Need a second life?

01 Apr 2004|Lee Shupp

I spent this last weekend at an interesting conference put on by the Association of Professional Futurists. (Full disclosure: I’m on the board and active in the group.) The topic was “The Future of Reality” and it was held in Las Vegas. What better setting to talk about the future of reality than Vegas?

One of the highlights of the conference was a tour of Second Life, an online digital world built and shaped by its participants. Philip Rosedale, head of Second Life, gave us an overview of the game and led a fascinating discussion of how online social worlds mimic offline social worlds. Philip is an intelligent and thoughtful guy, and creating and nurturing the game has given him an interesting sociological experiment to observe. Think digital ant farm. Several academic institutions are studying the social world of Second Life already.

Social interaction in this virtual world has led to some really interesting behavior.
* Entrepreneurship, and an emerging economy, with game currency being exchanged with real dollars in an economic bridge between virtual and dirt worlds.
* Political organization, with an online protest that was effective in forcing the administrators to change some policies.
* Crime, and now virtual law enforcement.

I wish that I had time to really play in this world. You can fly (which I’ve always wanted to do). You can build things. And you can express creativity in lots of different ways, because there are few rules so far.

Go play: www.secondlife.com

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