Saturday, February 11, 2012

I was disappearing in plain sight

This article bothers me, and on more than one level. First, it was written recently, which means this is an educational demonstration taking place in part of the virtual world long after education was primally discarded by the Lindens, and post-Teen Grid collapse. (Which I admit still irks me beyond all reason, as it was something that Philip Linden swore to us he would never do, before reversing himself and saying that it was perfectly okay to merge Teen and Adult grids, because seriously, what could go wrong?)

But the most galling thing about that article is that, two-thirds of the way through, the writer comments that fifth graders are the best age to embrace Second Life--because "who knows more" than a fifth grader? And yet the article starts by mentioning how much the writer's third grade student loves Second Life.

Granted, in the main the discussion centers on a specific, highly restricted form of SL, and I'm not even sure that actually exists, in terms of the main grid. It may be entirely separated servers, specifically designed for that museum project. But the average age of a fifth grader in the USA is ten. Ten. And the average age of a third grade student is eight.

I'm still here, I still log into SL, I don't do a lot beyond clear my IMs and clean out old inventory at the moment, but there are things I would likely enjoy doing. And maybe, someday, I'll get back to the point where I want to go to dances, or participate in events. Maybe even make things for sale again, or just play about making things for me. But I am well over the age of majority; anything I choose to do in Second Life, regardless of the type of content, is solely my responsibility.

Setting ten-year-olds--and even worse, eight-year-olds--free to roam the wilds of SL is a terrifying concept. Start to finish.

And this is why Facebook is dangerous.

Also, according to this Reddit thread, double doors in Minecraft might start working much better than they do now: with the added feature set in 1.2 of splitting door data between upper and lower sets, they'll now hinge properly and effectively when set up, as opposed to one side reading always as 'closed' and one side reading always as 'open'.

Which is just in time for the other new feature coming up in Minecraft: zombies being able to knock down doors. So good timing, Mojang. Glad you're pushing both of those out at the
same time.

And--while I don't normally get into RL politics on this blog--this hurt my brain too much not to share.

There are folks in Wales building hobbit holes. Not even kidding. The one featured at the moment is gorgeous, and very eco-friendly. Also, speaking of ecology, there's at least one purple squirrel in Pennsylvania. I really can't add anything to that.


Samantha Poindexter said...

Apparently the kids' exhibit in question is entirely local, not connected to the main grid, and running SL software (client and server) from 2004 or 2005, which is when it was installed. See here.

Emilly Orr said...

That's what I had figured, but still, it's on the upsetting side--because even knowing that it's a highly secured firewalled SL instance, the article doesn't make mention of that when they talk about the wonderful things their eight-year-old could do there.

I realize we've largely abandoned age restrictions in SL--and even with the limited ones we have in play, it's not difficult for a child to secure permission to be in Adult regions--but it's still unnerving. Having to comfort an (adult) friend who found out they'd been sleeping with a thirteen-year-old girl--that was bad. Had that same friend found out they'd been in a relationship with an eight-year-old? That would have been far, far worse.

Samantha Poindexter said...

True enough!

Emilly Orr said...

Now, to put a positive spin on things--because, with reflecting, this is fairly negative--I don't think the concept of introducing kids to virtual worlds is a bad thing at all. Virtual worlds and virtual interaction, in one form or another, I believe will persist for the next several decades, at least--if not substantially grow in society.

Making children comfortable with having a virtual identity, a virtual presence, that they treat with some degree of acceptance and respect--that, I think, can only be a good thing.