Second Life

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Second Life

Developer(s) Linden Research, Inc
Engine Proprietary, free, and open source software
Physics: Havok 4
Audio: FMOD
Microsoft Windows
Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher)
Linux i686
Release date(s) June 23, 2003
Media Download
System requirements
Input methods Keyboard, Mouse, Gamepad but minimum movement, 3Dconnexion Space Navigator.

Second Life (SL) is a virtual world developed by Linden Lab that launched on June 23, 2003 and is accessible via the Internet. A free client program called the Second Life Viewer enables its users, called Residents, to interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade virtual property and services with one another, or travel throughout the world, which residents refer to as the grid. Second Life caters for users aged over eighteen, while its sister site Teen Second Life is reserved to users aged between thirteen and seventeen.

Built into the software is a three dimensional modeling tool based around simple geometric shapes that allows a resident to build virtual objects. This can be used in combination with the Linden Scripting Language which can be used to add functionality to objects. More complex three dimensional Sculpted prims (colloquially known as sculpties), textures for clothing or other objects, and animations and gestures can be created using external software. The Second Life Terms of Service ensure that users retain copyright for any content they create, and the server and client provide simple digital rights management functions.


[edit] History

In 1999, Philip Rosedale formed Linden Lab. His initial focus was on the development of hardware that would enable computer users to be fully immersed in a three hundred and sixty degree virtual world experience. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of the hardware, known as "The Rig", which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer monitors that users could wear on their shoulders.[1] That vision soon morphed into the software application Linden World, in which users could participate in task based games and socialization in a three dimensional online environment. That effort would eventually transform into the better known, user centered Second Life.[citation needed] Although he was familiar with the metaverse of Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, Rosedale has said that his vision of virtual worlds predates that book, and that he conducted some early virtual world experiments during his college years at the University of California San Diego, where he studied physics.[2]

On December 11, 2007, Cory Ondrejka, who helped develop the program Second Life, resigned as chief technology officer.

In January 2008, residents spent a total of 28,274,505 hours "inworld", and, on average, 38,000 residents were logged in at any particular moment.[3]

On March 14, 2008, Philip Rosedale announced plans to step down from his position as Linden Lab CEO and to become chairman of Linden Lab's board of directors.[4] Rosedale announced Mark Kingdon as the new CEO effective May 15, 2008.[citation needed]

In September 2008, just over 15 million accounts were registered, although there are no reliable figures for actual long term consistent usage.

In 2008, Second Life was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the development of online sites with user-generated content. Philip Rosedale, President of Linden Lab, accepted the award.[5]

[edit] Classification

During a 2001 meeting with investors, Rosedale noticed that the participants were particularly responsive to the collaborative, creative potential of Second Life. As a result, the initial objective driven, gaming focus of Second Life was shifted to a more user created, community driven experience.[6][7]

Second Life's status as a virtual world, a computer game, or a talker, is frequently debated. Unlike a traditional computer game, Second Life does not have a designated objective, nor traditional game play mechanics or rules. As it does not have any stipulated goals it is irrelevant to talk about winning or losing in relation to Second Life. Likewise, unlike a traditional talker, Second Life contains an extensive world that can be explored and interacted with, and it can be used purely as a creative toolset if the user so chooses. However, the vast majority of users use Second Life primarily as an entertainment medium,[citation needed] and for most of them the ability to interact with other users is critical to that.[citation needed] "Clubs" where users engage in generic chat, and sexually themed areas, are consistently the most populated.[citation needed]

[edit] Residents and avatars

There is no charge to create a Second Life account or for making use of the world for any period of time. Linden Lab reserves the right to charge for the creation of large numbers of multiple accounts for a single person[8] but at present does not do so. A Premium membership (US$9.95 per month) facilitates access to an increased level of technical support, and provides a stipend of L$300/week.

Avatars may take any form the user chooses, animal, vegetable or mineral, including being made to resemble the person whom they represent.[9] A single Resident account may have only one avatar at a time, although the appearance of this avatar can change between as many different forms as the Resident wishes. A single person may also have multiple accounts, and thus appear to be multiple Residents (a person's multiple accounts are referred to as alts).

Avatars can communicate via local chat or global instant messaging (known as IM). Chatting is used for localized public conversations between two or more avatars, and is visible to any avatar within a given distance. IMs are used for private conversations, either between two avatars, or among the members of a group, or even between objects and avatars. Unlike chatting, IM communication does not depend on the participants being within a certain distance of each other. As of version, voice chat, both local and IM, is also available on both the main grid[10] and teen grid, using technology licensed by Vivox,[11] a provider of similar services to other MMO worlds.

Instant Messages may optionally be sent to a Resident's email when the Resident is logged off, although message length is limited to 4096 bytes.[12]

[edit] Economy

Second Life has an internal currency, the Linden dollar (L$). L$ can be used to buy, sell, rent or trade land or goods and services with other users. Virtual goods include buildings, vehicles, devices of all kinds, animations, clothing, skin, hair, jewelry, flora and fauna, and works of art. Services include "camping", wage labor, business management, entertainment and custom content creation (which can be broken up into the following 6 categories: building, texturing, scripting, animating, art direction, and the position of producer/project funder). L$ can be purchased using US Dollars and other currencies on the LindeX exchange provided by Linden Lab, independent brokers[13] or other users. Money obtained from currency sales is most commonly used to pay Second Life's own subscription and tier fees; only a relatively small number of users earn large amounts of money from the world. According to figures published by Linden Labs, about 64.000 users made a profit in Second Life in February 2009[14]. Profits are derived from selling virtual goods, renting land, and a broad range of services. In March 2009, it has become known that there exist a few Second Life entrepreneurs, whose profits exceed 1 million US$ per year[15].

