Information Systems in Global Business Today
econd Life is a 3D virtual online world
createdby former RealNetworks CTO Philip Rosedale through Linden Lab, a company he founded in San Francisco in 1999. The world is built and owned by its users, who are called residents. Over 14 million people have signed up to be residents of Second Life's world, also known as the Grid. In July 2008, the usage stats on Second Life's Web site (wWW.secondlife.com) showed that close to 1.1 million residents had logged in over the frevious sixty days. Second Life runs oyer the Internet using special software that users download to their desktops. Second Life is not a game. Residents interact with each other in a 3-D so_cial network. They can explore, socialize, collaborate, cre.ate, participate in activities, and purchase goods and seryices. The Second Life Web site says that its world is similar to a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) but distinct in that it al1ows nearly unlimited creativity and ownership over user-created content. When logged in, residents take on a digital persona, called an avatar. Each user may customize his or her own avatat, changing its appearance, its clothing, and even its form from human to humanoid or something altogether different. Second Life has its own virtual economy and currency. The currency is the Linden Dollaq, or Linden for short, and is expressed as L$. There is an open market for goods and services created on the Grid. Residents may acquire Lindens this way, orby using currency exchanges to trade real-world money for Lindens. The Linden has a real-world va1ue, which is setby market pricing and tracked and traded on a proprietary market called the LindeX. A very modest percentage ofresidents earns a significant profit from dealing in the Second Life economy. One user, known on the Grid as Anshe Chung, has accumulated enough virtual real estate that she could sell it for an amount of Lindens equaling US$1 million. More common are the residents who gross enough to cover *re expense of their participation in the wor1d. According to statistics issuedby Second Life, 389,108 residents spent money on the Grid during June 2008. Basic membership in Second Life is fuee and includes most of the privileges of paid membership, except the right to own land. Residents with Premium memberships are eligible to own land on the Grid.
The largestlots, or Entire Regions, measure 65,536 square mete6 (about 16 acres) and incur a monthly land use fee ofUS $195. Residents create content for the Grid using tools provided by Second Life. For example, the software includes a 3-D modeling tool that enables users to construct buildings, landscapes, vehicles, furniture, and any other goods they can imagine. A standard library of animations and sounds enables residents to make gestures to one another. Basic communication is performedby typing in the manner of an instant message or chat session. Users may also design and upload their own sounds, graphics, and animations to Second Life. Second Life has its own scripting language, Linden Scripting Language, which makes it possible for users to enhance objects in the virtual world with behaviors. Although the concept of a 3-D virtual world is in its infancy, this has not stopped businesses, universities, and even governments from jumping into the fray to see what a virtual world has to offer. The hope is that Second Life willbe a birthing ground for new industries and transform business, commerce, marketing, and learning the same way that the Web did in the late twentieth and early twenty-frrst centuries. The advertising and media industries have been early proponents of the technologr, opening virtual offices to facilitate internal communications and to position themselves at the forefront of the digital landscape in order to recruit tech-saw5r employees. A Second Life presence may convince potential clients that an advertising...
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