This week I want to start exploring communities in the virtual environment and its seems to me that the discussion really starts with deciding what we mean and expect from communities in our physical environments.
Before thinking about virtual communities we will begin the class talking about ‘real-life’ and online communities. We will find that as we start to apply those ideas to the virtual environment, many aspects remain the same.
The users of Second Life as a whole for example can be seen as a community and in fact there are a number of communities (or Groups as they are known in SL) on the Destination Guide. Within Second Life, there are a large number of smaller communities mostly supported by the use of inworld groups which is sometimes extended to other forms of online media such as forums, email lists, facebook groups, blogs etc. Many musicians who play live in SL have their own groups too.
Like most semi-formal communities Second Life has guidelines for expected community behaviour (the Big Six which we looked at a few weeks ago). This helps to set the culture of the shared location (the ‘world’) and are different from the Terms of Service and both are listed on the Second Life website. Likewise many groups also have their own set of rules ranging from how to behave on a role-play sim to what NOT to talk about in group chat!
Some communities are educational, some are for role-play, some for shopping or game playing or discussion. There are groups for builders, scripters, musicians, sci-fi geeks, game of thrones fans etc…. use the Search inworld to check out places and groups for things you might be interested in.
In your second assignment I am asking you to participate in a community in a virtual world. I realise that you may choose an environment other than SL for this but in many ways Second Life offers the best choices. All of you have joined one community at least ,’Muv601′, but that doesn’t count for the assignment! Before next week (and yes I will be asking!), I want you to have identified several communities that might be of interest to you and to have joined one of them!
If you are stuck for ideas you might be interested in joining the NCI community, which is a group of volunteers dedicated to helping new users of Second Life. They have a number of activities every week which would be useful for fulfilling the requirements of Assignment 2. We will visit NCI at some point this afternoon.
Class notes will be here later – Good luck and have fun exploring.