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Friday, January 14, 2011

LIS 9726: Introducing, jeisei.

I’ve never been on Second Life ...until last week, when I joined, created an avatar called jeisei (a name comprised of two consecutive letters in each of my given real world names and entered the virtual world of SL.
What was the reason for joining? Well, I became interested after seeing LIS 9726, a course at the University of Western Ontario. I am in my final term in the MLIS program (Master of Library and Information Science). My professor is Dr. Carole Farber and yes, our classes are held online! I needed a course to teach me something new - something different. It was important to bring all the work I have done in my academic career together and so far I haven't found that...you know, offline.


With mixed feelings of enthusiasm and skepticism, I had to clear my mind of any preconceived notions or bad press about online interactive environments. After all, I currently live in a world that has crime, poverty and health issues. It is an aspect of living that must be accepted and there are constant efforts to conquer these challenges worldwide. 


We not only ice skate and sip lattes in this virtual world; learning takes place, meetings with class and professor are interactive, and one of the greatest advantages of an online virtual medium for our class is having guest professors drop by to interact with us in a comfortable environment without any of us having to travel. They could be in the UK or the USA, etc. This is highly convenient and saves time, resources and energy.


Of course, materialism still exists. When I wandered around in Korea, different people were wanting to help me. Yes, I needed some guidance learning to move about and created my own appearance. A considerable amount of time was spent looking for a Muslim hijab - as I wear the head scarf in the actual world. I tailored some clothes and found some glasses and a basic hairstyle. When avatars began coming up to me offering clothing and hairstyles, I had no clue that I needed a makeover. It made me wonder how it would be if I entered the actual world at my age, from the virtual world...


Newbies. We are all newbies then.


I was given an assortment of clothing, footwear, hairstyles, 'skin' and an improved way of walking. The avatar helping me sat with me and walked me through the process of selecting folders and I ended up wearing a box at some point, which brought a lot of laughter. But I had a feeling that wearing a box was something of a rite of passage. Somehow, I now had a sense of belonging. I found where to un-box items and attach/wear them. I learned to use objects to animate jeisei. I even amused a co-student's child one night in the virtual classroom. I couldn't stop dancing and had to learn how to stop! I found the whole experience to be so fun.


Today, my avatar found pillows and an area to meditate. There is something so enchanting about a world where you can meet outside in a winter wonderland in a highly visual and interactive environment.There are so many possibilities using SL and virtual worlds. 


Its the sort of place where peace is possible.

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