"Leading a Double Life"
This semester the Berkman Center is offering "CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion" through Second Life, a 3-D virtual environment. Instructed by Professor Charles Nesson, Rebecca Nesson, and Gene Koo, the course examines the creation and exchange of communication in a networked information economy. All three blog at CyberOne.
In the Boston Globe's "Leading a Double Life," reporter Irene Sege describes the CyberOne experience:
"Rebecca Nesson has never taught a class like "CyberOne: Law in the Court of Public Opinion," a joint enterprise with Harvard Law School sponsored by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Here she is as avatar Rebecca Berkman, standing outside a virtual replica of Harvard's Austin Hall before 30 avatars of Extension School students. A wolf sits in front , teaching fellow Buzescu is an android , and everyone can fly, all of which adds a touch of whimsy to even the most serious Second Life endeavors, in this case giving far-flung students a virtual place to meet and work on class projects. Gone is off-site education as simply posting videos of lectures online and communicating with students via e-mail. "It's better than anything I've seen in distance learning," Nesson says.
Harvard is among some 80 academic institutions exploring Second Life. Similar experiments occur on There.com. Others see different potential in Second Life. In a previous job, Lester used Second Life to help people with mild autism practice socializing. Some predict Second Life will engage people around the world in political discourse, but Berkman research fellow Ethan Zuckerman contends it's too technically sophisticated for developing nations with outdated equipment. "The idea," he says, "that it's going to be a utopia where we have people from very different cultures interacting seems overly optimistic.""
"Leading a Double Life" is in today's Boston Globe.