Monday, April 16, 2012

How SL Helped Me Get Into Grad School

When I first started out in SL, the first thing I did was learn to build. I remember trying to build at the public sandbox at the Ivory Tower of Primitives (wow, is that still there?!) and it was griefed constantly. All I wanted to do was build--not get caged or tossed into the air over and over again. So annoying. So I discovered a quiet, unmolested sandbox at NCI (New Citizens Int'l) and practiced, practiced, practiced. I was more of a homeless explorer then, and spent a lot of time visiting the wonderful sims and builds of the SL world. I also spent time attending events thrown by the SL School of Architecture and visiting Architecture Island and the Wikitecture project.

Sure, I made clothes for a long time inworld, but building was always my first love. Anyone who has had to struggle for lindens knows the limitations of one's available space to build structures inworld though. To me, the clothes just funded the other. Also, lucky for me, I found the Steamlands of Caledon and Steelhead--places that appreciated great builds at a time when SL still had a LOT of tacky about it.

Recently, I decided to apply to grad school for a MA in Historic Preservation. It just felt right. I had to write a long essay as part of the admission process and with much hesitation I seriously debated mentioning one of the more recent influences on my love of preservation: Second Life.

Involvement in virtual worlds is still so often dismissed or looked upon with derision, so I wasn't sure about mentioning it at first. I took a chance. A big one. I talked about how there is a community of architects (such as the ARCH Virtual project) who use SL, Unity 3D and OpenSim as platforms to convert their CAD drawings, 3D models and blueprints to create virtual prototypes of RL projects that clients can actually walk through. I also mentioned the community of builders inworld who re-create historic buildings and how after I did so myself--with the Antelope Church in OR that I re-created and turned into the "Steelhead Museum of Historic Preservation"--I went on to join the National Trust  for Historic Preservation as a result. I felt my inworld involvement made me more aware of historic preservation efforts in RL and I hope it inspired others as well. I wasn't sure what the committee would think of those few paragraphs in what was an essay of over 8 pages, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

All I know is that I will be going back to school this summer and I couldn't be more excited! A friend once asked me if I felt I wasted my time in here. As I have said in a previous post, this quote from the artist Rodin still applies: "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."

Thanks SL!

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