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Neil Witt :: Blog :: Second Degree burns from Second Life

May 24, 2007

After the London event I thought I'd better try and confront my scepticism and see what was so engaging about Second Life. So after a quick installation I got about 15 minutes before my (new and expensive) laptop flicks to a very retro 640 * 480 16 colour display, coughs and dies.

So what did I get from my 15 minutes experience? Not a lot. Having spent 12 years working with proper simulation I’ve been spoiled – having these to work with.

A real simulation environment 

Where simulation is all about context, and we can get students using it in 15 minutes. Rather less than the 4 hours needed for Second Life.Two days later and I try again. 15 minutes later and my laptop overheats, burns my hand and dies. But I did learn how to fly. Nearly.

So I don’t get Second Life. It’s touted as a “venue” but are user expectations being met? Personally I hate the idea of any student having to pay for functionality of an application. Living in a rural area connectivity is an issue, and it’s the same for my students – we don’t all have high speed Broadband and if you’re in Cornwall you may never have it. So I don’t have a machine with the right spec to access Second Life, and my university currently blocks access.

Bit of a problem if I want to access the forthcoming “social events will take place in Second Life” (and previous Eduserv events).

Overview for Keywords: Scepticism, Second Life, Simulation

Blogs with Keywords: Scepticism, Second Life, Simulation

Posted by Neil Witt


  1. Hi Neil - thanks for raising these key issues. My Mac mini just about copes with SL, although I can't run any other apps at the same time which is very annoying.

    Maybe you'd like to host an alternative evening social online for non-SLers? Or even an offline one? Do drop me a line! 

    Best, Josie  

    Josie FraserEmerge info on Friday, 25 May 2007, 10:09 BST # |

  2. I have one of those free accounts, i don't see that i'd have the time needed to be worth investing in a paid for SL account.

    When my PC wasn't coping i thought it was something just to do with the computer, seems that for many people the first hurdle could be the spec of their machine.

    I've been musing today on Accessibility as well, as SL didn't use to provide for blind users, whether it does now, i have yet to confirm, i haven't found any info in either direction yet.

    I've probably only spent 2 or 3 hours in second life, and while i find my way around  most applications, games, e.t.c quite easily, i found i got stuck and couldn't move out into the greater world, guess i'll have to have another go at some point.

    You raise some interesting issues.

    Nicola van den BergNicola van den Berg on Friday, 25 May 2007, 12:31 BST # |

  3. so I'm now categorised as a non-SLer, the haves and the have-nots.......

    Thanks for the invitation to host an event Josie but I'd have thought that as the Support activity for the programme that would be up to Emerge to organise as some of us have our time taken up with the mundane issues of bid writing, exam marking etc.

    I find use of SL for events rather ironic as other JISC calls are focused on user needs and user experience and judging by the emails I've received today in response to my SL blog the user experience ain't that good. Would it not have been better to use a technology that is accessible to all for these events rather than having SLers and Non-SLers?

    Neil WittNeil Witt on Friday, 25 May 2007, 23:53 BST # |

  4. Hi Neil,

    I still hold very mixed feelings about SL.

    I resisted to it for a great while, when I was still working as an EFL teacher, because some of my students were still running on low connections.

    With the beginning of Emerge, I decided to give it another try, but it hasn’t been an easy learning journey, most times because of the technology. My wireless connection is not the best one and most days I can’t even log on to it. I finally learned how to fly and go around the island, but sometimes I get sooo lost!

    I still have a lot to learn about it. I see some potential about its usage, but I am afraid to say that SL will not be an inclusive learning tool, but rather a tool exclusive of some groups, who will have a top machine and a very fast connection.

    I would prefer to concentrate in educational strategies, in which everybody can be included and take part in, regardless of their machine and the Internet connection they have.  

    Cristina CostaCristina Costa on Saturday, 26 May 2007, 08:13 BST # |

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