1 October 2006

Living a second life [The Economist]

Be the first to share

Second Life
“Second Life is not a game,” writes The Economist this week. “Admittedly, some residents—there were 747,263 as of late September, and the number is growing by about 20% every month—are there just for fun. They fly over islands, meander through castles and gawk at dragons. But increasing numbers use Second Life for things that are quite serious. They form support groups for cancer survivors. They rehearse responses to earthquakes and terrorist attacks. They build Buddhist retreats and meditate.”

“By emphasising creativity and communication, Second Life is different from other synthetic online worlds. Most ‘massively multi-player online role-playing games’, or MMORPGs (pronounced ‘morpegs’), offer players pre-fabricated or themed fantasy worlds. Second Life, by contrast, was designed from inception for a much deeper level of participation.”

“Unlike other virtual worlds, which may allow players to combine artefacts found within them, Second Life provides its residents with the equivalent of atoms—small elements of virtual matter called ‘primitives’—so that they can build things from scratch.”

“Because everything about Second Life is intended to make it an engine of creativity, Linden Lab, the San Francisco firm that launched Second Life commercially three years ago, early on decided that residents should own the intellectual property inherent in their creations. Second Life now allows creators to determine whether the stuff they conceive may be copied, modified or transferred. Thanks to these property rights, residents actively trade their creations.”

Second Life’s total devotion to what is fashionably called ‘user-generated content’ now places it, unlike other MMORPGs, at the centre of a trend called Web 2.0. This term usually refers to free online services delivered through a web browser—for example, social networks in which users blog and share photos. Second Life is not delivered through a web browser but through its own software, which users need to install on their computers. In other respects, however, it is now often held up as the best example of Web 2.0.”

“Second Life is also attracting the attention of corporations and advertisers from the real world hoping to attract the metaverse’s residents. Publishers now organise book launches and readings in Second Life. The BBC has rented an island, where it holds music festivals and parties. Sun Microsystems is preparing to hold in-world press conferences, featuring avatars of its top executives. Wells Fargo, an American bank, has built a branded ‘Stagecoach’ island, where avatars can pull Linden dollars out of a virtual cash machine and learn about personal finance. Starwood, a hotel and resort chain, is unveiling one of its new hotels in the virtual world.”

“Toyota is the first carmaker to enter Second Life. It has been giving away free virtual vehicles of its Scion brand and, in October, will start selling all three Scion models. Toyota really hopes that an ‘aftermarket’ develops as avatars customise their cars and sell them on, thus spreading the brand ‘virally’. Toyota will be able to observe how avatars use the cars and might, conceivably, even get ideas for engineering modifications in the real world.”

Read full story

Be the first to share
2 February 2016
Do patients really want to be empowered?
Katherine Benjamin, digital services manager at NHS England, asks some clever questions in this Medium piece: "Digital health services and wearable technologies are meant to empower users to change behaviours and become better informed, more engaged …
30 January 2016
Design thinking for museums
The Design Thinking for Museums site is the outcome of a 2012 partnership between the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school). It is conceived as a …
30 January 2016
[Book] Asian Perspectives on Digital Culture
Asian Perspectives on Digital Culture: Emerging Phenomena, Enduring Concepts Edited by Sun Sun Lim, Cheryll Soriano Routledge, 2016 214 pages Abstract In Asia, amidst its varied levels of economic development and diverse cultural traditions and political regimes, the Internet and …
29 January 2016
[Report] Consumers more frustrated by smart home apps than devices
New report by Argus Insights suggests disappointing apps break user experience, may cause decline in consumer delight over time. The Smart Home ecosystem comprises both hardware devices and software apps and together they are supposed to …
28 January 2016
The Power of Privacy – documentary film
In this half-hour film (commissioned by The Guardian and Silent Circle), Aleks Krotoski travels the world to undergo challenges that explore our digital life in the 21st century. Watch her be stalked and hacked, fight to …
27 January 2016
Human-machine interactions and the coming age of autonomy
Melissa Cefkin is a Principal Scientist & Design Anthropologist at Nissan Research in Silicon Valley where she explores the potential of having autonomous vehicles as interactive agents in the world. In an article that was published …
27 January 2016
Remaking Ford into a user experience-driven company
Ford CEO Mark Fields recently declared that Ford would be remade as a user-experience driven company: "We have obviously a lot experience in the car business, over 113 years, and our differentiation is going to be …
26 January 2016
Designing for Crisis, Design for Real Life
It’s easy to design for the idealized user, someone who’s smart, calm, and informed. It’s less easy, and thus more important, to design for a more realistic user: still smart, but harried and uncertain. The …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

18 January 2016
Experientia website completely reshaped

Experientia is pleased to announce that we’ve started 2016 with a brand new website. Experientia’s now officially 10 years old, and we decided that the best way to celebrate is by building a new website that showcases our growth – with new projects, new people in the staff, and two new locations in Lausanne and […]

1 January 2016
For when things get personal…
13 October 2015
Experientia report: Design for ageing gracefully

Design for Ageing Gracefully Rethinking Health and Wellness for the Elderly: Public Services Asian Insights & Design Innovation, DesignSingapore Council October 2015

29 September 2015
[Experientia book] Ethnography on elderly health and wellness

As we age, we increasingly depend on public services and the community for support. Well-designed public services can greatly affect the lives of the elderly and their experiences of healthcare. Experientia collaborated with DesignSingapore Council on understanding how the elderly interact with public services and how we can look towards improving their lives with design. […]

2 July 2015
Getting citizens involved in protecting fragile energy environments

A new project funded under the FP7 European Commission framework is getting citizens involved in testing new tools for reducing energy consumption during peak loads, in the hope that its pilot program will set the new state of the art for protecting locations with fragile electricity supplies. One of France’s most fragile regions The Provence-Alpes-Côte […]

5 May 2015
Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록 in Design 4 Disaster

Design 4 Disaster features an engaging illustrated safety manual for ship passengers, a personal project by Experientia designer Dohun YuLuck Jang 유록. After the Korean ferry accident last year, Yuluck (who is Korean) wanted to find a way to make safety manuals more interesting to read. He spent one year designing an interactive safety guide […]

See all articles