Second Life

When Cory Ondrejka of Second Life started talking the other night, I had my new (graphically adequately powerful) laptop open.  If you think it's hard to concentrate on a presentation when you're looking at email, just imagine how difficult it is to focus when you're in a different world.

Second Life is well worth looking into, and Cory (SL's Vice President for Product Development) is a very patient man.  He's a good ambassador for Second Life; he'll answer any question thoughtfully and carefully, and he has an open mind.

Cory met with a small group here in NY on Tuesday night, and then went up to Yale to see the ISP fellows and Yochai Benkler's class; he's speaking at New York Law School today.

After a while, I put the laptop lid down so I could listen closely.  (I'm not a very agile presence in Second Life just yet; if you see an avatar spinning and gesturing meaninglessly, that's me.  The new laptop just came into my life this week.)

What Cory had to say was fascinating.  Fully half of SL's subscribers are busy building interactive, scripted objects, using a C-like scripting language.  Artists and all sorts of other people have adopted the SL language, and they're producing like mad.  They're building museums and stores and planes and taxis, both individually and in groups.  Cory says a big bump in productivity happened after SL announced it was giving IP rights to subscribers in their creations.

“What?” you say.

Well, it would be good for Cory to create an IP-free island in Second Life to test this hypothesis, but it appears that having the spur (or carrot) of IP rights has actually had its intended effect:  people are building.  It's a green world; a place where copyright is being used to support the overall interest of the place.  Lots of great questions here; but mostly it seems to me that this isn't creating a litigious world (at least not yet). It's creating a creative burst of energy, as people buy land and build. 

Cory kindly did a demonstration of “Property Law: The Game” for us.  I had sent him a list of adverse possession elements, and he had the idea of providing lots of building materials and asking students “build what, where, and be there for how long” in order to prove title.  Gripping.  The next step is to do a very short course module “in world.”  Small is possible.  Big is overwhelming.

So I'm a huge fan of Second Life, and I hope to be able to figure out how to talk to the people there at some point.  (The avatars clump, predictably; we all look for companionship.)  And the next time Cory comes to talk, I'll remember to be in the same world.

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