I’m not very familiar with virtual worlds, so our readings were very enlightening. The first reading titled Coming of Age in Second Life was a bit hard for me to follow. I felt the descriptive language he used and constant sourcing made it hard for me to read and comprehend at times. The part I enjoyed most was the excerpt where Tom Boellstorff talks about a typical day in Second Life. That portion helped me understand what someone could do in the program. While some parts were confusing, it was really interesting to hear how Boellstorff used Second Life for digital ethnography research.
I especially took note of the part where Boellstorff attended the wedding of two people in Second Life that had never shared any information with each other about their lives in the real world. I can see how bonds and relationships can form in virtual worlds, but to have a virtual husband or wife is a bit off putting especially when they are a real person on the other end. I’m sure some of these people have real husbands and wives but are forming online bonds and relationships that their real world partners don’t know anything about. I haven’t quite figured out why it bothers me so much. For now I’ll just leave it at to each his own. Did anyone else question this section when they read it?
There are many tools that contribute to digital ethnography and I see them all as being very useful to a researcher. Online questionnaires and email interviews are convenient, save money and will allow a researcher to reach a broader range of people geographically. Social media is a great way to sit back and observe communication and interaction. It is also a way you can create communities to give out useful information.
It was interesting to read about integrating continuing medical education into a world like Second Life. While the set up and training was time intensive, it seemed the payoff was large for the attendees. One of the main things I like about a virtual world is the anonymity. It seems the doctors involved in the case study liked that aspect as well. People may have more confidence in a virtual world and talk about things they might not when engaged face to face. Are you more likely to interact in a different way when online than you would face to face?
This week I ventured into Second Life to give this virtual world a try. My first time was a bit awkward. I had a hard time navigating and figuring out where I should go and what I should do. The first place I wound up everyone was naked and they kept asking everyone to take off their clothes. I then sat down at some point and learned that if you teleport to another location in a sitting position, you are then stuck in a sitting position. I couldn’t get myself to stand up, so I walked around in a sitting position for a very long time. I wound up in a newbie area and found a very friendly man who tried to help me learn some things. I ended up logging off to correct the sitting position situation.
My second venture into Second Life was much smoother. I found it easier to get around. I still didn’t know what I should explore. I somehow wound up in a training area and was able to learn some new things about Second Life. As I wandered around I just didn’t see the appeal that Second Life has to some. I don’t strike up conversations with strangers in public, so I wasn’t all that inspired to chat with others in Second Life either. I can see how this kind of life can be addicting for those who join it. As you create friendships, there would be a pull to want to log on more often to engage with those friends. I’m glad I didn’t enjoy my virtual experience, because I don’t need anything else to take up my online time.
In Second Life what did your avatar look like and did you go for one that resembled you or was the opposite of you?