Introduction to Second Life

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .
geo dome
A screenshot of a location in Second Life.

This place is part of a land called “The Future”. This dome and most things in it are built by Henry Segerman.

Second Life is a online virtual world, with 40 thousand users logged in at any moment as of 2010-05. Basically, you operate a software that shows a interactive computer-generated 3D world much like video games, but everything in the “game” is constructed by the users themselves, and you can interact with other users, including chatting in text or voice, and buying and selling virtual land with real money. What people do inside Second Life is entirely up to them (as in real life). And, as it happens, what people do mostly in Second Life are pretty much what people do in real life. The major activities are: sex, shopping, socializing, dancing.

(notable differences is that in Second Life, there's no famine, war. (There are some politics (pertaining to Real Life politics, but also spontaneous in-world power struggle) and religion.) Since, after all, Second Life is a game and people don't die in it. There're no survival pressures.).

My mathematician friend Henry Segerman introduced me to 2nd life. (also because it appeared in Time Mag in 2006-12.)

Part of my interest in Second Life is to build geometric models. (See: Introduction to 3D Graphics Programing) I have for the past couple years sought for a software system where i can build 3D objects, with abilities to do interactive manipulation, such as moving a slider to change a parametric surface's parameter, interactive rotation , animations, and most of all, walk-thru in it as if it is a building (See: Geometry: Requirements for a Visualization System for 2020).

Second Life is not just the answer to my mathematical fantasies, but because of its Real-World nature, being run and build by real people, and with real money market of the virtual dollars it uses, is nothing but a technological revolution with great social impact. It is essentially the virtual-3D-world-wide-web dream of VRML envisioned around 1995.

Anshe Chung business week 20060501
Anshe Chung on the cover of Business Week 2006-05-01.

Anshe Chung is famouly known for being the first to become a real world millionaire by selling entirely virtual items and virtual services inside Second Life. There are few others became wealthy thru sl. For more business aspects of sl, see: Second Life Product Market Value.


Addendum, 2007-01-21, 2007-03-20, 2008-10-21.

Note that Second Life is not the first “virtual world” (however that is defined), and, it has many competitors. (for a list: Virtual world)

When virtual world like Second Life becomes household activity as the internet is today, it will probably not be known as Second Life or run by one single company, but diverse companies with servers all over the world, where the different networks are all inter-connected. (This situation may be likened to The Internet in its early history (1980s-1995), telephone network, Instant Messaging networks, or today's social networks.

Today, there are 40k to 60k users online in Second Life at any given time. There are 32k regions. Almost all major US universities has a course or presence in Second Life. And, many tech corporations, such as IBM, AMD, etc has a presence. Even some country's government has a presence. See: Second Life Demographics 2009.

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Second Life Gallery

  1. Introduction to Second Life
  2. Mont Saint-Michel
  3. Alice
  4. Non-human Animals
  5. Exotic Architectures
  6. High-tech Architectures
  7. Chinese Hell, Japanese Architecture, Full Rigged Ship
  8. Art
  9. Atomium
  10. Flying Ammonite by Bathsheba
  11. Seaslug Ride
  12. A Blowfly Ride
  13. Cybernetics
  14. Buy Lindens Special Offer
  15. Chthonic Syndicate Improvement Suggestions
  16. Sword Fighting
  17. Dancing
  18. There Be Dragons In Second Life
  19. US Eagle with Machine Gun
  20. Education
  21. Emerald Viewer DOS Fiasco
  22. Emerald Viewer Banned by Linden Labs; What Viewer to Use?
  23. Evil Lords In Second Life
  24. Fairies
  25. Furries, page 1
  26. Furries 2
  27. Furries 3
  28. Furries 4
  29. Second Life Furry Soldiers
  30. Second Life Combat: Military 2042
  31. Second Life Combat: Chthonic Syndicate
  32. Second Life Futuristic Cities
  33. Indoor Games
  34. Outdoor Games
  35. Pretty Girls
  36. Warrior Girls
  37. Nymwars: Google Plus Account Real Name Policy Debate
  38. How To Fight In Gor Sims
  39. Art of War - MLT Style
  40. Guys
  41. Second Life Hamster Ball Roller Coaster Video
  42. Gaming Headset Reviews
  43. How to Increase Frames Per Second
  44. Second Life Screenshot Gallery
  45. Second Life Gallery Thumbnails Index
  46. Leisure Activities
  47. Installing Second Life Viewer for Linux 64bits
  48. Battle Droids
  49. Transformers
  50. Droids
  51. Musical Instruments
  52. Mythological Creatures In Second Life
  53. Second Life Gallery: About the Screenshots
  54. Airplanes
  55. Politics
  56. Player's Frequently Asked Questions
  57. Architectures: Learning Centers
  58. Software for Video Capture and Screencasting
  59. semigod.com Dead Snow Avatar
  60. Second Life Combat Xah Videos
  61. Second Life Debug Settings
  62. Second Life Demographics 2009
  63. Dragonfly
  64. Second Life Outfit Links (Inventory Links) Explained
  65. Second Life Keyboard Shortcuts Cheatsheet
  66. Second Life Login Name, Display Name
  67. Second Life Product Market Value
  68. Math
  69. Math, page 2
  70. Math, page 3
  71. Math Lorenz Attractor
  72. Second Life Combat Videos
  73. Second Life Militaries List
  74. Second Life Military Map
  75. Second Life Problems and Improvements
  76. Second Life Rich List
  77. Second Life Shop: Froggles
  78. Second Life Viewer 2 Problems
  79. Misc Info On Second Life Viewers
  80. Shopping
  81. Shopping in a Fairy Land
  82. Superheros
  83. Tinies
  84. Toons
  85. Second Life Tech Warfare Guide
  86. Second Life Tech Warfare Guide Bot Info
  87. Xah's Edu Corner
  88. Xah Bump Squeak
  89. Chthonic Syndicate Dive Roll Movement Enhancer
  90. XstreetSL Item Disappears
  91. Zelda, Breath of the Wild, Inscriptions
  92. Second Life Dive Roll Movement Enhancer Comparison
  93. Soul Caliber Voldo Dance