It seems not too long ago that I was making predictions about Second Life and Education in 2008, and here we are more than half way through the year and I find myself helping organize the Second Life Education Community Conference and reflecting on SL’s fifth birthday and I’m just as involved and passionate about the future of education and virtual worlds as I ever was, maybe even more so. Lively and Vivaty made big splashes this week and the ever wonderful Dizzy Banjo released a video of the “Message in a Bottle” that he and Lillie Yifu created for the in-world birthday celebration and I can’t help but get a warm fuzzy feeling recognizing the voices of so many friends… (I’m at about 1:08 in the clip!)
My life has changed so much in the last 5 years, it’s hard to separate how much of the change was influenced by my involvement with Second Life, but I think I can say without a doubt that I owe my friend Spatch a huge debt for sending me that beta invite way back in 2003. It took some time for me to get a machine that could run SL well enough to really do anything with it, but once I did, and I had that first epiphany moment – there’s been no looking back.
Whatever the press may say, or my coworkers who make fun, or strangers who look at me oddly when I talk about what I do, I feel very, very good about my involvement with this platform and despite my frustrations with what feels like excruciatingly slow progress on the part of Linden Lab sometimes, I really can’t complain TOO much. This technology changed my life, helped me discover parts of myself I didn’t know existed, led me to people who share my passion for exploring all of this new technology not just for education in a formal sense, but in a very personal sense – as a tool for self expression, collaborative exploration, and shared experiences. Through Second Life and the people I met there, I got sucked into the blogosphere and Twitter, learned to wrestle with Photoshop and machinima, webcasting, podcasting, and managing a personal and professional network of friends and colleagues all over the world. Second Life changed my sense of time and place, and above all, what IS possible if you have a group of committed, caring, smart people who share similar goals.
Second Life hasn’t been a transformational experience for everyone who came to it, most of my old BBS crowd who started when I did have never returned, or never found a niche or a reason to come back except to stop in and visit me from time to time. But for those of us who have, whose careers changed, whose lives changed, it’s been a truly amazing journey. Just like in real life, I’m terrible at sending birthday wishes on time, but happy belated birthday to SL and thanks to all the wonderful friends who have shared in this experience with me.