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Over the last few months, the virtual universe has solidified its place as a media darling, appearing as the subject of a BusinessWeek cover story, an eight-page package in Wired and endless stories online and in newspapers around the world. Plus, an ever-growing roster of household corporate names have arrived in-world, including IBM, Sun Microsystems, Warner Music and many more.
Through it all, "Second Life" residents--963,212 accounts have been created as of this writing, 396,616 of them active within the last 60 days--have had to deal with denial-of-service-like attacks that have shut down the virtual world's main grid, as well as ongoing problems with lag, a difficult user interface and other problems.
Yet, the number of "Second Life" residents is growing rapidly, and in an environment where nearly all the content--landscapes, buildings, clothing, vehicles and much more--is built by users, Linden Lab estimates that participants are creating the equivalent of more than 5,000 full-time engineers' worth of content.
On Monday, Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale's avatar took the stage in CNET Networks' "Second Life" headquarters to talk about the metaverse's latest developments in front of an audience of several dozen residents.Q: There's a lot of buzz right now about news organizations opening up bureaus in "Second Life": CNET, Reuters, Wired. What do you think of this phenomenon?
Rosedale: I think it shows that we are all collectively doing the right thing. The fact that news organizations want to be here is powerful because the value of news is in explaining hard things and making complex stuff more obvious. And that shows that there is enough interesting complexity here to warrant their attention. Which means this is all working.
Are you surprised to see so much mainstream media in "Second Life"?
Rosedale: Nope, not really. Increasingly, the profile of "Second Life" users is pretty broad and mainstream. It is as hard to describe the "typical" Second Lifer as to describe the "typical" New Yorker or San Franciscan. I think that "Second Life" is a kind of new language, as it relates to media, marketing and the like, and that this language is one that, as yet, no one really knows. So there will be a huge win for the early companies and people that experiment and learn to speak that language.
Talk about the
new "Second Life" real last names policy (under which individuals can buy their own last name for $100 upfront and $50 a year and corporations can get unlimited accounts with the corporate last name for $1,000 upfront and $500 a year).
Rosedale: Lots of people are wanting to have their real names, including last name. So we've been trying to think how to best handle that. The idea of picking a new last name has worked really well, but obviously, sometimes people may want to be their real selves. So what we are thinking, in short, is that you can pay something if you want to get a specific first name and last name. If you are a company, and have an obvious corporate name, you will be able to purchase that company name as a last name. But we are being careful in thinking this through, to not make it too easy for names to be owned. Hence the prices and the inability to totally own a fixed last name, at least to start.
Steve Rubel, who writes the blog Micro Persuasion, pointed out that a real "Second Life" last name is far more expensive than a domain name. That seems a little odd.
Rosedale: There do seem to be strong similarities to the domain name systems, in terms of fair access to all, fees, etc. We started with that idea and have been trying to adapt it appropriately here.
Let's talk about voice support in "Second Life."
Vivox is now doing a push for its third-party VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) client/phone booth in-world. What should "Second Life" residents expect when it comes to voice support from Linden Lab?
Rosedale: OK. First, we clearly agree that voice can be very powerful in "Second Life" for many things. There is a critical feature--the ability to properly 3D-spatialize multiple people speaking in a room, that is going to allow meetings in "Second Life" between many people to blow away conference calls. This is a very powerful thing, and we want to get it working.
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