Written 1 March, 2007
Voice in Second Life
Linden Lab has announced that sometime during the second quarter, Second Life residents will have the option of speech.
We will be able to speak, and our voices will be projected onto the grid, and we will (if we want) be able to hear others.
The Linden blog explains speech will be an option (i.e., residents can turn it off) and that it will not significantly affect grid performance, as it will apparently be streamed from other servers—nor, Linden says, will it significantly affect the performance of residents’ ISP stream or their client-side SL performance.
Speech will be localized, meaning it will be located in three dimensional space, which means it will vary with distance. The speech of an avatar to your left will come from your left, and if she is far away, her voice will be faint (although she can shout).
To me, this seems a tremendous benefit, especially since there will almost certainly be an option to turn speech off. It will open worlds of new possibilities.
Just think. Second Life karaoke.
Better yet, DON’T think about it.
A reading of the some five hundred responses on the Linden blog reveals many residents are dead set against speech, prophesizing a splitting of the community and disenfranchisement of avatars who choose not to speak (and a real shakeup of the escort business!). Some are on the verge of hysterial.
I’m quite sure those who choose not to speak will find themselves ignored or even ridiculed. And I’m sure many of those who are playing opposite-sex avatars, those who have speech impediments, those with heavy accents, non-English speakers, and people who just communicate better in writing will have a heavy go of it.
But there’s a flip side.
Those who DON’T write well—those with dyslexia, those who are unable to translate their thoughts into coherent written sentences, and those who are just plain poor spellers are already discriminated against.
In real life, I have a friend who is so severely dyslexic her e-mails and bulletin board posts bring her ridicule and scorn from those who ordinarily never knowingly discriminate. I don’t think they even realize they ARE discriminating. I’m sure the same occurs in SL. In fact, it may account for a significant proportion of those who try and quickly drop SL.
I say bravo, Linen Lab.
And for those who are worried, I imagine this will sort itself out.