Information Flux in the 21st Century

An Event on Information Island in Second Life

At 9 pm last Thursday night, Jackson Darkwatch strolled into the open air auditorium on Information Island, ready to listen to a group of panelists discuss the topic, “Are LIS Programs on Target for Today’s Workplace?”. Jackson sat in a floating seat attentively looking in the direction of the panelists. As the panelists were beginning, a newcomer landed smack on the stage, facing the audience, and boldly admitted he was a newbie. He followed with questions about getting the audio element to work. After struggling through this myself, I chimed in with my mode of success; Jackson Darkwatch’s hands moved as I typed.

Information Island is in Second Life. I began my exploration into this virtual world last year, but my first avatar, Simona Moonwall, had some problems; I lost her hair and made her into a cloud. I retired Simona, named a new avatar Jackson Darkwatch, put a hat on her and called it a day. Jackson is in a respectable enough form to teleport aimlessly to random places. Occassionally, when situated in one of these random places, she has been approached by an avatar inviting small talk. This was not stimulating enough to waste, ahem, spend time there. However, the invitation to listen to a panel of librarians was intriguing. Librarians have a home in Second Life. Information Island is that home and the space is actually used as a resource center, staffed with a “librarian.” I can say from experience that a librarian is not there 24/7; the last time JD visited, the place was desolate.

The Island was hopping on the night of the event. Avatars were landing left and right. Once I found the right coordinates on the map for the location of the auditorium, I got Jackson there. I muted my speaker when prompted to do so, fixed the audio component so that I could hear the panelists, and kept a low profile for Jackson. The panel was comprised of academics, information professionals, and a library school student. All had somewhat zany sounding names, not dissimilar to Jackson Darkwatch and Simona Moonwall. A moderator directed questions to an avatar to answer. Common responses were heard: “depends where you end up working,” “subjects have evolved, i.e., cataloging, and that is not always reflected in the classroom,” and so on. The dual degree dilemma was discussed. One panelist talked about how she was perceived as credible outside the library community by her MBA, not her MLS. The discussion was lively and civilized. Jackson sat still the entire hour (except for the few moments of hand movement while I typed.) I, however, left for a few minutes to put my daughters to bed.

I could see how Second Life is a bit, well, outré. Facebook is more tangible, of course in the virtual sense. As is Twitter. But, Second Life does fit into the canon of Web 2.0, so I’m not throwing an apple into a group of oranges here. I must admit, after listening to the panelists, I did appreciate the experience, and got something out of this professional development event. And, not to disappoint, my observation about the insularity of the library community was once again reinforced. Before the panelists began speaking, question after question appeared in the chat screen to inspire their discussion. Jackson’s name was associated with mine about RDF and Semantic Web with regard to libraries; a reply of “*shiver*” was shot back from one of the panelists. Jackson followed with “Shouldn’t libraries be sharing their treasures?” My heart was warmed by a simple reply of “yes” from another avatar.

SL, like Twitter, has its virtues. Will I let Jackson attend another professional event? Yes. Will I teleport her aimlessly again? Maybe. Do I have a Twitter account yet? Yes. infoflux.

November 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment