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Second Life

Stephen Hodge on Second Life

2nd Live



This is another Exeter Academics project on Second life. This performance space is the home to academic group 2nd Live, who explore Secondlife with mind to how space is used and ideas of performance.

Dr Hodge has spent five years in secondlife both personally and for his research into how virtual performance works,

The methodology for introduction into secondlife performance space. Stephen implemented a demonstration to the virtual environment via a 1 to 1 instruction session to improve participants adoption of the software.  This then fed into  a 20 minutes workshop with the secondlife artist Niki McCretton (aka Pipsi Bracken in SL) who had a set up of a 2 computers to facilitate for his interactive dance performance experience, Viral Duets.

Imperial College London: Postgraduate Medical School

Imperial College London Medical School_001


This is a medical simulation for clinical nurses to practice without endangering any patients. By conducting this in SL, the training sessions can also be recorded to derive best practice and trainee staff can observe and comment on their own performance. It is a very detailed simulation, providing the entire hospital experience for medical students to grow accustomed to their future surroundings and allowing a sense of detachment from patients. A variety of features demonstrate the possible future of medical education and technology.

One Climate Sim

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Description: displays and events with a focus on climate change and related topics.

The Carbon Calculator, the eco spiral and friendly layout on a small island. This demonstrates some creative ways of displaying information, although some elements feel unnecessary and overdone. What are the potential research applications for this place? It’s an educational resource with only a meeting or collaborative function space. Although it is frequently updated with new features there is little room to actually work and with the large amount of prim heavy displays and animations.

Meta Institute for Computational Astrophysics (MICA) Sim

one climate_002



This informative astrophysics discussion location is a useful meeting place for educators/ researchers in the field; some clever displays and exhibitions demonstrating the potential for a great deal more; also a swell beach hut. Only a handful of displays more build for the academic event, the lecture or seminar to be conduct in one of the many excellent discussion areas. Which is fine but for the odd explorer wanting to learning something new when nothing is on it can be a quite discouraging. Also there are too many trees, so that the island doesn’t ‘rez’ (i.e. appear) properly on arrival, which can be quite jarring. Especially troublesome if your computer is not a high end gaming machine. This kind of decadence with a virtual environment just can’t be afforded by the actually economy of graphic processing ability.



The visual feel of this site really highlights the innovative and imaginative ways in which virtual spaces can surpass the real educational environment.

It may be a great demonstration of what can be built in SL, but there is little signage or information.

The Particle Laboratory

Particle Lab_001


Learn how to script particle physics! Every facet of particle creation for SL is covered in this in-depth tutorial. Particles function as prims on microscopic scale whereby you can add a significant number of particles to your prim to create a variety of visual effects. Just as with prims particles can be added scripts to give the particles behaviours and actions however these are somewhat limited compared to regular scripts. You have to tour each section in set order or else what you are learning is liable to be confusing.

Now this is a particular point I want to focus on. If imagine for a moment that the information about creating particles was distilled into book form and you were reading this text book With a textbook in the real world you start at the front read left to right to the bottom of the page and turn the page when you have finished each page. When the information is dispersed across a virtual landscape such as this, the designer needs to construct an environment that clearly guides the user and their avatar through the information in relevant order.  With the particle laboratory this has been largely well realised, each “chapter” is clearly marked with sub headings and the relevant information is sequential arranged so that you can clearly see the logical connection between one “page” and the next. There is even a sandbox in the middle of the location for testing out your new techniques.

IBM’s Almaden Sim

IBM almaden_001


For the computer enthusiast, this site makes excellent use of sign posting and layout; the sky pod in particular highlights some interesting features. It focus on some of the sponsored research projects being led by IBM’s investment in new computer and biosciences research. There are a few displays listing some PowerPoint slides detailing IBM research projects globally, one helpfully depicting a world map.

Tox Town Virtual NLM

"The entire town from a birds eye view"

"The entire town from a birds eye view"


A virtual slice of small town America, providing examinations for environmental health students, which highlights one of the main advantages of SL: that it can provide a 3D immersive environment where a real environment would be too dangerous, impractical or expensive for students to use.

This is an excellent use of a virtual environment, but beyond teaching students, this type of simulation doesn’t appear to have much research potential. One possibility might be to use it as an information-gathering tool responding to how people interact with virtual threats as opposed to real ones, since it includes dangers that are often overlooked by members of the public. Primarily however this is a teaching tool, there is a significant level of detail as to enable students to observe a number of different potential hazards.

Illnois State University, North-eastern Territory Geo-Island

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A teaching site dedicated to modules on geophysics, geology and even disaster management; disabled flight scripts mean the most you can do is hover over the ground; this provides a much needed level of realism for their disaster management simulations.  This again shows the variety of teaching and research possibilities of SL, given enough patience and imagination.

The University of South Australia

University of Australia_001


A site dedicated to cybernetics and modern cyber technologies, including the University’s own commitment to exploring the future of virtual worlds and their use in SL. There’s a large open sandbox capable of supporting a entire class of new students who want to learn how to create and script objects in Secondlife. There’s a consistent motif to the location, with the roof of each structure being design in the shape of a golf hole, with a flag just for seemly comic value.

There is also a wide collection of conference rooms, lecture spaces and exhibition locations. It has a genuine campus feel to the entire environment that demonstrates the importance of attention to detail. There is even an incorporation of twitter feeds into a lecture screen providing updates on ongoing events across the virtual campus and key figures. There is also space for a number of different academic societies, convenient for students of said studies to meet up virtual and discuss their work.

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