Second Life a social networking site?

So apparently Second Life is aiming to be a social networking site. Well I think that’s grand. This distinction sets it out from “games” (which it most emphatically is not) and moves it a step forward towards a mass acceptance of virtual worlds as useful and non-stigmatised social spaces.

Here’re my arguments for why SL is a social networking space:

Second Life extends the networking focus from shared interest to situated experience. Like previous 3D representations in the social networking space (e.g., The Sims Online), this application incorporates many of the facilities available in 2D social network sites (profiles, personalisation, groups, events, multimedia) which connect people through perceived similarity, desires to align oneself to a reference group, and demarcations of group belonging. Importantly, 3D networking invokes a representational context through which these connections can become more intimate and meaningful by situating them in unique modes of expression and interactivity.

The 3D environment enhances the richness of “meeting”, “hanging out” and “visiting” friends and colleagues in cyberspace. It allows participants to see and hear not only music and words, but to meet avatars, walk around their virtual homes and sit at their virtual dinner tables.

Second Life features explicit networking facilities, including Group affiliations, Friends lists, publicly-viewable Avatar Ratings, and profiles. What it does not do is articulate connections; except for one significant relationship, Residents cannot see the connections of any other avatar. In their place, the networking mechanics in Second Life lie in the Group level. Sunbgroups are encouraged to gather at live events in order to mingle in person and forge interpersonal connections in much the same way as networking events function offline. It then provides the platform in which to extend these relationships.

danah disagrees tho.

More by me on the social elements of virtual worlds:
*MMOGs + Orkut/Friendster = the ultimate in social software or an in-game nuisance?
*What a WoW of a way to get to know someone
*Virtual worlds, visiting rights and restraining orders
(All above links courtesy of the gamesblog)

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~ by aleks on November 28, 2006.

3 Responses to “Second Life a social networking site?”

  1. […] social networks could compensate for this to some extent. I think a better approach would be to add more social networking tools to SL target=”_blank”, and this will surely happen in time. For more on social networking and virtual worlds see Aleks […]

  2. I am basically an artist lost in the world of libraries. i am working on my MLS degree and should finish by Dec 2008. I work half time in a public library. I think SL is a place to learn in a different way. I find my classes difficult, not the subject matter, but the way the classes are taught. I sense, feel that SL would provide a better way to teach. I know this is impossible, I don’t know enough and my teachers don’t know enough about SL, but SL has an aspect of getting information that is quite different…like learning genetics from a comic book?? something like that. Also learning as you go is important. I just leaped in. No one in my class is interested. But I am interested in SL and the potential for learning, brain storming, solving real life problems, but not in a direct way….blah blah

  3. […] Krotoski at Social Sim offers several specific arguments that Second Life is a social networking site more than it is a […]

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