Why We Need an Open Source Second Life
Unless you have been living under a rock for the last six months, you will have noticed that the virtual world Second Life is much in the news. According to its home page, there are currently around 1,700,000 residents, who are spending $600,000 – that's real, not virtual, money – in the world each day. These figures are a little deceptive – there are typically only 10,000 to 15,000 residents online at any one time, and the money flow is not a rigorous measurement of economic activity – but there is no doubt that Second Life is growing very rapidly; moreover, we are beginning to see it enter the mainstream in a way that has close parallels with the arrival of the Web ten years ago.
Companies are beginning to set up shop in Second Life, including big names like Adidas, American Apparel, Dell, Nissan, Penguin Books, Reebok, Sun Microsystems, Toyota, Reuters and Wired. Often they choose to create their virtual buildings on self-contained islands, which are essentially three-dimensional analogues of the early corporate Web sites: that is, vaguely pretty to look at, but not very functional.