Final Book Club Meetings

We have completed our series of discussions on Other Worlds books. Our last two meetings were on Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Both meetings were fun, with lots of amusing comments and tangents. We discussed characters, movie comparisons, and each of us chose which Middle Earth creature we would like to be (Sauron or an Elf for me).

In our final meeting, despite a poor turnout, we had a interesting discussion on all of the books and which were our favourites (Harry Potter and Alice were the most popular with Narnia being surprisingly unpopular among everyone).

Even though not everyone had read every book, (I don’t think anyone had read all of the Narnia books), everyone always commented and engaged in the discussion. I wonder if this is because of the format of the club. It was obviously very informal and fun, and no one actually had to speak in front of a group, it was all online and sort of anonomyous. I for one normally hate speaking in groups, but had absolutely no problem contributing to any of our discussions (except the one in which I was unable to get online for, obviously).

In preparation for our last meeting, I decided to check out what worlds or simulations were available on Second Life for each book series. Here is a list of the ones I checked out:

1) Harry Potter

Diagon Alley – lots of shopping, Gringotts bank. It was cool but deserted when I went. Still, check it out if you want to buy a wand or a witch’s hat.

Hogwarts -Your story: this is a pretty cool sim, you actually have to find the secret wall to enter Diagon Alley where there is shopping (of course).

2) Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass

Black Pearl Beach – described in an earlier post. Beware of Zombies.

3) Lord of the Rings

Elven clothes, Lord of the Rings – for all you Elven clothing and leather thong needs.

Need Elven or antique furniture? Here is the place for you!

Middle Earth Realms – pretty cool, with creepy house and underground tunnels that I got seriously lost in. It is a huge island with little houses, a forest, shopping and tons of other stuff to explore.



















4) Chronicles of Narnia

There weren’t many places that I could find, just this one which isn’t all that exciting.

Aslan’s How – a creepy house with an equally creepy picture of Aslan the lion


There are tons of SIMS in SL for your favourite book. Some are really detailed and awesome and ALL involve shopping. You can go down the rabbit hole, search for hobbits in Middle Earth, ride a teacup, be chased by Zombies, see a scary portrait of Aslan, whatever you little Avatar – heart desires!


Alice in…Zombieland?

Last week, my group hosted an Alice in Wonderland book discussion. In preparation, I decided to explore Second Life and see if anyone had made a version of Wonderland. It turns out there are several. The best one that I came across is located here:

There are carnival rides, weird Wonderland-ish decorations such as giant teacups and mushrooms, shopping (I bought some awesome Cheshire cat leg warmers, pictured below.

Alice in Wonderland - Dark Ride

Here is Wonderland on SL (and me in my Harry Potter/Cheshire cat costume- so stylish)

This Wonderland was awesome. I highly recommend that you check it out. I spent far too long exploring and was delighted by all of the little surprises that this place holds. The giant chessboard, the cool ride through a haunted mansion

oh yeah, and the Zombie army hidden in the haunted, extremely spooky forest. Who knew there were zombies in Wonderland? There I was, innocently exploring the gloomy forest when BAM out of nowhere several zombies began to chase me. I was quickly surrounded by creepy doll-like creatures covered in blood splotches. The creepy things chased me out towards a haunted house, which I of course explored. Pictured above is the ride through the house that I took.

When I tried to leave the forest, the zombies returned and chased me out of the forest. For awhile I was worried that they would keep following me, but eventually they seemed to give up attempting to eat my brains and returned to the creepy forest. I have no idea what zombies have to do with Wonderland, or if maybe it was just a Halloween thing, but it was pretty awesome regardless. I was super pumped to talk about my experience at the book club discussion whilst wearing my wicked leg warmers, but alas, it was not to be. We had a blackout and I was unable to get online! I suppose that is all part of being in an online book discussion. Technical difficulties seems to becoming a theme with me though. Oh well. Tonight is the Lord of the Rings discussion. I was tempted to dress as a hobbit, but I really want to show off my leg warmers, so I am staying in my Cheshire cat persona.

Harry Potter Book Discussion

Today was our first book club! In preparation, I decided to dress up. I headed over to Diagon Alley, pictured below and bought a Gryffindor costume, scarf and all. Unfortunately, it was so expensive that I had to go without robes, wand or hat and I’m not sure that I can afford to dress up as the Queen of Hearts for next week’s Alice discussion.


At 16:00 SL time, my group and I were waiting nervously at Way with Words in Second Life. No one showed up and we were beginning to worry that our project would be a massive failure.

