How to transform the limits of Second Life into an opportunity to reflect on what has been in recent years? With coolness and decision. Background: in these weeks Baby Pooley, aka Ivonne Citarella (CNR researcher that I met in person at Vesuviocamp) is presenting in SL the results of her research book, “Second Life tra opportunità professionali, gioco e formazione” (“Second Life between professional opportunities, game and training”) for which I had the pleasure of writing a text contained in the third chapter (where are the contributions of some “long course” Italian “residents” of the virtual world of Linden Lab as Imparafacile Runo, Colpo Wrexler o Yaia Nishi, whom in these years have all become “real” friends of mine).
Invited to participate to a presentation at Du Demon Park, I arrived (with guilty late due to work commitments) just to discover that my voice was not working and did not allow me to speak or even to hear what other people said. I then had to hastily prepare a summary of what was, more than my contribution to the book of Ivonne, my experience in these years in SL, trying to be concise but comprehensive in my treatment, so as not to bore the audience that could follow me only through text chat. If I succeeded or not tell you, I hope I have testified as an instrument can be valid or not according to the ability of the person who uses it, his discipline but also to his curiosity and desire to experiment, perhaps to enrich and extend his reality in ways otherwise not followed in the physical world in which we act every day. I leave to you the final opinion, have a nice reading.
Good evening, sorry if I have to write but my voice doesn’t work properly. As perhaps you would know, in RL I am a financial analyst and journalist, so basically I get paid to think and write. In SL I tried to do many things, from role-playing games to create and use multiple avatars, from using SL to create digital images as a hobby to professional use of this tool, dealing with things related or not to my RL profession.
Well, when I tried to be a journalist “in world” I was always bored to death: I was paid very little in real terms (a linden worth less than one three-hundredth euros) in proportion to the time involved, if I wanted to grow that type of activity I would have to commit even more time and capital in a market (that of SL users) which was and still is too small compared to the investments that I had to prepare. The same reasoning was probably made by many RL companies that had entered on the wave of enthusiasm in 2006-2007 (Gabetti, Fiat, Enel…) but which subsequently outputs: the results are too modest compared to the commitment of money and time required (and to a certain difficulty in obtaining reliable statistics on the findings of each initiative).
Conversely, when I started doing different things, in some cases extending my RL job (for example, working on communication and pr), in some others “inventing” a new job (speaking of artists, promote knowledge from within SL to the web with www.mondivirtuali.it and more generally to RL) I found that compared with low barriers to entry and initial requirements not so difficult I had rooms to develop latent potentialities that in RL I had no time or opportunity to pursue. All this is fairly well known: in SL you can develop yourself and your interests and if you discover that you can do something well, you probably get excellent results (for a small number of people in the world even in economic terms). But SL also allows another, in some specific fields: SL is a social tool, a social environment, with high graphics impact.
So are the artists, graphic designers, social managers (and also those who deal with disabilities and / or relational difficulties) to be able to “enjoy” more, because there is an SL art market, there is room to do a charity, there is a possibility to create cultural events with a good echo, there is a chance to compete in an environment with fewer barriers than those in the everyday physical reality. It is no coincidence if an artists like Bryn Oh succeed with crowdfunding to collect in a few days 6,000 US dollars in a few days to continue her experiments in SL, it is not a chance that charity events like Relay for Life can collect hundreds of thousands of US dollars a year to fight cancer.
SL can serve and it serves to expand the reality and to give rise to projects able to self sustain themselves in real terms, for those who knows how to best leverage the strengths, that are not few. Certainly the “dream” of becoming all newly Rockfeller, better a novice Anshe Chung is just a “dream” and as such difficult to achieve (if not, I repeat, for a small number of individuals), yet the internal economy of SL holds even years later by the media hype and if Linden Lab will succeed as I hope to relaunch the platform (enriching the social / relational interventions and not only the “fun”) and to grow the audience of more virtual worlds (to which it may sell services such as the monetary system), a future as a niche but a “rich” and interesting niche, may be realized relatively quickly for these platforms.