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January 1, 2007 » 7:29 pm

The Varieties of Second Life Experience

I liked Clay Shirky‘s commentary last month on Second Life, along with Howard Rheingold‘s qualifications in the comments. More than anything, Clay seemed to be lashing out against thoughtless discourse, which is a big pet peeve of mine as well. Of course, posts like these generally generate more thoughtless discourse. It’s the cost of having open conversations on the Internet. The benefit is that the few gems that emerge generally outweigh the noise.    (LND)

I particularly enjoyed Mark Oehlert‘s response to Clay and others. I had the pleasure of listening to Mark evangelize Second Life over lunch a few months ago, and it was almost enough for me to dip my toes there for the first time, something I’ve resisted for almost two years now. I’ve continued to refrain for reasons I’ll explain some other time, but when I do finally decide to check things out, you can bet I’ll be asking Mark for a tour.    (LNE)

Despite my own skepticism, Clay’s commentary, and the fact that I haven’t played with it myself yet, I think Second Life and 3D MMOGs in general are important, and I will continue to pay attention to them. I’m reminded of William James, who in The Varieties of Religious Experience, writes of the relationship between intense, religious experiences and our minds, how we live our lives, and truth itself.    (LNF)

Regardless of what the actual numbers of users are, regardless of the sum impact these environments have actually had on the world today, one thing that we can’t dispute is that some nontrivial number of people have had intense, important experiences within these environments. This fact alone suggests that there is something transformational there, something that is worth further exploration.    (LNG)

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