Google is pulling the plug on their virtual world, Lively. I jumped in early, was not impressed, and spent my time in Second Life instead. However, lately I’ve been back and have been working on a room. I’ve come to understand and appreciate a place Lively may have in the diverse mix of virtual worlds. Before it shuts down, here are some lessons learned.
My room is Healthcare Support Groups (available till 2009) and is meant to educate and assist people inworld about choosing the proper group. (Much like my work with Path of Support in Second Life. (SLULR))
1) You need a good way to communicate to those who are interested in your work. Since you can’ t be there all the time, the user needs to create something to get the message across. Lively allows one to link to unfortunately low resolution graphics which I used to create posters…with a link to a website with the corresponding info.
2) The ability to easily put in multiple pieces of streaming media was an eye opener…very powerful content could be shared with one’s visitors. Since everyone in the room heard the sound, the written word was a better way to go than a voice over. You can check out the rough video here.
3) Different worlds for different folks- The simplicity of Lively taught me that one could still do good work, that would help folks out, even with modest tools. I can also understand how people put off with the complexities of some virtual worlds may be more comfortable in other environments.
4) Healthcare themes were early pioneers in Lively. I was not invovled in the beginning of Second Life and there is no way that I know of to track when the groups started there. With Lively I can see when rooms were created and take a snapshot of how it looks 4 months after it began:
4a. Today I identified 21 rooms in Lively that deal with healthcare. I think one could see them as similar to Second Life groups. With few data points and rooms vaguely defined, it is hard to draw conclusions. However, health information / libraries and mental health had the most rooms. General health and fitness also had a strong showing.
4b. Half of the room were created within the first week, or so, of when Lively began. While, I recognize several names from Second Life who deal in libraries and larger health sims, the rest may be folks (peers?) may be actually looking for particular help and relationships.
4c. Most (75%?) of the rooms had only 3 visitors since their inception. However, the most popular rooms had many more visitors. They dealt with Mutliple Sclerosis (36 visitors) and addictions (96 visitors). I count myself lucky to have had 6 visitors in the 8 days I’ve been up. Pehaps this is similar to the long tail of memberships in Second Life healthcare groups?
5. Linking between virtual worlds is an intriguing concept. I like the idea of being able to go to those areas that have unique features you may want to take advantage of. In Lively I had a clickable poster with a slurl to the Path of Support in Second Life.
6. I need to get out more. I enjoyed my time in Lively, once I decided to do something there. I was surprised about how many healthcare folks were already there. I’ll be making more of an effort to look into the various healthcare aspects of other virtual worlds.