Homeless in Second Life

On: December 5, 2006
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About Michael Stevenson
I am a lecturer and PhD candidate in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. I've been a contributor to Masters of Media since 2006, though I now only post occasionally. A short list of papers and projects can be found here


A while back I promised to become the first bum on second life, but it seems someone has beat me to it. The NGO Mensajeros de la Paz has created a homeless, teenage avatar to raise awareness (and money?) for abandoned and abused children in developing countries.

Not trying to take anything away from this initiative, but I do wonder how Second Life keeps getting press.. who are the real world avatars that make it such a big deal? There are those that point to new opportunities for experimentation with identity, and those that emphasize the ‘real world consequences’ like making (or losing) money.. I dunno, in both cases Second Life isn’t especially new, is it?
At picnic ’06 there were marketing executives that were very happy about ’embracing’ second life so soon. Maybe we could go ahead and start a Second Life backlash (which, barring a YouTube-like sale, is probably the only real measure of success on the Web)?

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5 Responses to “Homeless in Second Life”
  • December 7, 2006 at 6:02 pm

    Second Life is a nice idea, but I tried it a few times and I must say that is downright boring. Maybe I expected it to be a game (which it clearly isn’t, although games can be played inside the enviroment), but all I got was a whole bunch of people standing together typing on a keyboard. What you also said: it’s nothing really new. It’s everything old in a new coat.

  • December 8, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    Well it can be fun, when you get to know people. And it is true: you will have to find things to keep yourself busy. For example: go shopping for a nice outfit, buy a house and decorate it. Or buy a piece of land and build your own house on it. Furthermore you can go to parties to meet people. I know quite some dutch people in second life, so that’s fun. I’ve attended an SL wedding, a tournament, town meeting with the queen of my island. I have organized parties myself, with a DJ and all.

    That way it becomes fun. I used to have my own land, but i sold it again and now I still have my house on Shivar.

    I don’t really spent a lot of time on SL anymore, because I am too busy in RL and because people take SL too seriously some times. But I still like SL as an research case study.

  • December 13, 2006 at 1:31 am

    Clay Shirky’s got a piece on Second Life up, expressing somewhat the same sentiment. “2 million users” is thoroughly debunked

  • December 14, 2006 at 12:34 am

    From Clay’s article: ‘I suspect Second Life is largely a “Try Me” virus, where reports of a strange and wonderful new thing draw the masses to log in and try it, but whose ability to retain anything but a fraction of those users is limited.’

    That sounds very much like my own experience..

  • January 28, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    […] Die Währung ist auch nur eine Randerscheinung um den Kern Aufmerksamkeit, die wirtschaftliche Potenz. Eine weitere Möglichkeit bietet die eigene Definition über das Leiden. Virtuelles Leiden? In einer Welt, die eigentlich nicht limitiert ist in ihren Rohstoffen und Ressourcen? Im Grundansatz ist Knappheit nicht vorhanden. Sie wird künstlich geschaffen. Aufmerksamkeit durch Leiden und dem gezielten Zurschaustellen dieser. Auch in der Darstellung des leidenden Ursprungs-Ich in Foren und im persönlichen Profil. Sie ist ansatzweise mit der Aufmerksamkeit zu vergleichen, die echte Opfer durch öffentliche Berichterstattung erfahren. Ein subversiver Ansatz dazu ist der des Obdachlosen in Secondlife: http://mastersofmedia.hum.uva.nl/2006/12/05/homeless-in-second-life/ […]

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