Today virtual worlds like Second Life are an exciting new frontier. Second Life has a flourishing economy and millions of users doing everything from teaching and taking Harvard courses to shopping at virtual American Apparel and Nike to running a night club. In the future, virtual environments promise to become a substantial part of our online existence. This course is your chance to get on the inside track. We will use Second Life as our classroom and laboratory. After an initial segment of the course where we introduce you to your second life, we'll examine models for virtual world law and government, economics and business, cultural norms, art, education and activism. Work for the course will be largely project-based. In the first half of the class a group project will be done in collaboration with the Harvard Law School class "Trials in Second Life". In the second half of the course students will individually do either an original research paper or an individual hands-on development project of their own choosing.
The course will meet in a non-traditional way. We will have bi-weekly lectures that may be attended live in Cambridge, viewed via live webcast to Berkman Island in Second Life, or viewed on recorded video after the lecture completes. Interleaved with the bi-weekly lectures we will have synchronous class meetings in our virtual classroom on Berkman Island in Second Life. These synchronous meetings are required class meetings, so you must be available to attend them in order to enroll in this class.