Some companies generate US dollar earnings from services provided in Second Life. Examples are,[16] Rivers Run Red[17] and Beta Technologies.[18] This opportunity is extending to normal residents and non-Second Life users via affiliate programs.[19] The total value of these transactions has not been calculated but in 2008 consultancy firms Rivers Run Red and Electric Sheep have reported annual revenues of $6 million.

[edit] Localization

In 2007, Brazil became the first country to have its own independently-run portal to Second Life, operated by an intermediary—although the actual Second Life grid accessed through the Brazilian portal is the same as that used by the rest of the worldwide customer base. The portal, called "Mainland Brazil", is run by Kaizen Games, making Kaizen the first partner in Linden's "Global Provider Program".[20] In October 2007, Linden Lab signed a second "Global Provider Program" with T-Entertainment Co., LTD., Seoul, Korea and T-Entertainment's portal called "SERA Korea" serves as a gateway to Second Life Grid. Previously, starting in late 2005, Linden Lab had opened and run their own welcome area portals and regions for German, Korean and Japanese language speakers.[21]

Public chat within the world supports many different written languages and character sets, providing the ability for people to chat in their native language. Several resident-created translation devices provide machine translation of public chat (using various online translation services), allowing for easy communication between residents that speak different languages.

[edit] Land ownership

Premium membership allows the Resident to own land, with the first 512m² free of the usual monthly Land Use Fee (referred to by residents as Tier, because it is charged in tiers). There is no upper limit on tier; at the highest level, the user pays US$195 for their first 65536m², and then US$97.50 per each additional 32768m² of land.[22] Any land must first be purchased from either Linden Lab or a private seller.

There are four types of land regions; Mainland, Private Region, Homestead and Openspace. A region comprises an area of 65536m² (16.1943 acres) in area, being 256 meters on each side. Mainland regions form one continuous land mass, while Private regions are islands. Openspace regions may be either Mainland or Private, but have lower prim limits and traffic use levels than Mainland regions. The owners of a Private region enjoy access to some additional controls that are not available to mainland owners, for example they have a greater ability to alter the shape of the land. Residents must own a region (either Mainland or Private) to qualify for purchasing an Openspace region.

Linden Lab usually sells only complete 65536m² (16.1943 acres) regions at auction (although smaller parcels are auctioned on occasion, typically land parcels abandoned by users who have left). Once a Resident buys land they may resell it freely and use it for any purpose that it is not prohibited by the Second Life Terms of Service.

Residents may also choose to purchase, or rent, land from another Resident (a Resident landlord) rather than from Linden Lab. On a Private region, the built in land selling controls allow the landlord to sell land in the region to another Resident while still retaining some control. Residents purchasing, or renting, land from any other party than Linden Lab are not required to hold a Premium membership nor to necessarily pay a Tier fee, although typically the landlord will require some form of upfront and/or monthly fee to compensate them for their liability to pay the Land Use Fee charged by Linden Lab. However Linden Lab acknowledges only the landlord as the owner of the land, and will not intervene in disputes between Residents. This means, for example, that a landlord can withdraw a Resident's land from availability, without refunding their money, and Linden Lab will not arbitrate in the dispute.

[edit] Fee schedule

Second Life General Fees
Fee Benefit
Free Sign Up, Avatar Creation, Login ID, Access, Participation
US$1 266 Linden Dollars (variable) - brokered purchase; may go to LL or a resident seller
US$0.30 per transaction fee for buying Linden Dollars on Lindex currency exchange
3.5% of transaction value per transaction fee for selling Linden Dollars on Lindex currency exchange
US$9.99/month Premium membership (512 m² mainland, access to higher mainland ranges as below, 300 Linden Dollars per week, access to live and ticket support)
US$125/month Land as below, plus Concierge service (live support access)
US$150 Island relocation
US$50 Island rename
US$100 Island interuser transfer (includes relocation and renaming)
US$500 plus 20 premium memberships Unique avatar surname for an organization
Second Life Land Use Fees[23]
Monthly Land Fee Additional Land Parcel Size (m2) Max Prims
US$5 1/128 Mainland Region 512 117
US$8 1/64 Mainland Region 1024 234
US$15 1/32 Mainland Region 2048 468
US$25 1/16 Mainland Region 4096 937
US$40 1/8 Mainland Region 8192 1875
US$75 1/4 Mainland Region 16,384 3750
US$75 OpenSpace 65,536 750
US$125 1/2 Mainland Region 32,768 7500
US$95* Homestead 65,536 3750
US$195 1 Mainland Region 65,536 15,000
+US$95 +1/2 Mainland Region (when already at US$195 level) 32,768 7500
US$195 Private Island on pre-2007 server technology (second hand purchase only) 65,536 15,000
US$295 Private Island on current server technology 65,536 15,000
  • Homestead regions will go up to $125 in July.

For Mainland fees, the fee determines only the area of land available; the number of prims available is determined by the land itself. The values shown above are the norm but some rare mainland regions offer more prims in the same land area. For non-mainland fees, the fee sets both the land area and the prim count.

[edit] Technology

Second Life comprises the viewer (also known as the client) executing on the user's personal computer, and several thousand servers operated by Linden Lab.

