Justifying my Playtime

I’m having a blast in Second Life. Working, collaborating, meeting interesting people. Flying, building, exploring. But am I just playing? Is Second Life just another video game?

I’ve created a list of reasons to justify my time spent in this alternate world:

I’m watching technology trends.
Second Life is essentially the next version of the internet. Remember when the net was text-based? And how exciting it was when our computers finally had enough memory and processing speed to start including pictures on our websites? In the early days, you had to be a Photoshop god to put graphics on your site. Later, we added sound and video. As our machines get better, the web becomes more and more like real life, and Second Life is the obvious next step toward putting usable content online and creating a life-like way for users to find that information.

I’m learning to work in a 3D environment.
Maneuvering in 3D takes some practice. At first I was walking into walls, falling off stairs, and having a difficult time reading signs. It gets easier with practice. As library staff, being able to help newbies get around in this world is a key factor in getting these new users to come back and see what we have to offer. We ourselves need to be comfortable in virtual reality if we want to be able to provide service here.

I’m helping to create “what’s next” in terms of library (or web) services.
Putting information into a virtual environment is quite different from putting it on a 2D website. You have an opportunity to communicate with your users in a new way. Thinking through the possibilities of how to present information has changed the way I look at my static website. We don’t need to create an environment that is identical to real life (i.e. brick and mortar library building); we can use the endless possibilities in VR to enhance real life, not copy it. It’s a valuable thought experiment.

I’m creating relationships in my field.
I’m enjoying this part of Second Life most of all. I’ve been working with library people from all over the world and from all kinds of libraries: public libraries, academic libraries, medical libraries, engineering libraries, arts libraries… We collaborate and build friendships. We work with museums. We work with astronomers. We work with historians. Second Life has taken down the walls between information providers and has given us a place where we can all meet and share ideas.

Am I playing in Second Life? Yes. Am I having fun? Yes. Am I positioning myself for the future of information sharing? Yes. It is real-life work; but it’s work that is extremely enjoyable and rewarding.

Are You Ready for Library 2.0?

Library 2.0 is the latest thing in all the library-related magazines and blogs. Hurry! Get on board with all the really cool stuff! Get your staff up to speed with 23 Things!

But in reality, is your staff ready for this yet? Are you?

My library held it’s annual Staff Training Day today. It’s a day where we close the library and spend a day together teambuilding and learning. One of the sessions was a wonderful presentation by Barbara Moore called “Gadgets.” Her intent was to show staff members the various items our patrons might be bringing into the library — just a brief overview so staff would know a PDA from an iPod.  We took a quick online peek at the upcoming iPhone from Apple. We talked about downloadable ebooks.

And we discovered that well over half the staff was baffled by their own cell phones.

All but two staff members own cell phones, but most of those who have them only know how to answer it when it rings and how to dial out. Some said they have no idea how to get their voice mail. Most said they don’t know what text messaging is. Some did not know whether or not they had a camera, and many do not use their contacts.

Clearly, some training is necessary to teach staff these basic technical skills before we send them off to create MySpace accounts and blogs or expect them to load their latest videos onto youtube. We could use a “Ten Things to Learn Before 23 Things” type of training. : )