Maybe you’ve heard or read about a virtual web community called “Second Life?” I first caught wind of “SL” a few months ago; since then, there have been stories in everything from the Daily News to Southwest Airline’s in-flight magazine, to Newsweek. I was surprised to learn some version of the web-based virtual reality/social networking application has been around since about 2004.
I put in a proposal for a small grant today to hopefully work with Galveston.com and some partners on campus to develop a presence for UTMB in Second Life, a virtual welcome center for staff, students, prospects, patients and others to come and find out a little about us. Second Life could present an interesting new venue for collaboration, training, distance learning, new media studies, patient education, outreach, science and marketing. Or it could be the latest web buzz, hot today and doomed tomorrow to fade, a digital version of the hula hoop, beanie babies or pet rocks.
I and some of the people I work alongside have already created avatars and been exploring in Second Life. If this proposal gets funded, it may be a case of “be careful what you ask for…you may get it.” One day soon you may be able to visit a 3D Old Red online, not so exciting if the real thing is sitting outside your window, but pretty cool if you’re in a classroom or conference room in Thailand and collaborating with people here. While you can’t visit Old Red in SL yet, you can visit http://secondlife.com.