Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good or Bad?

Dear Linden Labs,

Your arguments are quite true in terms of virtual working. The platform you have created called Second Life allows ordinary people to really participate in a virtual reality environment that was once only dreamt about. You mention that this offers many affordances that are in favor of a corporation or business. The most notable one that has been mentioned is that of IBM who has recently begun to host many of their large meetings on Second Life. The primary benefit that was mentioned was the fact that there is much to gain in terms of travel expenses. Employees who once had to coordinate travel plans and expenses now only need access to a personal computer. In addition, the lack of physical traveling to a destination offers the individual attendees a sense of convenience due to the fact that they do not have to travel to an unfamiliar setting. Another related concept is the fact that the architecture and designs resemble structures in a real life venue. Therefore, the users of the virtual meeting places can almost connect with the area as they would in real life. This is evidenced by the mentioning of the users that wanted to "relax" in the space when there was no meeting activity occurring.

As previously mentioned, virtual work areas seem very good and almost utopian like. I believe that your arguments take a somewhat biased view towards only the positives of virtual environments such as Second Life. However, there are some downsides to the use of virtual worlds as well. This is explored in part by Edward Castronova. Some of the very basic issues that arise are security, communication reformation, absorption, as well as potential rights issues. While some of these are extreme they are very real possibilities that can manifest themselves in the real world users of the virtual environments. Security can become an issue due to the openness of the online world where someone can gain a wealth of information about someone. Communication can be transformed as well allowing almost anyone to reach out to the entire world, in which they may have either positive or negative motives. Another large one is the idea of absorption where a user may come to prefer the virtual environment over there real life presence. This can have certain social implications on that particular individual. As can be seen, although virtual environments can be beneficial in multiple areas, they can also be harmful creating a dystopian side to their use.

Jonathan Thai

No comments:

Post a Comment