Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reuters Second Life

Before even reading any articles, I was struck by the graphs on the right hand side of the page detailing the amount of real, American Dollars spend in second life within the past 24 hour period. The fact that 1.3-1.4 million dollars is spent daily in this virtual community is astounding. Beyond just the money spend, the stock-exchange parts of this newsletter was insane to me. It truly is a full functioning virtual world.

One of the first stories that I read was that "SL posts strong economic growth on dwindling enrollments." This article detailed that while less users are signing on and joining the community, current members are spending more time and money there. That fact alone scared me a little. It brought up the idea that Second Life and virtual communities can be addicting. Beyond that, it seemed rather insane to me that people were spending so much money in Second Life. The article spoke to the amount of money being spent by quoting the gdp of second life: "Zdanowski said Second Life achieved a gross domestic product of US$300 million by the end of March, a larger total economy than real-world nations such as Dominica or Micronesia." I thought this was astounding and seemed wrong in the grand scheme of things. That a computer community online could make more money than a country where real people live and need to survive seemed like the value system is out of whack.

The next article that I read was on stealing in second life. This article entitled "Virtual retailers decry Second Life crime wave" was interesting because it seems like the lines of property are sufficiently blurred in virtual reality. It is hard enough to keep people from downloading from real people (aka music, dvds , etc) but it is even harder to prevent avatars from stealing from other faceless avatars. I thought it was weird that people made their entire fortunes as second life characters. That seemed insane to me. The fact of the matter is, there are no real ways to police the actions of these "pirates." If you have a police force in second life, then the freedom of the expression that is supposed to exist there is much limited. This is the problem with the article "A Rape in Cyberspace." The problem is how to punish characters online, because however attached to the avatar you are, they are characters, not real people.

The next article that I read was about Linden Lab's increase of land supply, which in turn caused land prices in second life to drop. I felt that the investors had no right to be mad. They are investing in virtual real estate which is subject to change at any moment, oh and hey, its not real. Frankly it makes sense to add more land if there are more users. Although my bias is sure to shine through here, the buyers should get that they are buying something that is not real and therefore is not constrained to the land prices and available land of the real world. I just don't have much sympathy, they knew what they were buying.

Although not a real article, I did read Ava Star's whats happening in second life and the bit about Jon Stewart and his segment regarding second life. I like that second life is able to make fun of itself by acknowledging Jon Stewart's humor.

The final article that I read on the Reuter's Newswire was about the opening of Sim's online where the restraints on gambling and adult-child sex would not be as enforced as on Second Life. My personal thoughts are that if people really want to have another space to do that sort of thing, then they can enjoy Sims online. I think second life is open enough and forward enough when it comes to putting things out there.

Overall, I found it interesting to read this Newswire. It truly cements in the fact that this is a community and that people really truly are vested in this virtual world. Although it perhaps is not my forte, I can appreciate the fact that others truly want to see it succeed and be made into a full functioning community.

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