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Things not going too good? Maybe you need a Second Life.

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Things not going too good?  Maybe you need a Second Life.

sl_connieUnder the Pixel Sun

by Kris Dibou

In the virtual life you’ve led
You’re neither living, nor are dead
You’ve met them all but met no one
Drifting under the pixel sun.

And as you tire of this place
The sun that doesn’t burn your face
The water that won’t make you wet
The death that never will be met

The wind that cannot touch our faces
Wand’ring through virtual places
What then is there in here for you?
Or should I ask you, perhaps, who?

What is Second Life?

If you don’t know what Second Life is… well, you should.  And we’ll give you a helping hand in that.

From the web site

Second Life® is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe.

  • From the moment you enter the World you’ll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you’ve explored a bit, perhaps you’ll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.
  • You’ll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents. Because Residents retain intellectual property rights in their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other Residents.
  • The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the inworld unit of trade, the Linden™ dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online Linden dollar exchanges.

Welcome to the Second Life world. We look forward to seeing you inworld.

Immersive world of creation and destruction, fantasy, social networking, commerce, and more…

Note: First, a little about the language.  The aggregate of SecondLife is called the Grid.  Inworld is where you are when you are in second life.  You are reading this in your First Life or RL (“Real” Life)

Second Life is all of the aspects as cited by the Linden Labs quote and more.  It is an immersive virtual world of creation and destruction, fantasy, social networking, and commerce.  It has its own three dimensional space and physics similar to First Life – but not exactly.  The physics of Second Life is believable to a point with a slight suspension of disbelief as you would allow while watching a movie and yet being intellectually and emotionally attached to the plot and characters.   A day in the surreal virtual world of Linden Labs Second Life is only two (2) hours in duration as counted in RL.  Tempus Fugit in Second Life

How big is Second Life?

At the time of this writing in Q3 of 2008

  1. There are approxiamtely 16 million residents of Second Life.
  2. Typical number of residents inworld at any one time is about 60,000.
  3. Residents lived inworld for about  100 million hours.
  4. As regards the economy $100 million US dollars of transactions took place.
  5. The amount of land owned by residents is about  65,000 acres.

Here are some very basic highlights of Second Life.  We have provided a number of links in the Resources Section at the end of this posting so you can find out more on your own.

The Act of Creation

Everything in Second Life is created by residents – everything.  Every resident in Second Life has the ability to bring objects into existence (and destroy their own creations).  A resident can create a tree or a flower; a resident can create a building – from a skyscraper to a personal residence; residents can create a horse or a fish…

And the Residents said …

Let the water teem with creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.  So the Residents created the great creatures of the sea and every moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And the Residents saw that it was good.

Get the idea?  And before the Residents could create anything Linden Labs created the Grid.  In the beginning Linden Labs created the Grid –  the heaven and the earth; the sun and the moon.  Linden Labs divided the light from the darkness.  Linden Labs called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night…

Anything is possible in Second Life

This video is a travelogue exploration through the Bogon Flux, a wonderfully strange, self-assembling, self-destructing, steampunky city comprised of rusty pipes and metal chambers.  This is a City creation in SL.  Take a look at the first 5 minutes or so.

The Avatars in Second Life

sl_sugarsellersLinden Labs did not create the Residents, but they did give the residents the ability to have a form (of their choosing)  in Second Life.  Residents are a sort of disembodied intelligence.  Residents can take on various forms called Avatars.

Avatars are the external representation of intelligent presence in Second Life – and they can change form at will.

This is Sugar Sellers.  She can move through the 3-D virtual world as one might expect in First Life.  In some places in SL you can hear her speak as if someone was sitting next to you.

Our course you would want to get some  nice clothes in Second Life.  There many places to buy clothes.  The fashion industry in Second Life is big business.  The form of currency in Linden dollars.  Check the exchange rate to see what $1 US Dollar will buy in Linden Dollars.  Total economic transactions among residents  in SL in Q3 2008 was about $100 million US dollars.  These economic transactions were Residents buy and selling virtual goods and services using very reall US dollars.

There is a link to a SL fashion show in the Resources section.

What to do in Second Life

There are thousands of places to go in SL.  Through the magic of teleportation you can get from here to there in an instant.  Like angels or ghosts, every Resident has the ability to fly – appear and disappear.  So the preferred mode of transportation for long distance is teleportation.  For short distances, flying is preferred.  Cars and other vehicles are there for amusement and a legacy of RL residents before they entered SL.

You can check SL Buzz for a current calendar of events –

Here is a sample at the time of this writing.

