The Federal Consortium for Second Life is a newly formed group of federal government employees and contractors interested in exploring the use of virtual worlds in government, sharing best practices and policies, creating shared repositories, and networking.
They met recently and their event presentations and slides are available online. The government is interested in Second Life (SL) as an outreach and education tool. For example, my colleague Eric Hackathorn is developing a virtual island for NOAA, that contains a red tide simulation, a really cool weather map and an auditorium for presentations. NASA has a robust Second Life home where you can experience a dust storm on Mars. The Centers for Disease Control is looking at the platform as a way to educate the public on health. A survey revealed that SL users are interested in catching virtual diseases, just for fun.
A friend of mine described Second Life as being all about “sex and shopping.” There’s certainly that, just like there was in the early days of the internet.
Like the internet, however, SL is destined to develop well beyond hedonic activities. It’s great to see that government is thinking ahead to what the public will want from virtual worlds.