Improve your second life

Friday 12 March 2010

Are you a Second Life resident looking to get a bit more out of your virtual world? If so, join Sheila Yoshikawa at 20.00 (13.00 Second Life time) on March 18 on Sheffield University's Second Life island, Infolit ischool, for hints and tips on searching, shopping and sightseeing. The event is part of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science which runs from the 12 to the 21 of March 2010.

The event will start with short presentations by Sheila Webber (aka Sheila Yoshikawa), Senior Lecturer in the Department of Information Studies, Sheffield University and two of her colleagues, Prof Jackie Marsh (aka Jackie Darkstone) and Dr Julia Davies (aka Dr Joolz Smythe), who will talk about some of their research on improving general knowledge and ability in using computer technology. The event will inform the attending advatars, how they can apply these findings to help them get the most out of the Second Life experience.

Sheila's presentation will draw on the results of interviews carried out by some of her students at the Infolit ischool, in which they asked people what steps they took when they needed to find information for an activity in Second Life. The activities ranged from simple retail searches such as trying to find a bunk bed to recreate a student dorm in Second Life to struggling with finding the programming steps needed to stream music successfully.

"By looking at the different ways people used the communication and social networking tools available on Second Life, we've been able to determine strategies that work for finding different sorts of information," says Sheila: "So if, say, you want to buy a house, we know one successful strategy is to start your search by looking at some of the houses in Second Life and then click on one you like the look of. That will bring up all sorts of information about who made the house, whether they sell houses (or perhaps even give them away), and whether they have a shop."

Jackie Darkstone and Dr Joolz Smythe will also share some of their research findings with a focus on helping your avatar to dress in the latest Second Life fashion. The presentations will be held in an informal outdoor setting and there will be opportunities for participants to share their own experiences and any hints and tips that others might find useful.

There will also be a chance to get a virtual ice cream from the IS (Information Services) Cream Van, a novel tool developed at Edinburgh University to support distance learners, not only with ice cream but also with useful information and contacts.

Following the presentations, participants can take a guided tour to a mystery location: "We might be shopping or perhaps sightseeing. We haven't decided yet but it will be an opportunity for everyone to try out their new skills," says Sheila.

The event is open to all Second Life residents although it would help if you have a little experience of Second Life and already know how to move about and communicate.

Second Life residents who would like to attend this event are asked to register online, where you will need to join the Ning (a social networking site). Then, on the day, this SLURL (link) will take you directly to the event.

For further information contact

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. Searching, shopping, sightseeing: literacies in virtual lives
  2. Second Life is the publically accessible virtual world for adults, including social, business and educational users. The organiser of this event is Ms Sheila Webber, a Social Science researcher at the Department of Information Studies, Sheffield University.  Her avatar, Sheila Yoshikawa, teaches first year and postgraduate students at the Infolit iSchool, the Second Life island owned by Sheffield University, and arranges events for any Second Life residents interested in information literacy and/or education. Discussions at this event will draw on the speakers' research into information literacy (Ms Sheila Webber) and digital literacies (Prof Jackie Marsh and Dr Julia Davies) and how it can be used to improve people's virtual lives.
  3. The Festival of Social Science, organised by the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC), runs from the 12 to the 21 March, alongside National Science and Engineering Week.  It celebrates some of the country's leading social science research, giving an exciting opportunity to showcase the valuable work of the UK's social scientists and demonstrate how their work has an impact on all our lives. Events are aimed at a range of different audiences, including policy makers, business, the media, the general public and students of all ages. Events come in a variety of formats from traditional lectures and exhibitions to theatrical performances, film screenings and topical debates. Press releases detailing some of the varied events are available at the Festival website
  4. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is £204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
  5. You can now follow updates from the ESRC on Twitter (@ESRC), including new funding calls as they are posted, press releases, events and more.