Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Modeling Reality in Virtual Worlds

Virtual Worlds were fodder for science-fiction in the recent past, now they are near ubiquitous in this era of Web 2.0.

One of the most popular of these Virtual Worlds, is Second Life. Second Life was launched in 2003 and allows it's users free access to its world in which interaction is done through personalized avatars. The uses of Second Life are vast and varied. Some use it as a way to spend leisure time and get a break from "real life." Others use it for socializing, much like Facebook.

Second Life also allows for virtual classrooms, which many institutions of higher education use. Also, corporations are taking their board meetings and conference calls online to Second Life.

One thing I was not aware of until I read it in Stephanie Simon's WSJ article, is that medical students are also using SL for training in the treatment of patients.

Whenever new technology comes to forefront there is always a downside to go along with the upside. While SL can be an amazing tool for businesses and individuals (especially those with disabilities who cannot experience all that "real life" has to offer), the flipside of the coin is that it can become consuming. People need to be able to draw the line and not let their Second Life overtake their 'First Life', and make sure they forge relationships and remain sociable in the real world.

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