Hello and welcome to S4theB episode 68! This episode steps out of the box and into the virtual world of Second Life. I’m going to take you, dear listener, into the metaverse.
Second Life is a computer-facilitated world, yes, a world, and as such its content embraces more than virtual play, virtual music, virtual art, and virtual anything-else-you-can-name. I’m not going to attempt to define it, because you just have to go see it yourself. If you’re over the age of 18 you may do so at secondlife.com, and if you’re in the 13 through 17 age group, the place for you is teen.secondlife.com, where no one over the age of 17 is allowed without a thorough FBI-style background check.
Second Life is just one of dozens of versions of parallel realities being developed by companies who are convinced that the 3Di, or the 3 Dimensional internet, represents to our global culture a development as profound and innovative as the invention and adoption of the web browser. This week, for example, I’m taking part in a “What’s Missing?” summit, two days of exploration by invited participants inside IBM’s ActiveWorlds, the men in blue’s version of parallel reality. Over 350 educators and businesspeople have registered to discuss the future of the 3Di and its “leveraging for learning.”
I’ve been exploring Second Life for going on three years now. Since its launch in 2003, the science-fiction inspired brainchild of Phillip Rosedale, former Chief Technology Officer of RealNetworks (see this interview at Inc.com), Second Life has seen millions of users from every continent on the rw (that’s “real world”) earth, at least login and try it. A useful piece of data is the actual logins at any time. Right this minute, as I type this script at SL time (US Pacific–the servers hosting SL are housed in San Francisco, CA) 4:37, there are, let’s see: 40,705 “residents” online at this very minute. That’s a number featured on the login page at the SL website at secondlife.com.
How would you like that many people in your store?
Well, it’s not actually a store, though it is literally full of places to spend (and earn) real money. The Linden Exchange offers daily metrics about demographics and economics, where I see that that at this writing the average rate of exchange for Lindens to Dollars yesterday was 268.15 Lindens to the dollar. The actual rate of exchange held stable at 265 L$ per $ and there were, get this, 73,382,620 Lindens exchanged. I’m no math genius so I break out my Windows calculator to do the math: that looks like 24,460,873 US dollars exchanged. Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008. Yesterday. In one day. Let me say that again. 24,460,873 US dollars exchanged.
Still thinking this isn’t an important phenomenon?
Let’s look at some demographics–
Last Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2008
Reflects data through midnight, February 13.
Residents Logged-In During Last 7 Days 487,746
Residents Logged-In During Last 14 Days 648,681
Residents Logged-In During Last 30 Days 935,326
Residents Logged-In During Last 60 Days 1,369,715
Total Residents 1 12,470,805
I begin our little tour by using SL’s search feature, clicking on the “Places” tab, and entering the term “science.” After a brief moment as the data does its data thing, I am rewarded with 76 returns on my query. The SL search engine orders its results by traffic, or how many avatars have spent at least 5 minutes in its virtual space, it’s “sim” (short for simulator). Ranking returns in this way gives and off-the-cuff indication of how popular a location is. Let’s just look at the top 5 of these today, and you can go in and explore for yourself anytime!
Sorting through the search results I see that the top returns are a mix of legitimate science sites, some of which I’ve never visited, and commercial sims that have most likely manipulated their traffic to appear high in the search results. Ignoring those, I visit in this episode two of the top 5 results, the College of Scripting, Music, and Science and Elon University, “a sandbox for science and math education, a charter member of the SciLands, and home of the Apollo 11 moon sim.” Come with me as I discover these two science resources and add them to my growing list of places to revisit in Second Life. Of particular interest is the simulation at Elon that strives to educate its visitors about our Carbon Emissions footprints!
By the way, NPR’s popular Science Friday is also hosted live in Second Life. I’ve been to one of these inworld and wow, take a look at the number of avatars present for this one!
After this podcast was boxed and ready to publish, I revisited Elon and took in the Apollo 11 build. There’s a video of that experience, sort of a little bonus for blog readers (heck, you deserve something for getting this far!), located at the Second Life video social network at http://sleducation.ning.com.
Music this episode is from our friends at Magnatune, where internationally renowned independent musicians offer you their music for a price you may set yourself! We have a Dutch percussionist and a Slovakian bassist for you today, just to keep the global them a’runnin’.
Listen to S4theB! episode number 68 here, or click “Links” above and use the Podcast Pickle Player to listen whilst you continue your other 2D internet work or play!