Much of our current understanding of collaboration around objects in collaborative virtual environments comes from studies conducted in laboratories five to ten years ago. Since that time, desktop ''virtual worlds'' (VWs) have become a popular form of 3d environment and have been proposed for a variety of workplace scenarios. One popular VW, Second Life, allows its users to create and manipulate content. This provides an opportunity to compare current practices of collaboration with older research. In this paper we present the results of an investigation into collaborative building in SL. We discuss the problems our participants encountered and the techniques they used to overcome them. We present measures of camera movement and verbal reference to objects, and discuss the impact of the user interface upon these behaviors. We argue that while well-documented old problems remain very much alive, their manifestation in SL suggests new possibilities for supporting collaboration in 3d spaces.
Wadley, G.; Ducheneaut, N. The 'out-of-avatar experience': object-focused collaboration in Second Life. To be presented at the European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work; 2009 September 7-11; Vienna, Austria.