My Virtual Frustration

26 10 2010

As many would know, I’ve been using Second life for about five years now, and during that time, it has given me friends… not cliché online friends who could be axe murderers or whatever, but genuine friends who I’ve met in real life and invited into my home.

I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with a documentary, “Alter Ego” commissioned by SBS, and to have a credit in an Australian feature film “Beautiful Kate”.

Second life has loads of potential, alas, in many ways, that’s often all it has.

Yes folks, I’m going to bite the hand that fed me.

Second life worked, at least it worked to a point. I found that I could work my rear end off creating some form of display, only to log in a few days later and find that another member of the island had done something, usually to the land, and this had upset my work.

If I write a blog post, in fact I’m writing one now, I know for a fact that however long I leave the page, when I finally do return, that all my words and posts will be intact… not floating in the air, or hurled into a lake or returned to me by another member.

One member of the ABC Admin had made a lovely garden area, which not only looked great but functioned very well, it was being used and enjoyed by others. I was annoyed to log in one day to find it all gone. It turned out that another member had said something which possibly offended the creator, and so she removed it, leaving a flat and empty construction zone which even today hasn’t been adequately used.

I also miss the Laneways, which despite some of the problems people had, mostly due to a slow down of their computer, refered to as “lag”. I was listening to the fors and againsts, and things were split 50-50, there was discussion on whether it should be kept or not, but eventually it was all taken down.

Rockit was something I had worked very hard on, it was my virtual music quiz show, which made an appearance in the documentary. But it was hard to bring people in to watch it… unlike television, it had to be done live and couldn’t be recorded for later… at least not by myself, and the point of it was the interaction, watching a recorded show wouldn’t have been quite as much fun. Having a live show meant that people had to be in the audience NOW
not always easy to do, I’ll admit, when the kids have to be put to bed or the dog walked.

As I said, Second life had a lot of potential, but many wouldn’t bother turning up to try it, I remember that I was even reluctant to try it, as I have never seen myself as a gamer, and at that point I assumed that it was a game.

Once I logged in, and stayed for a while, I realised that this was a 3D Social Network, where I could meet people and make real life friends, and since I found it difficult to get out due to my health, I found it a real boon, logging in for hours each day.

At one point, ABC offered a Science Discussion, hosted by members of the CSIRO which was a hit, but only lasted for about five weeks, I’m not really sure why. People asked me dozens of times if the CSIRO talks would return or if we’d have some other science content happening instead. Well I tried, I really did. I have some science connections and put the word out, but I may as well have been yelling into the wind as nobody was interested. of course all this would have been done for free since I’m just an individual who has no money to spare for projects and I do know that even keen scientists aren’t always keen to talk about their subject for free.

I tried inviting Pool into ABC Island, We had a building created, and thought that everything was all set to go, only to be trapped by certain legal hitches, or perhaps by people who just didn’t care. Everything ground to a halt.

I have told people about Second life and it’s potential, hell even if you’re not a gamer then surely you can see the benefit of standing with a group of people, you in Australia, a friend from New York, another from London and one from Germany… all talking together about things you did in real life today, for as long as you please. It’s the cheapest discussion ever, and much, much more fun than staring at a single face on Skype.

But they won’t log in… ok, maybe their computer is too old, or perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth, but then,
Second life doesn’t demand so much that it’s going to be that much of a problem. Sometimes it just seems to people that the learning curve is too great, but it’s not really, you pick things up as you go, people will give you handy little tips along the way.

It’s especially excellent for those with health issues or those who are stuck in rural locations and want to get out and socialise, but can’t.

I found the oddest thing was that when I was in Second Life, I didn’t feel like I was talking to my friend overseas on the phone, I felt like more like I was with them, and that was nice. Granted it’s not exactly the same… but how many of us can spontaneously decide to get the Lear jet refueled and fly to Canada on a whim?

Whether it was pre-conceived ideas or actual computer problems, people just never really seemed to give Second Life a real go, to see if it was useful.

It’s certainly every bit as useful an online tool as Facebook and Twitter, what went wrong? I’m not sure.

Anyway, for five years I tried my hardest, I did a lot of work, I tried to bring people in to show them that this place really can work well, but all I seem to have to show for it is a huge pile of frustration.

The island that I originally lived on and helped design recently ran low on funding, and it was sold off, I’m about to have everything I put in place returned to me, which saddens me somewhat, but there’s little I can do about it.

I’ve pretty much given up, I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook, and have been writing here, but as far as Second Life goes, I just feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall.

And I seldom log in anymore.

Wolfie!

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