[edit] Client

Linden Lab provides official viewers for Microsoft Windows 2000 / XP, Mac OS X, and most distributions of Linux. A third-party version is available for Solaris and OpenSolaris. The viewer renders 3D graphics using the OpenGL technology. Since the viewer is open source,[24][25] users may recompile it to create their own custom viewers; modified viewer software is available from third parties. The most popular is the Nicholaz Edition;[26] this viewer, produced by Nicholaz Beresford, includes bug fixes developed outside Linden Lab that are not yet included in the Linden Lab code. The Electric Sheep Company has introduced the OnRez Viewer,[27] which makes substantial changes to the design of the user interface. ShoopedLife is a Second Life client that generates randomized hardware details and sends them to the Second Life server as part of the login, rendering the user anonymous, save for their IP address.[28]

An independent project, libsecondlife,[29] offers a function library for interacting with Second Life servers. libsecondlife has been used to create non-graphic third party viewers, including SLEEK,[30] a text browser using.NET, and Ajaxlife,[30] a text viewer that runs in a web browser and TextSL [31] a text client inspired by the Zork adventure game that allows the visually impaired to access Second Life using a Screenreader.

In February 2008[32] a partnership between Linden Lab and Vollee was announced. In May,[33] Vollee launched an open Beta trial for a Second Life mobile application that lets Residents travel and communicate in-world by logging in from a handset using an existing account. The service, introduced for free, requires downloading a thin client to a 3G or Wi-Fi enabled handset.

A special beta client is available, which is updated very regularly, and is used for constant software testing by volunteers. The beta client connects to a "beta grid" which consists of a limited number of regions mirrored at regular intervals from the real grid. The mirroring process overwrites any changes made on the beta grid, and thus actions taken within it are not stored by the servers; it is for testing purposes only. Every few months, the standard software is replaced by the beta-grid software, intended as a big upgrade. The Second Life user-base is growing rapidly, and this has stimulated both social and technological changes to the world; the addition of new features also provides periodic boosts to the growth of the economy.

[edit] Server

Each region in the Second Life "grid" runs on a single core of a multi-core server, running proprietary software on Debian Linux. These servers run scripts in the region, as well as providing communication between avatars and objects present in the region.

Every item in the Second Life universe is referred to as an asset. This includes the shapes of the 3D objects known as primitives, the digital images referred to as textures that decorate primitives, digitized audio clips, avatar shape and appearance, avatar skin textures, LSL scripts, information written on notecards, and so on. Each asset is referenced with a universally unique identifier or UUID.[34]

Assets are stored on Isilon Systems storage clusters,[35] comprising all data that has ever been created by anyone who has been in the SL world. Infrequently used assets are offloaded to S3 bulk storage.[36]As of December 2007, the total storage was estimated to consume 100 terabytes of server capacity.[37] The asset servers function independently of the region simulators, though the region simulators request object data from the asset servers when a new object loads into the simulator.[citation needed]

Each server instance runs a physics simulation to manage the collisions and interactions of all objects in that region. Objects can be nonphysical and non moving, or actively physical and movable. Complex shapes may be linked together in groups of up to 255 separate primitives. Additionally, each player's avatar is treated as a physical object so that it may interact with physical objects in the world.[38] As of 1 April 2008 (2008 -04-01), Second Life simulators use the Havok 4 physics engine for all in-world dynamics. This engine is capable of simulating thousands of physical objects at once.[39]

Linden Lab pursues the use of open standards technologies, and uses free and open source software such as Apache, MySQL, Squid and Linux.[40] The plan is to move everything to open standards by standardizing the Second Life protocol. Cory Ondrejka, former CTO[41] of Second Life, has stated that a while after everything has been standardized, both the client and the server will be released as free and open source software.[42]

[edit] OpenSimulator

In January 2007, OpenSimulator was founded as an open source simulator project. The aim of this project is to develop a full open source server software for Second Life clients. OpenSIM is BSD Licensed and it is written in C# and can run under Mono environment. The community is fast growing and there are some existing alternative Second Life grids[43] which are using OpenSimulator.

[edit] Criticism and controversy

[edit] Bragg v. Linden Lab

In 2006, attorney Marc Bragg initiated a lawsuit against Linden Lab, claiming that they had illegally deprived him of access to his account[44] after he discovered a loophole in the online land auction system which allowed regions to be purchased at prices below reserve. Although most users and commentators believed that Bragg would have no chance of winning, a number of legal developments occurred as a result of the case, including a court ruling that parts of the Second Life Terms of Service were unenforceable, due to being an unconscionable contract of adhesion.[45] The case eventually ended with Bragg's land and account being restored to him in a confidential out-of-court settlement.[46] As such, a settlement created no precedent and thus left users with confusion as to what legal rights they truly had with respect to their virtual land, items, and account. Many of Bragg's legal arguments rested on the claim—advertised on Linden Lab web site—that virtual land within Second Life could be "owned" by the purchasing user, which was removed shortly after the settlement,[47] leading to speculation that this was part of the reason for the settlement.[48]

[edit] Regulation

In the past, large portions of the Second Life economy comprised businesses that are now regulated or banned. Changes to Second Life's Terms of Service in this regard have largely had the purpose of bringing activity within Second Life into compliance with various international laws, even though the person running the business may be in full compliance with the law in his own country. Typically, Linden Lab offer no compensation for businesses that are damaged or destroyed by these rule changes, which can render significant expenditure or effort worthless.

