November 14, 2017

"The Digital Ruins of a Forgotten Future/Second Life was supposed to be the future of the internet..."

"... but then Facebook came along. Yet many people still spend hours each day inhabiting this virtual realm. Their stories—and the world they’ve built—illuminate the promise and limitations of online life."

By Leslie Jamison at The Atlantic. It's well worth clicking through if only to see the illustration, which pans over somebody's imaginary life, on a shaded deck overlooking the ocean and a flowery meadow where unicorns lounge.
[Second Life is] a landscape full of goth cities and preciously tattered beach shanties, vampire castles and tropical islands and rainforest temples and dinosaur stomping grounds, disco-ball-glittering nightclubs and trippy giant chess games. In 2013, in honor of Second Life’s tenth birthday, Linden Lab—the company that created it—released an infographic charting its progress: 36 million accounts had been created, and their users had spent 217,266 cumulative years online, inhabiting an ever-expanding territory that comprised almost 700 square miles. Many are tempted to call Second Life a game, but two years after its launch, Linden Lab circulated a memo to employees insisting that no one refer to it as that. It was a platform. This was meant to suggest something more holistic, more immersive, and more encompassing....

Its vast landscape consists entirely of user-generated content, which means that everything you see has been built by someone else.... These avatars build and buy homes, form friendships, hook up, get married, and make money.... At their cathedral on Epiphany Island, the Anglicans of Second Life summon rolling thunder on Good Friday, or a sudden sunrise at the moment in the Easter service when the pastor pronounces, “He is risen.” As one Second Life handbook puts it: “From your point of view, SL works as if you were a god.”....

27 comments:

Humperdink said...

Not sure how long the article was, but I'm guessing I got through about 1/3 of it.

Escaping reality to cope with daily life, I guess. These people need the Lord.

Curious George said...

I understand why Callista Gingrich would want a second life. I mean Newt, c'mon.

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Never heard of it before.

Darrell said...

Althouse wanted Haskell access on Second Life, but could never get it.

Patrick said...

Sad!

tim in vermont said...

I guess it beats drugs.

Mark said...

Never.
Heard.
Of.
It.

And it was supposed to be the future of the Internet???

john said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
john said...

The sex is free, and without worries or STDs or unwanted pregnancies. Seems idyllic, except for those keyboard/mouse demands putting a first life fulfillment damper on second life romps.

Or one could be like Jonas and break into first life for a short time, fly to New York, get Bara pregnant, and fly back to his Swedish second life. This however could be very confusing for both of them, and the kid too.

john said...

Plainly, we need a third life.

John Lynch said...

The first woman profiled has a blog about being a parent of two children with autism. That's an interesting blog.

MadisonMan said...

I think the more interesting recent article in the Atlantic is on Bill Clinton, Harassment, and Feminism.

This one was too tedious to read.

Darrell said...

Could you jack off on unsuspecting women in SL? LCK should have spent his free time there.

Ann Althouse said...

"Althouse wanted Haskell access on Second Life, but could never get it."

I cared enough to google what that is but not enough to wade through enough crap to understand it. I'm just going to assume you get to be Eddie Haskell in some virtual life.

Darrell said...

Althouse said
I cared enough to google...

I thought you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry wanted Haskell access at his friend's house in Sunday's episode.

buwaya said...

Daughter messed with it a bit back when it was new-ish.
Quit in boredom pretty quickly.
My impression then was it was a girl-oriented computer game.

Darrell said...

People made money selling nude avatars and sexual programming. Everything on the internet eventually goes there.

MikeR said...

I'm one of the millions of people who inhabited SL for a while, a decade ago, then dropped away. "rarefied version of reality" describes my feelings pretty well. It was interesting, and often beautiful, but a lot more trouble than it was worth. Eyes and keyboard, that's all there was; not enough for me.
I actually originally got interested as a programmer; Linden Scripting Language was kind of neat and I made some widgets that did things. Don't remember what; I wonder if I still have my notes. I understand it's gotten a lot more sophisticated since then.

SeanF said...

john: Plainly, we need a third life.

I'm pretty sure there was an episode of "The Office" concerning Second Life, in which it was discovered that Dwight's Second Life avatar had created a Second Life app-within-the-app.

David said...

Most people who do not get out of bed are seriously ill or dying.

Ann Althouse said...

"I thought you watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry wanted Haskell access at his friend's house in Sunday's episode."

I watch, but I'm not entirely caught up. Just saw the one with the accidental-on-purpose texting.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

A friend of mine makes a good living and put her son through college selling clothing and accessories in Second Life. So, there's that.

The section about the woman with disabilities was touching. But it did make me wonder ~ can a homeowner's association really prevent someone from building a handicap ramp on their house? What a crowd of assholes, if so.

Yancey Ward said...

It is odd, I was wondering just a few weeks ago what happened to "Second Life" after not thinking about it for more than a decade. The very fact that I wondered about it instead of knowing was enough to keep me from looking it up. Turns out I was right.

Freeman Hunt said...

I looked at Second Life many years ago after reading about it. Seemed to be focused on buying things for one's avatar. Some people had obviously put great effort into creating visually interesting places, but they're still just computer pictures, like wandering around in a computer game without the game. The place listings seemed to mostly consist of stores and sex places. Not many places for interesting discussion and not a great format for it because the focus is on the visual, not text. Tried visiting recreations of some famous places but looking at regular pictures online was better and easier. Interesting idea with a rather boring result.

Karen of Texas said...

Interesting God comment. I've said that about The Sims. Not just a "game" enjoyed by tweens evidently because some 20-somethings I know are deep into building and controlling their simulated world.

Assrat said...

I've spent far too much time exploring the Kerbin system to judge.

Caligula said...

"Seemed to be focused on buying things for one's avatar."

Indeed, I've always thought of Second Life as the first vendor to succeed in getting substantial numbers of people to pay real money for virtual goods.