Looking to open up a discussion her on the interface between second life and real life.

Second Life seems to be having a hard time at the moment, particularly in the real world built environment. It is seen by many as time waster, a game or even a pornographic site. How can we really start to use the potential of SL as an educational or communication tool within our sector? Where are the real case studies of how SL can benefit the real world, and how can we broadcast them.

I know that GridWorks carries some great examples - but the people I speak to about them cannot see the benefits yet, and as one construction manager said -' its too science fiction for me'. I also spoke to a college director on using SL as a virtual world tool for his classes - 'oh we would never do that' was the reply.

So... how ?

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I too have seen the potential for Second Life to be used as a training tool and as an enhancement to the planning, design, and operation process. However, I agree that many others have yet to embrace virtual worlds in any way whatsoever. I always get the "Oh, I never knew it could be used for anything other than playing around or for shady activities." I've tried to counteract this by publishing Grid Works and using it to document the serious work and activities that are taking place in Second Life. But I think we need to work more diligently on getting the word out keeping in mind this is just going to take time until people feel more comfortable with it and start to realize the benefits.

I am a little surprised at the comment by the college director because as you know there are many colleges and universities already firmly established in Second Life and teaching classes. Even the small community I live in here in Illinois has a resident who is teaching college classes in Second Life for one of the major universities in our state. So the education industry has seemed to "get it" as a group, and they are now well on their way to integrating virtual worlds into the college experience.

Anyway, back to building and construction. I do think we can do some things to keep pushing the business aspect of Second Life:

Create videos set in Second Life that illustrate how virtual worlds can educate people about the built environment. We could create a video about zoning/planning, construction techniques, code compliance, etc.

Continue to explore how people in our industry are already using virtual worlds and make sure we publish these in online publications and blogs.

Host more "real life" and "Second Life" events, like Be2Camp, that are geared towards our industry. Training or short presentations and educational displays might work here.

Work to develop some practical applications that can be used by people in our industry. One of the projects I am trying to implement is setting up Second Life representations of our water or wastewater facilities and then linking them with the real life counterpart so that the Second Life one will respond to the operation of the real facility. So if a tank level in the real tank goes up the one in the Second Life tank will go up. This is the beginning of making a virtual SCADA system that one day could be very helpful to operators.

Attend and speak at conferences in our industries helping to educate others about the potential of virtual worlds and other Web 2.0 technologies.

I guess that is a start. And should keep us busy for at least another year.


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