Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Second Life gains its voice!

Many people may be aware of my scepticism over Second Life, I feel though I have to try it out in order to be able to make a comment on it. I still have issues over using avatars and alternative names ( I am aware that your First Life details are available in your Profile).

I have recently been pleasantly surprised to find meeting in Second Life useful ( a meeting on the roof of the Bloggers Cafe with Jane Nicholls and Allanah King amongst others)

I have met some extremely helpful people within Second Life, one in particular who took time to show me how to build in a sandbox ( a surprisingly therapeutic experience, a bit like taking you back to playing with Lego!).
Another problem that I have/had with SL is the whole typing IM thing, it strikes me as backward technology to be typing in a virtual 3d world ( a bit 20th Century !!!). However on a visit to a building near the DEN space on Eduisland last night I came upon a meditation group who invited me in.

Listening to the group discussion I quickly picked up that they were trying out voice communication from with SL ( not using Skype in addition to SL).

They were very helpful as a group and sent me off to the Second Life website, in particular to the download area ( bottom left on the main page) and from there to the First Look download.

Once you have downloaded the software ( it took about 15 minutes using broadband ) you open SL using the new SL First Look Application (Mac), not your original SL one. Once in SL you go to Preferences ( File menu) and there select the audio set up you want to use. Once you have done this you will soon be able to tell whether you are in a currently voice activated area as a white dot appears above your avatar. You press down a mouse button to talk ( rather like using YAK - walky talky style) - you can also check out at SL which areas have been voice activated.

This development is one which certainly goes a long way to ending my 'problems' with Second Life, as I can now see the possibility of holding meetings in real time from within Second Life, where contributors can hear the presentation and also ask questions directly ( without the need to type and read a screen at the same time. I understand from discussions yesterday that the SL developers plan to roll out voice activated areas over the next few weeks and months. Now perhaps we will see the true potential of Second Life for the Education Community (almost convinced).

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