PeachesBanana, Clavoie3 and I waiting for people to show up for book club (check out my awesome themed outfit)

After a few moments of panic, people began to show up. We had a decent turnout for our first time.  Here we all are gathered around the unlit campfire discussing Harry Potter and Second Life.


We had a lion, a witch, a robot and five “normal” avatars join us. We discussed the similarities between Second Life and the Wizarding world. Such as, the unique abilities both avatars and wizards have, Harry’s experience of being introduced to the Wizarding world or our experiences in Second Life and the difficulties we all had adapting. Surprisingly, there were quite a few similarities. An especially interesting point that was mentioned was the similarity between Dementors in Harry Potter and Griefers in Second Life. Dementors suck the joy out of a person, and Griefers suck the fun out of Second Life. Both are cruel bullies who drain a person’s joy.

There were a lot of interesting topics discussed, and even though some participants had not read all of the books, everyone still participated and seemed to have a good time. Admittedly, we did get sidetracked a bit and ended up discussing Second Life experiences and cool locations, but overall the discussion went well. It was fun to make new friends and discuss a made-up world while being in another made-up world.

I wish I could say that I have participated in book clubs in real life so that I could compare the two experiences, but sadly, this was my very first book club. I imagine that it would be easier to communicate with everyone in person, we were all typing over one another and it was occasionally difficult to follow the conversation. However, in a virtual setting, I think that people are more likely to speak up because they feel less intimidated than they would in a room full of people.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. Hopefully, next week will be even better when we discuss Alice in Wonderland.

Other Worlds Book Club

Yes, finally I have a volunteer position. Sort of. I along with Peaches Banana and clavoie3 are running a book club series on Second Life. I should have blogged about this weeks go, but alas RL has occupied most of my time.

Anyways, our little group met to decide what books we would discuss. Here is a photo of our rather unorthodox meeting.

clavoie3 and I competed for a spot at the table. I won.

Eventually, we got around to discussing book topics. Harry Potter was quickly mentioned and we had the brilliant idea to discuss each of the seven books, one a week. Unfortunately, time does not permit this, as our course ends. So, we decided to discuss  bunch of books that are set in “other worlds.”  Obviously, we chose the theme of “other worlds” because our class is taking place in another world. We finally narrowed the numerous options down to four series, which are all popular book series’ and personal favourites. Here is the final list:

Book Club dates
Tues. Oct. 25 16:00-17:00 SLT Harry Potter
Tues. Nov. 1 16:00-17:00 SLT Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass
Tues. Nov. 8 16:00-17:00 SLT Lord of the Rings
Tues. Nov. 15 16:00-17:00 SLT Narnia
We will be discussing these series’ at Way with Words
Every Tuesday beginning Oct 25 until Nov 15, we will discuss these books. Hopefully, some people show up. We had a bit of trouble figuring out how to advertise, what with waiting for responses from the people in charge of volunteering activities and computer glitches on our part, so it will be interesting to see how many people show up tomorrow.  The books we chose are very popular, so we hoped that the titles would spark peoples interest to come out and discuss these unique worlds.
Tomorrow is the first book club! I am nervous and excited! Hopefully it all goes well.

Crazy Times in my Second Life

All we wanted to do was find a volunteer position. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, PeachesBanana and I thought so when we went to infoisland to find out about volunteering. However, instead of volunteers, we teleported in on a dance party. Everyone encouraged us to bust a move as we inquired about volunteering. We both gave in to the peer pressure and danced like mad. I must say my avatars moves are awesome! I imagine they would be quite painful in real life, however.

Anyway, this dance group seemed to be a club that met regularly. It seemed as though all they did was dance, dance, dance, which was fun for a bit, but I wouldn’t want to do it for longer than a couple of minutes, but to each his own, right? This led me to wonder what other types of clubs SL has. I imagine there are countless other crazy groups. I will have to explore those further. For now, I, along with two of my classmates are organizing a club of our own – a book club! YAY! I’m excited to see how this will work and how many people will join.

After that exciting dance party, I met Teachergirl Razor, who sent me to an expensive dress shop full of surprises. There are FREE dresses! Naturally, it took me a year to actually figure out how to wear it (thank you Teachergirl!), but eventually I managed.

Sascha’s dress shop had other surprises besides free gowns. There is an innocent looking crocodile wandering around as well.

Slightly out of place, right? Well I was curious so…

I wandered over, and he asked to be feed. Being the wonderfully kind-hearted avatar that I am, I obliged. Here are the results of that act of kindness

Yes. I am being eaten by a crocodile. The wild crocs of Africa are harmless (see earlier post), but this pet was not. Despite my thrashing about, the croc swallowed me. I did not die, however, once again proving that avatars are invincible. After a moment, I was able to stand up and move away, completely unharmed.

