This week, I had the opportunity to meet two gentleman (one of whom I already had met in my second life - more on this in a minute) from NASA CoLab. CoLab supports on- and off-line collaboration between the various NASA Centers and between NASA and the public. To this end, they have established a presence in both real life (in San Francisco) and in Second Life.
Second Life (SL) is a 3D Multi-User Virtual Environment (MUVE) in which avatars (a virtual representation of one’s self) interact via communicating, learning, exploring, playing, and conducting business together. It currently has over 11,240,207 registered members, which it terms “residents,” from over 100 different countries.
What makes SL so attractive to its residents is that it is completely imagined and created by them. This means it is self-evolving, such that each time a resident logs in they may find that their surroundings have changed or that new places, objects, and people exist where before there were none. In addition, avatars are fully customizable, such that residents may change their basic appearance (e.g. hair color, eye color, etc.), race, gender, clothing, and even mannerisms and gestures at any time. While some residents choose to represent themselves in a manner similar to their real life (RL) self, others choose to represent themselves as animals, mythical creatures, robots, or combinations thereof.
In addition to individuals, residents of SL include many RL groups, including federal agencies (e.g. NASA and NOAA), universities, museums, planetariums, businesses, nonprofits, embassies, and the tourism departments of many countries. These groups are using SL to communicate with and educate the general public. To learn more and to download the Second Life platform, which is free, visit http://www.secondlife.com.
Ready to visit NASA CoLab in Second Life? Click here.