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Thursday, April 02, 2009


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Matthew Perreault

Personally, voice ruins SL for me. This sounds strange coming from a musician, but there seems to be a difference between a single voice in the void and a cacophony of them. Text chat makes the conversation so much more fluid, IMO. I realize that it's a barrier to those with slow typing speeds, but there are classes... ;)

Uccello Poultry

Too often those in the deaf and mute communities get left out of conversations that mix chat and Voice as users of the latter don't consider the needs of the former. I'm an RL mute so I can listen on Voice but still find it hard to participate as the Voice side goes so much faster than they typed side, even at 40wpm.

Sean Ansari

Matthew , i support you. Infact even i prefer text chat.

Paul D'Ambrosio

As an educator and curator, voice has been really effective for communicating the nuances of artowrk either in powerpoint format or on a gallery tour. In all of my formal lectures I use scripts from my lecture notes and have a friend post them into text chat as I'm speaking so that the deaf members of my audience (of which there are quite a number) can follow along. Voice is also a very efficiant way of addressing and answering questions and taking follow up questions that everyone can hear the answers to (I often type out my answers for those who can't hear. It is also a good way of sharing content with others in the same room as the particpant audience member, so your reach is extended to households and not just individuals. I should note that when I lecture, my audience is in text chat mode only, and so I am reading their comments and responding in voice. My follow-up evaluations indicate a high degree of satisfaction with voice lectures, even among my deaf friends. And I was reminded by colleagues at Virtual Ability that the blind are completely left out of text chat content.

Melanie Aluveaux

I use voice in second life to teach university classes, and I could not manage without it. That being said, I find that the voice feature frequently functions poorly. My students have difficulty setting voice up, and once its set up, they often experience poor sound quality. Often, my classes become a mix of voice and text, with the professor using voice and students replying in text. The difficulties in using voice have actually caused me to rethink the applicability of second life to my educational goals.

Sioban McMahon

Voice has it's uses, storytelling for instance, or when I need to convey a lot of information quickly to a VERY small group of people.

Generally, it's a pain in the butt. I hate trying to shop in a store with really silly conversations going on around me. They are intrusive in a way that chatter in a RL shop is not. I also HATE when voice is used by audience members at a performance. It's disrespectful to the performer. I have it disabled at our Pub. People are there to hear music, not to listen to someone say "Can you hear me?", "Is this working?", "I am from .", not to mention the rude comments.

Caliburn Susanto

Well, I vehemently said so in the beginning and my opinion hasn't changed. Adding voice to SL was stupid, divisive, and totally unnecessary. And I'm gratified to find out (from personal experience, not from reading spin articles) that the majority of Residents feel the same. Second Life is not a telephone call, it's a fantasy land, and the "magic circle," while porous, must remain unbroken for most of us. The biological-life intrusion of voice destroys it and the fantasy/fun aspect is ruined. There is no point after that. May just as well log off and pick up the phone.

The usual response to this is "Then just turn voice OFF, DOH!" That's a knee-jerk attempt at superiority and not the point. The fact that the client allows voice puts people (the majority) who don't want it in the unfortunate position of having to turn it on if they don't want to miss large portions of the communications around them. By having it on they are also forced to listen to the avalanche of dreck that happens when the strangers all around them are gabbing their vulgarities and assorted horsepucky. We get enough of that in public places and around cell phone users already; we don't want to have to be annoyed by it in Second Life, which is our fantasy escape and respite from the daily grind. Having to type out what one has to say VASTLY increases the quality of conversation. You actually have to compose your thoughts before expressing them, as opposed to just shooting your mouth off into a glitchy-sounding microphone.

I wholeheartedly agree that voice is NECESSARY in many circumstances, particularly in education. And I certainly want to hear presenters speak their speeches, not type them. But having speech as part of the client is totally unnecessary. A teacher, his/her class, and anyone else that wants to listen in can easily converse with each other via voice outside of SL. Even better, they can continue to do so afer leaving SL and moving on to other Web sites and resources.

When I attended the educational conferences his last weekend the problems with voice faux pas and malfunction/distraction would have been funny if they weren't so annoying (how many times do you have to tell an intelligent audience of adults to TURN OFF their microphones and wear headphones to prevent feedback? -- ad nauseum, I discovered). There is a video posted of one of the presenters having problems with feedback that is embarassingly painful to watch (both because of the idiot who kept playing with his microphone [intentionally I am convinced] and the presenter's bad response -- "Okay, I hear feedback, I can't continue with the presentation while this is going on. Um, okay it's off. Nope, there it is again. Someone has their microphone open. Okay now it's gone. As I was saying ... nope it's on again. Okay, it's gone now. There it is again..." This went on for FIVE FULL MINUTES. Talk about wasting everyone's time and annoying the hell out of them.

