I met the founder of Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life, at the 2005 AlwaysOn conference at Stanford University. His vision is now paying off, not only for his company, which recently attracted its 1 millionth user, but now for some of Second Life participants as well. Tomorrow, there will apparently be a press conference from Germany where the first person (a woman born in China) who has accumulated $1 million real world dollars worth of virtual real estate will be making an announcement. (See Fortune blog)
She is going public with her good fortune, just as national governments are considering taxing Linden dollars. Australia decided to tax Linden dollars earlier this month.
Judd Bagley and I brainstormed launching a PR firm earlier this year that would enable Second Lifers to actually issue real-world press releases from within the virtual world. Judd currently earns Linden dollars by letting people use his virtual catapult which can launch people or cars or anything else a very great distance. We didn’t act on the PR firm idea. But now dozens of large corporations are setting up shop there. Dell Island launched recently, so Secondlifers can get a virtual PC in the game or buy real world PCs later. Leo Burnett launched its virtual agency in Second Life back in September. Now, Second Life estimates that development firms that help corporations set up shop in this popular virtual world are grossing $10 million per year.
I’m actually not a fan of Second Life at all, from what I have seen of it so far. I don’t like online anonymity and what it does to human behavior. I’m not a fan of avatars. I worry that this site attracts people will all kinds of base motives. I’m sure others will prove me wrong.
But here is one potentially redeeming idea: a Shakespeare virtual world where users can interact with each other and with Shakespeare texts. This idea from an Indiana University economist just received a $240,000 grant. This could easily be incorporated into Second Life, but it’s not clear from the article whether the grant will allow this professor to do that, or whether he has to build his own world.