“Giving Libraries a Second Life”

Note: The following our my rough speaking notes from a talk I gave at the DC chapter of the Special Libraries Association. The event was entitled “Giving Libraries a Second Life.” My talk was followed by three others who hit on other aspects of being in Second Life. These notes are rough. If there is something I said that I missed in my notes, please drop me a comment and I’ll update my notes.

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It’s kind of ironic that my first job out of college is to work at a library. For most of my life, libraries were never a placed that I really enjoyed spending time, well until college. I realized that its where all the smart girls hung out at.

I always felt like I was getting forced to read something I wasn’t interested in or that the library never had the book which really peaked my interest. I was forced to see the world through this very limited scope of what was available to me on a specific set of shelves.

Then in the early 1990s everything changed.

History

A guy named Tim Berners-Lee had this vision for a World Wide Web which allowed documents and data to be easily created and shared between a user and computers and users and other users.

I can remember my dad and I getting on the Web back in the early days and we’d play a game of seeing how many different country Web sites we could access in the course of an evening. We’d start off in England, maybe find a university Web site in Eastern Europe and then all of a sudden find ourselves looking at a Web site from Russia or Asia.

I was 10 to 12 years old and the world was my play ground.

This unprecedented access to the world and ability to be connected to each other led to the World Wide Web EXPLODING in popularity.

The Web has truly changed the world. Our world no longer has to exist around the distance that we can travel in our cars or on the subway. Just by sitting at home and surfing around the Web, I could and still can truly see and understand a world beyond my own.

It didn’t stop there, with sites like MySpace, Facebook, and YouTube, I can truly join into community with anyone who is hooked up to a computer at any time and any place.

From the beginning of the Web, everything was stuck in the paradigm of the document. There was a page with a title, author, sub-titles, and text. It was just like a book.

Dawning of Second Life

Around 2002, Second Life in its earliest incarnations was born from Philip Rosedale.

It is not a video game. There is no strict narrative. There is no end to Second Life. You can’t “beat it.” Second Life is a three dimensional virtual world. It is a platform for creating, collaborating, and experiencing knowledge in a three dimensional space. It even has its own economy.

Avatars

One of the first things you’re going to notice once you get into Second Life is that you have an avatar which represents you.

Its your very own little person on the screen which you can control and get to do whatever you want.

You can also customize your avatar however you want. As you walk through Second Life, you’ll see avatars in every shape, size, color, and species.

You are truly in a world where you can be whatever you want to be. You could be a fantasy creature, human, not human, animal, or completely make believe.

Real Estate

You’re not stuck to the life of being a nomad wondering the vast land of Second LIfe.

Just like in real life, you need some where you can make a home for yourself.

Like in real life, you have the option of renting or buying. You can rent or buy land from a larger land owner. You could also buy your own island. Each option brings its own unique challenges which Michelle is going to hit on in a bit.

It really is exciting.

You have a platform where you can build up any environment that you can dream up. Maybe its a place from fiction… Maybe a its a place that’s not possible to go to in real life, like the moon? Maybe its a place that doesn’t even exist?

Building Items

Not only can you build any environment or place to live. You can build any item. What’s one item that you’d love to have but just can’t?

Events

One of the first things that you’ll see when you get into Second Life, passed the intro island, is a lot of empty islands.

Second Life is truly an event and community driven culture.

SL is driven by the people who are participate and that at they interact and form communities with one another.

Conclusion

Within Second Life, you can be whatever you want to be, you can do whatever you want to do, have any item you want, and go where ever you want. Your imagination and time are truly your only limit.

You have the ability to experience knowledge within this immersive environment.

It makes learning come alive in a way never before possible.

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One thought on ““Giving Libraries a Second Life””

  1. Justin,
    Thanks so much for sharing this. I will be speaking later this year to the California Association of Librarians and you have given me some fabulous new insights to the future of the library.

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