I couldn’t resist it: “Education place of the day: Globe Theater on Renaissance Island“. “The real attraction”, writes SL blogger Annette Pohlke, “you will only find when walking to the south-eastern corner of the sim: The famous Globe Theater! You can walk around, walk in, take a seat – just that is a lot of fun. … Tomorrow (June 15th) night you have the chance to watch a historical debate between Katherine of Aragon and Ann Boleyn, the first and second wife of Henry VIII.” And so, although I’d missed the aforementioned event, I had to go see the Globe.
There is no doubt at all that it is an impressive virtual reconstruction, true to the blogger’s description. And I’d be delighted, for the sheer novelty of it, to attend a performance there … I can envisage English Literature undergraduates in SL enthusiastically staging Hamlet or The Changeling.
But Renaissance Island overall left me feeling a little disappointed, intellectually uncomfortable, a tad sceptical with regard to its paedogogic value. A blend of Las Vegas and Disney World, it seemed to me a dumbed-down trivialisation of Elizabethan England, an architectural spectacle lacking the structure and content that would as it stands offer little obvious support for effective e-learning.
This takes me back to Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett’s perceptive observation that museums characteristically “ask the museum visitor to look closely at something whose value lies somewhere other than in its appearance”. The danger of Second Life is that impressive appearances may not simply interpose between the visitor and intellectual content but that the latter may be wholly sacrificed in favour of, as the blogger notes, “a lot of fun”. I almost succumbed to that temptation in building the basic CISM buildings: it was a lot of fun, but I recognise that appearance must be subordinate to e-learning content and the right kind of functionality to support engagement with that content.
Visit the Globe Theatre at: