Monday, October 23, 2006

The Perfect World?

“You are the pioneers and the founders of this new world, and you have unbelievably great opportunities to put your stamp, to leave a legacy, to create things which will endure and have value. The opportunity to participate in the creation of a new world is really a rare one and so I hope you cherish it.” - Mitch Kapor -

This quote from Kapor is taken from his speech at the Second Life Community Convention this past August. Mark Wallace expanded on Kapor's insights and on the growing communal phenomenon called Second Life.

Kapor calls the evolution of activity which utilizes wikis, mailing lists, blogs, and virtual communities, as massively distributed collaboration. This MDC is a growing tool used in practically everything imaginable, including education, emergency relief, and also the constant birth and growth of thousands of virtual communities. MDC is the fuel which feeds the growth of this phenomenon. And it adds to the development of our virtual worlds while allowing us to discover possible practical applications which will benefit our communities.

I heard of Second Life quite a while ago, but it was just recently while traveling late one evening that I tuned into an NPR station and caught a program entitled The Infinite Mind which was hosted by John Hockenberry. I had tuned into a special four part series done by IM called "Through the Looking Glass". Here is an excerpt from their website about the four part series.
We here at The Infinite Mind relished the opportunity to enter the 3D arena of virtual technology and within eight weeks had constructed our own 16 acre virtual broadcast center in Second Life. From our virtual studios we went on to produce live broadcasts with guests including author Kurt Vonnegut; singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega; internet visionary Howard Rheingold; and world-renowned designer John Maeda, of the MIT Media Lab, along with others who plan, build, live, work and play in on-line "virtual worlds." The series was taped for broadcast, in front of a live audience, from inside The Infinite Mind's virtual studios and broadcast center on Second Life.

It just so happened that when I stumbled upon the program, the guest was the infamous Howard Rheingold. One of my personal heroes of sorts. So needless to say I spent the next hour or so constantly scanning the radio waves searching for alternate stations as the hills I were traveling through kept blocking the remote station's air waves. (Note: Need to check on that satellite radio thingy.)

The virtual interviews via Second Life can now be found on Blip TV. These interviews include not only Rheingold, but also John Maeda, Kurt Vonnegut, and Suzanne Vega.

Just what the hell is Second Life? Well, this is the immediate definition given via their website:
Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 1,097,243 people from around the globe.

Second Life even has it's own economical system and the SL marketplace currently supports millions of U.S. dollars in monthly transactions. If you are interested and want to learn more about SL, there was a video released earlier this year entitled Glimpse Inside a Metaverse: The Virtual World of Second Life. There was also a piece done about SL on Tech TV which is fairly short but yet very informative.

I must say I'm intrigued by this new world with the possibliities it offers us through our on-line worlds. Pretty awesome stuff and I'm thinking there is something here all contributors of on-line communities might utilize. The tools of the future are changing rapidly and it will take a community of real people to keep up with technology and it's usefullness to our virtual communities.

And as soon as I pay for my home here in the real world, I might just think about purchasing my virtual home! I'm thinking of a place with a view of the mountains, and plenty of trees not exposed to the constant acid rains, and maybe a fresh cold spring nearby which hasn't been exposed to high Mercury levels. Ahhh, the perfect world! :)

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