Virtual Environments and Web 3D – New Worlds with Old Problems?


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In 2003, Linden Research Inc launched the virtual world Second Life with a small community of residents. In the past year, Second Life reached a tipping point; almost nine million residents are registered in the Metaverse, and there are numerous daily media accounts about life in the virtual world.
The purpose of this presentation is to provide an overview of Second Life, and examine the appeal of an interactive three dimensional interface that has encouraged new leisure and social activities, business and marketing ventures, educational opportunities, political platforms, arts and entertainment and much more. Second Life also features its own media hub, which includes magazines, news sites and agencies, weblogs and television stations, covering new fashions for avatars, music concerts by popular artists, community affairs, and economic reports.
However, virtual worlds are not inherently utopian; with new environments come old social problems from the ‘real’ world. This presentation will also address some of the debates that have surfaced about social norms and behaviours in Second Life, what the future of virtual worlds might entail, and whether Second Life hype is a passing fad or a the development of Web 3.0/3D.

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  • Hello Tracy,
    Very fascinating that with the scientists who use brain waves to stroll through virtual worlds! Thanks for this presentation.
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  • Virtual Environments and Web 3D – New Worlds with Old Problems?

    1. 1. Tracy Kennedy PhD Candidate, Dept of Sociology University of Toronto Virtual Worlds Researcher October 24 th , 2007.
    2. 3. “ A virtual world is a computer-based simulated environment intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars.” (Wikipedia)
    3. 4. virtual reality
    4. 5. life before Second Life 1994 Active Worlds 1995
    5. 6. younger audiences <ul><li>Whyville 1999 </li></ul><ul><li>Habbo 2000 </li></ul>
    6. 7. … and many more 1995 Cybertown VZones 1997 Moove 2000 Playdo TowerChat 2001 Cyworld Dubit Mokitown ViOS 2002 Sims Virtual Ibiza Coke Studios Muse 2003 Second Life There Entropia Universe 2004 Dreamville IMVU
    7. 8. Second Life <ul><li>Not a Game! </li></ul><ul><li>375 square miles of Virtual Environment </li></ul><ul><li>International users </li></ul><ul><li>18+ </li></ul><ul><li>Free to access </li></ul><ul><li>Content created & managed by users </li></ul>
    8. 9. if you could go anywhere, where would you go?
    9. 10. … what would you do?
    10. 11. … who would you be?
    11. 12. … or?
    12. 13. Second Life snapshot September 2007 <ul><li>24,138,413 hrs logged </li></ul><ul><li>9,596,742 registrants </li></ul><ul><li>58% users are Male </li></ul><ul><li>Active Users: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>37% age 35-44 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>25% age 18-24 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>$6,685,585 USD exchanged </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    13. 14. is Second Life empty? <ul><li>… Not really </li></ul><ul><li>U$D spent speaks volumes </li></ul><ul><li>Think of how much of our day we spend: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eating, sleeping & self care </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Housekeeping </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commuting to work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Working or going to school </li></ul></ul><ul><li>And other mundane daily tasks…that we don’t have to do in the virtual world… </li></ul>
    14. 15. … although sometimes we do….. <ul><li>Picnic in Second Life & First Life Centre for Digital Media, Vancouver BC </li></ul>
    15. 16. getting started… <ul><li>Download Software </li></ul><ul><li>Orientation Island </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learn how to walk, talk, fly & edit appearance </li></ul></ul>
    16. 18. Create your own 3D world… <ul><li>Learn to create your own world with three dimensional objects/primitives </li></ul>
    17. 19. Objects are not static <ul><li>You can ‘script’ your objects </li></ul><ul><li>Give it an action or behaviour </li></ul><ul><li>Make it interactive </li></ul>
    18. 20. You build it, You own it -Intellectual property rights to your creations -Can Sell them for LL & USD -License creations in RL
    19. 21. creating landscapes
    20. 22. virtual spaces… <ul><li>based on reality – or physical things </li></ul><ul><li>based on imagination </li></ul><ul><li>based on imaginary and physical things, places, events and people…. </li></ul>
    21. 23. social <ul><li>Meeting people </li></ul><ul><li>Building Relationships </li></ul><ul><li>Interacting </li></ul><ul><li>Text, Voice or Video </li></ul><ul><li>Animations, pose calls, sounds & gestures to ‘emote’ your avatar and enhance your virtual identity </li></ul>
    22. 24. social support <ul><li>Online virtual communities offering support to others </li></ul><ul><li>Stroke Victims </li></ul><ul><li>Depression Support </li></ul><ul><li>Health Info & Support </li></ul>
    23. 25. entertainment