A related point I feel compelled to make is also related to the use of voice. The schism between those of us who prefer to identify our avatars as a fantasy extension of our selves and to be accepted at face value (what you see is all you get) and those who want to assume dishonesty in everyone they can't "get the goods on" -- name, rank, serial number, sound of voice, age, sex, location, personal references and RL photograph of -- was definitely touched upon at some of the weekend conferences. One presenter was smarmily critical of immersionists and his written rules for hiring were decidedly snarky, bordering on contempt. Very distasteful (very). That frame of mind shatters the looking glass and reduces Second Life to nothing more than a chat room with humanoid cursors, cold and clinical. If people want to deal with each other on that level in their business relations they are certainly entitled, but in so doing they are automatically alienating the people they need most -- those who treasure and nurture the environment they are trying to utilize.

Dusan Writer

Um, I'm sorry - I can't help saying this, but this post makes it seem like this was the first time you ever actually met and talked with people in SL using voice, that this was the first time you ever had a meeting? So your previous skepticism about SL as a platform for enterprise was based on what exactly?

I'm sorry Hamlet, you kind of sound like a noob a little, no offense.

As far as whether voice changes the experience - yes, it does. And I believe there's a "tyranny of voice" - for those who use voice, I find they can often look less kindly on those who don't, and that they often attach a "trust issue" (oh, he refuses to use voice in a business meeting - how seriously can we take this person anyways)....which I think is a horrible attitude to have, especially with long-term residents.

Voice has changed my experience of SL. I lost something. I also lost something when I connected my avatar to my real name - there are STILL people who I have to hit over the head when they insist on using my real name in-world. I think this shows a lack of respect for the avatar, and I believe the avatar isn't just an interface like a speakerphone.

But as far as the use of SL for meetings, or education, or planning, or whatever - I now use SL a dozen times a week for meetings like what you describe, and I can tell you when there's more than 1 or 2 other people, it beats Skype or conference calls hands down (and is cheaper than the phone to boot).

But I spend a lot of time advocating with people who seem to insist that "voice" and "real" are somehow more important than text and avatar. In most cases it isn't the case, and in many cases I'd prefer a long lazy chat in text because it lends a texture and sense of creativity and space that you don't get from conference calls.

Hamlet Au

Of course I've used voice in Second Life numerous times, Dusan, but this was the first time for a specific RL purpose. My previous skepticism is on the steep learning curve, and the slowness of the adoption rate of SL in general. I'm still skeptical on that front. Yes, SL voice for enterprise use can work with people already familiar with the UI, that's pretty much the point of this post-- but what do you tell execs who still have their secretaries print out their email?

Dusan Writer

OK, thanks for clarifying Hamlet. :) Sorry I doubted.

As far as the execs who still print their email - they're probably the last target. On the other hand, we've been helping run 'office hours' with a bunch of people who have never played games or been in SL before, and because the topic is compelling enough they're giving it a whirl. We can get them through orientation in about 10 minutes and as long as we're on hand to give them some pointers as the session moves along they pick it up fast enough.

The issue isn't the learning curve - really, all they need to do is learn to walk a little, text, and toggle their mic on and off. The issue is usually ego: no one wants to look dumb, so it's convincing them to take the plunge that's the harder part - and if the "content" is good (a key topic, a great speaker, whatever) you can use peer pressure or 'need' to overcome that.

Matthew Perreault

LOL at the printed emails. Here at the bank, I'm wondering where the paperless office of the future went. I kill a tree each day.

SL is the frontier, and some corporations are more drawn to challenge than safety. Most aren't, though, and it'll take a generational change in executive leadership to bring virtual worlds into mainstream corporate-speak.

Dizzy Banjo

I don't think adapting to the choice of increased bandwidth that voice presents is such a problem really and in my experience most residents ( especially those who joined after the introduction of voice ) are totally fine with it.

I think its as simple as :
• Use voice when/if you want to
• Use text when I want to
• Use both simultaneously when you want to
• Mute the voice slider when you don't want to hear other people

I think the trust issues and mistrust of identity of people who don't use voice has actually played out to be less of an issue than initially thought, due to the ease of adoption of the above ways of using voice - when desired. I think it reflects more on people who don't trust people because they wont use voice, than on the non-voice user themselves.

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