Closing Keynote - 2008-07-07
Robin Harper: Hi everybody, this is Robin. Can you all hear me?
OK, we are getting ready to start. Everybody who can't sit down, at least find a place to stand. OK, well welcome, thanks for coming this morning and thanks so much for helping to make our fifth anniversary celebrations such a huge success.
Today, I'm very happy to be able to introduce entrepreneur and Linden Lab board member Mitch Kapor, who will be speaking about what the future holds for Second Life. For those of you who don't know, Mitch Kapor is a software designer, entrepreneur, activist and philanthropist.
He founded Lotus Development Corporation in 1982. He designed Lotus 1-2-3, the killer app which made the PC ubiquitous in business. He has been a leading startup investor in companies such as UUNet, Real Networks and of course Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life.
He is the cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the founding chair of the Mozilla Foundation and on the board of the Level Playing Field Institute. So here is Mitch. Give us a moment while we get our avatars in place, and we will be right there.
Mitch Kapor: There we go, good morning everyone. It always feels like standing on the edge of a precipice giving a live talk in Second Life. There is always something interesting and amusing and unexpected that happens, but I am also glad to be here this morning to talk to you and share some of my thoughts on this fifth anniversary of Second Life. It is actually the fifth anniversary of being a live open to the public service.
I mean Philip actually started working on this in 1999 I think and I got involved very very early as the first investor and helping Philip think things through back in 2000. And if we go back five years or eight years, it just would have been impossible to imagine everything that has happened in Second Life since then. And it is a testament to all of your creativity and your enthusiasm.
I have called Second Life "disruptive innovation," in the sense as it plays out it is creating a kind of an ecosystem, and that ecosystem actually is going to disrupt and force the reorganization of a lot of previously existing economic and social patterns. I mean I think that although this hasn't happened yet, I can foresee a time where the web and the internet are going to just change irrevocably as they go 3D. And I can also see ways in which today we are prisoners of the tyranny of geography and that's going to change as virtual worlds mature.
So when I was originally asked to give this talk, I thought I'd spend my time focusing on these dynamics of innovation and disruption, but in thinking more deeply about the meaning of this fifth anniversary and in sensing the current atmosphere around Second Life, I decided to take a slightly different tack that focuses on the opportunities and possibilities going forward.
So I have just a few simple points I'd like to share with you today. Near the end, I have a couple of brief video clips to show you about somethings I am working on that hopefully point the way to the future and hopefully will stream in properly. But if they don't, I am advised that my whole talk and the video clips and the graphics are going to be put up as podcast and accessible. So whether you see it now or you are seeing it later, I hope you will enjoy that. And then as promised I will be closing with an announcement about an exciting new initiative from Linden Lab. So here we go.
My first point, you know when we experience, when we create and participate in a new technology ecosystem like Second Life, we bring all of ourselves to it. We bring the good, the bad, and the ugly. And so what we choose to do with the possibilities is extremely important. So hopefully you are seeing a slide of Philip and me from back in the early days of Second Life. You know Philip's original vision was about making a better world and a world in which we could become our better selves if not our best selves.
And I can remember when Philip was talking about that, at the time, 2000, and in the run up to the release of Second Life, I have to say that his idealism was greeted by and large with extraordinary skepticism. In fact the whole prospect of Second Life was regarded as a nonstarter by the investment community and the idealistic aspect was essentially ignored except by you pioneers and early adopters and first Residents. And you are the folks who believed in the possibilities and made the dream real.
Philip always said that the Residents would create the content and that totally feel in the face of the conventional wisdom of those early years, 2000 to 2003, what people believed then was that only artists and design professionals could create content for 3D worlds. And there were a number of other beliefs that have proven to be just utterly and completely unfortunately incorrect and as five years have shown, there is in fact an enormous diversity of uses and purposes in Second Life, which run the gamut from A to Z, many of which are really dramatic demonstrations of unleashing of human potential and creativity.
So Second Life at age five serves many purposes. It is a means of economic empowerment, it is a creative outlet and as you know, many people around the world are making a living on their creative work they love doing in Second Life. And we now see much broader uses in education and philanthropy and art and fashion, medical research, architecture and design, science and entertainment.
