Thursday, February 5, 2009

My First Meeting in Second Life: C'est La Vie...Deuxième

Real life brings its fair share of embarrassing moments.

Tonight marked my first embarrassing moments in Second Life.

Sure, I have been giving participants in my Web 2.0 workshops a pseudo-tour of SL, but I had never attended an actual meeting with live interaction.

Learning that MuniGov 2.0 was hosting its weekly event in SL, I decided to join them. I teleported to the meeting right around 7 p.m. ET and found about 10 avatars sitting at a long wooden table. "Recognizable" faces included GovLoopers Pam Broviak (Lasalle, IL) and Bill Greeves (Roanoke, VA). There were probably more GovLoopers present, but their avatar names made it difficult to discern. All greeted the newbie (Zedeka Nadezda) warmly.

I walked around the table, attempting to sit in a chair, but realized that I didn't know how to perform that function yet! So I stood next to it. Just when I was starting to get psyched about the experience, SL crashed on me for the first time.

After rebooting my machine, I returned to hear a discussion regarding the importance of providing orientation to new folks. If I knew how to raise my hand, I would have done so at that moment...or if I knew that my microphone was working, I would have given them an "Amen!"

Pam Broviak politely asked if she was sitting in my chair. "No," I typed my reply. I'll just continue to stand directly and awkwardly behind your chair, making you nervous and demonstrating my status as part of the "noob herd" that Greever's discussing with the group... you know, the new folks that can bog it down! I chuckled to myself and wondered when I could schedule my first session.

Another Pam (Renoir - not sure it that's a real or SL name) reached out through an IM to help me feel less uncomfortable. It's probably bad etiquette during a meeting, but I acknowledged her kindness (and showed her that I figured out another feature!) by sending her a friend invitation. She accepted. And SL crashed on me again.

Not wanting to disturb their meeting further, I elected not to log back in. I am sure Zedeka stood there slumped over for the rest of the proceedings, looking like he was catching up on some much needed sleep. In the meantime, my new friend Pam Renoir had emailed me in real life to inquire about my virtual health and well-being.

So what are the lessons from my first meeting in Second Life? Here are three:

1. Don't be afraid to get started. I admit that I entered the meeting with trepidation, knowing that I would encounter some SL pros. They were gracious and welcoming, and I plan to attend again armed with a bit more knowledge about navigation.

2. Request an orientation session. And speaking of gaining knowledge, the group was obviously anticipating this influx of neophytes and are planning to host or leverage the existing orientation available in SL. When I tweeted my experience a few minutes later, one of the State Department's SL ambassadors (@lovisatalk) offered to give me some training as well.

3. Allow yourself to make mistakes. I'm sure my future adventures in SL, at least for the short term, will continue to provide some humbling moments. Most new endeavors have a significant learning curve, but it's usually worth the investment of time and energy.

So now that I have shared my embarrassing moments in Second Life, I'd like to hear yours! What has been your experience in SL - good, bad and ugly? What are your tips for getting started?

In fact, I'd like to open up the floor here to see what other gaffes people are having in their initial ventures into social media. It's a whole new world on the Web for many...and we're bound to have some laughable - and highly valuable - lessons to share!

This story was originally posted at

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