The "Evil Genius" of Second Life

Rubegoldbergmachine_001_1The Evil Genius Organization of virtual world Second Life is building fantasy structures--an detailed cartoon city and high-rise cityscape that embrace a conceptual and graphic architecture that signals a new genre of digital art and a creativity that mirrors a Lewis Carroll sensibility. In the Ego Region the massive Rube Goldberg machine, for example, works entirely within the rules of Second Life physics.

As Second Life guru Linden Labs (creators of SL) chairman, Mitch Kapor, is fond of saying, the Second Life virtual world is a "revolution" that will prove as profound as that of the Internet. Serious Web gurus see Second Life, which claims 3.3 million registered users and is adding 230,000 users per week, as the beginng of the 3-D Web.

The "Magic" of Second Life

56269_4Second Life and virtual identity was a dominant theme at last week's World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. In this emerging Age of the Avatar, it's worth noting that Latin has the form persona, meaning a mask, a role or a person, which evolved from the Etruscan word phersu (mask). In our Internet era of persistent identity, the anonymous world of the avatar is becoming increasingly more alluring and powerful. In the small, inter-connected city-states and villages of early European history, annual rituals and carnivals using masks cloaked one's identity and provided an important social release and psychic excape mechanism.

Sl2_1 The mask (avatar) hides and protects whoever wears one. In primitive societies, it was meant to protect from spirits and evil creatures; it also transformed whoever wears it, giving them the strength and power of what it represents and making them no longer human. Throughout history, masks played a divine function, as a mediator between God and humans, a way of communicating with supernatural entities. It will be fascinating to see how avatars evolve in our new, emerging virtual "Second Life" worlds.

A Daily Galaxy staff report by Jason McManus

Second Life Link

Europe Surges to Lead Second Life Virtual-World Population

Second_life_logo_1From the Reuter's Second-Life News Center: Europeans now make up the largest block of residents of the 3-D virtual world, Second Life, with more than 54 percent of active users in January ahead of North America’s 34.5 percent, according to new Linden Lab data.

U.S. residents made up only 31.2 percent of active Second Life users in the month. France has the second-highest number of users after the virtual world became a battleground for the country’s presidential election.

Although French residents had long been a part of Second Life, thousands more joined Second Life in January as demonstrators picketed the virtual offices of Jean Marie Le Pen’s far-right National Front party. Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal also established a Second Life presence.

Second Life Link

"Second Life" Gene Pool

255_1Check out the Gene Pool on Second Life's Info Island, which explores the laws of inheritance (physical traits of a plant could be thought of terms of pairs of parental factors), which were discovered by Johann Gregor Mendel in the mid-nineteenth century. The Abbey of Saint Thomas in Mendel’s Garden is patterned after the still active monastery in the Czech Republic in Brno. Textures used in Second Life have been donated by the Mendel Museum. 

While you're there check out Second Life's InfoIsland with a heads up on upcoming interactive Marie Antoinette Exhibit, a book discussion of Sir Walter Scott's Invanhoe, and Squirrelverse, a cool cafe for teens 18 and over to hang and discussion life and learning with adult educators and librarians,

Second Life Blog Link

InfoIsland Link

A "Second Take" on Second Life

From Joseph at U of West Virginia...

Imagine_lennon To be fair, Second Life does raise some interesting question about what it means to ''live'' and ''interact.'' Is it something that can be duplicated? Is a word typed worth as much as one spoken? And do we really need to ''see'' people to ''know'' them?

It also does a fairly good job of answering them: No, no and yes.

It was John Lennon who said that reality ultimately leaves a lot to the imagination. He was mostly right, I think, but for the curious yuppie thinking about taking on the strain of a second, futile life, I will offer only a slight amendment: Reality leaves a lot to the imagination, but a second one leaves hardly any time for a nice, hot shower and a long, hard look in the mirror.

Second Life -A New Paradigm or Fad?

19virtual_2We're on a Second Life kick this week, here at the Daily Galaxy. This new virtual world is making an impact at the Sundance Film Festival and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, merging the online and "realworld" like a collapsed event horizon. Major global corporations are buying real estate "islands" in this digital universe. Here's how Mitch Kapor, Chairman of Linden Labs, creators of Second Life, describes the potential of this new virtual world:
Second Life is a disruptive technology on the level of the personal computer or the Internet. Everything we can imagine and things that we can’t imagine from the real world will have their in-world counterparts, and it’s a wonderful thing because there are many fewer constraints in Second Life than in real life, and it is, potentially at least, extraordinarily empowering.

Our Cambridge staff found this profound response to Second Life on ZDNet Posted by 1stcyberian:

Yes, a fad like PDAs, cellphones, and myspace, eh? With every paradigm shift, come the nay-sayers...the dinosaurs stuck behind their blinders as to "how things are."

Marketing guru Faith Popcorn, way back in the early 90's, predicted this growing trend of 'cocooning', and Second Life aligns perfectly with that trend...

Why venture out to your local mall, braving gridlocked traffic, hostile crowds, and inept clerks when you can enjoy nearly the same visceral experience parked comfortably in front of your keyboard/monitor?

You want social interaction? Second Life has been engineered from the ground up to provide that.

Safe sex? It doesn't get any safer than when between two avatars.

Travel? You can terraform to your heart's content, and build anything from a mud hut to a majestic castle...You can build your 'castle in the sky' if that's your dream.

Ambitious? Open a bank, or a surf shop, or a only by your imagination.

It is the purest form of art imitating life, distributed by technology, available to all.

A trend, a fad? I think not.

I think the only 'fad' now is those who think they sound wise by scoffing.

This emerging 3-D world is fast becoming a test bed for corporate marketers, including Reuters, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Sun Microsystems, Nissan, Adidas/Reebok, Toyota and Starwood Hotels.

The sudden rush of real companies into so-called virtual worlds mirrors the evolution of the Internet itself, which moved beyond an academic and research network in the 1990’s to become a global and transformative economic force. Second Life has about 350,000 regular visitors, people who come back after a month, while 2.6 million made a one-time visit. But the moment that the haptic interface works in Second Life, it is going to explode. Kapor says this haptic interface — that is, the ability to feel something virtual in the real world — is months away.

Virtual World "Second Life" @Davos World Economic Forum

Second20life_1Reuters reported yesterday that Bureau Chief Adam Pasick will conduct a Second Life virtual-world panel with guests including Linden Lab Chairman Mitch Kapor, author and entrepreneur John Battelle, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, and musician Peter Gabriel during the World Economic Forum, which takes place Jan. 24-28 with the theme being The Shifting Power Equation.  Participants will have their own customized avatars and will take questions from real-world Second Life residents.

Second Life is "a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents." Reuters actually runs a Second Life "bureau" staffed by real-world tech journalist Adam Pasick, but his avatar's name is Adam Reuters. According to Reuters, $1,184,358 real U.S. dollars has been spent in Second Life over the past 24 hours.

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