The Linden Labs IBM case study was familiar to me because I know an IBM employee who works from home. He is able to use new technology to communicate with co-workers. I am curious to discover what IBM thought the perks were of meeting in Second Life. The same features like IMing, video-chatting, and conference calling can be done without Second Life and, they don't have to teach staff how to use the program. I am also confused as to why they spent so much time building elaborate settings in Second Life for their meeting. I realize that the company was able to save money by eliminating travel costs, and create presentations that were effective because real models and speakers could be utilized. I wonder if listening to a speaker in Second Life is as effective as listening to a speaker in real life. If one employee is better then another employee at utilizing Second Life to create a presentation, then will his presentation automatically be thought of as better, even if the content isn't? I found it strange that the workers liked Second Life so much that they were even socializing after the conference meetings in other Second Life locations. I also found it weird that people who attended the conference felt like they were in a real place that they could connect with. Whenever I am in Second Life I do not feel as though I am in a real place. I have a very hard time engaging in the social aspects of the virtual world. It seems like many of the workers got lost in Second Life and truly enjoyed it. I am curious to find out whether IBM is still using Second Life for large conferences.
Edward Castranova, author or "Implications and Policies in Synthetic Worlds," discusses how objects in virtual worlds are becoming frighteningly life like. Maybe the IBM workers were so mesmerized by Second Life, like Castranova, because they have watched advances in technology and they were amazed at how virtual worlds are replicating real worlds so closely. Castranova finds it frightening that places like Second Life offer worlds where people can become someone else and hide out for a while. Castranovas predictions for how virtual worlds will affect the real world offers an opposing view to how IBM views virtual worlds. He feels that divorce rates will increase, people will not leave their homes, and violence will become more prevalent. I think the IBM case study, and Castranova's article offer two polar extremes of how the world will be affected by virtual reality. I do think that we have already seeing extensive affects, both positive and negative with technological advancement, but that is a story as old as time. With the birth of every new technology, humans adapt. While we are attempting to predict the affects, new technologies are being created.
|image borrowed from www.leerbeleving.nl|