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Second Life and Virtual Worlds – A Service Opportunity?


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Second Life and Virtual Worlds – A Service Opportunity?

  1. 1. Second Life and Virtual Worlds – A Service Opportunity? Cathal McCauley, University Librarian NUI Maynooth Peter Clarke, Library IT Services UCD
  2. 3. See: Excellence and fairness: Achieving world class public services Characteristics of World Class Public Services
  3. 4. What is Second Life? <ul><li>A 3-D virtual world established by Linden Labs in 2003. Currently c16.5 million residents. Download the Second Life (SL) installer from: </li></ul><ul><li>Key concepts: Avatars, Objects, Linden Dollars </li></ul><ul><li>Communication by IM and Voice </li></ul><ul><li>More than a game… </li></ul>
  4. 5. Second Life and the early WWW <ul><li>Content similar: sex, rock-n-roll and free stuff very popular (gambling was) </li></ul><ul><li>Issues similar: US-dominated, uncertainty, rapid change, moral issues, security issues etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Some ‘new’ issues too: virtual world protest groups and riots – but how new? </li></ul><ul><li>Key characteristic is the similarity </li></ul>
  5. 6. Second Life – “Imagined and created by its Residents” <ul><li>You can: </li></ul><ul><li>Enter the Sistine Chapel and fly up to review the ceiling. </li></ul><ul><li>Train how to give emergency first aid to an injured person outside a busy nightclub. </li></ul><ul><li>Visit the Saltire centre. </li></ul><ul><li>Be an ‘in world’ reporter for CNN. </li></ul><ul><li>Go to the Blarney Stone pub in ‘Dublin’ in SL for pints and craic </li></ul><ul><li>Fight zombies, take the form of an animal etc. etc. </li></ul><ul><li>c.99% user generated content </li></ul>
  6. 7. VIDEO HERE
  7. 8. Education in Second Life <ul><li>Many US universities (including Berkley, Harvard and Stanford) </li></ul><ul><li>More than 70% of UK universities </li></ul><ul><li>Universities from Australia and Japan ‘in world’ too </li></ul><ul><li>Small, but growing Irish interest e.g. UCD, DIT </li></ul><ul><li>Delivering classes, skills session, seminars and conferences </li></ul><ul><li>Key drivers: distance learning, media, technology, design and… Libraries </li></ul>
  8. 11. UCD Library in Second Life <ul><li>Why? Many reasons including: Institutional & Library strategy, reader preferences, resources and PR. </li></ul><ul><li>Entered SL on 7 th March ’07. Part of US-based ALS’s award winning cybrary city. </li></ul><ul><li>Library-wide working group established in April ’07. </li></ul>
  9. 12. UCD Library in Second Life – Key Achievements to date <ul><li>March ’07 First Irish academic library in SL </li></ul><ul><li>Sept. – Nov. ’07 hosted area aimed at new and potential students (repeated Autumn ’08) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ 07/’08 hosted lectures, tutorials and contact time for Prof. Mary Burke (UCD SILS) </li></ul><ul><li>Feb. ‘08 hosted talk by movie director Anne Seidl attended by 30+ avatars </li></ul><ul><li>March ‘08 hosted virtual venues strand of Library Ireland Week – 3 successful events </li></ul><ul><li>Oct. ’08 short listed for UCD Images of Research Competition </li></ul>
  10. 13. Second Life – The PR dividend
  11. 14. How It All Works <ul><li>Five key elements make up Second Life </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Physics </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scripting </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Objects </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Textures </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  12. 15. Second Life Challenges: Adoption <ul><ul><li>High-end technology requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum Hardware Specifications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Broadband Internet connection </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>PC or Mac </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1.5 GHz CPU </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1GB memory </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Video card </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not all graphics cards are compatible, Windows Vista/Linux still not properly supported by SL </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User interface isn’t intuitive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Steep learning curve - most students digital natives </li></ul></ul>
  13. 16. Second Life Challenges: Adoption <ul><ul><li>Poor introductory experience - Orientation Island, ineffective search tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost - basic accounts are free but in order to buy land, a premium account is required. ‘Rent’ may also need to be paid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Accessibility - still not accessible to the visually impaired (SLim) </li></ul></ul>
