An Informal Chat with Second Life Creator Philip Rosedale

The first Forbes MEET Conference was a blast. The panels were great and the people attending were even better. The conference is more than worth the price of admission for the networking opportunities alone.

On day one I had the good fortune of sharing a lunch table with Chad Hurley and Chris Maxcy of YouTube, Neil Kleinman, Dean of the College of Media and Communication at UArts, Janet De Vries (Director of the President’s Office at UArts) and Philip Rosedale, the creator of Second Life.

Neil is doing some wonderful stuff over at UArts, including getting the College of Media Communications online and the students interested in all that the new media technologies have to offer. It would be great to see art students presenting their creations in a Second Life exhibit or theatre majors opening their shows on Second Life‘s version of Broadway.

Second Life, for those unfamiliar with it, is -to quote their website- “a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents.” You travel to Second Life’s world by downloading a small program from their website and registering your “avatar” or virtual representation. Once inside the game, you decide whether you want to be male, female or something entirely different, like a bug. Choose your clothing, change your looks… anything you want. You can also buy land to build a house on (or a cabin, high-rise or space station). Set-up a clothing store and sell your shirts to other Second Life residents. Anything is possible here…

Many companies (Sun, Pontiac) have set-up shop inside Second Life, several residents are making good money buying and selling stuff (houses, cars, condos), and even Reuters has sent one of its reporters full time into Second Life – which I find mind-boglingly wonderful.

I don’t really have all that free time at the moment, even if I could build a lucrative business inside Second Life. So I asked Phil when will I be able to send my Second Life avatar to do work for me and report back at the end of the day. Phil laughed… this simply isn’t possible, yet. But, wouldn’t that be great? I guess that, eventually, avatars will be programmable to follow certain scripts and maybe even interact on their own with other avatars. Maybe then I could create for-hire armies (ok, or gophers) inside Second Life and rent their services out for a nice sum.

On a more serious note, Phil did mention that great things are coming to Second Life’s audio/video functions, including 3-D audio, which would allow you to determine where a sound is coming from (much like you do in games like Counter-Strike).

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  • >> you decide whether you want to be male, female or something entirely different, like a bug

    one clarification – you have to be a man or a woman but can use the Second Life system to essentially turn yourself into other creatures by “dressing up” (uploading new clothes, “skins,” attaching different objects to your body). The act of becoming a “bug” for example isn’t like you select “be a bug” from a menu but more similar to dress-up. This actually makes it much cooler because everyone is unique and a true expression of the person piloting the avatar.

  • >> you decide whether you want to be male, female or something entirely different, like a bug

    one clarification – you have to be a man or a woman but can use the Second Life system to essentially turn yourself into other creatures by “dressing up” (uploading new clothes, “skins,” attaching different objects to your body). The act of becoming a “bug” for example isn’t like you select “be a bug” from a menu but more similar to dress-up. This actually makes it much cooler because everyone is unique and a true expression of the person piloting the avatar.

  • Hunter, thanks for clearing that up. I’ve only played Second Life once and wasn’t too sure how that worked. I remember being given the choice between male/female but did see a few odd characters parading around the SL universe.

    I guess that with the proper time commitment you can create pretty much anything in SL.

    I’ve just downloaded the Mac version of SL, so I’ll try to pop back in soon and get my character properly dressed.

  • Hunter, thanks for clearing that up. I’ve only played Second Life once and wasn’t too sure how that worked. I remember being given the choice between male/female but did see a few odd characters parading around the SL universe.

    I guess that with the proper time commitment you can create pretty much anything in SL.

    I’ve just downloaded the Mac version of SL, so I’ll try to pop back in soon and get my character properly dressed.