On July 26, 2007, Linden Lab announced a ban on in-world gambling, in fear that new regulations on internet gambling could affect Linden Lab if it was permitted to continue. The ban was immediately met with in-world protests.[49]

In August 2007, a $750,000 in-world bank called Ginko Financial collapsed due to a bank run triggered by Linden Lab's ban on gambling, which halved the size of the Second Life economy. The aftershocks of this collapse caused severe liquidity problems for other virtual "banks," which critics[who?] had long asserted were scams. On Tuesday, January 8, 2008 Linden Lab announced the upcoming prohibition of payment of fixed interest on cash deposits in unregulated banking activities in-world.[50] All banks without real-world charters closed or converted to virtual joint stock companies on January 22, 2008.[51] After the ban, a few companies continue to offer non-interest bearing deposit accounts to residents, such as the e-commerce site OnRez, and Ancapistan Capital Exchange, which had already adopted a zero-interest policy three months prior to the LL interest ban.

[edit] Technical issues

Due to Second Life's rapid growth rate, it has suffered from difficulties related to system instability. These include system lag, and intermittent client crashes. However, more disturbing faults are caused by the system's use of an "asset server" cluster, on which the actual data governing objects is stored separately from the areas of the world and the avatars that use those objects. The communication between the main servers and the asset cluster appears to constitute a bottleneck which frequently causes problems.[52][53][54] Typically, when asset server downtime is announced, users are advised not to build, manipulate objects, or engage in business, leaving them with little to do but chat and generally reducing confidence in all businesses on the grid.

A more disturbing fault, believed to be caused by the same issue, is "inventory loss"[55][56][57] in which items in a user's inventory, including those which have been paid for, can disappear without warning or permanently enter a state where they will fail to appear in world when requested (giving an "object missing from database" error). Linden Lab offers no compensation for items that are lost in this way, and will not even record the data for debugging purposes if the user is not a Premium subscriber;[58] although many in-world businesses will attempt to compensate for this or restore items, they are under no obligation to do so and not all are able to do so.

Second Life functions by streaming all data to the user live over the Internet with minimal local caching of frequently used data. The user is expected to have a minimum of 300 kilobits of Internet bandwidth for basic functionality, with 1000 kilobit providing better performance. Due to the proprietary communications protocols, it is not possible to use a network proxy/caching service to reduce network load when many people are all using the same location, such as when used for group activities in a school or business.

[edit] Alternate accounts

The policy allowing the easy creation of multiple accounts by the same real person is alleged to have resulted in degraded system performance, and increased incidence of griefing. In addition, several users argued that the ability for single real individual to create an unlimited number of accounts for free had the effect of highly exaggerating the "residence" figures, pointing out that the actual activity of the board was roughly nine percent of the claimed residency figures, with paying membership below two percent. Blogs and forum posts regularly allege exaggerated membership and performance claims.[59][60]

[edit] Fraud and intellectual property protection

Although Second Life's client and server incorporate Digital Rights Management technology, the visual data of an object must ultimately be sent to the client in order for it to be drawn; thus unofficial third-party clients can bypass them. One such program, CopyBot, was developed in 2006 as a debugging tool to enable objects to be backed up, but was immediately hijacked for use in copying objects; additionally, programs that generally attack client-side processing of data, such as GLIntercept, can copy certain pieces of data. Such use is prohibited under the Second Life TOS [61] and may be prosecuted under the DMCA.

However, Linden Lab may ban a user who is observed using CopyBot or a similar client, but they will not ban a user simply for uploading or even selling copied content; in this case, Linden Lab's enforcement of intellectual property law is limited to that required by the "safe harbor" provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires filing a real-life lawsuit. Although a few high-profile businesses in Second Life have filed such lawsuits,[62] the majority of businesses in Second Life do not make enough money for a lawsuit to be worthwhile, or due to real-life work commitments cannot devote enough time to complete one; thus, they are effectively unprotected.

There have also been issues with the use of false DMCA takedown notices.[63] Once a DMCA takedown notice is served, reversing it requires an individual to expose their personal information to the filer (filing a notice does not require this); for the penalty of perjury to be enacted, a lawsuit is required. In addition, the technical process of removal and re-instatement of content on Second Life is subject to failure which can result in content becoming unusable to its owner. This does not effectively prevent content theft; a thief who is subject to a DMCA takedown notice will not challenge it, but will simply create a new account and re-upload the content, often releasing it with all permissions available to maximize propagation "in revenge".

Most users in the world as paying, private individuals are, likewise, effectively unprotected. Common forms of fraud taking place in-world include bogus investment and pyramid schemes, fake or hacked vendors, and failure to honor land rental agreements. Some residents have claimed that there is also a high incidence of sales of content to users unaware of its value (for example, weapons which would require the buyer to own a private island, as firing them in any other area would violate the terms of service; or avatars which appear to represent advanced roles but which, in reality, are nothing more than party costumes due to the inability to support those roles in a world with free social behaviour).

[edit] OpenSpaces

Linden Lab, for a long period, offered OpenSpace regions to users: regions which were purchased in packs of 4, with all 4 running on a single CPU core, intended to be placed next to an existing region to create the effect of larger size. The fee for 4 OpenSpaces was identical to that for a single private region. However, in March 2008, this rule was modified to permit OpenSpaces to be bought individually and placed elsewhere, as well as increasing the prim load each one could handle. OpenSpaces were made available for a US$415 downpayment plus a US$75 monthly fee. (The equivalent monthly fee on Mainland would buy one quarter of a region, with the same number of prims, in less space.) This deal was so attractive that it quickly redefined land usage on the grid, with many resident land dealers purchasing or converting existing land to OpenSpaces; residents also began to use OpenSpaces for multiple purposes, including housing, for which they appeared to run well, but which were against the published guidelines for usage of the product.