Just a few high points: Explosive growth in the high education sector with hundreds of college courses being offered; lots of use by architects and city planners to engage citizens in rebuilding actual physical cities; incredibly interesting work by a researcher in Japan controlling avatars with brain raves; and increasingly musicians are finding real life success through their work in Second Life. But what I want to highlight for a moment are some of the uses by nonprofits and social change organizations. Could I have the next slide please.
One of the things that is going on is significant usage and participation by communities of the disabled in Second Life, a wonderful opportunity for increased participation and for having a kind of persons interaction that is maybe physically impossible, but virtually very very empowering. Next slide.
Lots of different kinds of awareness building, consciousness raising and fund raising activities on the parts of nonprofits and causes. These you saw are the ones that I picked out actually off a Flickr photo stream on the nonprofits in Second Life. This one is for cystic fibrosis. Next slide.
And this is a poster advertising talking about the nonprofit comments and the efforts to bring together nonprofits and provide space and resources and a way to come together to help strengthen the missions of all these organizations, of which there are many many many. Next slide please.
And this is an antiwar protest avatars against the war. It might even be somewhere although I didn't find it, avatars for the war, I am not sure about that, but the point is that the same kinds of activists impulses that cause people to come together in the physical world, begin to bring together people in the virtual world and they are finding the tools and the means to organize and to work for change. And all of that is incredibly incredibly encouraging.
One thing that anyone who uses Second Life on a regular basis knows and understands extremely well, it is still a kind of a frontier world and life on the frontier is challenging. Next slide please.
So hopefully, you are seeing what I am seeing, which is a photo of a frontier town in the western part of the U.S. from the 19th century. Frontier mythology runs pretty deep in the U.S. and as you heard, I actually cofounded an organization called the Electronic Frontier Foundation. When you have a technology platform and a new techno-ecosystem, it always starts out in a kind if a frontier condition where there are fewer rules, there are fewer conventions, we are left more to our own devices. And my experience is that it brings out both the most and the least noble in us.
My point about the frontier condition though is that while there is a lot of it in Second Life, there is nothing fundamentally new or different about this phenomenon. I mean I am reminded of something from more than 10 years ago, probably closer to 15 when the Internet itself was in a frontier condition, let's say 1990 to 1994, just before and as the first graphical browsers were coming out. The internet had been available just to researchers and the government began opening it up, so that anybody who wanted to connect, could connect. And so people did start connecting.
And I remember teaching a class at the Media Lab at MIT and one of the students was complaining vociferously about the clueless newbies on the net and you could always tell who they were because they had an AOL.com email address. And we had a conversation and I said, "So what you are saying is just based on the mere fact of knowing the domain of the email address, you can tell what kind of person they are and you impute a kind of a cluelessness and bad behavior?" And he said, "That is right." I said, "Well, that kind of stereotyping if it involved skin color would be called racism. So if it involves what domain you are coming from, maybe you should call it domainism."
And in fact, there were a lot of new settlers to the internet and in fact they did understand the conventions on how to survive, but it was still not an excuse for that kind of stereotyping and prejudicial kinds of behavior that are all too easy to get into. So if you are talking about the internet, the web, Second Life of future disruptions, we are still going to be dealing with these phenomenons.
So these technical ecosystems are really a stage in which our dreams are played out and we become who we imagine ourselves to be. And this projection of our wishes and desires, our secret selves has nowhere be more evident than in virtual worlds like Second Life because of their immense potential as reality making kinds of systems.
So I'd skip really quickly over to a slide called a "moment of insight." I am not going to ask to back up to that. I had my own moment of insight about the potential of virtual worlds a couple of years ago and I have told this story a couple of times, some of you have probably have heard it, so I am going to tell it in a very summarized form. But there was a time in which there started to be a significant number of mixed reality events, probably 2006, I am looking at Robin.
