SecondLife – the post apocalyptic experience


Many of you who are familiar with the term SecondLife or who were fortunate enough to experience it during its creation up to its heyday 2003-2010. Will remember it as a fundamental peak of what is possible with the power of Internet…

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Introduction:
Some children born into the age of the internet viewed it as more than pages behind url links;  From that dream many things became possible such as Java plugins, JavaScript, web applications, and so on. But some dared to dream bigger, thought outside the box and wanted to replace the primitive structure the internet has on a fundamental level. That idea was  about turning the Internet into a digital world, some of you would think I’m referring to a Digimon-like scenario… well not exactly… a one Philip Rosedale had a realistic vision but was limited by the technology of his time. he wanted it so bad he would soon dedicate his life and time to this far fetched dream. And create a single greatest human invention since telecommunication itself.

What is SecondLife
Widely perceived as a communication platform or use it as a replacement of 3D chat, majority of its users would miss on the fact that everyone could use it the way they want. In fact its a realm of realms of which purpose you can create for yourself. Imagine a Web page that will allow your users to experience your products before buying them, drive that dream car, touch this new cool smartphone, walk into places impossible to reach for low income people like the Eiffel tower and the White house, sure Google took it slow and created panoramic images. Now here where SecondLife breaks the barrier, you can JUMP from the Eiffel tower, you can host a meeting or a party in the White house! Or …wait for it….. you can build entire REAL cities and buildings and not from cheap buildings, oh no.. you can professionally design anything in-world or use your own professional CAD programs, and with LSL (SecondLife’s proprietary simplified JavaScript) scripting, there is almost nothing in real life that can’t exist in SecondLife.

The experience
In fact you can have in SecondLife things you can’t have in real life. From basic things like flying bare. To wearing iron suits or going naughty. As with the Internet itself unchecked SecondLife provided the ability for all humans to manifest all their dreams in a sense it was a simulation of our future thousands of years from now
Truth be told this technology was given to us at least 500 years before its time. And it was available to your regular PC.

SecondLife was quickly attracting the government, education facilities, businesses of all levels.
People created entire interactive worlds, lab simulations, art, model applications, flowers, celebrations, movie nights, dates, musical events, stand up comedy, physics calculations, mathematical programming experiments, international conference meetings, product simulations, strategy process development, imagine a Visio but 100 times more accurate and in 3D Where you can zoom in and out like you would with Google earth. And for the heavy powered simulations Philip imagined how you would install the platform on a local hosted server or fire it on an AWS elastic servers and then link it to the existing grid. (Lookup Hypergrid to see how users and fans made it happen later). Universities and businesses like IBM, CISCO, MICROSOFT, AMD, and more where all in love with it.

Hay-day
I wasn’t there for it, but from what i hear during 2007-2010 SecondLife was monetized as people could sell their products, its internal economy simulated the real world trade center running by multiple proprietary currencies made by programming but managed mainly by the Linden Dollar, which has an exchange stock market for converting it to and from US dollar. Yes I’m not kidding Lindens are REAL MONEY and have their worth in US Dollars.
People created breedable pets, farms, AI integration with servers to embed C# and other computer languages, ironically just like the real world, the most profitable businesses started were Fashion (thanks to furries), Adult products, and real-estate. Yes some people made millions, that is hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. And still do even today!

Doom and gloom
Every great invention faces the darkness of the greedy investors, SecondLife was no exception. As people saw what SecondLife is capable off they were aggressive to protect their investment and squeeze it for money, land prices went up, and Rosedale’s dream was crushed to ever see the day where it will be hosted into private servers.
With the rise lf popularity SecondLife was also attracted the infamous internet trolls and hackers.
No one had the experience with creating virtual reality anti viruses, so best bet was creating 3rd party viewers (think web browsers, but for SecondLife grid) many viewers were great most famously BlackDragon for graphic miracles, Phoenix Firestorm for performance and stability, and Singularity for its compatibility with AMD. All that out did SecondLife basic viewer. But at the cost of lower security and privacy from their makers.

Hackers were able to create viewers to steal other peoples creations, ripping them out and reselling them or giving them away for free devaluing the product in the market, other viewers were more evil and could steal peoples IP addresses, financial information, identity theft and so on. SecondLife was emerging with great risks and greedy investors. The money could only be spent on where it seemed profitable and security was not a concern most American business concern themselves about. Unless shit hits the fan (excuse my French), and that is exactly what happened.

