Westworld or Snow Crash?

A simple question, really– what is Secondlife.com? Is it the Metaverse of Snow Crash? Or the unlimited behavior bacchanal of Westworld?

Second LifeAlternatively, is a positive future? I was talking with someone with extensive experience in multi-player online gaming environments yesterday, and he noted that there is an absolute sort of equality in online games. You aren’t judged by any real world criteria (race, class, country, appearance, gender). You rise or fall in the game by the values of the game and your ability to communicate with others.

Supposedly, Second Life has 134,000 users at the moment, and something like $170,000 of real world commerce each day. If this grows to something like FaceBook, what will be created, displaced and changed in the way we view ourselves?

Maybe more importantly, if there is a significant shift to such an online world, what does it say about our real world? Are there things about our communities and general media (ugly and fear-filled news reports, sub-standard schools, divisive politics, difficult challenges overseas) that make the online worlds so attractive? Once again, the greatest value of technology may not be in what it does or can do, but how it allows us to look at our world in fresh and maybe revealing ways.

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