I woke up this morning to discover an avalanche of mail about how Linden Labs will be fully integrating voice into Second Life.
This is great news for me and other people using SL for delivering lectures, communicating with students, or conducting business in SL.
Interestingly though, there has been a lot of discussion about how the addition of voice might threaten / shake / call into question people’s digital identities.
Here are some quotes:
Discussions on the SLED listserv have already popped up about voice masking. The Reuter’s Article states that some think the “magic circle” will be broken if you pair real voices with virtual avatars. I can’t imagine, in an education setting, how this would be a negative thing. The one group that will definitely be impacted by the adding of voice support are the virtual red light services on the main grid. Those masquerading as their opposite sex will definitely have the covers pulled back, and be exposed for who they really are. I guess we will finally find out if the demographic numbers of male and female players are based in reality or fantasy.
From ZDNet News:
One of the groups most likely to object to it is those whose gender identification in-world is different than in the real world. And that’s because it would be startling for some to hear a male voice coming from a female avatar’s mouth, or vice versa.
From Fred Fuchs (SLED list):
Voice can give away age, race, gender, accents, national origin, etc. Some resist voice app integration because they believe voice will make SL less inclusive.
Those who come into SL and always use voice will miss part of the experience.
It’s hard to narrow down.
Text chat is slower than voice. The extra time allows people to be more introspective and thoughtful.
It’s harder to monopolize the conversation in text chatting. Those without loud voices and assertive natures can participate more fully. That’s why meek, but creative people can do well in SL.
From the SLED Project:
This will break interesting ground for Second Life, and has already angered part of the virtual community, stating that it will shatter part of the illusion of the virtual world.
The most interesting aspect to me were the people who were already discussing voice masking – or creating a digital voice to match your digital persona, if you didn’t want to use your own voice. Would people be inclined to spend hours creating the perfect voice using such technology, the same way they (including me!) have spent hours creating an avatar to project their digital persona? I’ve already thought about my own digital voice print – I think I’d select the dulcet husky low tones of Ella Fitzgerald! Fred Fuchs from the SLED list already claims he has the perfect voice masking software. So I am thinking that the addition of voice will have an enormous effect, one way or the other, on our virtual identities.