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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wandering around in Second Life and musings on digital identity

Although I was late, I managed to attend the Carolina Conversations webinar in Second Life. Yep, I actually got my avatar to the presentation and I got her to sit down. I've been wanting to attend an academic event in SL for a while, but they always seemed to either cost money (real money!) OR were at 3AM my time. Sorry, I may be an insomniac at times, but even I have to sleep occasionally! ;-)

It was a very interesting experience and I could see how that there might be a place for SL (or other virtual worlds, such as Smallworlds or with distance ed, presentations, committee/project meetings, training, etc.

I was too far back in the crowd to see if anything was being projected on a screen, but I think that it would be very neat to have visuals. Although I haven't spent alot of time in SL (the old joke, I don't have time for my first life -- ha ha! is definitely true for me), I did find it easier to move around. I'm not sure if SL has changed things, but I felt there were more prompts to guide me. I was also able to finally change my avatar's clothing. In my first foray into SL, I managed to find a free box of clothing, but I could never figure out to actually change outfits.

At one point during the webinar, I was listening to the presentation in SL and working on revising the Libraries' blog CSS template based upon recent feedback, and I noticed that my avatar had "away" above her. I suppose because she hadn't moved in a while, so SL thought I walked away from my computer. In actuality, I was just listening and working on other things.

The webinar itself was interesting -- at least the portions I could hear. I had to access SL via my laptop and wifi, which is probably not the best way. I had a few small issues with dropped sound and a few echoes. I will listen to the webinar archive when it is up, because I thought it was interesting -- lots of discussion about digital identity, one of my favorite topics.

It was also interesting because earlier I attended the Faculty Learning Committee on Emerging Technologies and we spent a considerable amount of time discussing digital identity. Very interesting stuff indeed. My personal belief is that digital identity will become the next big thing. People online are already starting to decide what to reveal or not (such as changes in facebook privacy controls) and some of the other tools such as allow users to stake their claim on their identity by designating what is their content (or about them or even not about them.)

As someone with a very common name, I've been working to establish my own digital identity. I bought my namesake domain when it became available a few years ago (the previous owner was a Real Estate Agent in NY) and I setup a claimid to start separating myself from all of the other folks with my name. Right now, that probably all seems like overkill.

As the world becomes a smaller place, and we all know more about each other (just google yourself!), it makes sense to apply some control over that collective identity. If I don't shape my digital identity, then who will? Facebook? Google? Photos in flickr tagged with my name (which may or may not be me)? The presentations I do? Old school assignments? Old outdated webpages that I created years ago that are now poor examples of webdesign by today's standards?

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