Friday, September 14, 2007

Reconsidering Second Life

In the last issue of Museum News there was that happy colorful exploration of Web 2.0. In this most recent issue, there's an article on museums in Second Life. I remain highly skeptical about Second Life. When I logged in sometime last year, I was frustrated by lag and texturing problems. Either my broadband or my year old laptop were unable to handle the requirements. I continue to feel the technological requirements of the environment make it a less than ideal space in which to reach a broad audience.

But I'm here to say something good about Second Life. Gasp! The article in Museum News - "My Raven-Haired Avatar Flies through the Museum" - had an example which made me pause. When the Exploratorium in San Francisco set up an internet broadcast of a solar eclipse along with a concurrent event in Second Life, they discovered something. Although many people visited the website to watch the webcast, they watched for an average of 7 minutes.

Those who came to the Second World event, about 60 to 70, stayed for the entire hour. They were engaged and asked questions.

This is the most compelling argument for Second Life I have yet heard. Quality of visitor interaction. Yet, I still wonder about the trade offs in terms of cost to develop and maintain an in-world space... But I'm open to being persuaded.

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