And the one that struck me was when Suzanne Vega, a singer, songwriter appeared on an NPR radio program called the Infinite Mind hosted by John Hockenberry and she performed live some of her music and at the same time the entire event was projected into Second Life. So there was a theater or a studio somewhat like this, so there was a stage, she was on stage, she had a virtual guitar and the audio was being streamed in, so that if you were logged into Second Life, you could come in and find a good seat. And if you didn't like the seat you were in, you could sit closer and you could chat with your neighbor and you could listen to the music and it was just like being at a concert.
And I watched the concert video, I didn't happen to actually be there, but it was shot and edited. And what struck when I watched that was that there was a fundamental element of reality to this. Yes, the resolution was fuzzier and plus it didn't have all the wonderful sort of vividness of real reality, but it felt like being in a real place at a real time interacting with real people having a real experience. And the possibility of actually creating that out of the imagination and then being able to realize it in a share kind of way I think is just incredibly powerful. And as I described that experience and talked to other folks, they had similar experiences and it had been like we were all up in a spaceship together. So that was my moment of personal enlightenment.
And what do we do with all this power to imagine and actually create a world. For all the fascination we have with the power of technology, I have come to believe ultimately it is what is in our hearts that determines the uses and the impact And so this is my point, it is really a choice to work to make things better, just as it is a choice to do things which have a negative impact. And so I want to encourage all of us to see the opportunities and to raise above kind of pettiness and personal complaint and to reach for the best and highest within ourselves in making what we can of this opportunity, which brings me to my next point. And if I could have the next slide please.
The pioneer era in Second Life is beginning to draw to a close. It has been five years and we are at the beginning of a transition and I think it is an irrevocable transition. And I am hoping what you see now is a slide of a technology adoption curve, a classic bell curve that shows early adopters on the left and then a set of pragmatists as we move from left to right and so on all the way over to the right edge of the curve, we show the laggards. This technology adoption curve is well known for the way to characterize the adoption of these disruptive new innovations. Now, where are we on this? OK, could I have the next slide please.
When you see this resin, you should be seeing a big red vertical arrow just at the margin between the early adopter phase and the pragmatist phase. That is really where we are today and I think that has some very important implications and I want to talk about that for a minute. So the first is, in the earliest wave of pioneers in any new disruptive platform, the marginal and the dispossessed are over represented, not the sole constituents by any means but people who feel they don't fit, who have nothing left to lose or who were impelled by some kind of dream, who may be outsiders to whatever mainstream they are coming from, all come and arrive early in disproportionate numbers.
It was the way the west in the U.S. was settled. It is the way Second Life has been settled. And in fact those early pioneers find a very arduous environment. In the early days, you really have to want to be here because life in certain ways is very very difficult, in fact too difficult for most people. It is unavoidable in some sense that there will be a very high attrition rate in the early years while a platform is being built out. It doesn't stay that way of course, it can't, but the difficulties of conditions cause those who stay to really bond together, have something in common.
And that sort of arduous frontier conditions really give these environments their charm and their character, but also their challenges. Ad all that is changing as we speak because people are in the process of discovering that virtual worlds have very pragmatic values to them and this is especially true and will be true in the enterprise sector, as businesses seek to be more productive, be more efficient, utilize the latest technology and then you will find lots of pragmatic users off of virtual worlds, in the same way that in the early years of the internet businesses were not big participants, but they discovered in the mid-1990s that it was actually necessary to be on the net in a whole variety of ways in order to be part of the global market system.
I think the pragmatic adoption is going to be fueled not just by business, but in all sorts of other sectors because we can see the value proposition -- forgive my business buzzword -- being established whether it is in architecture or in education or for nonprofits, it is simply valuable for people to be able to use a virtual world. And that is going to make things challenging for people who feel that as the frontier is being settled and there is less novelty and in some senses less freedom, it is always an uneasy transition for the pioneers. And I believe we are going to go through that again.
