An online resource for public works professionals

The Public Works Group is an online resource providing information and networking opportunities for people working in the public works field. The group also offers resources and guidance on the use of online tools and virtual worlds and how the public works field can leverage these tools.

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Second Life FAQs

Want to find out more about Second Life? Read our FAQs!

What is Second Life?

According to Linden Lab, Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 20,000,000+ people from around the globe.

 What types of things are in Second Life, and what do people do there?

 In this world are many of the same types of things that you would find in real life: houses, businesses, parks, and entertainment. Some people spend time in Second Life having fun by exploring, dancing, listening to music, shopping, and socializing with others. Others run businesses in areas of retail, media, marketing, entertainment, and gaming. And finally many educators use the unique virtual setting to present informational material and conduct training.

 How do people communicate in Second Life?

 Currently the common method of communication is typing through a chat or IM feature. However, users also have the ability to communicate through voice if they have a microphone/headphone setup. The clarity of the voice feature is incredible even if speaking to someone overseas.

 What benefits does Second Life offer an engineering/public works professional?

 The 3-D, virtual aspect of Second Life not only offers many opportunities for a more effective presentation of reference and educational material than the current Web interface, but also offers the chance for those in public works to try out their designs virtually before implementing them in real life. During the course of a day, a public works employee may need to conduct several searches over the internet to find design or product information. Many times, searching can be frustrating with some information difficult to find in a timely manner. How much easier it is at a conference setting to find the products in which you are interested and pick up related literature or discuss your project with a company rep. Second Life can offer a conference-like setting on a 24/7 basis, and you don't even have to travel across the country to get there. In Second Life, an engineer can visit the Public Works Resource Center and browse the reference information or company presentations which are categorized by product type and subject such as transportation, water, wastewater, solid waste, equipment, and buildings and grounds. You can even arrange to meet a company's sales representative in the center, and discuss your project face-to-face. Meeting rooms with Powerpoint boards offer the chance for a company representative to make a presentation to your staff. Second Life also offers the chance for an engineer to collect or purchase virtual products that represent real life objects needed for a specific project. The engineer can then build his project in Second Life, walk through it, take a photo of the result, and use this for a presentation to decision makers. For example, if you are working on a streetscape project, you can collect trees, lights, garbage cans, benches, stamped concrete or paver textures, fountains, etc., and build your project virtually. Once you settle on one or more designs, you can take photos to present your idea to others or to use for reference during your actual design. If a company offering these products is established in Second Life, you can contact them with your order. There are even cars that you can use to drive along roads you build!

 How do I collect or buy things in Second Life?

 Many residents of Second Life have created virtual items that are given away for free or for a very low cost at many locations throughout the world. Searching for "free" or "freebies" brings up numerous sites where you can travel to acquire free objects. Other residents use their creative talents to create items that they sell in their store or business. Linden Lab has created a special currency in Second Life called the Linden. One United States dollar is equivalent to about $267 Linden dollars. Items for sale are labeled with their cost, and in general, you purchase an item by clicking on it and selecting "Buy" or "Pay."

How do I get Linden dollars to buy things in Second Life?

There are many ways in Second Life to earn money. You can earn money hanging out in specific areas of the world, by working a job in Second Life, by buying and selling land, or by creating items and selling them. You can also purchase Linden dollars from the Second Life Website with your credit card.

 How can I buy land, and why would I want to?

The idea that land exists in a virtual world, has a value, and can be bought and sold is somewhat of an amazing concept. Reminiscent of the "section" of land created by the Public Land System in the United States, Linden Lab has established the "sim" or "island" which measures 256 m by 256 m and covers 65,536 m2 or about 16 acres. Usually a sim is further subdivided into smaller areas or tracts of land. Land costs vary, and can be found on the Second Life Website. Buying or renting land is important if you want to run a business or establish some type of display. Although there are some public areas where you can build objects, these are cleared on a regular basis so your creation would not remain. Usually you are not allowed to build or create objects on land owned by others.

How do I join?

 You can go to the Second Life site where you can join for free and download the software.

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