Second Life is going to start selling “real” names to people (just like they do with virtual land). CNET is reporting that Linden Labs, the creators, have decided “to charge individuals who want a real last name a $100 setup fee and a $50-a-year maintenance fee. Companies that want their corporate name can have unlimited accounts for a $1,000 setup fee and $500 a year. ” My assumption from this pricing and general social conventions is that corporate names are exclusive whereas individual last names are not. As PT from Make: pointed out when he sent this to me, this could be the next virtual land grab.
Currently, the virtual world company allows you to pick a last name from a dropdown and pair it with a first name of your choosing. This has its advantages; no one has duplicate names or is forced to have “jenny2000”. However, for people who want to build a business or make a living around their name this will become a must have — assuming that they find Second Life a worthwhile place to have a presence. Certainly enough companies and people are doing just that, but in many ways it’s still like 1996 on the internet and picking out a personal or corporate domain name; they’re not aware that they will need to have a presence.