Leave it to Dan Parks, co-moderator of the Meetings Community listserv (aka MeCo) to build a mansion just for meeting planners in the virtual world called Second Life. Dan gave me a tour late last week, and I was blown away by all the resources he's packing into it (not to mention how well done every detail is, from oriental carpets to drapes to fountains).
When you first walk through the doors, there's a great reception area, complete with comfy-looking couches, a roaring fire, and a piano that you can actually play, even if you don't play the piano in real life. There's a training room that has a screen with full broadcast capabilities for movies, preview clips, high-definition videos, and pretty much whatever else you'd want to watch. He said they're planning to run clips from speakers in different categories, so planners can see potential speakers all in one place. Downstairs also is host to a game room (all set for poker), and a pool area that can turn into a dance floor. It also has a pretty well-stocked bar. For those of us new to Second Life, he thoughtfully has included a lovely fountain area with podiums set up around it; each podium contains details of how to do things in Second Life.
If you can get your avatar (a figure that represents you in the virtual world) to maneuver up the spiral stairs, you'll find a law library, education room with computers set up with links to sites that offer planning and hospitality education, and an industry resource room that will include links to articles and other media related to meeting planning. And don't miss the technology room, where guru Corbin Ball has set up shop. The mansion is still being worked on, but from what I could see so far, it's going to be an amazing place.
It takes a bit of time to get set up in Second Life, and if you're like me, you'll spend even more time messing around trying to get your avatar to look cuter than you do in real life, but it's free, and a lot of fun to poke around in. The MeCo mansion is in a strictly G-rated area, but do be aware that there are some seedier neighborhoods to be found in SL, so be forewarned if you want to poke around other parts of the world.
Anyway, thanks to Dan for taking the initiative, the time, the energy, and the resources to build the mansion. I hope meeting planners take advantage of it; I know I'm looking forward to a good backgammon game in Dan's office! Oh, and of course all the meetings MeCoers will be holding there.