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Archive | July, 2012

What is the Second Life Community’s Message?

In the process of developing a community plan, we explore the core values of its members. This can be determined by answering questions like:

  • What is important to the community?
  • What does the community want to accomplish?
  • What does the community care about?
  • Where does the community want to concentrate their time and money?

 Today I read some interesting thoughts in Paul Graham's essay called Cities and Ambition that made me think there is another important question to ask:

What is the community's message? If you are a new person joining Second Life and beginning your exploration of that world, what is the initial message you receive? What is the message you receive from the community if you're an older resident?

Graham has given this some thought as it relates to offline cities where he has lived or spent time. He said the messages he has picked up from cities have been ones of "wealth, style, hipness, physical attractiveness, fame, political power, economic power, intelligence, social class, and quality of life." Which of these messages are the ones sent by the Second Life community? And which one do we as a community want to send?

And why is this important? One reason it's important is because the community will be most successful when the message matches the values. For example, if art is the most important value, but visitors or residents do not get that message, then the community will not be as successful in its pursuit and enjoyment of art.

To get an idea of the impression Second Life is sending, we set up a quick poll with Graham's categories in the right sidebar on the main page – if you get a chance, please add your vote for the message you think is the one sent by Second Life.

 

Understanding the Infrastructure

The ability to enjoy your time in Second Life is significantly affected by hardware and software performance and capabilities. And this is why infrastructure and services stands as a separate planning category in this effort. While our discussions haven't yet touched on this aspect, I have recently read a few blog posts discussing this subject and wanted to share them here. As I find more, I will add them to the list. 

Your router could be screwing up your connection to Second Life – from Dwell on It by Tateru Nino

There goes the neighbourhood…. – from and by soror Nishi

Project Shining to Improve Avatar and Object Streaming Speeds – from Second Life by Linden Lab

Content Creation Improvement User Group Week 29 – discussion of requests from content creators from Nalates' Things & Stuff by Nalates Urriah

 

Summary of Community Planning Workshops #1

During SL9B we hosted a couple workshops to start the discussion about Second Life. For these first talks we tried to focus only on general aspects of Second Life – why are we here, what do we like about it, what is challenging, what are our general expectations from the platform.

Several people showed up at each event to share their ideas, outlook, and thoughts. We were fortunate that the group represented avatars of all ages and experiences, and they all had great comments and insight. It was a wonderful start to the community plan.

We are now contacting specific groups in Second Life to see if they have an interest in hosting discussions about the different aspects of the plan. If you or your group are interested in hanging out and discussing your vision of the Second Life community, make sure to send an IM to Pam Renoir in Second Life. And if you want to be on our informal committee to work through the plan and its draft, be sure to let us know!

 

Below is a summary of the ideas and feedback we received. (After you read through it, you can also read a great thread on the SLUniverse.com Forums about "What retained you the first day in SL?" Many of the comments there are relevant to this aspect of the plan.)

 

Summary of Community Planning Workshops Held at SL9B at the Virtual Vision Exhibit

Why are we here? Are people really aware of why they are here? And are they aware of how the world is created/maintained?

The impression is that people in SL fit into one of two categories depending on their reason for participating in Second Life (and this can be different for the same person each time they log on):

·        To make, sell, learn, teach

·        To enjoy recreational/social aspects: clubs/dating/roleplay/games

Second Life is the result of people's dreams and visions. It is an ever evolving project. And the perception is that although it is user created, few probably realize the degree to which this is true.

 

What people like about SL:

  • Hint of anarchy
  • Presentation of few barriers
  • Lack of judgmental attitudes in general
  • Overall friendliness and helpfulness of the community
  • The ability and encouragement for anyone to create
  • The ability for anyone to present themselves any way they want
  • It's not just another game
  • Its objectives are the same as your offline life objectives
  • The pace is slower and more relaxed
  • Shared experiences are possible similar to the type shared offline
  • There is the ability to keep your personal information and/or identity private
  • People can create the type of life they desire
  • There is also great potential to test ideas before implementing offline
  • Because of the unlimited resources, people can create in Second Life what would be too expensive to make offline
  • This environment allows us to see life's bigger picture and encourages us to move forward into the future
  • For some people, SL helps them become less afraid in their lives in general

It was observed that while machines were made to extend muscle power, Second Life was created to extend brain power

And even though there was acknowledgement of griefers, the thought was most griefers are doing it for attention or don't realize there are real people behind the avatars. People also did not have a lot of exposure to griefers.

 

What is our view of the avatars in SL?

Some think of avatars as their actual self while others view the digital representation as the avatar, not the actual offline person, but still believe the avatar has feelings and emotions.

 

What keeps people in SL?

  • Other people! A welcome into the community. But while this was acknowledged as critical, the concern was it was not scalable – need about one to two hours to orient a new person properly
  • A newcomer packet explaining things and what you can do as an avatar would be helpful to those just joining
  • Infohubs were mentioned as helping along with communities like Caledon

 

Some challenges to retaining people

  • Challenge is that people need time and patience to understand SL, but it's difficult to do this when you do not know the outcome or end result.
  • Computer hardware required for a positive experience
  • Lack of direction for some people who like guidance on what to do
  • Some people experience fear in Second Life on levels other than for personal safety
  • A few people have experienced some arrogance and elitist attitudes from others in the community
  • Competing interests

 

What people would like to see:

  • More community discussions
  • More social technology/tools and integration with other social media tools
  • Confirmation and understanding of security
  • Enhance Second Life's ability to jumpstart our future and improve our offline lives
  • Enhance the ability of Second Life to develop a new type of psychology, politics, and science
  • Enhance and encourage Second Life's ability to speed up research and development in the offline world and expand that exponentially
  • Enhance and encourage Second Life's ability to help people learn to interact and develop better relationships and improve their own understanding of themselves and their critical thinking skills.
  • Improve the ability to find and work with those who have similar interests within Second Life
  • Improve the ability of people to find work in Second Life

 

Challenges for planning and setting community goals:

  • The presence of communities within communities – this is primarily seen as a weak point only because it has hurt the external perception of Second Life
  • Lack of interest by majority of the community in a community plan or goals

 

 

Latest Infrastructure Suggestions

We heard a lot of good suggestions, comments, and ideas at our open discussion events at SL9B. I'm still in the process of summarizing them, but in the meantime, wanted to list a few of the recent blog posts discussing infrastructure in Second Life.

Linden Lab's recent infrastructure improvement project:

Linden Lab recently announced a concentrated effort to work on some of the issues related to graphics and performance. And a few people have offered their thoughts about this project. Below are some links to a few comprehensive articles on the topic.

A Shining announcement: major improvements coming to SL – from Living in a Modem World: Thoughts on Virtual Living

Second Life Changes Coming – from Nalates' Things and Stuff 

In addition, a couple people have offered ideas about improving other services. You can check out their posts here:

 

A couple of great posts covering improvements to communication:

Improving groups – from Jo Yardley's Second Life

Improving out-world possibilities for in-world situations – from Jo Yardley's Second Life

 

An older, but still relevant post about scale and how it affects our experience in Second Life:

A Matter of Scale – from The Digital Pasture