I don’t know what the lesson here was. Things are never quite as they appear? Don’t try and shoplift or you will be eaten by a hungry crocodile? Don’t feed wild animals? I don’t know, but it was interesting at least!

Okay, so that is all for this pointless post. Next time I will delve into the exciting world of Second Life bookclubs! Woot!

Virtual Volunteering

I must admit that when I first saw that we would be volunteering in Second Life I was confused and sceptical. How, and more importantly, why would we need to volunteer in a virtual world? How would this work? Do people actually use libraries in a virtual world? Who provides the information? These questions were arisen by my visit to the Map Library where tons of extremely detailed maps were available to users for free. Why would someone spend their time creating such information and places for complete strangers?

Hopefully, these questions will all be answered as I begin my volunteer experience in Second Life. I am eager to learn how information sharing works in a virtual world, and how the volunteer is influenced by their experience.

I still haven’t actually found a place to volunteer, I am waiting to hear back from someone on Info Island, but I discovered a bit about virtual volunteering while reading chapter 5 of Virtual Worlds : Real Libraries.

There are real librarians working in Second Life. Most of these individuals are volunteers, but some are representing real institutions. I found this fascinating as I have never heard of any companies or libraries using Second Life to connect with clients. It is an innovative idea and a cool way to provide reference from a distance while still having that “in-person” converstation between avatars. I wonder if in the future, all libraries will operate in virtual worlds, and all materials will be availabe electronically. I don’t think it is something we will see in our lifetimes, but maybe in a hundred years, who knows?

As to why people volunteer in Second Life; according to Rhonda Trueman, it is for much the same reason that people volunteer in the actual world, that is, they enjoy it. SL volunteers love being innovative, creative and working in areas that interest them. They get to do something they like, that perhpaps they could never do in their actual lives.  I think it is absolutelty amazing that so many volunteers are willing to give up their time to allow documents, maps and other information to be accessed by SL users for free when real librarians get paid to do it! According to Trueman, more than 500 librarians volunteered for the Alliance Virtual Library (p. 47). 

I think that volunteering in Second Life libraries is a really innovative way to gain experience and connect with real-world professionals. I just wonder if people use their Second Life volunteer experiences on their resumes.


My first introduction to Second Life was in first term when one om my TA’s talked about his obsession with SL. Upon hearing about it I assumed it was just another online game. But woe to the person who says that to an avid Second Lifer. I was clearly told that Second life is NOT a game. I wisely agreed at the time, but secretly still believed that it is simply an online game, much like World of Warfare or the Sims. While I was reading Tom Boellstorff’s Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human I was happy to discover a section dealing with this topic. It seems as though I am not the only one to believe that Second Life was a game.

So why is Second Life not a game? According to Boellstorff, Second Life is a virtual world that provides a venue in which people can play games, create things and socialize. Second Life itself is no game. It is fun, and people “play” it, but it is not a game. Or so i understand. I must admit that I still am unclear about the distinction. It looks like a game, it sounds like a game,  it can be fun, so why not call it a game? What do I call it? When people ask me what second life is and I say it is a virtual world, they assume it is a game. I don’t know how else to explain it to people. I suppose I will say that it is a place where one can play games and express themselves artistically. If anyone wants to clear this confusion up for me, it would be greatly appreciated!

While I was reading Boellstroff, I initially related to his description of arriving in a strange place and being alone, lost and confused, as that was my exact feelings when I first entered the virtual world. I too felt like an anthropologist being immersed in a foreign culture for the first time. After more than a month, I still feel slightly like an outsider. My basic skills are improving and I finally figured out how to stop dancing, so I at least no longer scare away the locals with my crazy pirate moves, but I haven’t come across anywhere that I feel as though I belong. Perhaps this is because I am constantly coming across information that confuses me about the purposes of Second Life. For example. I was struck by the section in the reading describing a wedding in Second Life between two avatars. In real life, these people were strangers, yet they chose to wed their online selves. I found this incredibly strange. Why would you marry someone you’ve never met? What is the point? For fun? Remember, Second Life is NOT a game. I wonder if either person is married in real life and how their online marriages effect their actual ones.  Are their spouses jealous of their online relationship? How do online relationships influence real ones? It would make an interesting study.

Since I’ve only met a couple of people on Second Life, I don’t suppose this is really an issue for me. Currently no avatar has asked for my hand. Maybe it is because of my pirate hat or my incessant dancing, or because I am obviously a noob and have no real idea what I am doing, I don’t know, but either way, I don’t think I would be comfortable getting married in Second Life. Maybe this fact leads to the credulity that Second Life is more than a game. In a game I wouldn’t care, but knowing that there is someone real behind other avatars makes me less inclined to perceive intimate relationships and marriage in Second Life as frivolous events in a game.

