“Let’s Do Some Crimes” in Second Life

I have very little patience with Second Life. As I tweeted a few days ago, I find it conceptually rich and empirically vapid. And for the most part that hasn’t changed all that much over the last year and a half. In fact, I have tried to spend as little time in this virtual world as an instructional technologist could reasonably get away with. So it is a bit ironic that during the first week and half at the University of Richmond I found myself talking Second Life more than I had for a long while.

My bionic colleague Tom Woodward and I share a healthy cynicism for this virtual world, so it was strange for me to be so intrigued while previewing the presentation/history of Second Life he was to deliver this evening. And while his presentation didn’t convince me to buy a tiara for my avatar, it did go a long way towards illustrating how much the thinking about these various technologies has everything to do with how it is narratively framed for you.

Tom found a frame for this world that sparked my interest yet again (albeit more conceptually than experiential once again), by tracing the nature of crime in Second Life. He remarked this afternoon that if you can begin to understand a culture by its laws, than perhaps the nature and frequncy of crime in Second Life may help this (and other virtual worlds) make more sense. It’s an interesting approach to this space I had yet to think about, and while I most likely won’t be spending any more time in this world, I may find myself a regular subscriber to the Second Life Community Incident Report (or Police Blotter).

Image of Second LIfe Community Incident Report

All this said, I always have fun thinking about Second Life, its just being there that bores me so. But when I see the possibilities before me now, I’m not so sure I couldn’t be having a bit more fun as Tom pointed out so saliently 🙂

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13 Responses to “Let’s Do Some Crimes” in Second Life

  1. Tom says:

    Long may our Second Life crime collaborative reign!

    I shall use my tornado to assault citizens with gambling equipment while chat spamming them in my illegal poker games. Attacking regions is next on my list.

  2. 5tein says:

    Tom, you crack me up. But seriously, that screenshot reads like a mafia To Do list.

  3. Gardner says:

    I think that for many people, Second Life remains uninteresting and uninvolving until they begin to build there. I love to explore SL, but the real hook is the world-as-wiki, for me anyway.

    So Jim, build your own Prelinger Library there, will ya?

  4. jimgroom says:


    Excellent point. One of the things that intrigued me during the preview was the Tornado script someone had built. Seeing those poeple caught up in the void made me want to know what that must have been like. I guess it’s time to stop complaining and find out just how much time and energy it would take to build something.

  5. jimgroom says:

    Also Gardner,

    Now that I am thinking about your comment, can I take that as a subtle hint for things to come this May? Please say yes!

  6. cgar says:

    Hey Jim.
    I’m not so sure about second life…hell, I’m just trying to get a life. We miss you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. cgar says:

    How the heck are you?

  8. jimgroom says:

    Hey Carole,

    I would never be so bold as to expect a cool faculty member from UMW to be seduced by Second Life. I think there is something there, but it ain;t no UMW Blogs 🙂

    I’m still getting my feet under me here, but so far everything is going well. Miss you all, and have been lurking in your courses to make up for any separation anxiety.

  9. Gardner says:

    I would never be so bold as to expect a cool faculty member from UMW to be seduced by Second Life.

  10. Mike Caulfield says:

    You know, but in the end I blame society. Society made me what I am.

    Or something like that.

  11. jimgroom says:


    So glad you got the Repo Man reference, I was beginning to think people might mistake me for a delinquent.

  12. Jami Bryan says:

    Hi Jim!
    I have to say I was surprised and relieved to hear an instructional technologist express doubts about Second Life. I had some serious doubts about how it was applicable to teaching and learning, but I thought that was just because I am a stodgy old librarian. I couldn’t see the value of Second Life beyond being a virtual meeting place. And not being a fan of avatars or fake names, I couldn’t see why it was any more useful than any other virtual environment or way of interacting online.

    But I saw the light at ELI 2008. A presentation by some folks from Seton Hall called Exploring Literary Texts Through Virtual Worlds (http://connect.educause.edu/Library/Abstract/ExploringLiteraryTextsThr/45960) finally presented an example of how putting students in Second Life provided them with opportunities for learning that they wouldn’t have had in the physical environment.

    For many faculty and librarians, this has to be the selling point of new technologies. While convenience and improved processes is certainly a selling point (things that make my life and my students lives easier), technologies that allow students increased opportunities for sharing and learning and/or opportunities that they wouldn’t have in the physical environment will almost sell themselves.

    So I am sold on Second Life. That doesn’t mean you will see me flying from island to island (although now that I know my avatar could wear a tiara does make it more attractive!). But it does mean that Second Life will be an option in my teaching arsenal.

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