Surprising Research Results

Unlike other countries in Europe, Portugal is at odds with the rest of their European partners. The Portuguese love technology; however, with the same strong feeling, they hate to pay for it. Windows is routinely pirated; open source solutions displace proprietary software on the public institutions; the Internet is accessed from universities or offices because people don’t want to pay for access — intercepting open wireless access points is routinely done and people brag about it publicly. Second Life was only adopted when it became free to join. The Portuguese mistrust credit cards and would never use the Internet to buy anything — which also means that there are practically no Premium accounts: everybody is a basic account, with a few exceptions, like Aral Levitt — our local equivalent of Anshe Chung and the richest Portuguese in SL — although she has only five sims 🙂 (and of course she’s the sweetest in person!)

This also means that universities here have no funds for anything (except salaries). The professors and researchers, however, are very creative — except for University of Aveiro, who managed, with a huge internal collaboration effort, scrap up enough money to build their island (the buildings were done by five talented students supervised by three teachers), the other research institutes have to pay for their land out of their own pocket. The University of Oporto uses a room on a popular mall; the Univerisity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro rents a skybox from Anshe Chung; the University of Rio Maior uses one of the social areas of the University of Aveiro (their soccer field!) to do their in-world classes… other universities use sandboxes, rotate among public places, ask people to lend their small classrooms or public auditoriums, and so on.

They’re very, very creative in getting their students — from grad school to masterships to doctorships – in-world, teach their classes, have them work in SL, and publish the results in spite of all difficulties. The teachers and researchers are stubborn, energetic, and very positive about Second Life — nothing will make them stop, not even lack of funding!

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