IE @ SecondLife

So last Friday evening (I know, tell me about it!) we had the first meeting on the new campus of Instituto de Empresa. That’s right, well, at least the new virtual campus ;) As an initiative of our academic director, Instituto de Empresa in trying out the new possibilities brought by virtual worlds such as SecondLife. For that, we (the MMTDB class) had an online conference with Jaime from Telefonica. Overall I have to admit it was an interesting experience… from seeing the avatars and behavior of my classmates, to having the idea of a virtual classroom. I believe this promises a bunch of new opportunities for the future, that combined with products such as HP‘s Halo or Cisco‘s Telepresence, could become incredible tools for a more enriching communication experience.

However, I must say that we did had quite a few problems during the conference. To start, only god knows why we had a server breakdown at Instituto de Empresa, making Internet unreachable. After this was solved, we all managed to login and locate the school, but having everybody fake names (SecondLife doesn’t allow any last name) it is very hard to keep track and know who is who… you don’t have any physical relation to the real person and no similar name. Furthermore, having 15 people typing and reading at the same time becomes extremely confusing, specially when several conversations happen at the same place. Finally, the speakers were able to use a microphone and broadcast their speech, which is infinitely better than typing. However, only a few people were able to hear which I believe was due to a not fast enough connection.

So overall the experience was somewhat troublesome but for a first try I believe it went pretty good. With practice, it could definitely go better. However, I do believe that it is still a bit immature and with some time both the platform will become better and the bandwidth will grow. But this development gives me a concern, and it is that if such platform evolves and becomes in a future the world ‘standard’, it is still a proprietary platform that belongs to a private company. Therefore there are a lot of legal issues regarding property and level of service that are not very clear now. I would think a distributed open standard could be a better solution, although definitely not at all easy to do. What do you think? ;)