GreenTech logoThis month, TechSoup Global's GreenTech Initiative will be kicking off a Telegreening Your Workplace campaign to help nonprofits and libraries discover ways to save money, reduce travel, and still be effective in your work. One way that nonprofits and libraries can reduce their carbon footprints from travel is to try out (and adopt) new tools for virtual meetings. One free service is Second Life, the most prominent online 3D virtual world where users can meet and socialize using voice and text chat.

Last week, we posted a Second Life review by GreenTech volunteer, Michael Hodges, entitled Second Life as Alice in Wonderland. This week, GreenTech volunteer, Monica Skinner, has her say on the subject. Monica is a San Francisco based architect. Here’s what she found:


In all honesty I found Second Life difficult to use and frankly haven't attempted a second go around. I spent an hour after creating my avatar, Monica Hammerthall, trying to figure out what I was doing and where to go to obtain the information I was looking for. During that time I found a volunteer who gave me a few pointers on how to fly, walk, and communicate with other avatars, which can take time to get use to. It's was not as easy as my old Nintendo controller. I was on my way to flying but I couldn't figure out any other relevant information. The volunteer explained the Linden Dollar and land concept, which I found confusing. She suggested I could find information about joining groups on the main page, which was one of my tasks.

I was aiming to find the Nonprofit Commons. I was able to find the Commons, but unable to join the group. Perplexed, I found a YouTube video by Second Life explaining how to join a group. After the video I learned how to create a group, but not join one. I gave up. it may have been a little premature and I assume with a little digging I could have figured it out, but I tend to like things simple. Beyond groups I found the events resources page, which seems like it could be a useful informational tool, however I did not attend any events.

Time spent online: 1.5 hours

Browser used: Internet Explorer

Usability:
1.5

Tasks I attempted to do in Second Life:

1) Join second life
2) Create a basic avatar
3) Interact with at least two others in any capacity
4) Find the Nonprofit Commons
5) Find some technology information related to the environment – I didn't locate any other this information.
6) Other impressions

My advice:

As a suggestion, if you are going to use Second Life as a framework to do business, hold meetings, and other things, seek out someone who has used it or is already using the program. The interface is complex and not easy to immediately understand. I was not able to join the Nonprofit Commons and to-date I have not allowed my avatar to re-live her fly through cyber-space experience.

Helpful links: