Last month the Nonprofit Commons graciously hosted a planning workshop during their celebrations. The event was well attended and participants shared many great thoughts and ideas. I encourage everyone to visit the Nonprofit Commons site and read through the transcript:
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