May 3, 2008

Second Life

Second Life, if you don’t know it, is a three-dimensional online world, in which you can portray an “avatar” (a virtual alter ego) an explore this virtual world, interacting with people, building things. In Hindu philosophy, an avatar (derived from the Sanskrit word avatāra) refers to the incarnation (bodily manifestation) of a divine being (deva) into planet Earth. If we can call our real life “first”, this “second” one refers to our “incarnation” in the virtual world.

I’m involved in Second Life since mid 2006 (it seems ages!), when the media weren’t talking about it yet. There were a little bit less than one million registered users, of which only a small fraction was active (I can guess 20%). Today, in may 2008, Second Life has roughly 15 millions of users, of which the active part is about two millions. They’re not big numbers, compared to Facebook or MySpace, but being active in Second Life requires bigger efforts, first to learn the interface, then to understand how to enjoy the virtual world.

My biggest achievement in Second Life is the perfect reproduction of a religious monument, the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the most beautiful in Italy (and a World Heritage Site), and perhaps in the entire world. If you don’t know Assisi, the wikipedia page on Assisi can help you, or you can just look at this picture of Assisi I’ve taken two days ago. You can see some pictures on the official website of the Virtual Assisi: (latin words for Second Life).

Recently, we had two interesting initiatives in Virtual Assisi. The first is the costant presence (twice a month) of the Mayor of Assisi, engineer Claudio Ricci, portrayed below:

assisi second life

The second was a virtual visit of Assisi, with students from New York city (here the video):

second life assisi

Big companies are investing in Second Life, and itself has a weekly developers meeting on one of its Second Life Islands: second life

Ah, by the way: Did you know that I got my Job at through Second Life? It’s a long story… one day I’ll tell you everything. Personally, I think that Second Life it’s still for early adopters, but has a great potential in the years to come. Do you use Second Life? Do you find it useful?