A few more thoughts on Second Life, prompted by a conversation with Ewan, whom I have never yet managed to meet in SL and who - perhaps as a consequence - has vanished from my list of contacts. I have, however, met some interesting people and attended a church service - though it has to be said that the service times at the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life are very inconvenient for someone sleeping and eating in GMT time zone. Perhaps as a result of my taking my laptop to the kitchen, I didn't really get the full benefit of the service, with several breaks in transmission and a frozen screen. However, I was able to experience the actuality of the event (before I had to cook) and was interested at the feeling of being part of a congregation (we all sat in the pews, just like Holy T on a quiet morning and the sermon was well worth listening to). Quite apart from services, I actually find the location for them a good place to be - the visuals are pleasing, the sounds soothing and I meet people who are friendly and helpful - just as I would hope to if I were in any Christian community.
Apart from that, I've visited Edunation several times and spoken with someone from the US (using voice - great hilarity over my accent) and Glasgow ( typing - but a real kindred spirit). I've seen some thoughtful exhibition work, and used the links provided to check out background info. It seems to me that Ewan was right when he suggested that a real drawback was the need to be there at the same time as the people you want to see - unlike the Facebook or blogging experience - but in a way I enjoy the randomness of the meetings and the opportunity afforded simply to start chatting to a stranger and find them interesting. However, large tracts of SL are empty when I go there, so that I wander alone through lovely landscapes or empty lecture rooms. If there is to be any real contact and use of the medium, it's necessary to use Group Notices. These turn up in your email as well as in little blue screens in SL, and tend to set SL times for meetings so that you can work out if you can attend.
That said, so far it's the church use of SL which impresses me most. It's much easier to drop in on a service in a virtual environment and sample what's going on than it is physically to get yourself to a church and then feel you want to walk out again - and evangelising is easier too, in a strange way. The problem will always be how to make the first contact - but in the meantime I'd settle for meeting a few more of my friends and rellies!