a USA Today article which says, Students "don't like it for activities that can be done in a real classroom, such as lectures or slide shows. But they do like to use it to visit new places or do group activities."

So. "Real concerns. Real victories." And thoughtful experimentation must continue.

I've been exploring the use of Second Life for a client for whom I'm developing an e-Learning strategy. My initial recommendation is going to be to proceed with caution. Theirs is an audience comprised only of women and I'm not convinced Second Life will feel appropriate to them. Don't invest any money. Have a few online meetings. Thoughtfully experiment with 3D worlds and keep our eyes out for other environments that may be more appropriate. But perhaps we can do some of the key things (e.g., create a virtual recreation of their museum) they'd like to do using other tools like Flash.

No comments: