In the lull after Christmas, I have had chance to spend some time in my virtual domains in Second Life. I know this leaves some readers cold, but I find the whole concept of virtual worlds fascinating. I think they foreshadow the future of the internet. Yes, like the early 'net, they are currently populated by a strange combination of the earnest, the nerdy and the wacko (apart from my very sensible friends, of course) but they will come to be part of our everyday lives in ways as yet unimagined.
My "avatar" at the door of my SL "home", Castle Nanga
For now, they are a space for creativity. For example, an SL friend is currently working on an exhibition of photographs about the history of Second Life. Her subjects are the SL pioneers - those who were there when SL was 16 "sims" (simulators or regions) as opposed to more than 13,000 today. She has had many interesting conversations with these people, some of whom still own well-known clubs and other businesses in-world. One of my own longest running activities in Second Life is my art gallery, which features a private collection of artworks made in SL, as well as providing free exhibition space to my favoured artists. There are also theatre companies, literary circles (I have read at poetry readings, as has JMB of the Nobody Important blog) and even a Bar Association.
The Airship Liner "Limoncello", an art gallery in flight
It has to be said that most activity is less cultured. For many users, it's just a kind of 3D chatroom, with all that entails. Others are using it as a platform for all kinds of roleplaying (RP) games. There is, for example, a thriving community of Doctor Who fans, and several enthusiasts competing to manufacture the best Tardis in SL (where even the chameleon circuit works)
My Tardis, parked neatly on the shuttle deck of the USS Colin Campbell (see below)
I am not particularly adept at building there (though I have my moments). I tend to do the master plan and general design for a project, which is then built by my long-term SL friend and business partner, Abramth Asp (pictured below). Abramth is an SL tech wizard and deals with the problems of the tenants in our 70 virtual apartments and houses. I could not operate on such a scale in SL, given my real life commitments, without him.
Abramth Asp, SL master builder
It's easy and free to join. All you need to do is register for a free account and download the client software. You will only need to buy land and pay land taxes ("tier" in the SL jargon) if you want to build your own stuff. Most of the fun can be had for free and you can always buy some of the local currency if you want to dress your avatar up more elegantly.
One of my two apartment buildings
My city in the sky above my castle (with "The Lady Ellee" airship moored top left)
My marina (where JMB rents her home)
My Japanese-style housing development
If you decide to explore, feel free to send me an instant message there. My avatar's name is LastDitch Writer. If you are a Blogpower member, ask me to invite you to the Blogpower SL group, which has its own "common room" in my "Sky City" complex. These pictures from my own lands in SL should give you some idea of what to expect. You are most welcome to visit anytime.
Finally, here's my latest SL acquisition, an enormous space ship which, following my own tradition, I have named after a Blogpower blogger. Congratulations Colin. Here's the link to follow to visit your namesake.