In October 2008 Linden Lab announced that the OpenSpaces being used for this purpose were being misused; there was in fact no technical throttle limiting their usage, so the apparent "running well" had been achieved by taking resources from the OpenSpaces on the same CPU core. This was the first time that LL had commented on the issue. No apparent attempt had been made to resolve the technical problems being caused by the popularity of the product. Linden Lab raised the monthly fee per OpenSpace to US$125, the same cost as half a region; added an avatar limit of 20; and renamed it to Homestead. This reversed the perceived benefits of owning such a sim (the fee equivalent, half a region, would have half the space but twice as many prims, and no avatar or script limits).

A week after the initial announcement, and following a widespread revolt, Linden Labs also stated its intention to add technical limits, though these are yet to be announced. A revised Openspace product, with far fewer prims, a no-residency rule, and costing the same monthly amount, was announced; in the opinion of some owners, this reversed the previous value situation, offering four times the space of the mainland equivalent but with a significant prim reduction (the new OpenSpaces had only the prim allowance of 1/20 of a region) and a 10 avatar limit. The LL forums indicate that many regions are set to close in January 2009 and it is likely LL will see a considerable shrinkage in land, income, and avatar use over the coming quarter.

This new policy has resulted in protests in welcome areas, help islands, and other official Linden regions, at Linden Lab staff 'office hours' events, and the formation of advocacy groups. Some users were banned by Linden Lab for using the protests to block new avatars from logging in via the help islands. The primary protest group,[citation needed] +SOS+ (Save our OpenSpaces) has organized as a 501c3 Non-Profit in Iowa as The Grid Representation Foundation to operate as an advocate for avatar rights and to pursue possible legal remedies for what is seen by group members as illegal action in the Openspace policy.

[edit] Marketing

Second Life has been attacked for the use of various marketing techniques, which are frequently seen as dishonest. These include:

  • Manipulation of user count statistics to make the world seem more popular than it is. This includes counting multiple avatars created by the same real person as separate accounts, never removing accounts from the database, no matter how long they have been idle, counting accounts which are created for free and which never pay any money into the game equally with those that do, and implementing in-world systems which encourage the creation of bogus extra accounts (for example, "traffic bots" which simply remain stationary in a store, causing the system to rank the store as popular because there are people there).[64][65]
  • Over-emphasis of minority groups. The marketing of Second Life frequently focuses on particular groups (money earners, live musicians, corporate networkers) who represent a tiny minority in the actual world, while at the same time being heavy handed in restricting the commercial opportunities LL has attracted those same people to SL to engage in.[citation needed]
  • Vagueness about what is prohibited. The Second Life home page and other publications by Linden Labs are extremely vague about what activities can and cannot be done in Second Life. Although ostensibly this is necessary because residents may create entirely new activities which Linden Labs could not have predicted, it is alleged that this is a deliberate technique to fool users into logging in and spending time and money pursuing activities that may initially appear to be possible but in fact are not. The slogan, "Your World, Your Imagination" further suggests a degree of control over the world that does not in fact exist.[citation needed]

[edit] Separate grids

In Second Life, there are two separate grids (one is for teens 13-17, one is for adults 18 or over). When a teen turns 18, they are transferred to the main (adult) grid. Linden Lab has received controversy for the lack of integration between teens and adults. Parents protest that they cannot be on the grid together with their teenage children, and companies cannot market to both teens and adults in SL even if their products have universal appeal. Teen grid residents such as Ubuntu Houston and Daniel Voyager have spoken out in favor of merging the two grids with certain limitations to protect minors from adult content and predators on the main grid. This grid merge is widely supported by teen grid residents, although some also oppose it. Linden Lab employees (known as "Lindens") have also been in favor of merging the grids, most notably Blue Linden, former teen grid manager.

On 19 January 2009 Linden Lab, Philip Linden related (in an interview with Metanomics) an intent to merge the two grids into one. This immediately attracted uproar on SL's private forums, largely from residents who feared they would be required to use the unpopular age verification system, and would be permanently under threat of a false sex-related allegation or lawsuit by a teenager or their parents.

[edit] Applications

[edit] Education

Second Life is used as a platform for education by many institutions, such as colleges, universities, libraries and government entities. There are over one hundred regions used for educational purposes covering subjects such as chemistry[66] and English.[67][68] Instructors and researchers in Second Life favor it because it is more personal than traditional distance learning.[69] Research has uncovered development, teaching and/or learning activities which use Second Life in over 80 percent of UK universities.[70] At least 300 universities around the world teach courses or conduct research in SL.[71] New educational institutions have also emerged that operate exclusively within Second Life,[72] taking advantage of the platform to deliver a high quality service to a world wide audience at low cost.[73]

Info Islands uses library programming sponsored by the Illinois' Alliance Library System and OPAL currently offered online to librarians and library users within Second Life. Another virtual continent called SciLands is devoted to science and technology education. While initially centered around the International Spaceflight Museum, it now hosts a number of organizations including NASA, NOAA, NIH, JPL, NPR, National Physical Laboratory, UK, and a host of other government agencies, universities, and museums. In December 2008, the United States Air Force launched MyBase, a Second Life island overseen by the Air Education and Training Command.[74] Second Life has also been adopted for foreign language training,[75] the first to do so was in 2005[76] with schools such as the British Council (focused on the Teen Grid), the Instituto Cervantes,, and the Goethe Institut. The annual conference SLanguages is dedicated to language learning in Second Life.

