December 22, 2006

New Media: Second Life continues to be talked about

Follow-up to New Media. Second Life: the Virtual World is Taking Off from Kinoeye

More on Second Life

Some Updates
Currently it seems that Second Life is attracting more and more attention not only from the Web Savvy world but from research psychologists ever keener to get in on the act. Also Thursday’s technology Guardian was sceptical about the numbers of people using Second Life. Whatever else Second Life appears to be keeping up with Oscar Wilde’s dictum about being talked about or not!

Another interested Blogger in New Media also has his doubts about the popularity of Second Life. As with everything it will take time. My suspicion is that with all frontiers it will attract more and more creative people. Adam from Reuters has noticed that many corporate parts of the virtual real estate are empty however they are covering themselves for the future. If real estate and the exchange rate remains cheap it is a miniscule expense. If – as I suspect it will over a decade – Second Life takes off for millions of users on a regular basis then the big corporations have alreadsy got thier claijms staked!

Below: Flights of Fantasy an avatar in Second Life

An Avatar in Second Life

Academic Research

Academic researchers are certainly interested. Links will be added to the bottom of this piece as they are discovered / emerge. There is littel doubt that it will be a delight for Deluezian inspired cultural studies people. Presumably there will be a spate of Research Methods in Virtual Environments in the next couple of years.

What’s out there Now?

Yesterday morning Radio 4’s news programme Today had interviews with two Pschologists about how they were looking into Second Life as a viable environment in which they could run experiements on people’s reactions in certain circumstances. These are experiments that could not be run in the ‘real world’ for ethical reasons.

Much of the discussion circled around the famous experiment of ordering volunteers to adminster what they thought were powerful electric shocks to people who were in fact actors. Despite severe doubts from many of the experimentees they ended up giving ‘electric shocks that could knock people out’ or even kill them.

The radio 4 presenter John Humphreys displayed a certain aversion to -Second Life_ as well. his attitude was a bit scornful to say the least.

If you happen to become a user of Second Life just be aware that if you come across something which is pushing your reactions in surprising ways perhaps conflicting with your real life persona. Just ask yourself the question – is this a bunch of psychologists behind this.

Link here to the BBC ‘Listen Again’ site to download this discussion. Scroll down to the 8.30 am slot: Agony and Ecstasy of Living in the Virtual World

If you seriously interested download it to your hard drive. I’m hoping they will archive it on the server somewhere so that it will be available permanently. I think that there is going to be a lot more discussion emerging around Second Life.

PS: Just discovered the Today Programme Audio Archive Pages. This interview on Second Life will turn up here after Xams 2006.

Added Extra: Short Rant on Psychologists

Things to remember about psychologists are:

  • They need to persuade people they are useful
  • The hisory of early psychology linked to perception was about making the workforce more effective / productive in the early part of the 19th century. See Jonathan Carey ‘Techniques of the Observer’ MIT Press for more on this. This has gone on ever since in business and industry.
  • Psychologists (or some I talked to many years ago) have often been concerned with making people ‘normal’. Ther ones I had in mind were defending the prospect of giving gay people electric-shock aversion therapy to ‘cure them’
  • Psychologists are the people behind putting sweeties under kids noses in supermarkets thus contributing to obesity and general toothlessness
    amongst the population
  • Psychologists love watching ‘Big Brother’, one wonders whether it wasn’t dreamt up by psychologists in the first place
  • Psychologists bear a heavy responsibility for turning the whole education system into the reductionist, positivistic, quantitive, prescriptive managerialist anti-educationalist affair it is today. Why else is Britian’s functiona l illiteracy so bad despite going to school earlier than on the continent and being forever tested?
  • Psychology has shown how socially progressive it is as the ‘discipline’ has expanded exponentially since the Thatcher regime and has remained an extremly popular subject under the Blair regime
  • Perhaps there is a case for social research into the popularity of Psychology in relation to the prescriptivness on governments of the time?

TV Interview With Second Life Guru

Second_Life Interview

Getting back to the point here is a link to the Click.com Second Life Interview

Research Projects into Second Life

Aleks Krotoski one of the Guardian’s technology correspondents is also doing a PhD.


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