Second Second Life

My post yesterday, asking what would happen to our body image as people move their physical existence into the virtual world, treated this as a far-off Sci-Fi possibility. But in fact this is a question that has relevance in the here and now.

In various recent discussions I’ve had with friends and colleagues, the idea has continued to surface that the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook has a specific purpose: To create a modern spin on Second Life.

Unlike Linden Lab’s original creation, which never really took off as a mainstream product (although it did capture the imagination of many), Facebook is about as mainstream as it gets. Also, the biggest problem in Second Life (as well as its predecessors, such as “The Palace”) — what to do once you get there — already has many ready answers in the Facebook universe.

In a possible Facebook reboot of the concept, you would still be able to trade news, photos and quips with your friends, except now you could be doing these things while interacting with your friends’ 3D avatars.

Since people also use Facebook for serious things, it will be interesting to see what sorts of avatars will be created. Appearing as a ten foot tall hot pink one horned panda bear may be fun, but it might not be the best strategy for closing a business deal.

As we move our public selves on-line, we may very well end up opting for something distinctly human in appearance, even if that’s less fun.

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