Second Life's usefulness as a platform for pre-K–12 education is limited due to the age restrictions on the main grid and the difficulties of collaborating among various educational projects on the teen grid. New approaches to fostering collaboration on the teen grid, such as the Virtual World Campus, offer some hope of overcoming some of these obstacles. For now, however, the primary utility of Second Life for pre-K–12 education is in the education and professional development of teachers and school librarians. Still, K–12 educators use Second Life to meet each other and to create objects and structures that help them develop curriculum, as does with its Sustainability Energy Science Lab.

[edit] Religion

Religious organizations have also begun to open virtual meeting places within Second Life. In early 2007,, a Christian church headquartered in Edmond, Oklahoma, and with eleven campuses in the USA, created "Experience Island" and opened its twelfth campus in Second Life.[77] The church reported "We find that this creates a less-threatening environment where people are much more willing to explore and discuss spiritual things".[citation needed] In July 2007, an Anglican cathedral[78] was established in Second Life; Mark Brown, the head of the group that built the cathedral, noted that there is "an interest in what I call depth, and a moving away from light, fluffy Christianity".[79]

Egyptian owned news website Islam Online has purchased land in Second Life to allow Muslims and non-Muslims alike to perform the ritual of Hajj in virtual reality form, obtaining experience before actually making the pilgrimage themselves in person.[80]

[edit] Embassies

The Maldives was the first country to open an embassy in Second Life.[81][82] The Maldives' embassy is located on Second Life's "Diplomacy Island", where visitors will be able to talk face-to-face with a computer-generated ambassador about visas, trade and other issues. "Diplomacy Island" also hosts Diplomatic Museum and Diplomatic Academy. The Island is established by DiploFoundation as part of the Virtual Diplomacy Project.[83]

In May 2007,[84] Sweden became the second country to open an embassy in Second Life. Run by the Swedish Institute, the embassy serves to promote Sweden's image and culture, rather than providing any real or virtual services.[85] The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, stated on his blog that he hoped he would get an invitation to the grand opening.[86]

In September 2007, Publicis Group announced the project of creating a Serbia island as a part of a project Serbia Under Construction. The project is officially supported by Ministry of Diaspora of Serbian Government. It was stated that the island will feature Nikola Tesla Museum, Guča trumpet festival and Exit festival.[87] It was also planned on opening a virtual info terminals of Ministry of Diaspora.[88]

On Tuesday December 4, 2007, Estonia became the third country to open an embassy in Second Life.[89][90] In September 2007, Colombia and Serbia opened an Embassy.[91] As of 2008, Macedonia and the Philippines have opened Embassies in the "Diplomatic Island" of Second Life.[92] In 2008, Albania opened an Embassy in the Nova Bay location. SL Israel was inaugurated in January 2008 in an effort to showcase Israel to a global audience, though without any connection to official Israeli diplomatic channels.[93]

Malta and the African country Djibouti are also planning to open virtual missions in Second Life.[94]

[edit] Live sport entertainment

Popular forms of live entertainment have been making their appearance in Second Life. Many sports have appeared, allowing residents to watch or participate in many popular activities. Sporting leagues have sprung up for Cheerleading, American football, Football, Professional Wrestling, boxing, and auto racing.

[edit] Gaming

Liquid Designs has an agreement with Linden Lab to operate The Thirst: Bloodlines game on the Second Life adult area. Bloodlines is an interactive addition to Second Life where Residents and their avatars can become vampires, hunting other avatars for blood and souls that build their Bloodline. The Company of Liquid Designs operates a group of grid sectors as a store for those who play the game, and for those that don't want to they offer a garlic necklace as a ward against those that choose to play. In addition residents can opt-out of playing Bloodlines by contacting an avatar named noire luminos in game or by e-mail through their internet site,

[edit] Arts

Second Life residents express themselves creatively through virtual world adaptations of:

  • art exhibits
  • live music
  • live theater

[edit] Art Exhibits

Second Life has created an environment where artists can display their works to an audience across the world. This has created an entire artistic culture on its own where many residents who buy or build homes can shop for artwork to place there. Gallery openings even allow art patrons to "meet" and socialize with the artist responsible for the artwork and has even led to many real life sales. Numerous art gallery sims abound in second life. Most notable of these is the art gallery sim "Cetus", which has been in continuous operation since 2006 as a planned, mix-use art community of galleries, offices and loft apartments for residents. Created by avatar Xander Ruttan, it has resulted in many collaborative efforts amongs artists, designers and builders from across the world.

The modeling tools from Second Life allow the artists also to create new forms of art, that in many ways are not possible in real life due to physical constraints or high associated costs. The virtual arts are visible in over 2050 "museums" (according to SL's own search engine).[95]

In 2008 Haydn Shaughnessy, real life gallerist, along with his wife Roos Demol hired a real life architect, New York based, Benn Dunkley to design a gallery in Second Life. Dunkleys goal was to design an interactive gallery with art in mind in a virtual world. "Ten Cubed" is a radical departure in art exhibition, a futuristically designed gallery showcasing art in a unique setting. On January 31, 2008, "Ten Cubed" was launched. For its inaugural exhibition, Crossing the Void II, owner and curator Shaughnessy selected five artists working in and with modern technologies. These artists included Chris Ashley based in Oakland, CA, Jon Coffelt based in New York, NY, Claire Keating based in Cork, Ireland, Scott Kildall based in San Francisco, CA and Nathaniel Stern originally based in New York, NY now in Dublin, Ireland.[96] Real life as well as Second Life editions are available from the gallery.