Underwater Pirate Dance Machine

Everyone loves pirates, right? I do. So I decided to visit Pirates Keep in SL. I walked around a bit and naturally fell off the dock into the water as me and my avatar are still attempting to understand each other.  Happily, I discovered that my folly led to a wonderful invention: The Underwater Pirate Dance Machine. Yes that is correct, Underwater Pirate Dance Machine. Naturally intrigued, I had to test it out. So here I am underwater doing a jig to what sounds like very-unpirate music. It is Scottish sounding, who knew pirates liked bagpipes?


Unfortunately, I am unsure how to turn off the music and stop dancing. I attempted to change my action, so I flew (btw flying ability is back!). Unfortunately, despite the fact that my avatar was flying, she continued to dance. Here is a picture of Jaely (my avatar) dancing whilst flying above Pirates Keep.


Hopefully, I can figure out how to stop dancing soon. It is quickly becoming annoying and the dancing continues everywhere I teleport! Although my amazing moves have inspired other random avatars to break out their dance moves as well, so I suppose that’s good…

Just another random learning experience in Second Life. Fact of the day:those buccaneers love to groove to the music. Underwater.


Stampede! Oh wait…

I recently learned that it is extremely difficult to die in Second Life. I decided to test this theory and headed to Africa where I encountered two rhinos. I wondered if they would stampede, or ram me or something, so I walked right up to them…and right through them. Apparently, they did not notice as they remained motionless. Disheartened by this lack of response, I moved on and discovered an alligator-(or crocodile, I don’t know) filled lake. I walked into the the middle of the lack and waited. Surely a curious alligator (croc?) would come to bite me. After several uneventful minutes I realized that my avatar has super powers. In addition to flying (which my avatar is currently unable to do due to her recent fall off the Great Wall of China), Second Life citizens can breathe underwater, be invisible to dangerous animals and are seemingly invincible! Evidently, it is much better to exist in Second Life than in first. This discovery led me to wonder if crime is possible in Second Life, and more specifically, murder.  Through my “research” on YouTube, I discovered that violence is possible. Avatars had guns, and could fight with each other. I even saw a couple of videos of avatars being blown up. This led me to wonder what implications in-world crimes may have on real people. I came across an interesting article on rape in virtual worlds. Apparently, a story was circulating about Brussels police  investigating a rape in Second Life.  Here’s a couple of links to articles and blogs dealing with this topic:


Reader Roundtable

These topics lead to many questions about virtual worlds. How are they policed? Is virtual crime a real crime? Should Second Life criminals be punished in real life? Do virtual worlds have a lot of bullying like on Facebook?

Crime in Second Life is an interesting topic of discussion and I will definitely need to further research and explore this topic during this course.


Falling off the Great Wall

After our first in-world class meeting, a classmate and I decided to explore the world. We decided our first trip would be to the Great Wall of China. We teleported there and were surprised to find that apparently, the Great Wall in Second Life is not as big an attraction as that in the real world. We appeared to be the only avatars on the wall. We decided to try and find the Starbucks that is supposedly at the real wall, so we walked along the wall FOREVER, but had no luck in finding the cafe. I did however, discover that it is possible to fall of the Great Wall of China. Evidently, I need to practice moving my avatar more as she walked right through a wall and plummeted onto a mountain. I attempted to fly myself back up, but discovered that my avatar was unable to fly. Perhaps she was injured in the fall and has lost her ability? I managed to walk up the side of the wall eventually, but discovered I had lost my companion. Luckily, we discovered that she could invite me to teleport to her location, which was great as I was hopelessly lost. By this point we both gave up our search for the elusive Starbucks and decided to go our separate ways.

For some reason I expected Second Life to be very detailed and realistic. However, it felt like a computer game. The background at the Great Wall was…odd. A purple sky, an ocean and brownish mountains surrounded the wall. I have no idea what really surrounds the Wall, except for big hills, but it seemed somehow wrong and I was initially disappointed. However, that being said, I checked out images of the Wall itself and was surprised to find that Second Life’s version was actually pretty good. There are twists and turns, stairs, dips and guard houses on both walls. So, overall I suppose that Second Life’s wall was a pretty awesome virtual replica.

I think that Second Life offers wonderful opportunities to explore fantasy worlds as well as places in the real world that one may never get to see. It was pretty cool seeing the Great Wall, but I wouldn’t cross that off my real life bucket list yet.