Monday, 1 October 2007
Second Life Little Italy
An Italian community here in a piazza chatting near a fountain and church with a statue of the virgin, now that is Italian. (CLICK TO SEE ON MAP AND TELEPORT)
I have encountered many of these national communities but not all reflect the national character of its members. I know a Wild West Town that is run and populated mostly by Germans.
Perhaps the best part of Second Life is getting to meet people from many different parts of the world, though the population is still mostly American and Western European. I have contacts from Mexico, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Holland, Thailand, France, Australia, and many from the United States, Canada and the UK where I live. I have not made contacts from Ireland yet that I know of.
Groups cluster around 2 dimensions: language and time zone. Belgians, Dutch, French, Mexicans and Germans often speak English and mix with the massive cluster of Aussies, Americans, British and Canadians to form the largest mass neo-tribe of English speakers.
Many Spanish speakers do not speak English and cluster in their own group around communities from Spain and the Americas. I have also meet people hanging out from Brazil and Portugal. Many internationals complain about the heavy English bias of the place and form their own communities, like the one I encountered around the Sony Germany center. But many English students use Second Life as a place to practice.
Babelfish is a very usefull tool and their are translation tools which can help by converting what you say into English in real time. My experience is these work well for French and poorly for Spanish.
But if the English speaking world is united by language and can hook in to the vast number of people who speak some English around the world, it is radically divided by time zones which play a critical role in forming social communities in Second Life. The time difference between LA and the UK means that English speakers in Europe will be getting ready to sleep shortly after the west coast Americans are back from work. During lunch I often watch friends come on line for the morning check in waves across the US and you can often tell what part of America people are on. Relationships between Europeans and Americans form in English but often fail on issues of time.
The solution to this tends to be, as many have told me, that people who get in world change their sleeping patterns, maybe sleeping just after work for a few hours to stay up well in to the night to party with the Americans, or getting up much earlier to join the Europeans. But if anything Second Life makes you more aware of the role of time in forming our world than blogs, wikis or social spaces like Facebook.
Many SL users work their own businesses at home and Second Life is their water cooler. These will tend to go online during the day and party with Europeans who are home from work. I won’t speculate on how much time some people are wasting in the office. I have heard of people losing jobs because of Second Life, but only indirectly and presently SL activity seems more a threat to your marriage than your job,
Also notice the 2 individuals in white with words. They have not downloaded to my client box when I took the picture. Since most of the work is on the SL client how a world is rendered is in large part relative to the machine viewing, its graphics card and capacity. People often see different things in the same place, and effects can be entirely local and not seen by others in world.