This week I attended my first conference held entirely in Second Life. The event was a Symposium on the Evolution of Communication sponsored by the New Media Consortium (NMC). I’ll admit, I was quite skeptical about the value of attending a two day conference in a virtual world, but I was willing to give it a whirl.

A little background on my so called Second Life: Spring 2007, I had zero desire to stick even my little toe in SL. I’m not a gamer and this “world” seemed so pointless. The graphics looked like something out of the 80’s. What could I possibly learn there?

Then, the fated day came, when my fav curator asked, “Glenda, what should we be doing in Second Life for museums?” I gritted my teeth, and responded that I would investigate (sigh). As I explored this strange new place it was anything but love at first sight. I forced myself to keep going back. My goal: to try and find something meaningful on each trip down the rabbit hole.

19 months later with just a handful of hours of in SL I was still far from enamored. But each trip in, I kept thinking, “there is potential here, I can feel it.”

I never would have guessed that NMC virtual conference would be so mentally stimulating and interactive. As the first day drew to a close I was trying to explain to my peeps how amazing this experience was. My RL friends eyed me warily, claiming that Second Life was just another way geeks withdraw from the real world. To which I responded, “I think SL is an opportunity to reveal your authentic self.” After the peels of laughter subsided, I continued:

I’m not saying that SL is perfect. Far from it. What I’m saying, is that SL is a place that gives us a blank slate that begs the question, “who am I”. You can take the question seriously, or not. That is up to you.

As you create your avatar, do you choose to recreate your own image or do you choose to explore the other side? In RL, so many things can inhibit us from being who we want to be, but in SL, the only thing stopping you is your own imagination. Freed from earthly limitations including gender, appearance, disabilities, social judgments and even gravity you can choose to spread your wings and soar to your potential.

If you can imagine it, you can achieve it.
If you can dream it, you can become it.
– William Arthur Ward