Upcoming Events From Until Category Location
Reno Segall Live at Tranquil Cafe
Posted by Brianna Beresford
Join Reno as he performs for the first time in the Tranquil Cafe. He will bring his unique style to the covers of your favorite rock, country and oldies tunes. Don’t miss this great performer as he rocks the Cafe, so bring a friend or make a new one tonite.
Dec 15, 2008 18:00pm
(starts in 3 days)
Dec 15, 2008 19:00pm
(lasts 1 hour)
Live Music Tranquil
Steely Decosta at Tranquil Cafe
Posted by Brianna Beresford
Steely will *steal* your attention with his renditions of the great rock and folk classics. He plays a line six Variax guitar which gives him a unique sound as he conquers the covers of Ben Harper, Amos Lee, Eagles, Joe Cocker, Loggins and Messina and many more. So make a friend or bring an old one along to the Cafe tonite.
Dec 15, 2008 18:00pm
(starts in 3 days)
Dec 15, 2008 19:00pm
(lasts 1 hour)
Live Music Tranquil
Birthday Party at Gallery of the Minotaur
Posted by Sledge Roffo
Come see my new series of work at my gallery and celebrate my RL Birthday.
Dec 13, 2008 20:00pm
(starts in 1 day)
Dec 13, 2008 21:00pm
(lasts 1 hour)
Arts and Culture Teegarden

You are on your own

Our intention is simply to get you to go to Second Life and try it out.  SL is free for non-land owners and free to explore as mch as you like.  Follow the links in the Resources section and download the SL client software.  Watch the intro video to get a feel for what you will experience.

How disturbing can this get?

There are some interesting parallels between real life (First Life), Second Life, the questions about the perception of Reality, and God.

Think about this.   A group of innovative people (Linden Labs) created Second Life – its concept and its implementation – the Grid.  Second Life has a physics engine that understands how objects move in 3 dimensional space.  Second life has a 3-D rendering engine that can draw 3 dimensional objects in space.  Combine the physics engine and rendering capability and one can watch objects move through 3 dimensional space in a way that a traditional human being would recognize as close to “Reality”.

What about the beings inside second life? At the time of this writing there are about 16 million residents of Second Life and about 60,000 people inworld  in Second Life at any one time.  First Life people are behind the avatars that are the actors in Second Life.  First life people are the intentional beings in Second Life that animate the avatars and make things happen.  In a sense, FL people are a sort of “soul” that animates each of the individual Avatars – if we can borrow that concept (soul) from medieval philosophy and theology.

First Life pushing Second Life Avatars

People in First Life pushing the Avatars around in Second Life are terraformingthe landscape, creating objects, and building things of value.  The Avatars are communicating and collaborating with each other.  What if you didn’t need people in First Life to push these folks (avatars) around in Second Life?  What if they can animate themselves?  That is, what if the avatars in SL had intention in their own right?

The concept, approach, and technology that most closely resembles the way a human brain functions is neural networks.  Traditional computers are basically digital sequential processors; neural networks are massively parallel and highly interconnected – they are analog and not digital.  The human brain contains approximately 100 Billion neurons and weights about 3 pounds.

That’s 100 Billion neurons that fits in the space of less than .5 cubic ft (your head) and weights less than 3 pounds.  In the book: The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil Kurzweil estimates that massively parallel machines that implement neural networks will be able to emulate the human brain and human intelligence by the year 2030.

Second Life Avatars pushing Second Life Avatars = Avatar First Life ?

So what if the 16 million people in Second life were replaced with 16 million neural network “black boxes” and then let them go explore their physics based 3-D world of the Grid?  What might these 16 million “black boxes” of simulated human intelligences create and build in Second Life?   What life would they make for themselves in Second Life and how much of that would be “in OUR image” – the creators of these self-animated intentional Avatars?   Would these avatars be conscious of themselves as beings?  Or, would they be pure actors more like we understand the consciousness of animals?

Playing God

After we let these 16 million Avatars loose in the 3-Dimensional of Second Life, each with the (artificial) intelligence of OUR 3-pound brain, then would we look in on them from time to time to see how they were doing?  Would we intervene in their First Life ( our Second Life) world to save them if they got themselves in trouble?  If we did intervene in their First Life world, what form would we take and how would we appear to them?

Suppose that with the Moore’s Law increase in computing power the Grid could simulate time 10, 100, or 1,000 times faster than what we experience in First Life.  To the extent that we could get the 100 Billion neuron simulation “right” could we not predict our own future?  If we could further get the World right and the physics right and set initial conditions and then “press the button” of simulation could we not follow our own evolution in limited but well defined scenarios?

How do we know we are not some sort of simulation in out First Life?  That is, how do we know that our First Life is not some other beings Second Life where they have achieved a sort of ultimate Linden Labs Grid where intelligences and physics can be simulated at will, tweaked and refined, into a never ending play of  a ‘God”.

God could bring the world into existence (as perceived by us) with a push of a button on the ultimate Grid and stop it just as fast.  This gives a possible new interpretation to … In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth…  Grid-style ala Linden Labs.

