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I'm really vexed by all the hype and press (e.g. Sunday Times) surrounding 'Second Life'; in short a new virtual world where you simply live on-line in a virtual world; Wiki as ever gives more food for thought/research. What I'm most suprised about is some of the supposed stats: when I logged on today around 3PM, there were apparently 2.5 million 'inhabitants' pretty good, seeing as site began in 2003, but not a patch on the exponential growth of sites like MySpace.

The most suprising figures come from 'business' generated by the site; in the last 24 hours as I write this, over $1million was spent on all manner of commerce e.g. buying virtual land, clothes and even wedding services, though the classifieds did seem to be pretty sparse, pop-up heavy as well as more outlets for gambling. You can even hold a virtual business meeting in Second Life; does anyone really want to? It's smelling quite Nathan Barley (i.e. media pretentious) in here......

Anshe.JPG

Some people are earning seriously from it, take Anshe Chung (aka Ailin Graef in 'Second Life') who apparently has a virtual property in worth about $250,000.

Graef employs an ever-growing number of real people in the real world (!) to manage her virtual empire - amazing considering all the property, materials, experiences etc. are 'virtual' and, stating the obvious are removed from the physical, tangible brick 'n mortar world that we, er, live in!!!

Hell, even Reuters are taking 'Second Life' seriously, setting up camp inside with Warren Ellis writing columns for Reuters' news desk. Jimmy Carr is set to perform a gig there at the start of Feb (how he will cope with virtual hecklers?!!!). Many bands have gigged there too e.g. Duran Duran and Suzanne Vega as well; guess it really does help the Carbon Footprint (less travelling etc.)

Am I missing something or just "Losing My Edge", to quote the phenomenal awesome hook and lyrics of LCD Soundsytem's finest moment(s)? Fantasy/role-playing etc. is great but is this moving too far? Maybe not.

I remember reading a while back about some on-line gaming where people were doing similar stuff to 'Second Life' i.e. buying/trading 'virtual' objects and one case resulted in actual murder when a Shangai gamer killed someone for stealing his 'virtual sword'!!

A lot of this new 'cyber-craze' (boy does that sound dated!) really echoes David Cronenberg's very-now prophetic "eXistenZ" where barriers & boundaries between gaming/real-life/fantasy etc. are blurred to f*ck. However 'Second Life' evolves; it's damn interesting pop-tech culture, possibly a super-smart PR/Marketing exercise too. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate 'Second Life', it's just baffling during its infant stages. Some good analysis here too.

Posted on January 15, 2007 at 03:33 PM

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