I think the larger prospect is bringing the value of Second Life and virtual worlds to the world at large. And to do so, it has to be opened up, it has to be made easier to use. And there are some things I think which have to happen. There are some things that Linden Lab has to do and I continue as a board member to advocate strongly to allow the potential of the platform to unfold. It has to do things in improving the robustness of the platform and improving the ease of learning and ease of use so more people can enjoy it and it has to extend and evolve both the technical architecture and governance to better support the great diversity of purposes and uses that people have and it needs to do this in a more decentralized kind of way, one that Thomas Jefferson, if he were around, would be proud of.
And I'm pleased to say that you will be hearing and seeing much more on these points in days and weeks and months to come and those announcements will come from the company and its executives and I am very pleased about all of that.
My own interest, personal interest in the evolution of virtual worlds is in making it into a medium that enhances interpersonal presence or I sometimes refer to increasing the emotional bandwidth of interaction. And while I think it is great that we can do these types of gatherings and more collaborative meetings around a table when many people are speaking, there is still something missing, and let me talk about that for a minute.
I can remember, if I go back a couple of years before voice came into Second Life, when people got together, they communicated, but they communicated completely through text chat and that was very exhilarating the first time you did that, and it worked really well in many circumstances for many people. And I never liked it, I always wanted voice. I wanted the kind of information or maybe meta-information that voice conveys that text does not.
Because voice through its tone carries a whole stream of information about the attitude of the speaker, the speaker's intention, which is just not present in text chat. And though voice is not a panacea and there are still many applications in which it is actually a drawback, I am not a positive affordance. My intuition was that it would be hugely empowering to add voice in a fundamental way to the platform and when the team actually produced them, we saw the incredible wide spread adoption of it. It was gratifying in the extreme and now it is not really possible to imagine the experience without voice.
Well, that is great, what else? There are a lot of other meta information that is filtered out of our avatar to avatar encounters. And what is missing today is that natural conveyance of things like body language and gesture and facial expression. Now there are some ways if you are extremely facile with the keyboard and a real power user, you can move yourself through some animations, you can simulate some of what I talked about, but for 99% of the people that is just not going to be even conceivable.
So what is missing today for a whole set of users are going to be making things more realistic when you want them to be more realistic in terms of the presentation of your avatar. And I just want to show two short videos that illustrate a couple of things. This is very experimental and if this doesn't work properly, we are going to have to go to the podcast afterwards, but if we could get ready to do this, then I am going to first tell you what you are going to see and hopefully you are actually going to see it.
So the first thing is a much more realistic looking avatar and particularly for business meetings and meetings between people who know each other, the ability to look more like yourself when you want to, would be a positively good thing. And there are some technologies that have been developed that will create an extraordinarily realistic avatar out of a single digital photograph and a lot of algorithmic magic. These are not Second Life avatars yet, but they could be at some point.
And I am going to try to show you a short clip of an avatar of me that was taken. And you have to understand this is just on one digital graph made to 3D model and then animated this short clip. So if we could play that, that would be great, whoever is going to, of my many talented and invisible helpers, to stream the first clip, that would be swell. Somebody says, "Please press play on your movie player." OK, if you are talking to me, I am going to try to hit. I hit a button. And let's see if it is playing or not.
Yeah, it is streaming, it looks great; good, because I can't see it but hopefully you are seeing it. They see it, terrific, thank you. So good. That is actually what I look like. This avatar you are seeing up on stage here, that was done by an artist who is really good at Photoshop and it sort of looks like me. So I think we are moving in the direction of much greater realism.
Great, now I am going to introduce the second clip which is also a very short clip. I am going to tell you what you are going to see when you see it and then we are going to play it. So one thing I have been doing in my office over at Kapor Enterprises is fiddling with a special camera, a 3D camera, not yet on the market but coming soon, that a single $100 webcam does what a million-dollar motion capture studio does. It can extract out a 3D model in real time of the scene that is in front of it.
And you are going to see a demo of my collaborator, Philippe Bossut, using software he has written with the camera to control his avatar in second life; no keyboard, no mouse, you will see Philippe's screen and Philippe, the real Philippe, will be doing things like leaning forward, which will cause the avatar to move forward and leaning backward, which will cause the avatar to move backward and leaning to the side to turn and doing some other things ending in a jump, he will jump and the avatar will jump. And so what we are doing on this is just showing that you can actually control the avatar without any user interface; it just does what you do.
