There are many ways to connect in the virtual world. You can use social networking sites to find collaborators and friends, publish research articles, and build your reputation. However, user accounts on most systems are searchable, and nothing is truly confidential.
On a recent trip to the ACS Booth on Drexel Island in Second Life (SL), I encountered many different people/avatars. The experience was fairly mundane, like walking down the sidewalk in any seaport community around the country. Palm trees rustled in the gentle breeze and the sound of ocean waves breaking in the background could be heard. What made it different was that I didn’t know who anyone was. Everyone in SL has an alias. Mine is “Lussac Merlin”.
Lussac Merlin in Second Life
Using an alias can give people a sense of anonymity emboldening them to step out on the wild side. In most cases this is okay, but since you don’t really know who you are talking to most of the time, or who might be viewing your avatar, it is best to mind your manners online as well as off. Life has a funny way of introducing you to the same people time and time again.
Another differentiation from first life is that people in SL can fly and teleport from one place to another. This is especially important when you are late for a meeting. I have an appointment with Kate Sellar, a.k.a. “Finola Graves”. She is giving me an introduction to SL career fairs. At the present time, there is not much available to job seekers in SL, but that is starting to change.
Finola Graves in Second Life
Manpower, a staffing agency, has set up shop in SL, and is offering placement services for virtual job seekers. Employment options in SL include real estate, architecture, sales, marketing, design, couture, and consulting. There are also small business owners running stores, bards, dance clubs and more. Job opportunities related to chemistry are still in short supply. One of the few money-making opportunities for scientists is The NanoLands Challenge from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL). They are offering $400 or $700 to build projects illustrating nanoscience or nanotechnology.
Kate has introduced me to Andrew Lang, a.k.a. “Hiro Sheridan”, who is a mathematics professor at Oral Roberts University. He is also a consultant in SL. His specialty is building objects with scientific meaning or function. For example, he has built a couple of varieties of molecular rezzers and has also created ACS virtual objects including an ACS t-shirt, lab safety goggles and an interactive 3-D Periodic Table. (Contact Finola Graves in-world if you’d like these freebies.)
Hiro Sheridan standing in front of a 3-D Periodic Table
Jean-Claude Bradley, a.k.a. “Horace Moody”, is an organic chemistry professor at Drexel University. In SL, he is also a professor in SL. On Drexel Island, you can watch clips from his lectures, take practice quizzes, or look at 3-D molecular models. On the day I visited, Jean-Claude was not there, but a couple of his students were. Tucked away in virtual kiosks, they were studying conformational isomers of 1-bromopropane.
Organic Chemistry class on Drexel Island
ACS is currently building an island in SL, but it is not open for business yet. If you have questions or would like to join the SL ACS group, please contact Finola Graves in-world.
This article was written by David Harwell, Ph.D., assistant director of the ACS Department of Career Management and Development.