Clare Linden here, with an interesting challenge, to write a few words about Second Life in 2008 from the point of view of International, at Linden Lab. Not wishing to disappoint, I begin at Wikipedia, and note this intriguing definition of International: ”In American English, “international” is commonly used to signify “outside of the country”. For the rest of us (non-American English!), the word “international” would describe interactions between two or more Nations as in “an International football match”.
And there it starts; on our interconnected, mutually dependent, symbiotic, globally incorporated planet, the definition of “International” is different in two Nations that share the same language!
Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.
— Charles M. Schulz US cartoonist (1922 – 2000)
Second Life in 2008
So, perhaps the answer is to take us to a world where such trivialities are removed and it is much more likely that you will find yourself in an Irish Pub singing along with at least 4 other nationalities or maybe visiting an art installation by talented people who come from countries you haven’t heard of before, or learning a language with native speakers, all thanks to technology visionaries who wanted to make the whole world a better place.
There’s been much to do and quite a bit of change around Linden Lab during 2008, not least a realization of how truly global the appeal of Second Life is. Almost every country on the planet now has Second Life devotees who enjoy unleashing their creativity, taking part in community activity, or communicating with colleagues and friends in their own Second Life world.
During 2008, 60% of the residents in Second Life were from countries other than the US. For much of the year M Linden has spoken passionately about the improvement Linden Lab wants to bring to the Second Life experience, and that includes the International experience.
Growth at International Linden Lab offices. Linden Lab has expanded its international presence during 2008, with new engineering and web development staff joining in Europe and Singapore and with additional focus on marketing and community in Europe where 40% of Second Life Residents are located.
Second Life use Expanding Internationally. Meanwhile the use of virtual worlds is expanding into many more walks of life including business, education and the arts around the globe.
It has also been a year of discovery, of seeing how Second Life can impact the lives of people everywhere and produce amazing headlines. Some of the many examples of international Second Life projects include the following:
- International Travel Destinations. Connecting many of the major city initiatives is also something that has featured strongly across global communities in Second Life. Most major potential tourist or travel destinations now have a presence inworld, so much so, that a number of International travel destinations are now linked up in the Sister Cities initiative, developed to help build community and share experience and knowledge.
- Keio University’s Brain-Computer Interface. A Japanese man, almost fully paralyzed, can walk again — in the virtual world “Second Life.” This news piece from Japan talked about how researchers led by Jun’ichi Ushiba of the Keio University created a brain-computer interface (BCI) that let the 41-year-old patient operate a PC using only his thoughts.
- POSICAL – Showing the way for Japanese companies looking for an edge in the tight local labor market. Solution provider POSICAL runs a job hunt program for Japanese blue chip corporations where they are able to introduce and promote themselves to candidates with the goal of influencing their job choices – this is a popular activity in real life Japan that most recently was held inworld with cosmetics leader SHISEIDO.In addition job interviews are conducted and it is being kept as virtual as possible…for example he won’t look at the students’ resume until 2 rounds of interviews are completed in SL.
- Virtual Montmartre reproduces the famous Montmartre district in Paris (with Le Moulin Rouge) of the early 20th century. This was a period rich in artistic, political, musical and literary activity. Virtual Montmartre is linked to Virtual Harlem. Thus, you can walk from the sunlit Paris to the starlit New York of the past and visit both historic places. The aim of Virtual Montmartre is to enable visitors (and students) to experience life in early 20th century Paris, during the emergence of jazz, in parallel with other artistic happenings of many kinds. Virtual Montmartre is an initiative by CATI at the University of Paris IV (la Sorbonne), Canadian-based educational software firm Pleiades, and University of Central Missouri professor Bryan Carter. Virtual Harlem was also built by Pleiades in collaboration with professor Carter and the University of Central Missouri. Pictures and more info are available on the University’s website and the Pleiades’ website. [note, edited to correct credits.]
SLurl to Virtual Montmartre/128/128/41
In Germany, the Volkshochschule Goslar offers certification in navigation for pleasure craft, amongst many other Second Life courses, under its Adult education program.
- Arch Diocese Freiburg
In November 2008, the Arch Diocese Freiburg launched its presence in Second Life, opening the virtual reproduction of the Romanic Cathedral St. Georg which is aged more than 1100 years. The project “Church in virtual worlds” is exploring opportunities and limitations of churchly engagement in 3D virtual worlds and is so far a big success. Amongst the offerings within the project, visitors may join in prayers and services by text or voice chat and attend bible forums. In addition, the Arch Diocese Freiburg is offering several discussion forums around this project as well as more general topics like faith, spirituality, theology etc. Also, all residents are invited to tour the virtual Cathedral St. Georg, that originally is located at the island of Reichenau in the famous Bodensee.
SLurl to Arae /227/87/28
In Italy, the real life and Second Life artistic communities were brought together in the beautiful renaissance city of Florence for a wonderful and thought provoking blending of inworld creativity and the ancient artifacts of communities in the Anthropological Museum.
There are many fine examples of the practical use of Second Life in healthcare, including the training of doctors and nurses in the United Kingdom.
For business, UK-based Rivers Run Red has developed a cost-effective meeting option through the Immersive Workspaces solution, for companies looking to manage through the challenging economic times. Rivers Run Red is a Linden Lab technology partner.
- UK Diabetes – has an island in Second Life where visitors can learn about Diabetes. In conjunction with its ‘silent awareness’ campaign the aim to is to help educate the public about diabetes. A key feature of the island is the ability for visitors to input information regarding their diet. Their avatar and its behavior then changes depending upon what it has consumed. This is a great story for health and wellbeing, and how Second Life is being used to highlight important issues.SLurl to UK Diabetes
So what might be the shape of things to come in 2009? With such difficult real world situations, 2009 has already been written off in some corners and it is going to find it tough to be a bright and shiny year but there is still a lot of opportunity for Second Life in many parts of the world. Second Life can bring people together, save on travel costs, provide entertainment, educate, and above all provide some fun experiences that can truly impact a global community.
And Linden Lab’s New Year resolution for the International community? We’d like to make it better to experience Second Life no matter what language you speak or country you come from.
Localized Experiences in more languages for Second Life Residents in 2009. With 60% of the residents in Second Life from countries other than the US, many from countries that almost certainly do not have English as a first language, one of the key goals for 2009 will be to extend a more localized experience to many more Residents. Look out for more help, information and community connections in more languages during the next few months.
See you in 2009 in Second Life as we continue the journey!