OK, let's try to roll that from and I will look at that IM channel to see if people are actually seeing it and this is again a 20-second clip. So "press play on my movie player." OK, I did that. Oh good, oh good. Great. So let me just say a couple of things about this. First, you are seeing a work in progress, this is work in the lab, it is not finished, but it is actually using production Second Life and the open source Linden Viewer, which we modified.
Second, we understand all sorts of things need to happen like it needs to work when you are sitting down not just standing up and we still have yet to demonstrate doing really cool stuff like facial expressions and so you are seeing research, you are not seeing product that is close to being available, but it is on the way and we are making lots and lots and lots of progress on this.
And I think it is just a matter of time before technologies like this that are in the lab become mainstream and integrated into virtual worlds. And I think it is going to be quite powerful, especially when you think about the world that we are moving into in the 21st century: The skyrocketing cost of fuel, a real corporate imperative to manage and reduce their carbon footprints.
So if the point at which interaction of your avatars begins to actually substitute for face to face meetings, you have something just extraordinary and we can't predict the number of years that is, but we can see it coming. And we will be able to see coming many other innovations and inventions that are happening throughout the entire ecosystem of virtual worlds. It is what is incredibly exciting.
OK, now let me move to the final point, which is to talk about something interesting and exciting that Linden is going to be doing to further stimulate these kinds of achievements, which is, and I am pleased to announce the creation of the Linden Prize, thank you, here is our slide coming up.
Linden is going to establish an annual award for superlative achievement that exemplifies the mission of any human condition to using Second Life. And any Resident or institution or organization using Second Life as an innovative disruptive technology is going to be eligible. This is going to be an annual prize. The prize amount is going to be US$10,000 paid in Linden dollars and the judges are going to come from a broad cross-section of participants including Residents and there will be lots of details coming out about this in the blog and the website.
And their fundamental motivation here is to recognize special achievements by Residential organizations using Second Life and to call attention to the ways in which it is being used to improve the human condition. There is so much of that going on that it is terribly important to let ourselves and the rest of the world know about all of that. And I am very pleased that the company is able to do this.
And I wanted to thank all of you for your participation, your ongoing faith in the company, for reaching deep into yourselves to find your best selves and to help realize the potential and the dream. Stay the course and thank you very much. I'm going to give this back to Robin now.
Robin Harper: Questions?
Mitch Kapor: We are not taking questions today.
Robin Harper: Thanks everybody for coming and keep an eye on the blog, we will be putting more information up about the Linden prize, so that you can get all the details.
In closing, I just want to thank every Resident who has risen to their highest potential and contributed to making Second Life a world of inspiration and creativity it is today. Second Life is not only driven by technology, but largely by the ingenuity of the Residents, you. And goes also to all the 600+ Resident exhibitors, the many volunteers, the many round table organizers and the translators, all of you have helped to make our celebration a very very special one.
Thanks for coming and we will be seeing you soon I am sure. Bye, bye.
Opening Keynote - 2008-06-23
Well, hello everyone. This is Philip Linden, aka Philip Rosedale, or the other way around, you choose. I guess as time goes by, I will shift between real and Second Life names. Delightful to have everyone here. Sorry about the initial technical setup delays there. We are using streaming audio for this event, so it has been work, as always, to set up a stream that, hopefully, works. The advantage of using streaming audio is, hopefully, and I stress "hopefully", there are many more of you listening than are standing in front of me right now. We are in the Second Life birthday sim right now. I am here with, oh it looks like about 110 people or so standing and sitting in front of me. We started this strange event with a "bench tipping" — someone tipped over a bench with a bunch of avatars on it and it was delightful and I have no idea what else the day will have in store given that as its beginning.
