Monday, 6 August 2007

First Dabblings with Voice in SL

OK, before I start, I think a confession is in order. Anyone who knows me (even vaguely) in RL will be aware that I hate telephones, and tolerate them only as a Necessary Evil, and even then it is only with great reluctance. There's something about that combination of a voice inside my head, combined with the absence of visual clues, that I find disconcerting, bordering on the distincly unpleasent. Perhaps I'd prefer it if we were all still banging rocks together - who knows?

Anyhoo, that preamble sets the context for my first foray into voice in SL. I know many of you have been vocalising on SL for weeks, or even months. But much as I espouse the virtues of Voice in SL, I have thus far avoided actual involvement myself. However, tonight I finally bowed to the inevitable. Following a request from a friend to give it a go, I thought it'd be churlish to say "no."

After some initial setup issues - which nearly left me with perforated ear-drums and permanent tinnitis - the conversation went well, and an interesting chat was had by both parties. However, I did find the experience left something to be desired.

Plus points:

  • It was quick and easy to communicate about a shared experience - such as, I dunno, looking at a sculpture. Which is good for the "immersive, collaborative" thing.
  • It added more immediacy to the interaction.
  • It allowed more information (or just "wordage" if you prefer) to be exchanged in a short time.
Minus points:
  • It seemed almost impossible to multi-task. I had a couple of IM sessions open, and these basically fell to pieces, as I found it hard to devote the necessary thought and typing effort into keeping these conversations going. The "voice in the head" was too pervasive - which is why it's illegal to use mobile phones while driving.
OK, only one minus point (so far) - but it is quite a biggy. It may be feasible to develop strategies to ameliorate the effect, but I do not believe it is just a matter of being a "voice n00b."

So moving to voice for regular interaction, am I actually limiting myself to one conversation at a time?


Zillard said...

No I don't think you have to limit yourself to one conversation at a time. I've loved using Second Life Voice but here's what I've noticed about conversations: Voice conversations in SL are a bit different from real life conversations.

In real life when you speak with someone in a more formal situation it is a bit rude to multi-task however in Second Life it is almost expected that you are doing other things while you talk to people. It's like a very casual conversation in real life while you cook dinner or something.

The pattern of speech can be a bit different in Second Life and I think you just have to get used to the flow.

Nobody Fugazi said...

Man, the IM issue is something I saw as well.

Go figure.

My problem was the ambient noise - not what is called ambient noise in the settings, but the chatter of people with poorly setup microphones.

You know, when I need to talk to people, even within SL, I've used Skype. There's a level of trust that way when people are honest about who they are.

SDC said...

I hate phones, too! Others have commented as well on the milti-tasking unfriendly nature of voice. I may do it to find out what people sound like, but that's about it.