This is really interesting: Linden Lab announced that they open the sources of the viewer software needed to access the Second Life grid to the public so that everybody is now able to change and (hopefully) improve the software. It might be ported to different devices etc. and that immediately reminded me of the Metaverse as depicted in „Snow Crash„, the novel by Neal Stephenson.
As I introduced before Second Life is the first virtual environment that can be modified to a huge extend by its participants who can buy virtual land and build housing on it as well as any kind of item like vehicles, clothing, virtually any sort of good. The creator of the item keeps the copyright (in a kind of literary sense) to it and therefor can sell it to the public. Since you can buy the in-game money, the Linden Dollar, with real money (and of course change it back) some people already make a living from creating virtual goods or offering virtual services. Some big companies have buildings in Second Life (Reuters keeps a correspondent there) and sell virtual versions of what they do in the real world. From time to time real-world artists play virtual concerts in Second Life. The project, which I think can’t be called a game any more, has been growing pretty fast recently and has (of today) nearly two and a half million residents. Nearly One million US dollar were spent during the last 24 hours.
However, with opening the client software for extension by the community Second Life may imho extend its success by reaching on platforms that have not been available before. Maybe people will soon be able to enter their Second Life through the cell phone or public net accesses (like described in „Snow Crash„) and where nowadays the world wide web is used to present your virtual self it might be replaced in the not-so-far future by Second Life. I’m really kind of excited about the possibilities, I wish I would have more time to dig deeper into Second Life because I’ve been there for a few times and understanding how it works takes some time. The interface could be improved (it’s not very intuitive) to make it easier to access by common people (which is just happening to the www through web 2.0). It’s really worth to have an eye on that!