Dear Mr. Bainbridge,
I truly enjoyed reading your artcle titled, "The Scientific Research Potential of Virtual Worlds". I feel that it differed greatly from the negative affects of the advancements in technology that have been trending lately. In your article, I feel that you touched upon various topics that reveal the positive side of the "virtual world". To begin, I felt that your idea that individuals can automatically create relationships and connections over virtual world media such as Second Life is a beneficial aspect to the advancements in our world today. These connections are not necessarily a bad thing and that is because they allow us to join chats and share real-life experiences with others over the internet. Second, I felt that your description of the Scientific World in virtual media was something new and innovative that I have not thought about before. You stated that "WoW is a very conducive environment for quantitative research because it encourages individuals to write "mod" or "add-on" programs, and scientists can use some existing software as research tools or write their own." Therefore, in this description, you are drilling to your reader's the notion that users are pushed to create their own programs and even look further into these virtual worlds then just interacting with them on a surface level. In addition, you mentioned that students of younger ages are able to look deep within these programs and experiment inside of them for real life environmental problems or situations. This is a positive aspect of technology because users are learning how to contribute to this virtual world in a positive way -- rather than just using the internet or technology for merely abusive and/or entertainment purposes. These virtual worlds allow students to create new content for them, and that is a challenge many students are willing to take. Computer science majors or students interested in this subject can learn a great deal from being inside the world of Second Life or WoW and even enhance these programs for educational purposes.
To the left is a picture from an operating room in SL -- Hmm.. new discoveries for the future?
I liked how you initiated a discussion about the problems that occur in these virtual worlds based on internet connections and server connections. It has been apparent that when performing or practicing in Second Life it does download slowly when teleporting from place to place. Also, sometimes one is not able to see his/her avatar because there are too many users on at one time. This is definitely a fault in the system, in that it is frustrating to users (especially students like us who use the virtual world for our class participations and discussions). To further my discussion on your article, I feel that the experiments and studies at hand to see how gender plays a role in virtual worlds or how the exploration in virtual worlds can change the meaning of life and death is very interesting. This article brings about so many topics that I have never even thought about when using Second Life. For me, it has simply been creating my avatar to look like me and interact with one another. What you mentioned is that some people create avatars in SL to resemble themselves, while others use it to express a completely different person then themselves. I feel that these virtual worlds leave so much room for expansion and creativity and that is why they are so intriguing in our world today.
As you end your excerpt, you mention that "The graduates of SL and WoW may include many future engineers, natural scientists, and social scientists ready to remake the real world in the image of the virtual worlds." I like how you ended this piece and I feel that it is a positive outlook for our future. I don't take this quote in a negative way; I feel that students who explore the virtual world and use it in a way that is not just merely for entertainment can truly learn from these experiences and abilities. Hopefully our future won't abuse these virtual worlds and networks like we abuse the many other technologies we have in the palm of our hands today!!