29 December 2008

Second life

Would you like to have a second life? Dr Grumble would. This life has been good to Grumble. But he would like another one. He's not sure what he would do with it. Perhaps something similar only better. And it would be nice to be born into the era of the internet - though having these things to discover towards the end of his working life has been a great excitement for Dr Grumble.

Dr Grumble went to one of those peri-Christmas parties yesterday. It was full of old farts. Dr Grumble is of the old fart era. One of the old farts (a nice old fart actually) began talking about new technologies. Dr Grumble mentioned he had a blog. The old fart seemed surprised. Why? Blogging is not difficult. It's certainly easier than writing a letter. Do the old farts not realise this? It seems they don't even read the blogs. But then Dr Grumble's children don't either. Are we there yet with blogging? Has it gone as far as it is going to go or can we expect more? It's hard to know. It's difficult to see where some of the new web-based technologies will lead us. Sometimes Grumble thinks we are trying to push it too far.

But none of this was the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post was to ask what you people out there think of Second Life. Dr Grumble, being an old fart, is not really into Second Life. He knows what it is. He knows how it can be used for medical education. Research protocols have even crossed the Grumble desk relating to the use of this sort of simulation for education. But Dr G has not yet dipped his toe into the water. Will Second Life become an important part of our lives? It clearly is already to some. Will it become important in medical education? Will we stop going to international conferences and just wander around in Second Life where we will make friends and meet experts from around the globe? Some people seem to think so. What do you think?


madsadgirl said...

Aren't Lord Darzi's polyclinics in Second Life? In fact, that is where they should remain.

I have looked at it, but I would rather that medical students were trained using real rather than virtual patients, and even though there would be some merits to international conferences being held through this medium, speaking as one who has attended many international conferences and given presentations at them, there is nothing like being able to see your audience in person, and being able to watch body language during discussions. Another problem is time zones and the difficulties that occur when trying to do these sorts of activities in a virtual world.

It's a nice game, but it's nothing like the real thing!

Dr Grumble said...

Aren't Lord Darzi's polyclinics in Second Life?
Yes. Apparently Lord Darzi entered a parallel universe over a year ago.

Anonymous said...

I am now enjoying my second life, having retired from medicine 2+ years ago.
to verify this comment I am required to type 'fensolex'which sound like a propriety drug introduced since I retired.

Dr Grumble said...

Only yesterday Mrs Grumble was trying to persuade Dr G to retire. But Grumble's work has revolved around the hospital. He thinks if he stopped he would just turn into a wastrel. Or spend more time on the blog and Mrs G wouldn't like that. And he wouldn't have anything to grumble about.

The word verification now generates pseudowords - presumably because human beings find these easier than random symbols. Fensolex sounds so like a drug name somebody should use it. Do you think Grumble now has the copyright?

I hereby state a claim on the name Fensolex.

Anonymous said...

According to some tech people I know, many people live their lives on Second Life. Never tried it myself. There was even a second life divorce recently. This is fascinating

The most infamous of them all is the extent of potential child abuse online. That was an investigation done by the Met I believe. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6638331.stm

I was first aware of it a few years ago following the BBC report.

That said, some good courses run on there. Perhaps I should check it out - but life is hard enough in the first life - never mind having a second life! This internet revolution is quite disturbing to my mind - from an internet psychology point of view.


Anonymous said...

My recommendation: Forget Second Life, get a Wii, and hook it up to your wireless network. You can still collaborate with an avatar - in this case, a Mii. Right now, you can play various games, like Rock Band, but I suspect before long someone will write software that allows teleconferencing, distance learning, and the like.

PS: Thanks for the not-so-random word - it is nearly lunch time, and all I can think of is a bowl of Japanese noodles in broth ("udon")!

Dr. Liz Miller said...

About old farts - I hope you weren't referring to Doctor Bloggs ;-)

Fanny Herring said...

I am involved with an organisation which is trying to hold discussions in Second Life. We are fumbling towards something usable.

Multi-person text chat is difficult to use for serious discussion as different threads get mixed up. We haven't tried discussions in voice mode, although we have one-person presentations and a bit of Q&A that way. I assume we could have closed group chats in breakout groups.

Some time is always wasted as people new to things fumble around. And sometimes SL plays up and people just disappear or whatever.

Some people are excluded by techno-ignorance or active technofear. On the other hand, we have been getting the benefit of international participants who could not attend equivalent face-to-face events. For me, it is nice not to have to face a long journey home, I am at home, and possibly eating my supper as we interact.

The use of exotic avatars adds to confusion "Who are you really?", especially when we wish to follow up later.

I also use teleconferencing for various activities. My assumption is that we will continue to use SL for get-togethers of relative strangers (as opposed to banging through an agenda) -- there is the fun element that draws people in a way that online forums don't, and telecons already have that deadweight feeling, useful but the novelty has long worn off.

Anonymous said...


No one can say you are old. More like a spring chicken just getting started.

Am at a new years party and am posting here - how sad of me :)


witchdoctor said...

I once sat up to 4.0am running and flying around second life looking for places to go and people to talk to.

Don't ask me why, but to me there is something about the whole false place that is creepy and vaguely threatening and puts my mood down two octaves. Indeed I felt I was having a nightmare. Probably most people don't feel like this though.

You can set up businesses there apparently. Maybe a second life psychiatrist there would make a fortune out of helping the second life witches like me who venture in and can't cope with it.

Mark you, I thought there was a case for having most NHS committee work done there.

PS By the way if Dr Grumble's having Fensolex, I'm setting claim to Spolywer.