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:
Due to a change in schedule, we have to change the time and date for the event that was scheduled for Sat., Sept 15th – we'll update you with the future date when we get it set up. Meanwhile, we have an agenda in place for the NPC event and hope to see everyone there!
We have two planning workshops scheduled for this month thanks to the generous offer by two organizations to host the events. The first will be Saturday, September 15, at 7pm PDT at the Virtual Fair event (SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Morrill/32/50/24). The Virtual Fair is an annual event organized by the Cooperative Extension System. According to the Extension's website, "the fifth Annual Virtual State Fair week in Second Life is an online celebration of everything Cooperative Extension with educational exhibits, live music, rides, games and contests. The fair runs from Monday, September 10 to Sunday, September 16 from noon to 10 p.m. ET." The planning workshop will take place in the barn after the last live music event on Saturday. We also encourage you to check out their other events.
The other workshop will be held on Friday, September 21, at 8:30 pm PDT at the Nonprofit Commons (SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Plush%20Nonprofit%20Commons/91/129/26).
This workshop will take place during the Nonprofit Commons 5th Anniversary celebration. There are also other events held this day as part of the celebrations that you might want to visit – you can find out more at the SLURL above.
Both organizations are great community builders in Second Life so it's a wonderful opportunity to partner with them on a community plan. The Nonprofit Commons has embraced community building and support of Second Life as part of their mission. And community planning is a core service area for the Extension. You can find out more about each organization through the links below:
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
Normally community plans are developed over time by having public workshops or discussions to identify information to be used in the plan. So there will be discussions held over the next few weeks where people from the Second Life community can give feedback and share thoughts and ideas. The benefit we have over the traditional process is that we have many more venues in which to host these discussions. So if you want to participate, there'll be many opportunities! Below are a few upcoming workshops/discussions:
Community Planning Discussion: Tues., June 19, 2012, 4:00 pm SLT, at the Virtual Vision 2020 exhibit at SL9B
Community Planning Discussion: Fri., June 22, 2012, 4:00 pm SLT, at the Virtual Vision 2020 exhibit at SL9B
Ongoing Facebook Discussion courtesy of Eric Hackathorn and the Virtual World Group
Twitter Chat: first one scheduled for Wed., June 20, 2012, 6 pm SLT #vv2020