  14. 17. Second Life Challenges: Technical / Performance <ul><ul><li>SL downtime required every 2-3 weeks for Grid updates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Updated client software required at the similar intervals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grid instability leads to unreliability and performance issues, notably ‘lag’ (sluggish) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance issues - inventory losses, difficulties teleporting, logging in, performing searches etc etc </li></ul></ul>
  15. 18. Second Life Challenges: Platform Limitations <ul><ul><li>SL is not an open platform like the Web and does not currently run on open standards (Linux beta) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Not possible to host your own worlds locally on your own servers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Limit to the number of avatars that can occupy one area simultaneously (60-80) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SL cannot be exported to other virtual worlds </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No backup facilities - everything can be lost </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Very few tools for importing from other 3D applications </li></ul></ul>
  16. 19. Second Life Challenges: Institutional Issues <ul><ul><li>Administrative (seen as a game rather than a teaching & learning resource) and technological (security) barriers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Legal issues for institutions - intellectual property rights etc </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Authenticity - who is really behind the avatar? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SL is a proprietary service - some educators have issues with this </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Exposure to unsuitable content - just like the ‘Net in general </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Duty of care for younger students (under 18s) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy and safety concerns </li></ul></ul>
  17. 20. Future of SL at UCD <ul><li>Remains undecided. </li></ul><ul><li>Continue to publicise and provide access to Library resources. </li></ul><ul><li>Continue with presentations and seminars in SL. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples of possible future development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Access control for admission by valid students. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link with Talis Keystone for access to library account. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 21. Second Life and the Hype Cycle 2003 Launch Summer 2006 Anshe Chung & Business Week Autumn 2008 Reuters withdraws from Second Life
  19. 22. Avatars happy to play but not to pay? Source:
  20. 23. Will there be “A Second Wind for Second Life”? <ul><li>Second life facing many obstacles: </li></ul><ul><li>Technology issues (access, ease of use, reliability, interoperability) </li></ul><ul><li>Ownership concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Figuring out what users want </li></ul><ul><li>Business community uncommitted </li></ul><ul><li>Ambiguous economic and membership metrics </li></ul><ul><li>Digital nomads and growing competition </li></ul>
  21. 24. “ Our evidence so far suggests that virtual worlds have great potential…it is not clear that Second Life …is the optimal environment” Dr Peter Twining, Head of Dept of Education, Open University ( Source: A Spring 2008 “snaphot” of UK Higher and Further Education Developments in Second Life) Second Life is “not the only fruit”
  22. 25. Virtual Worlds: A Service Opportunity? <ul><li>Growing market </li></ul><ul><li>Access to the ‘new’ economy </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunity for international co-operation </li></ul><ul><li>Another route to ‘hard to reach’ students </li></ul><ul><li>Particularly suited to some disciplines </li></ul><ul><li>Already estimated 100 million active users of virtual worlds. </li></ul>
  23. 26. StratAG Digital campus – sample building model 1. Terrestrial LiDAR scanning 2. 3D Wireframe model 3. Segregation of unique surfaces 4. Textured, lit and rendered model
  24. 27. Some comments to ponder… <ul><li>“ Virtual worlds represent the biggest shift forward in learning since the focus on student-centred methods” </li></ul><ul><li>Simon Bignell, Centre for Psychological Research in Human Behaviour, University of Derby </li></ul><ul><li>“ It has taken about 15 years from the birth of the web for web-based e-learning to become thoroughly institutionalised (with ongoing pockets of resistance throughout academia). The 3D internet could easily take as long” </li></ul><ul><li>Dr Daniel Livingstone, School of Computing, University of West Scotland </li></ul><ul><li> ( Source: The Autumn 2008 “snapshot” of UK Higher and Further Education </li></ul><ul><li> Developments in Second Life) </li></ul>
  25. 28. Worth the wait?
  26. 29. Go raibh maith agaibh Cathal McCauley [email_address] Peter Clarke [email_address]