Do You Lead a Second Life?

For a tech guy, I can sometimes be a little behind on all the latest and greatest tech news, though it’s one of my new year’s resolutions to fix that.

A couple months ago I was hearing a lot about Second Life, so I checked out their website, and soon forgot about it. My interest was piqued when, just yesterday, the source code to the Second Life client was made open-source. I’ve always been a big fan of open-source software, and applaud Linden Lab for releasing their client.

For those of you not sufficiently familiar with Second Life, it’s precisely that, a virtual second life rendered in 3D graphics. Users interact with this virtual world via a piece of client software that they install on their computers. In Second Life you have a virtual self called an avatar; you can own land, buildings, vehicles, businesses, etc.

The unique aspects of Second Life that distinguish it from MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games), is that in it you can create “anything”, build “anything”, and set it to life using scripting. So not only can you interact with your surroundings, you can change them too. And now with the client software going open source, the innovation of others may allow even further customization.

Now, one might think, that’s cool and all, some nifty technology and stuff, but what’s it all really worth? What becomes interesting to businesses is the currency of Second Life, the Linden dollar, which is bought with real money.

At the time of this writing, the statistic posted on the Second Life website was $1,096,200(USD) spent within the Second Life world in the past 24 hours. People buy and sell all sorts of things within Second Life: real estate, clothing, cars, stereos, guns, swords. Those Linden dollars can then be exchanged back for real world money.

Second Life has a fairly large real world presence. On the Second Life website there are links to several blogs and fan-sites. A Technorati search resulted in 229 blogs, and over 11,000 blog posts related to Second Life. With some 2.5 million registered users, 10,000 to 20,000 concurrent users, and a good size web presence, the Second Life community could present a great deal of marketing opportunities, both in “real life” and “in-world”.

To be successful, I think one would have to have something that would be worthwhile to Second Life users – maybe a product that is a bit pricey in real life, but users could easily own in their Second Life. Strong product name recognition may also benefit “in-world” products. Second Life may also present a way to garner some additional audience for your product, such as artists exposing their work to new audiences, musicians getting their name out (yes you can perform live music in Second Life too), inventors trying out their inventions in a virtual world to see if they’re well-received.

Anything one creates in Second Life, one retains Intellectual Property rights to, both “in-world” and offline. So if you have a brand or product, you might think about having a Second Life presence. Selling your product “in-world” might just increase sales in the real world, and you make money on both. Not a bad deal.

I hope to soon download the source code for the Second Life client, and play with it a little more. Perhaps I’ll have a little more to say about that next time. Till then.