[SLED] Voice in Second Life

Matthew Dowd matthew.dowd at hotmail.co.uk
Sun Aug 5 02:08:28 PDT 2007

I've also found it interesting to see the wide range of opinions here - especially as down in the SL forums, education is often quoted as one of the drivers behind voice!

Eloise, thanks for the enlightenment on teaching dyslexics, that was very interesting. In general, it seems that from a accessibility point of view (and in the UK keeping within the law), text is the better bet (oh, sorry we aren't suppose to wager now are we ;-)  ) as visually impaired users can easily use text to voice which offers exactly the same from an accessibility perspective of using voice. If such users have a problem it would probably be with the use SL per se. That isn't to saw that there aren't groups where voice is the better option, or situations where voice makes more sense.

Voice is very useful when you want to be able to do something else at the same time - if you've ever driven a vehicle in SL, and tried to text speak to you passengers without crashing you will know what I mean. I can certainly see it useful if the teacher is trying to drive a visual aid in SL as well as talk.

In theory using voice should leave people free to move their avatar so that it gives all those visual clues we use to pick up who's about to speak etc. in a RL meeting. Ironically, some voice users seem to ignore the 3D part of SL entirely. I've heard people mention "groups of statues", and I have observed first hand a bunch of people chatting in voice but otherwise staying perfectly still - not even looking at the person they are talking to. Whereas when texting you do seem to think about what your avatar is up to...

To come to Gavin's point:

> I always wonder if the people who see no real use for voice in SL say this
> to people who phone them at work.... "sorry, could you write it all down and
> send it to me, please - I'm just not into using voice...".

Actually, I do - well not in quite those same words, but I do quite often say to someone after talking to them (either f2f or over the phone) "could you send me an e-mail with that in please, so I have a written record to remind me" - and I've had similar said to me, so I know I'm not alone. 

That is one of the things I like about SL - when I meet someone, there's a nice big placard floating above their head telling me who they are. A quick search through the chat and IM logs tells me why they know me, and why I should remember them. Unlike real life, when you meet someone out of context and struggle to keep a conversation going while you work out whether you should know them, whether they really are a complete stranger, and whether you would mortally offend them if you asked (one day we might have a pair of glasses which superimpose an SL like placard above people's heads have done a quick facial recongition lookup...)

Within the context of a class, whilst voice may make things move more quickly. the use of text has the potential advantage that the student can concentrate on participating in the class rather than taking notes.


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