I have finished building out a Grove Gallery on an island sim in Second Life called Third Life Lab. The Grove is collaborating with Gary Merrill, one of our consulting associates to create this space dedicated to exploring the relationship between virtual worlds and real life, with an eye toward increasing our sense of interrelatedness and appreciation of natural systems.
Second Life, if you haven’t been following it, is a rapidly expanding self organizing community of about 2,500,000 folks from all over the world. (It's now--Aug.2007-- 8,600,000 member account, many of which are alternative avators --Estimates are about 1,500,000 are active participants). It was created in 2004 in San Rafael! Residents are the creators of the world and all the different experiments in it. I got pulled in through one of our clients, New Media Constorium, which is developing an NMC campus to be used by their association of colleges and universities. (You can hold Forums and things in this world). The Exploratorium, another one of our clients, has a virtual Exploratorium called SPLO. Businesses are increasing using these kinds of immersive environments to prototype concepts—folks like Starwood Hotels, Sears, Adidas, Nissan and others. Reuters has a full time “virtual reporter” in this environment.
I’ve been exploring what can happen around visual display of the kind of graphic information The Grove’s network is known for. Third Life has a full gallery showing all our tools and many of the templates. There are multiple meeting spaces, called “Stages” literally showing what the work looks like in situ. I have also included a couple of the PowerPoint presentations and cases we have developed, as well as some of the Storymaps we’ve worked on over the years.
Grove Visual Planning Systems, Stage #3.
Right now there is a bit of a learning curve getting used to running around a virtual world with an avator. You do this by logging into www.secondlife.com and signing up for a free 90 day account. This sends you to a noobie island where you learn basic controls. You then link to the mainland. Once there you search for Third Life on the map and teleport there. If you want to use this area as a demo site to show clients what is possible, for $9.50/mo you can have a permanent account.
Another way is to click on this SLURL and it will automate the process once you are registered with an “av” as they are called. The Kiosks at Third Life have little globe buttons you touch to teleport to the Grove Galleries (or other parts of the island. The overall architecture is an homage to Arthur M. Young and illustrates the flour flows and four levels in the sim).
I personally have been using the site as a show and tell experience, where I navigate my avator (Sunseed Bardeen) around as a tour guide, using my laptop or a computer projector. Because I can fly, run, zoom, scan, and teleport, it’s very flexible.
One fun installation in the Grove Gallery is a 3D map of the organizations the Grove has inspired over the years or are partnering with now. It’s Stage 2 at the Gallery Level. Click on the logos to see the different web sites of our partners.
Global Grove Cafe, Stage #2
For those of you interested in theories of complex adaptive organizations or what is happening with the phenomenon called Internet 2.0, Second Life is an amazing lab and example. Because the “residents” do all the creating, and there are minimal rules, just about everything you can imagine is going on in here. I think of it as the Digital Wild West.
Our Third Life is an oasis if you want to ignore the rest.
See you in SL!!!