Sunday, February 19, 2012

SL who?


I have watched a very interesting video of a conference at Stanford University with Jeremy Bailenson who shared his research on virtual reality, identity, social interaction and how avatars influence our real-world behavior. Apart from the techie side of it (most of the video), there are quite a few things that we can take from it and compare to behaviors in Second Life, namely the amount of confidence you can build up just by gearing up your avatar in a fashion that will empower you. According to Bailenson’s research (unrelated to any virtual world in particular), this influence projects itself in the real-world and does not end as soon as one turns off the computer. Also, in Metareality’s Weekly Podcast, John “Pathfinder” Lester mentions a very interesting work he was doing with kids suffering from Asperger’s, immersing them in a virtual world so they could test and develop their social skills. Now, SL does have the potential to be a ground of self-development with ample opportunity for fine-tuning social skills and increasing your levels of confidence. In SL, you are given both time and a multitude of conversational partners to do exactly that. Yet, instead of going uphill, improving and changing in a positive way, people tend to go downhill. The infamous drama, the constant misunderstandings, the stubbornness, the bossiness, small powers of I will because I can seem to be paradoxical. Well, not really. In Portuguese, there is a saying that goes like this “saints help when you go downhill”. I guess not many help when we go uphill, huh? Well, may SL’s saints become different from real-world saints! Saints?! Oh, well… good thing these ramblings only happen on Sundays!

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