MUDs, Second Life, and Face-to-Face
I remember the whole MUD (Multi-User Domain) rage a decade ago. People spent hours building their own virtual world, making virtual objects that did virtual things. People hung out in a virtual world, did stuff, went on quests, etc. It was all run by volunteer “wizards” who kept order in the kingdom. The system was accessible over the Internet and stashed on some disused machine at a University.
When I hear about Second Life and how great everyone thinks it is, I can’t help thinking this is basically a MUD with graphics and a commercial entity behind it. Like most things on the Internet, it’s already been done before. This concept didn’t capture my attention back in college, and most certainly isn’t capturing it more than a decade later.
What brought about this jaunt down memory lane was a posting by Ted Wallingford who talked about the fact he doesn’t get Second Life either. Glad I’m not the only one. And I think I don’t get it for the same reason–I’m really about the human connection, and Second Life and things of that ilk dilute that connection!
Given that I have worked at home for close to a decade now, I have spent a lot of time communicating over email, IM, the telephone, SMS, and more recently, video with SightSpeed. I was certainly doing those things before I started telecommuting, but now it is a large part of my livelihood. One thing that I find that makes it possible to do this successfully is that, from time to time, I visit the office in person. When I’m in the office, I joke that I don’t actually do work in the office. I socialize to a large extent. I talk to key people on every visit, even if it’s just for a few minutes. By making my presence known in real life, I strengthen my connection with those people. I can’t explain it, but trust me on this one, it works.
Every one of the VoIP bloggers that are “in the club,” for lack of a better word, I would love to meet in person. Each and every one of them. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. Why? Like Ted, I want the connection I’ve made to these folks to matter. By making it real–and keeping it real–it can matter so much more.