On June 14, I was at the University of Twente in Enschede to attend the Interdisciplinary Second Life Workshop. It was organized by the new inter-facultary Center for Information Technology and Society (CITS), part of the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology.
The workshop was very well-attended and lively. The speakers gave a good overview of the main promises and problems surrounding Second Life. The workshop was preceded by an inspiring keynote address by Peter Ludlow, well-known as editor of High Noon on the Electronic Frontier and founder of the Second Life Herald newspaper.
The titles of the presentations give some idea of the kind of issues addressed:
- Peter Ludlow (Uni Michigan): Emergent Gameplay, Deviant Ageplay, and the Elusive Payday of Business in Second Life
- Dan Seamans (Open Uni, UK): The Vital SPark: Managing a Dynamic Learning Space in Teen Second Life
- Patrick Ozer and Albert van Breemen (Philips Research, the Netherlands): Interreality Communication: iCat Meets Second Life
- Robert Slagter and Wil Jansen (Telematica Instituut, the Netherlands): Real Business in Virtual Worlds
- David Nieborg (Uni Amsterdam): ‘Don’t Sponsor a Game that is a Playground for Criminals!’ – The Many Media Frames of Second Life
From a research point of view, everything still is wide-open. Tools, but especially governance, workflows, and business processes still are only in their infancy. However, the general consensus seemed to be that Second Life, at least as a stepping stone on the way to a whole class of virtual worlds, holds great potential, waiting to be mined.