Would I be interested in joining a 3-D virtual world in my copious free time, which doesn’t really exist? Some of my students have been trying to persuade me to play World of Warcraft (Wow). (That was the standard acronym, not a comment.)

Then they say that it would take up all of my time, which is certainly not a selling point. They point out that a fellow senior — who shall remain anonymous to protect the guilty — skipped school on Monday so he could play World of Warcraft all day. Again, not a selling point — not for me, at least.

On the other hand, Jill Walker, associate professor and head of the department of humanistic informatics [sic] at the University of Bergen, is devoted to Wow, is editing a book on it, and has clearly thought deeply about it. That is a selling point. Walker’s remarks, and her readers comments on them, make it tempting to join this community.

On the third hand, there’s Second Life. Instead of immersing oneself in an existing world, you help to create one — at least that’s my take on one of the big differences, though I could be totally wrong. For me the initial selling point for Second Life was the presence of some serious non-techies, such as Judge Richard Posner.

A lot has been written about both of these environments. I’ve particularly been running across Second Life in my sources recently:

  • Lawrence Lessig calls Posner “the most influential lawyer of his time” (and “a big fan of the Matrix. And cats.”) and links to an article about his participation in Second Life.

  • The Boston Phoenix says that “Second Life offers students a virtually real education” where “the academic world’s forward-thinking minds are seeing new opportunities for the virtual campus.”
  • And the New York Times writes that Reuters has opened a bureau in Second Life!

So I’m tempted…

 

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