The virtual creations from the metaverse are disclosed in real life by initiatives such as Fabjectory (statuettes)[97] and (oil paintings).[98]

[edit] Live Music

Live music performances in Second Life takes place in three distinctly different ways;

  • With in-world voice chat, where the user dons a headset and microphone then enables a Second Life browse to "broadcast" his voice to other users, much like a telephone conference call.
  • With streaming, where vocal and instrumental music by Second Life residents can be provided with the aid of Internet broadcast software, such as Shoutcast. This is input, via microphones, instruments or other audio sources, into computer audio interfaces and streamed live to audio servers. Similar to webcast radio, the audio stream from the live performance can be received in Second Life for the enjoyment of other Residents on their computer speakers. This started with performances by Astrin Few in May 2004 and began to gain popularity mid 2005. For example the UK band Passenger performed on the Menorca Island in mid-2006. Another UK band, Redzone, toured in Second Life in February 2007.
  • With inworld samples, where sounds samples are uploaded and an inworld user interface – instruments – is made to trigger those. Unlike streaming, performing with inworld samples make use of the Second Life environment and creates a threedimensional sound experience to the audience. The Avatar Orchestra Metaverse featuring among other composer Pauline Oliveros is the most prolific representative with this approach.

Linden Lab added an Event Category "Live Music" in March 2006 to accommodate the increasing number of scheduled events. By the beginning of 2008, scheduled live music performance events in Second Life spanned every musical genre, and included hundreds of live musicians and DJs who perform on a regular basis. A typical day in Second Life will feature dozens of live music performances.

In 2008 the UK act Redzone announced they would release their new live album only via Second Life.[99]

Many amateur performers start their music careers in Second Life by performing at virtual karaoke bars[100] or Open Mic, then progress to performing for "pay," or Linden dollars, in-world.

[edit] Theater

Live theater is presented in Second Life. The SL Shakespeare Company[101] performed an act Hamlet live in February 2008. In 2009 the company is producing scenes from Twelfth Night.

In 2007 Johannes von Matuschka and Daniel Michelis developed Wunderland, an interactive SL theatre play at Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz in Berlin, Germany.[102]

In 2007, HBO hosted a comedy festival in Second Life,[103] using live streaming audio. In March 2009, SL residents staged a two-day Virtually Funny Comedy Festival to "help build awareness for Comic Relief, Red Nose Day 2009 and of course, comedy in Second Life."[104]

[edit] References in popular culture

[edit] Literature

  • In early 2008, a Second Life avatar was used as the cover art for Dr. Theodore Rockwell's fiction novel - The Virtual Librarian. The novel was introduced and promoted via Second Life by TheSLAgency.
  • The scifi book ANIMA: a novel about Second Life written by the avatar Dalian Hansen was published in July 2007. It was the first complete work of fiction based in the 3D virtual environment of Second Life, and the plot included real world connections. It is book one of a trilogy that will include ANIMUS: Of Animus and Men and PERSONA: Persona Publica.[105]
  • In Sam Bourne's 2007 thriller novel The Last Testament, Second Life plays an important part in the story and in cracking of codes.
  • "Notre Seconde Vie" is a book from the French writer Alain Monnier which translates to "Our Second Life". The novel poses the question "will the Internet replace reading paperbound books one day?".
  • The 2007 novel Another Life by Peter Anghelides, based upon the television series Torchwood, features a Second Life-inspired virtual world called Second Reality. Although the literary version is far more advanced than the real Second Life, several features of the real-life Second Life are referenced, including the ability to customize avatars, and at one point in the novel a character is banished to an area similar to Second Life's punishment area, "The Corn Field".
  • In The Darkest Evening of the Year by Dean Koontz, one of the antagonists is a private detective who lives vicariously through his Second Life avatar.
  • Halting State by Charles Stross makes a casual reference to Second Life, though it is apparent that many major plot elements have been drawn from this virtual world and other metaverse platforms. (See appearances, below)

[edit] Television and movies

  • On April 8, 2008 The Daily Show with Jon Stewart did a segment on Avatar Heroes[106]
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit parodies Second Life in its episode "Avatar".
  • Second Life was featured prominently, and used as a tool to locate a suspect, in the CSI: NY episode "Down the Rabbit Hole", which aired on October 24, 2007. It was also featured in the episode "DOA For a Day" (aired 2 April 2008).
  • Dwight Schrute from the US television series The Office is an avid Second Life resident; this was featured prominently in the October 25, 2007 episode "Local Ad".[107] Dwight has an avatar named 'Dwight Shelford' who is able to fly, and Dwight creates a virtual world within Second Life named Second Second Life. Jim Halpert is also seen in Second Life later in the episode, and he claims his character is "just to keep tabs on Dwight"; however, Pam Beesly comments on the detail in his character and notes it must have taken him quite some time to make it.
  • In an episode of the CBS drama Ghost Whisperer, Melinda Gordon experiences a similar online world, at one point pulling an avatar out of her computer at the shop as the user's ghost; she gets to know the local equivalent of Second Life while determining the avatar's true identity.
  • The CBC program the fifth estate, in an episode entitled "Strangers in Paradise," first aired January 28, 2009, documented two cases of families being damaged after a spouse became obsessed with Second Life. In each case a spouse formed such deep emotional and cyber-sexual relationships with another Second Life player that it resulted in their leaving their real family to join the person they had met and bonded with in Second Life.[108]

[edit] Music

  • Duran Duran were one of the first artists to join the metaverse, and they subsequently wrote their "Zoom In" song with hip-hop mogul Timbaland, clearly pointing about the Second Life experience.
  • Redzone were credited by Wired and reuters as the first band to tour in Second Life in Feb. 2007, followed by Beyond the void as the first official rock band touring in second life (open PR, Mar. 2007).
  • US modern-rock artist Sheldon Tarsha released the song titled "Second Life" in 2007, focusing attention to Second Life and the growing phenomenon of virtual world social networking sites.
  • The Italian singer Irene Grandi figured in her musical video "Bruci la città" some scenes of Second Life gaming.
  • Some real life musicians, singers or groups perform live in some Second Life places. Many venues offer these public shows for free.

