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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Second Life: The Dark Side has an article on the "Dark Side" of Second Life. No, it's not a George Lucas inspired community, but an increasing rate of crime and "first life" issues in the animated world. A program dubbed "Copybot" allows users to steal fellow Second Lifers' hard-earned (or coded) possessions, effectively devaluing the Linden dollar and causing temporary economic havoc. Some SL entrepreneurs have even shut their stores until Linden Labs takes protective action. While users employing Copybot can be banned, no further structure or regulation exists for simliar infractions.

This isn't the first time that Second Life has encountered real world issues; last spring saw a lawsuit over virtual land theft. However, for a site that sees itself more as a social networking platform than an online game, resolving such economic and social issues could be paramount to continued growth.The biggest challenge facing SL right now is scale: there simply aren't enough active users for it to be a mass media outlet (averaging about 10,000 people on the site at any given time).

Perhaps there are unique sponsorship opportunities available that could kill two birds with one stone. An established media franchise like "Law and Order" could partner with Second Life to provide both a service (law and order) while also bringing established viewers online.

Granted, real-time Law and Order: Second Life "ripped from the headlines" episodes might need a little goosing to be interesting, but it could be the ultimate media mash-up. Cops meets Survivor meets CSI meets CNN. Serialized conflict is nothing if not entertaining. Who knows? Maybe a Dark Side is just what Second Life needs.

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