Friday, June 27, 2008
Second Life Helps Connect the CF Community
SECOND LIFE is an adult venue. You must be 18 or older to get an account. It's mature content, but exposure to negative elements of nudity, etc. is MINIMAL practically to the point of NON-EXISTENT at CF University.
My first introduction to Second Life was via a quick skimming of an article in the San Diego Reader. At the time I dismissed it thinking "oh brother; not another one of those places for computer geeks who can't get a life of their own and need to be on the Internet all day." I promptly filed the whole thing in a place in my brain reserved for things like MMORPGs, LAN parties, D&D (Dungeons and Dragons), City of Heroes and The SiMS. Basically I turned up my nose, turned on my heel and walked away from the matter.
A few days ago I finally broke down and decided to see what all the Second Life (SL) hooplah was about. I began by watching the brief video "The BEF Unveils CF University." The clip shows Boomer or rather, his avatar, talking about what you can expect to find over at Boomer Island and the CF University. It gives an aerial tour of the site and a peek into some of the buildings at CFU.
Second Life (SL) and CFU pick up where online chatting leaves off. You begin by creating your SL name to login. From there you use a tool panel to design your avatar. An avatar is a 3-D character that you design to look as much like or unlike yourself as you please. It may sound complicated, but it's really not that bad.
Most of what you have to do to move around in SL involves using your arrow keys and the occasional right-click of the mouse. If you're computer savvy enough to put backgrounds on your blog or upload photos (even with help!) learning to navigate your way through the world of Second Life is easily within reach.
Walking around is just the beginning. In SL you can even fly to your favorite places. And by places I don't mean websites. I mean things for your avatar to touch, sit on, walk through, play with, and people with whom to converse. That, for me at least, has been my favorite part of SL. Instead of just watching names on a Buddy list pop up and reading lines of text as they fly from your fingertips, you'll be seeing someone else's avatar as they type, which makes you feel like you're having a more interactive conversation. The closeness (if one can feel truly close to another person's avatar online) of the experience is somewhere between an actual sit -down conversation and a phone call. While you may not be actually out in the real world sharing a cup of coffee and breathing in the fresh air, at least you're not just glued to a computer screen waiting for that little chime to tell you that your buddy has typed text. Better still, there's no aggravating "3 foot rule" to maintain because of cross infection. As strange as it seems, just the image on the screen of my avatar standing virtual-toe-to-virtual-toe with someone and not having a mask or gown between us is something of a thrill.
Next time you're online here at cysticfibrosis.com and are wondering if there's something just a bit more engaging than the chat or the forums, consider signing up for Second Life. If you'd like someone to walk you through it initially and give you a tour of CF University, I'd be more than happy to help you out! Send me a PM and let me know when you're planning on being online. Right now it's pretty quiet on Boomer Island, but I'm hoping we can change that.
See YOU in Second Life,
LightNLife (Lolkje Osterham is my SL name)