Thursday, December 14, 2006

Second Life exponentiates to 2 million residents

Today the virtual world Second Life welcomed its 2 millionth resident, exponentiating in growth from the 1 million resident mark on October 18, 2006 in less than two months and after barely having 100,000 residents at the beginning of 2006.

It is not Second Life’s 2 million residents, 10,000-20,000 of whom are in-world at any given time, nor its $650,000 per day economy ($237 million per year; $119 per capita, exceeding that of the Congo, Ethiopia and Burundi) that signals that the immersive world medium has arrived, but rather the existence of its opposition. The Register often highlights critical and problematic aspects of Second Life which it refers to as Sadville, for example citing "saddenfreude" and an analysis that time spend in Second Life contributes to global warming, as an avatar and a Brazilian consume roughly the same amount of electricity. (TV and media center electrical consumption was not mentioned.)

The brewing anti-SL movement has even moved in-world in hopes of better capturing SLer attention. The World Development Movement's anti-poverty campaign reminds passersby that there are still problems in what they refer to as "the Real World" such as a preventable child death every 3 seconds.

The ongoing presuppositions of the anti-SL movement are strange. They seem to think that SLers are 1) responsible for and 2) capable of contributing to world-problem solving in some unique way that TV watchers for example are not; and that 3) SLers are in fact not working on physical world problem solving in the physical world or via Second Life although there is much evidence to the contrary (such as the awareness raising Darfur sim where SLers can experience the refugee camp experience more closely).

When was the last time TV watchers or online Bix contest participants were blasphemed for watching TV or surfing the web instead of working on the world’s problems in their relaxation time?