The journey of a First Year Property Law course as we navigate and investigate SECOND LIFE through the avatar, Fizzy Soderberg.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

About Fizzy Soderberg

"Fizzy's Second Life" will document the journey of Fizzy Soderberg, an avatar that students from a first year property law course (Property A) have created to research both the phenomenon of Second Life as well as research and investigate virtual property issues as part of the requirement for the property course. I am Elizabeth Townsend Gard, the professor of the course. In this first post, I will explain our project and the format it will take.

The course consists of 100 property students at Seattle University School of Law. This is our second semester together, and so as part of our course, while we continue our traditional property topics, we are also investigating the connection of modern property to virtual property.

Each week a group of 7-9 students investigate, experience, and comment upon Second Life. The final product is a screencast. These screencasts will be posted at this site --

The goal of the screencasts are two. I want students to experience Second Life, which includes the tasks of avatar maintenance (changing Fizzy's appearance), experiencing different places and events, keeping up with the news, both inside Second Life as out, and most importantly for our course, exploring a property component.

The property question changes each week. The first, week, for example, students looked at the basic legal structure of Second Life and not surprisingly found it was a contract-based system, and not a "property" based regime. Virtual property is contract based. No one was surprised at this; it was just a place to begin. The second week students looked at finders and gifts; the third group is looking at "first in time." These last two examples are common topics for a First Year property course. The goal of this experiment is to get 1L students to apply their very basic knowledge in a different setting. Do they see elements of modern "real life" property being replicated in "virtual property?"

Second Life provides an opportunity to view how individuals, societies, groups have taken up Locke's concept of "America" as a clean slate, a place to build and dream as you wish. We, as a property class, are now exploring how people are choosing to build and dream, and whether they are adopting traditional property strategies or if Second Life is a whole new world.

My goals for the experiment -- for Fizzy -- are modest. We hope to explore property issues in a new environment. I will post the first screencast tomorrow. Another one should follow by the end of the week, and thereafter we should have about one a week for the remainder of the semester, totally about fourteen podcasts.

One final note. None of this could have been possible without the help and guidance of Rachel Goda, who has been leading, guiding and helping new students into Second Life each week. She also arranged for our first guest, Daniel Huebner from Linden Lab to come virtually to our class a couple of weeks ago to kick-off the project, which was amazing.

And so, here we go. We are asking the question -- how applicable are modern, traditional concepts of property in a virtual setting, and in particular in Second Life.

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