Jun. 18th, 2006

The Almighty Linden.

I just heard of a geezer who made $250,000 selling virtual real estate.

Cue Second Life, from Linden Labs.

Overlook for a moment the benevolent but kinda scary meglomaniac founder Michael Linden. He gave his name to the company, the currency (Lindens), the economy and gives frequent speeches about the state of things virtually just as Al and Ben comment on the economy in the real world.

Focus instead on the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars in real money has exchanged hands between the members of  this uber-Sims community, and that Second Life has already spawned the world’s first (real) lawsuit over virtual property.

Which means we are now at the point in life where we are forced to differentiate between what is real and virtual; we have arrived at the  moment foreshadowed by Bladerunner. In the movie, Deckard has a hard time telling the difference between artifical life and the real thing.

In deciding between Linden and the Plaintiff, who reportedly hacked a Second Life auction for sim (the name for artifical land in Second Life), a court in New Jersey has to grapple with the same collison of realities.

Let’s not trivialize the grandeur of Linden’s Second Life dream. They have created a parallel world with sophisticated laws, a functioning economy and active members. Taking their cue from Moses and the Big Guy Linden has made key decisions about society like how large your head can be, whether you have to listen to your neighbor’s tunes, and how, exactly, you should go about matching buyers and sellers of virtual property.  And they are living with those decisions every day. 

They are the first self-appointed Gods of the ether.

But unlike the Lord they have to answer the phone and remain accountable to their flock (that has to suck).

Remember all those people who made millions selling domain names while the rest of us searched for the Next Big Start Up? And how eBay made millions selling other’s crap? Or how the Star Registry will name a piece of the Cosmos after your cat, Tiddles?

Well, Linden are selling an experience. They have created a thriving market out of the ether. And a chance to start over. Business Week calls the whole thing "seriously weird", but underscores the funadmentals of Linden Land by pointing out that Linden have attracted investment from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and another $11 million in venture money.

I recommend you pile in.

Oh, those of you interested in the latest trend in online identity verification, check out Linden’s offer of  a one-time gift of 25 free Lindens to new users who validate themselves via credit card.

Its nice to know the new world is just like Vegas.

Viralists will note they also offer L250 for referrals.

I signed up today. Look for my Avatar: Mortarmark Gremminger.

I’m thinking of starting the First Linden Church: want in?

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