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June 23, 2011 / Rabbi Meir Wexler

Second Life or Get a Life?

I was genuinely confused when I lived my Second Life for the first time. What is so intriguing about creating an avatar in a virtual world where a person can be themselves or pretend to be someone else? It actually sounded a little creepy. It was very overwhelmed gazing at the opening map of places/islands/cities/ etc. to venture to. I took a few minutes to read through the controls and the different options. I eventually picked something that aligned with my interests- the International Society for Technology in Education. When I entered the ISTE island the first thing I experienced was a sense of calm and relaxation. I saw a bunch of pine trees, some bridges and the what looked like the ocean in the background. The weather looked sunny and felt like it was in the low to mid 70’s (my guess…). I noticed a few people standing around (literally err virtually should I say?) and I tried to strike up a conversation but they seemed preoccupied and I didn’t want to bother them so I moved on. I realized I had the freedom to roam anywhere in the ISTE island, but I wanted to have a birds-eye view of the layout and venues so the first thing I did was hold down the function key (fn) and press the up arrow and started lifting straight up to get an aerial view of the island. From the air I some what looked like cabanas or huts and flew to them. When I set myself down (function key + down arrow) I saw the booths were for bloggers (‘bloggers hut’) and podcasters (podcasters place). I was impressed with the setup, layout and overall aesthetics of the rooms. Podcasters Place has all types of icons, images and even had a desk with laptop and all the podcasting equipment you need! Bloggers hut had links to blogs you could touch and then go to, a list of people blogging about ISTE, and areas to sit and ‘work.’ It was cool stepping out of huts and being able to go down to the ocean to relax. I felt like I was ‘sharpening the saw‘(as Stephen Covey would say of his 7th Habit of Highly Effective People) gazing at the sky and feeling a deep sense of calm. Afterwards I continued around the island before finally unplugging. When I unplugged I was beginning to understand how this ‘whole virtual world thing’ could be popular both from an educational perspective and a relaxation perspective. I felt relaxed from going to the ocean and yet also felt inspired to blog after reading some of the blogposts at bloggers hut!

Bloggers note:This Second Life article was written from a first person perspective so please excuse the frequent use of the word ‘I.’

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