Wednesday, November 22, 2006

CBC's former Middle East Bureau Chief Gets a Second Life

The CBC's online portal today has a feature by Adrienne Arsenault about her forays as a "cyberphobic" in Linden Lab's Second Life. I am always drawn to news of Second Life because of my own lack of experience in this area (somewhat like reading about the techno cultures of Japanese youth). The article serves as a basic introduction to the virtual world and its two most salacious elements, money and sex. Yet I was warmed by the account of several Second Life users with cerebral palsy who were able to move around and make friends in a way they were not able to in their 'first life', and who used the money they made in this virtual world to contribute to a tsunami relief fund.

I was also interested in her citation of Tim Guest, author of a forthcoming Second Life book, who stated that the mass migration towards virtual worlds offers an ease of the pain of real life, which includes greater isolation and reduced economic health.

What bothers me is the resemblance of Second Life to MUDs, MUSHs, and MOOs of the 'olden' days, except with a thorough proliferation of commercial interests. But, from the sound of it, these capitalist influences have not kept people from staking their virtual homesteads (in the words of Howard Rheingold) in Second Life. I wonder how people navigate this....

1 comment:

Photendoist said...

Linden Labs is notorious for blowing successful monetary ventures in Second Life way out of proportion. No doubt some people do make money in the world (it's GDP is pretty high for something that exists only on servers), but I'm actually pretty fascinated by all the attention given to it, considering how few users it has relative to even moderate sized MMOs like City of Heroes/Villains and Everquest.