As you wander a lonely virtual landscape, is anyone watching you? Probably, if the land collect stats. Should you be told?
As some may know, I maintain the Path of Support on Healthinfo Island in Second Life.* It features almost 100 posters of different support groups. The path includes groups dealing with mental health conditions, chronic issues, and terminal illnesses.
I am acutely aware that some people, as well as avatars, do not want to be publicly associated with some of these ailments. This may even be the reason why some join Second Life. A person can be relatively anonymous behind their avatar.
However, some people’s SL lives are unique enough that close friends or associates may be able to figure out who the real life person is ‘behind’ the avatar. Further, people may want the avatar itself to have some privacy. I know some people who do not want to list certain groups their avatar belongs to because others’ may see it in their profile and think less of the avatar (as well as the person.)
It was with this in mind that I designed certain aspects of the Path of Support. For example, I have a list of the groups in the notecard at the beginning, so that avatars need not be seen near group posters they are not comfortable being by.
To properly understand the utilization of Path of Support, I collect statistics on visitors. There are a number of outfits and objects/scripts that will do so, and some report the name of the avatar including in real time (ttSLVC, 1902 Essential.) However, given the nature of the material on the path, I decided to not collect avatar names. I do record that a visitor came by, that they took a note card, and in the case of some posters I am making, where the poster is located.
I now include a privacy statement about my reporting on the notecard at the entrances to the Path of Support. I wonder if, like websites, more areas will also begin to post similar statements. Can the HON code be far behind?
*If you have a Second Life client, you can visit the path here.