[edit] Other

  • A Second Life girl caLLie cLine is chosen to represent Second Life Girls at #95 on the "Top 100 Hottest Females of 2007" in Maxim, the first nonhuman ever to be selected.
  • Second Life is also parodied in the webcomic Kevin and Kell, in the form of an MMORPG called 9th Life.
  • Second Life is parodied by the website Get a First Life by Darren Barefoot, extolling the virtues of meatspace/real life.[109] Material from the site includes false links to such topics as "Go Outside - Membership is Free" and "Fornicate Using Your Actual Genitals." Linden Lab proved that they had a sense of humor when Darren received, instead of a cease and desist, a Proceed and Permit letter.[110]
  • Kelly Services, an employment agency, features Second Life in its "break room" for temporary employees.
  • Second Life CEO Mark Kingdon's email inbox was parodied by Prad Prathivi. Kingdon replied in response to the satirical mock up.

[edit] Public appearances in the grid

  • In 2006 former Governor of Virginia Mark Warner became the first politician to appear in a MMO when he gave a speech in Second Life.[111]
  • British comedian Jimmy Carr performed a virtual show on Second Life on February 3, 2007.
  • Jimmy Kimmel & Jay Z were both made as Second Life characters and Jay Z had a virtual concert on Second Life at the same time as his real life performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
  • First rock-band touring in Second Life was Beyond the void at beginning of 2007 - they organized virtual concerts in different locations in the virtual world.
  • On June 21, 2008, Charles Stross held a conference in Second Life itself to discuss, "[T]he Singluarity in fiction, cutting-edge technologies, [Halting State], and his upcoming novel Saturn's Children"[112]

[edit] Competitors

Second Life has several competitors, including Entropia Universe, IMVU, There, Active Worlds, Kaneva, and the erotically oriented Red Light Center.[citation needed]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

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  2. ^ Dubner, Stephen (December 13, 2007). "Philip Rosedale Answers Your Questions". New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-03-06. 
  3. ^ The maximum concurrency (number of avatars inworld) recorded is 70,821 on 9/21/08[1]. For the latest data, visit [2], from which these quoted numbers were taken.
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  5. ^ Emmy Online [3]
  6. ^ YouTube (November 22, 2006). "The Origin of Second Life and its Relation to Real Life". YouTube. Retrieved on 2008-03-06. 
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  13. ^ VirWoX
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  19. ^ Affiliates Program
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  50. ^ "Banking Banned in Second Life". 
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  64. ^ Frank Rose. "How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life". Retrieved on 2009-03-08. 
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  67. ^ A Real School in Second Life
  68. ^ English Literature in Second Life
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  71. ^ Michels, Patrick (2008-02-16). "Universities Use Second Life to Teach Complex Concepts". Government Technology. Retrieved on 2008-11-15. 
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  75. ^ Dorveaux, Xavier (2007-07-15). "Apprendre une langue dans un monde virtuel". Le Monde.,1-0,36-935560,0.html. Retrieved on 2007-07-15. 
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  77. ^ MSNBC - "Give me that online religion"
  78. ^ "The Anglican Church in Second Life". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  79. ^ Anglican Second Life Inhabitants Construct Medieval Cathedral
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  84. ^ SecondLife Insider confirmed
  85. ^ Agence France-Presse (January 26, 2007). "Sweden to set up embassy in Second Life". 
  86. ^ Carl Bildt (January 30, 2007). "Carl Bildt: Heja Olle Wästberg!". Retrieved on 2007-02-13. 
  87. ^ "Serbia Is Entering Second Life". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
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  89. ^ "Estonian SL Embassy News: It Is Open!". December 4, 2007. Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  90. ^ "SLurl: Location-Based Linking in Second Life". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  91. ^ SERBIA has big plans for Second Life
  92. ^ The Maldives Virtual Embassy
  93. ^ ""Second Life Israel", The Jerusalem Post". 
  94. ^ ""Diplomacy Island in Second Life", Diplomatic Quarter, Virtual Diplomatic Academy, Internet Governance Village". 
  95. ^ "Thursdays". Retrieved on 2007-08-15. 
  96. ^ Inaugural artists in Crossing the Void IIfor "Ten Cubed," curated by Haydn Shaughnessy
  97. ^ "Fabjectory". Retrieved on 2007-05-06. 
  98. ^ " real life paintings from Second Life". Retrieved on 2007-03-02. 
  99. ^ New Redzone live album only available in Second Life
  100. ^ Of Avatars and Microphones
  101. ^ "The SL Shakespeare Company: Homepage". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  102. ^ "Wunderland". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
  103. ^ HBO Comedy Festival Coming to Second Life
  104. ^ Virtual Comedians Pick a Red Nose in Second Life -
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  106. ^ "Avatar Heroes | The Daily Show | Comedy Central". Retrieved on 2008-10-27. 
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  109. ^ "Get a First Life". Retrieved on 2007-02-01. 
  110. ^ "I Got a Proceed and Permitted Letter From Linden Lab". Retrieved on 2007-12-25. 
  111. ^ Former governor speaks in Second Life [update 1]
  112. ^ BoingBoing: Charlie Stross in Second Life this Saturday

103. ^Social Media, Second Life and Relationships

[edit] External links

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