Sunday, April 8, 2012

Working in Virtual Environments

Dear Linden Lab,
I agree with your article on how Second Life can make a significant impact in a working environment.  I strongly believe that with the use of new technology and virtual worlds, life can now be more convenient and less of a hassle.  So why not take advantage of it?  

In my opinion, meeting in Second Life can be truly effective if done correctly.  Sure, people can always stray to different browsers and can get distracted, but distraction happens in real life as well, just in other ways.  With Second Life, everything is at your fingertips and you can work from home.  You cannot buy convenience, and in fact, you can even save money.  As the President of IBM Academy of Technology states, “The meeting in Second Life was everything that you could do at a traditional conference-and more-at one fifth the cost and without a single case of jet lag.”  Personally, when I use Second Life I am more comfortable and thus am more engaged because of how much time I know I am saving by participating.  
Second Life enables workers to be able to meet as many times as they’d like as oppose to meeting in person.  It is easier to find time to work from a computer than it is to make the commute to meet in person.  You also cannot buy time, and Second Life can actually save it.  There have been countless times where I wish all my classes could meet in Second Life once a week; I would definitely have more time on my hands if that were the case.  

However, there are some downsides to using virtual worlds in the working environment.  In Edward Castranova’s Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games, he explores the unfortunate issues that can arise while in the virtual world.  His article raises a lot of questions and concerns that can make one second-guess using programs like Second Life.  What happens if companies depend too heavily on Second Life?  Will people not leave their homes because they will become too comfortable behind their computer screens?  How does this affect our security and privacy? What if we are not able to distinguish between what is virtual and what is reality?  These are all fair concerns raised about working in a virtual world, and although I prefer a virtual environment, I also believe companies should keep these questions in mind.
Connie Zhen 

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