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Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly

Second Life on the Cover of Business Week

Second Life (which as you know has been a favorite of the Radar for some time) has made the cover of Business Week. On Saturday, at the Maker Faire, Beth Goza of Second Life excitedly showed me the magazine, turning to the table of contents and showing me the picture of her avatar: "That's me!" she said. She sheepishly added that people who didn't spend as much time in SL as she does might not understand, but to her, it is just as much her picture as a photograph of her first-life body. She's totally right: and for some people, the aptly named "second life" (which could easily be a description of the whole class of virtual worlds rather than just a particular virtual place) is as important as their first life.

There are four stories in the coverage: My Virtual Life, a general intro to Second Life; It's Not All Fun and Games, an exploration of the economy of Second Life; Virtual Land, Real Money, a profile of Anshe Chung, the most successful business executive in Second Life, who adorns the cover of the magazine; and Virtual Worlds, Real Economies, an essay by economist Edward Castronova, recapping the talk on virtual economies that some of you may have heard him give at ETech in 2003.

It's quite a milestone that the person on the cover of Business Week was not Philip Rosedale, the founder and CEO of Linden Labs, or Cory Ondrejka, the CTO, but rather the avatar of a Second Life resident. (Philip did get his avatar on an inside page -- and maybe even his first life picture as well. (I don't remember, as I only got a quick glance at the physical magazine, and the online version, alas, is missing the pictures.))

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Comments: 10

hunter walk   [04.24.06 10:24 PM]

Tim -

great point. I blogged recently about people with Second Life avatars that have more Google hits than their real life name. As SL grows there's no reason to think this won't be the case for the majority(?) of their residents. At that point, in the eyes of the Internet, which persona is more real?

John Pratt   [04.25.06 08:04 AM]

"to her, it is just as much her picture as a photograph of her first-life body."

Wait. Is this what we want from technology?

goli   [04.25.06 12:59 PM]

John, Is it safe to ask what "we" want from technology? Let's not forget that "we" are individuals with varied needs and wants. To an artist, a work that has taken much time, effort, and passion is an extension of the self.

John Pratt   [04.25.06 02:08 PM]


What I'm asking is whether it's something we should want. People can be passionate about any number of things, but that doesn't make their pursuits admirable.

Queso Grande   [04.27.06 01:02 PM]

What the article didn't portray was the loss of real life fulfillment that a person could experience waisting mindless hours in pursuit of "virtual happiness." Wow, just think of the good that could be done in world if people cared as much about their real lives as they do about their (imaginary) second lives.

Christopher Salazar   [04.29.06 03:02 AM]


Second Life is really an GREAT place to be! I have been using it for just a little bit and already I am interested. In addition, your point is interesting that avatars are actually beginning to gather hype. I am looking forward to what happens next.

In addition, I recently was involved in a podcast with Jeremiah Owyang and Robert Scoble. Let me know what you think:

Maggie Marat   [06.04.06 07:33 AM]

I gristle a bit at the "loss of real life fulfillment that a person could experience waisting mindless hours in pursuit of "virtual happiness." ??? Kindly explore the environment and decide if perhaps the "real" and the "virtual" cannot enhance each other-- Now examine your statement through the lens of an educator-responsible for preparing students to live in a digital society -

CandyO   [06.25.06 11:14 AM]

Second Life saves my sanity. It gives me sexual freedom that I otherwise would not be able to express.

As a bi-woman, it has allowed me to explore this facet of myself, in a safe environment, free of social stigma. My RL husband knows & is understanding. I have a GF in SL, now, & we are so very happy together there...

Another friend is a parapalegic (no use of legs)- he plays, in-world, w/us & has total freedom from his chair- we have such an amazingly good time is strange & wonderful,

CandyO Newcomb- SL resident

johhnythunder   [07.12.06 11:09 AM]


Nice name. I'm just curious about how much TV you think people watch, and how such environments like Second Life can be worse?

Xs Andree   [01.07.07 01:55 PM]

Someone define "real" and "imaginary" here. Our entire society is held up by simple ideas of how things should be, how people should act. Talk to a refugee from Hurricane Katrina and you'll get a completely different version of what is "real". To them, we all live in a fragile illusion of what life really is. Talk to political refugees from Iraq, or to someone who's witnessed some of the genocidal practices in other parts of the world. What is "real" to us starts as an illusion. Everyone's "real" is important to them, and everyone's "real" is as fragile as the next catastrophe. In the USA our "real" lives are every bit as imaginary as the virtual world. Look at history and see how often civilizations crumble and fall, thier "real" worlds pushed aside like they were nothing more than cobwebs. Your "real" lives are nothing of the sort. It is all imaginary.

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