Professor Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford.

sl_dawsonDawkins has an interest in SL in a few interesting areas.  Dawkins suggests that we are already living a Second Life insofar as we precievereality only though our (limited number) of five senses which operate in a certain limited way.

This simply reiterates the philosophical question from the 1700’s  asked by David Hume in An Enquiry concerning  Human Understanding and ImmanuelKant in Critique of Pure Reason.  Its a question of epistemology.

That is, how to do we know what we know?  For Kant,  a question was How can we know the “thing in itself” without the mediation of the senses that may distort Reality?

So to Dawkins point, we already live in a virtual world as generated (constructed) by our senses.  We can’t know the thing in itself since our reason is  always  mediated and (mis/represented) by our senses.  For Dawkins, God is what is outside Reality and in a priviledged postion to see the things in themselves without the mediation and intervention of perception as we know it.

W James Au is an embedded jouralist in Second Life.
His book is: The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World
His blog is here

Au writes about an inteview with Dawkins

But there’s also fascinating things,” Dawkins continues, “for example, I think it’s reasonable to say that when you and I think we see the real world… what we’re really seeing in a sense is a simulation in our own head. And the evidence for this is the way we see visual illusions, which are just what you would expect to see if we are simulating a virtual reality in our heads.  A virtual reality which is steered and guided by the real world through our sense organs.

And that’s pretty much like Second Life, it is virtual, but it’s steered by everybody in there… steering their avatars.  And so this virtual world is getting constant input from the outside real world, from people steering their avatars about, and even building, I mean every house down there, every edifice, every golf course, whatever is down there, has been built by humans from outside controlling their avatars and controlling the bricks and virtual mortar that they use to build things.”

The reporter wonders if SL could become a kind of laboratory to observe “evolution in action”, and Dawkins assents:

I’ve been thinking about that.  I think that certainly there’s very scientific research you could do in Second Life… I mean sociological research, psychological research, it could be very interesting.

I suppose you could imagine some science fiction scenario in the distant future when people live in SL so much that they hardly even know there is an outside world and it becomes a matter of theological speculation of what goes on in the outside world.”  Interestingly, many of the ideas Dawkins casually throws out here are very much aligned with Philip Linden’s ultimate vision of Second Life

You can watch a commentary by Dawkins on Second Life here:


The wind that cannot touch our faces
Wand’ring through virtual places
What then is there in here for you?
Or should I ask you, perhaps, who?

What is Linden Labs Second Life?  And, “what in there in here for you” ?

Technology people will be interested in the SL in its 3-D rendering, physics engine, and the Linden Labs Scripting Language that animates objects in Second Life.

The mass of people will see SL as a form of Social Networking with a strong (and dangerous) pull into a immersive Virtual World of unReality.  SL can become a dangerous fantasy.  In SL almost anything is possible.  SL may be redeeming.  That is, if you are overweight in RL you can have an athletic build in SL.  If you are not good looking in RL you can be handsome or beautiful in SL.  If you can’t strike up a conversation with the opposite sex in RL you have more of a chance in SL.  If you can’t dance in RL you can in SL – all you need to do is go to a SL Dance Club, ask a partner to dance, and then go to a “pose ball” on the dance floor – your SL avatar knows all the popular dance moves.  The non-redeeming aspects of SL – the places you can go in SL to live out fantasysof your choosing – we won’t mention them here – you can find those places for yourself.  The unofficial estimate is that 30% of the economic transactions in SL are for goods and services in these latter mentioned areas.

Academics like Dawkins will endlessly speculate… “I think that certainly there’s very scientific research you could do in Second Life… I mean sociological research, psychological research, it could be very interesting”

Playing God. Linden Labs Second Life is no different in principle than what has passed for 2,000 years of theology – whether theologians in any generation have recognized their work as this or not.  The work of theology has been to create symbolic worlds of meaning and value into which human beings can embed themselves to give meaning and value to human existence and to understand the “human condition”.  The success, multiplicity, and longevity of religious and theological systems demonstrates the ease at which human beings can embed themselves  into symbolic worlds.   In SL the embeddedness is via the Grid.  In “RL”  the embeddedness is words and symbols carried religion, theology, and by social systems

You can read more on this latter interpretation  in The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann


A short intro to SL

Watch a decent Second Life Documentary

Inworld events calendar at Second Life

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Rapture for the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge by Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann

How to create a car in second life

Ohio University Seond Life Campus

Watch a Second Life fashion show– clothes for your Avatar.  You want to look good in SL – don’t you?  Take advantage of the exchange rate of US dollars to Linden dollars and get some nice clothes.  “You have only one chance to make a first impression”.

Watch a Second Life Wedding. Do you have trouble finding a wife in your First Life?  Maybe you should get a Second Life wife and a Second Life Wedding ceremony

See you under the Pixel  Sun !! – Or maybe NOT!


Written by frrl

December 13, 2008 at 8:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

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