Friday, August 20, 2010

Counterpoint: Why Educators Still Need Second Life (For Now)

Brain and Skull in jar
Location: House of Usher

It's all about content, content, content. Let's suppose one needed a human brain in a jar, for the hidden examination room of a twisted family doctor in, say, 1847 and, say, in an Edgar Allan Poe story.

To make such an item myself in Third Rock or Reaction Grids, I'd have to learn to make sculpties, scripted bubbles, and the jar. The jar part would be easy for me. But the rest would take me many hours for which, as an educator, I'm not rewarded one iota in my annual evaluation.

Let's see. Does "made brain in jar for immersive simulation of the examination room of Doctor Renfield Allan" come under "Professional Development," "Teaching and Scholarship," or "Service"?

You see my quandry: I would be stuck with making a lousy 2D brain in a jar. Now what self-respecting madman would own a flat brain? In Second Life, to add such an immersive prop, I went over to Xstreetsl and searched for "brain." Even "brain in jar" turned up several possibilities. Cost: 110L. Time required, 15 minutes. Back to essential work, such as finding illustrations from morbid Victorian medical texts.

For now, Second Life offers the sort of premade content, much of which can be modified to suit an educator's needs, free or virtually so. It's the best reason to build a simulation in SL, after one factors in the higher land costs, the per-upload fees, and the failure to provide off-world backups.

Eventually, the Linden Lab product will lose this crucial edge, but I'd hope that, if the Lindens wish to make money from other grids, that the Xstreeets site could alter licensing with creators to permit delivery to multiple grids. Technically that is possible and would lead buyers to purchase Linden Dollars or pull out a credit card.

It's a win-win for Linden Lab to leverage their residents' creations and their currency in multiple worlds. Why not do it?

If anyone at Linden Lab needs a spare brain, I've told you where to look.

Brain credit: Chrom Snook. Go buy one of Chrom's brains NOW. You know you need one. Act fast and get human skull in jar, gratis.

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