Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Second Life - A free rein to imagination

Well the first time I ever heard about Second Life, I was disillusioned and confused. And thus skirted the topic considering it as one of those silly by-product of quirky whims of some freakish developers who did not have anything more productive to do.

Well today, after having seen the numbers and the size of the players involved into this, I have reconciled myself to the burgeoning connect between the virtual and the real that is driving the world crazy.

Some facts about Second Life to get you started:

  • Inhabited by 4,095,013 people (And growing. I got added yesterday.) from 100 countries around the globe.

  • Covers an expanse of 64,000 acres of land(Virtual land).

  • There are $8 million USD in virtual transactions per month conducted between users.

  • 75% of users are buyers, 25% are sellers.

  • Anshe Chung, Second Life's most notable land baron, makes $175000 per year flipping virtual real estate.

  • 17 different universities are teaching in Second Life.

  • Second Life is growing at a rate of 15% per month.
  • IBM has acquired 24 Second Life isalnds. Other big players are General Motors, Toyota Motors, Dell, Cisco, Sun Microsystems and Reuters who have set up their establishments.

Well, you can take a breather for a minute.

So now , what is this thingy called Second Life all about and why has it caught the fancy of so many people.

Second life is exactly what it literally means, leading a second life, the only exception being, it’s all virtual. It’s a 3D digital world imagined, created and owned by its residents. Once you join Second Life, you become its resident. Before joining, you need to assume an avatar, that has your distinct personal expression. You can assume anything that you

want to under the sun. Second life gives you that unbridled freedom in giving a free reign to your creativity and imagination. This provides you with the vicarious thrill by becoming something that in the real world, you can only dream about. If you want to hang out with your friends in a garden or nightclub, you can. If you want to go shopping or fight dragons, you can.
If you want to start a business, create a game or build a skyscraper you can. It’s all up to you.

Well, for many, it might all sound familiar, if you are from the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) gaming breed. Yes it’s all the same except that, its not a game. Second Life runs a fully integrated parallel economy that gets translated to real money ($). The virtual commerce is handled with the in-world unit-of-trade called the Linden dollar. And that is what has drawn big corporate giants to cash on to this opportunity before it gets late. Shopping is a big part of the Second Life experience for many Residents. You can buy and sell anything that can be made in-world, from clothes, skins, wigs, jewelry, and custom animations for avatars, to furniture, buildings, weapons, vehicles, games, and more. Once you’re ready to bring your products to the market, it’s simply a matter of buying or sub-renting property, for opening up a shop. There are also Resident-owned malls which charge rental fees, or take a cut of your proceeds. As in the real world, the challenge is to build up a reputation that earns a steady stream of customers.

Sun Microsystems foray into Second Life

In October 2006, Sun Microsystems created a flutter, by launching its presence in Second Life and becoming the first Fortune 500 firm to hold an 'in-world' press conference at the opening of the company's new virtual Sun Pavilion. The event was hosted by Sun Chief Researcher John Gage who appeared in his avatar form and discussed the purpose and goals of Sun's foray into Second Life. He pointed to the opportunities for experimentation with new forms of communication, collaboration and economic activity in the virtual world as a driver behind the creation of Sun's new facility. Afterwards, attendees were able to tour the Sun Pavilion, which includes an outdoor theater, meeting spaces, and kiosks that exhibit videos highlighting recent Sun innovations, events and Sun customer projects.

But still, having said and read all that, there are many aspects that are very hazy in my mind:
• Can one start a restaurant business. But how, I mean what is the concept of food in a virtual world.

• What kind of society would it be inside, considering people may not be people at all. They can be dragons, sorcerers, dwarfs, or a phantom. I get crazy visualizing the possibilities. But whatever it is, it is a whole new world and thus so darn exciting.

This video should help you to get a better perspective.

To know more, visit


theaquarian Thursday, March 01, 2007 3:33:00 AM  

An excellent piece of writing that compelled me to check out and register at Second Life.

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