    24. 26. arts & culture
    25. 27. (re)creating art in second life <ul><li>Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    26. 28. business & marketing <ul><li>Virtual & RL products </li></ul><ul><li>Showcase items </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive </li></ul><ul><li>Public Relations </li></ul><ul><li>Customer Service </li></ul><ul><li>Recruitment </li></ul>
    27. 29.
    28. 30. IBM <ul><li>December 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>One of the largest presences in SL </li></ul><ul><li>Employee orientation </li></ul>
    29. 31. business from Second Life
    30. 32. money maker?
    31. 33. politics & virtual lobbying <ul><li>Reaching voters in innovative ways </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction - between avs </li></ul><ul><li>Interactive – leave notecards, send email </li></ul><ul><li>Raising awareness of policy initiatives </li></ul>
    32. 34. civic engagement <ul><li>Virtual IBM Strike – RL issues </li></ul><ul><li>Relay for Life </li></ul><ul><li>9/11 Memorial </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech SL Ceremony </li></ul><ul><li>Griefers & Terrorists </li></ul><ul><li>Protests vs Linden Labs </li></ul><ul><li>Political Protests </li></ul>
    33. 35. news
    34. 37. magazines
    35. 38. blogs
    36. 39. education <ul><li>Traditional Didactic Modes of Learning: </li></ul><ul><li>Lecture styles with a top-down approach </li></ul><ul><li>Information delivery is linear and static </li></ul><ul><li>Legitimates disciplinary discourses, knowledge & information </li></ul><ul><li>Problematic power relations between professor and student - hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Does not always allow for nor encourage constructive interaction between students, and between students and instructors </li></ul>
    37. 40. participatory pedagogy <ul><li>Content: </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporating personal experiences, skills, knowledge and individual context </li></ul><ul><li>Process: </li></ul><ul><li>More interactive and empowering pedagogical style of learning and knowledge construction inside and outside the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Students take an active role in the learning process </li></ul>
    38. 41. internet & education <ul><li>Web 2.0 </li></ul><ul><li>Collective & interactive to an extent </li></ul><ul><li>Text, pics, voice, video </li></ul><ul><li>Synchronous </li></ul><ul><li>Flat Web </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ie: Wikis, Blogs, WebCT, Moodle etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Web 3D </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporates Web 2.0 features </li></ul><ul><li>Self expression & self direction </li></ul><ul><li>Diverse ways of learning </li></ul><ul><li>Hands-on technical skill building </li></ul><ul><li>Three dimensional spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Transformation of personal experience and researched content into a tangible visual form </li></ul><ul><li>Virtual Worlds </li></ul><ul><ul><li>ie: Second Life, Active Worlds, Metaplace, Google Sketch up and more... </li></ul></ul>
    39. 42. modding the metaverse
    40. 43. virtual ecosystem <ul><li>Ecology in SL </li></ul><ul><li>clouds rain on the land </li></ul><ul><li>plants are nourished with rain & sun </li></ul><ul><li>bees spread pollen to help the plants reproduce </li></ul><ul><li>birds eat seeds to keep the plants from growing out of control </li></ul>
    41. 44. interactive biology lessons <ul><li>Genome Island &Interactive cells </li></ul><ul><li>Students can go inside cell and interact with intracellular structures </li></ul><ul><li>A draft of a skeleton model designed by Ollie Kubrick </li></ul>
    42. 45. blended realities
    43. 46. remember when… <ul><li>The World – first offered dial up - 1989 </li></ul><ul><li>Mosiac – first popular web browser 1992 </li></ul><ul><li>PowWow chat program 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Friendster social networking site 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>… the internet is always changing… </li></ul>
    44. 48. Web 3d The world isn’t flat… and neither is the web…
    45. 49. from web 2.0 to web 3D <ul><li>we all </li></ul><ul><li>imagined </li></ul><ul><li>that the </li></ul><ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>was full </li></ul><ul><li>of people </li></ul>
    46. 50. blended identities…. … here they are in 3D
    47. 51. new worlds – old problems? <ul><li>Your World. Your Imagination. </li></ul><ul><li>What if your imagination doesn’t fit with conventional norms? </li></ul>
    48. 52. adult entertainment
    49. 53. subcultures
    50. 55. old fears… <ul><li>A haven for deviants </li></ul><ul><li>False identities </li></ul><ul><li>Safety </li></ul><ul><li>There will eventually be no face-to-face </li></ul>
    51. 56. post-Second Life
    52. 57. what’s next? <ul><li>universe hopping </li></ul><ul><li>interoperability </li></ul>
    53. 58. the future… <ul><li>Scientists use brain waves to stroll through virtual world </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
    54. 59. with thanks... Tracy Kennedy [email_address] Professor Tracy