Second Life Basic Concepts, A Primer for Interested Genealogists

When you arrive in Second Life (SL) you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain as to what to do (or how to do it). Remember, this is literally a second life for you. You will have a unique name, and complete anonymity. There is no requirement to share your real identity with any other SL resident.

Perhaps you are familiar with traditional chat rooms, voice services like Skype, and social networks like Facebook. Second Life offer all of these services, plus allows for real-time sharing of information at the same time. It truly bridges together, in a very visual presentation, genealogists from all over the world.

The Second Life virtual world is accessed through the use of downloaded software referred to as the Second Life Viewer. Many of the concepts below refer to functions of the viewer.

  1. Ctrl+H opens the Local Chat window of the Communicate function. This is where you can interact with other SL residents using text chat. Things you type into Local Chat can only be "heard" by residents within a 20 meter radius of you.
  2. Create Landmark Here off the World menu (top of screen) is the tool you use to make bookmarks to locations you would like to return to. These landmarks are stored in your Inventory and can be clicked to teleport back to the location.
  3. Land in Second Life is broken into named regions which are given content ratings of PG, Mature or Adult. In your preferences (Ctrl+P) on the General tab you can select which types of areas you would like to access.
  4. Until you set your Home position, when you logon, you will always arrive at the location you were at when your logged off. Your avatar is not visible in-world when you logoff. There is no need to "park" yourself anywhere when logging off.
  5. Movement is controlled by the arrow keys, and much like a video game, it takes a little practice to get used to moving around. Your avatar can also fly. In addition to the keys, you can move about using the mouse and the Movement Controls (View -> Movement).
  6. The Camera is how you see the world, and it is essentially mounted above your right shoulder. You are able to move the camera without moving your avatar by using the Camera Controls (View -> Camera). Hit Esc to reset the camera position.
  7. Second Life has its own economy and currency (Linden Dollars) which can be used to purchase objects (e.g. clothing) and land. Don't worry, there are plenty of freebies in Second Life. To buy an item (even freebies), right click on the item and select Buy from the pie menu.
  8. Land in Second Life can be owned or rented. When travelling around, be respectful of the landowners' objects and privacy. Do not rez objects on other peoples' property unless they give you permisssion. Always clean up after yourself as well. There are public sandboxes around SL where you can rez objects temporarily.
  9. The Search button at the bottom of the SL Viewer screen is how you can find places of interest to visit, places to shop, groups to join, and even people you want to befriend.
  10. The Inventory button at the bottom of the SL viewer screen is where all your personal belongings will be found, including landmarks, clothing, notecards and all other objects you accumulate. You can create subfolders for organizing things.

This may seem overwhelming, but don't worry, there are a bunch of virtual genealogists available to help you get acclimated to this new platform for genealogical collaboration. When you arrive in Second Life, be sure to visit First Life Ancestry & Genealogy and contact (and/or add as a friend) the host, Constantine Kyomoon.

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