Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Web Secret #94: Second Life

I feel that writing a blog post about Second Life (SL) is long overdue. But I have been trying to get a solid grasp of this immense alternative universe - not an easy endeavor.

Definition please:
SL is an Internet accessible virtual world developed by Linden Lab, and launched in 2003. For most early adopters, SL was an adults only sophisticated video game where socialization and fantasy were primary objectives. Think Renaissance Fair on the web. At the entry level, SL is free and enables its users to interact with each other through avatars. Your avatar is a three dimensional representation of yourself in the virtual world. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world.

By 2010, SL has developed two quite distinct groups of users. The first group consists of thousands of people who are "inworld" primarily for a virtual "eHarmony" type of experience, often eager to act out in various inappropriate ways. Seekers of the perverse and the pathological can access a cornucopia of sketchy and skewed experiences.

The second group are the business users. And they are behind a mind blowing evolution of virtual possibilities. Hosts of major corporations have bought virtual property, and constructed buildings where they demonstrate products, meet with clients, and collaborate on work projects. Colleges and universities have developed virtual campuses where they offer free courses, and promote their educational offerings.

As an example, check out the Ohio University Second Life campus:

Right now the graphics and animations in SL are primitive compared to say James Cameron's Avatar. But I have no doubt that faster than I can imagine, SL will look more and more like real life.

But you are not a major corporation, or an institution of higher learning. What can SL do for you?

Tune in to next week's post and find out.

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