Shit hit the fan
Hackers and trolls could roam in a world with great potential and LindenLabs had not exactly experts in social science or Internet security. So they did the next best thing they knew they could without properly accounting for the consequences. At the time the most open and critical collaboration spot of SecondLife’s smartest hackers, scientists, developers, programmers and artists, gathered on an open policy campus of Woodbury University.
Where two significant groups played a role in good and evil. And the conflict went out of hand, it required the involvement of Federal Authorities. SecondLife decided to cut off the cancer. Therefore by physically (well virtual physics) wiped the entire University campus worth years of production and tens of thousands of dollars, and invaluable amount of damages destroying student projects, institutional experiments, professors etc. Many accounts followed suit with their inventory destroyed that lead to loss of entire projects, while damaging other products that used nested codes or media content in a chain reaction. The damage was so severe and irreversible it blew a hole in the social structure of the world and displayed that Linden labs not only have the power but dare to use a it this nuclear option.

Aftermath
This quickly followed first life courts, legal claims, bad PR, and bad reputation, as one Woodbury University professor stated “as long as technology like this belongs to one entity capable of such destruction at the push of a button, it will not be trustworthy or reliable to invest in”. One by one universities and businesses stopped development into the world and didn’t renew their agreements with SecondLife, it was the beginning of the end. Several years later, second life began to decrease its office staff to conserve expenses it lost its market share. And blew up its chance to being acquired by Microsoft for a VR project.
It turned into a ghost town with remains of empty university buildings, you can still see AMDs once greatest digital tour and some schools.

Today second life is a spot for die-hard fans of the technology, SecondLife business, programmers, furries, and the occasional trolls (see Britbong).

Post Apocalypse
The daily real time user base decreased from its 150k ish population to 45k ish population, and became somewhat steady. SecondLife today is outliving its predictions of a dying nation since 2012, thankfully to its premium members, investors, land owners, and world creators. Its bringing a good profit that is so far considered acceptable.

Majority of today’s user base consists from disabled veterans, retired workers, physically or mentally disabled people with too much free time but little or no social lives. Even in its current state it serves as a great haven for those who need it, and some essential improvements are still rolling out.

Today’s communities
You can go anywhere in the world, speak any language, talk to any people, and if you’re elaborate enough start your own community! Many people i met host their own Role play simulators, hangout places, real estates, programs integration, fashion shops. Contrary to the belief in a dying world SecondLife hosts clubs and other chill spots great for a second time activity for people who want to chill and explore virtual reality like no other realm today and for free, the potential for today’s SecondLife World is to ground zero for international communications, a gold mine waiting to be discovered by people seeking to implement the technology wisely. be it SL or Kitely or another SL-Like Grid.

Be careful!
When going into the world do not use your personal information, do not setup your financial information using 3rd party viewers. (You can still use the Linden purchase function in 3rd party viewers)
Do not tolerate trolls and block them immediately for your own good as they attract more trolls when they stay around. Buy everything only from Marketplace or KZK, Kimono, and very famous stores, avoid shady places like Crowley Corporation and understand the risks of transactions in-world going wrong, and refunds being at discretion of seller. Linden police and reporting functions are no longer working (tragically sad) so you are on your own. There are also rumors of Linden staff banning accounts of users who leave their premium subscription, other accounts being banned for being at the wrong time, wrong place, read the current TOS carefully. Mainly the article that states all your creations can be gone anytime so have local backups whenever possible using export function Etc
Be safe!

The Future
Linden labs are trying their hand at creating a troll free professional grid that is so far hasn’t seen the light of day. meanwhile Mr Rosedale (Steve Jobs of virtual worlds) is starting over with his dream being done right with the proper technology and budget at his hands with HIGH FIDELITY.

Meanwhile the most successful of advances are the locally installed multi-grid solution created by developers who loved the technology and felt they had the responsibility to carry the torch, they created the free and vast Hyper-Grid. Independent of Linden Labs.

Special thanks to
King Cervine (Deerwood)
Kylee the Kitty
Kurt Milnaoux
Irwin Aguilar
Cecilia Zhang (Intan Dance Animations)
Utilizator (Kimono) team
Silvya (KZK) team
Ru3ari and the Russian community
Kurt Augustin
Kitely Grid Staff
Jp lazlo (TRUMP HQ)
Many more creators and property owners I had the pleasure to meet in second life.

And especially…
Philip Rosedale.

SecondLife® is a registered trademark to Linden Research, Inc.
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