Second Life, the online world created by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, has become a phenomenon. Touting nearly 2 million users at the end of last year, the virtual environment allows users to create an online persona that can shop and attend school and work and go skydiving -- almost anything one could do in real life.
Many businesses are doing what they can to ride the wave of success, launching advertising campaigns for their products and sponsoring, for instance, an "island" on which Second Life users can go clubbing and otherwise entertain themselves.
Others have noted that the Second Life environment is a great collaboration tool, pointing out that attending a virtual event at an IBM-sponsored pavilion gave them more access to IBM execs and experts on the topic than they would have at the typical product launch or training session -- with the added bonus that they didn't have to deal with crowds or traffic.
We're still skeptical given that it's not real, but nonetheless, it's out there. And apparently, Linden Lab wants to strike while the iron's hot.
CNN Money reported this morning that the company is issuing open source versions of the Second Life client software for Windows, Mac and Linux. Open source users will have access to and be able to modify the client source code, which the company hopes will lead to rapid improvement of the product, according to CEO Philip Rosedale.
If you think about it, unleashing open source developers on Second Life makes sense on more than one level. Everything they do requires working together in a virtual environment. Why not work together on a virtual environment?