I am joined here to my left, I think, by the magical M Linden who is going to talk in a few minutes. I am going to talk first. We are, also, glad to see everybody here. You know, this, of course, is Second Life's 5th birthday. I cannot tell you how surreal that is for me. I feel like I have lived a lifetime in Second Life; five years, it seems like fifty years or something, but it is incredibly rewarding to have, as I have said it years before, to just see everyone here, see a lot of the same people I have seen over the years and the, also, of course, lots and lots new people and, so, I just wanted to say a few words about that, let M talk a little bit, and then, you know what I think we will do after we are done talking is, we are all sitting in a little sound booth right now so that we can do this streaming audio thing, so, by the way, if you are talking in voice to us inworld or, even if you are texting and IMing, we are not really responding because we are sort of talking into the microphone right now. In a few minutes, when we both get done, I am going to actually logout and then come back and hang around a little bit and walk around and talk to people in text and look at some of the content that is here in these sims around us.
So, getting to that, we are surrounded by this birthday celebration that has all kinds of content built by people all over Second Life and it is amazing to note that there are, I think, twenty sims that make up the area here that we are standing in the middle of and those twenty sims are larger than Second Life was, they are larger than the entire world of Second Life, at the time it first went online, that was on June 23, 2003, and, I believe, we had sixteen sims online and we had a world that looked like a little key. For those who remember, it was kind of nine sims and then a little peninsula and then another four sims at the end of the peninsula and we had areas that were kind of centrally constructed. That, of course, rapidly went away as people kind of took the world over.
We had a sort of a fighting area and then we had a kind of a boardwalk and a disco and I do not know who remembers all of these things, but there were these structured pieces of Second Life that had been the Lindens' best guess at what people would care to sort of start with in the virtual world. I remember that within just a couple of months, the content build-out was so radical, the amount of things that people had done to change the world so accelerating, that we found ourselves sort of giving the keys to our cherished builds that we had started with over to Residents so that they could tear them down and do things with them.
I have a great memory of this myself that is, perhaps, apropos to an event like this which was I built the first disco, the Alt-Zoom Disco in Second Life, and I actually built it with my own hands and it was a few months after we started that someone, I do not remember who the leader sort of Resident was, but they demanded that I sell the disco to them because they wanted to tear it down and build houses there. And, so, we did that; I gave the disco to whomever it was, maybe somebody can shout out and tell me who it was, I have forgotten, and they had this ceremony where they blew up the disco and tore the walls down and let the whole thing collapse and then deleted it all and I remember I viewed that with a certain feeling of bittersweet where it was so exciting to see the world evolving so rapidly beyond our control.
I know there has been some tension and protests and stress around even this event, this celebration, which I think is great — it is emblematic of what Second Life is all about and why it is so special. Even to attempt to make kind of cultural or any kind of a celebration that makes a presentation of what Second Life is, is kind of bound to not work in some sense because what we are doing here together is outside the bounds of possibility. There is more going on and there is more meaning and more of the future and more imagination here than I think there have ever been in many ways anywhere on earth. So, in a way that I think is very inspiring, when you try to paint a picture of it at one time and in one place, you fail. You cannot do it and I think that is moving.
So, anyway, you are surrounded by all of this amazing content that has been built from people all over Second Life. Everybody who has not seen it and, of course, I will bet everyone who is standing in front of me has already, should definitely spend time today and wander around and take a look at all of it; I know I am going to do that after I speak here. I think the other thing to note is just obviously how much Second Life has grown. We are in a community now of a quarter of a million people or so a day using Second Life and maybe a million people or more that are really actively using it. The growth continues. It is unbelievable to look back just a couple of years and realize both how big the world seemed a couple of years ago and how small it actually was in terms of how many people there were here. So, I, as always, am just inspired to see that.
In addition to the continued growth, stuff that has happened lately, we have been working hard on trying to make Second Life more stable. I think we have made some progress there in the last couple of quarters. There is a lot more to do, but we are keeping the lights on here as this world continues to grow around us. That continues to be a big focus of our efforts, going forward. Of course, the other big change is that Linden Lab has a new CEO and that is an amazing transition, one that I have talked about, talked about it on the blog and talked about it a little bit in different interviews and different live formats, but an amazing sign of growth for the company is that we have graduated to a stage where we have found a new CEO to lead us on and I am incredibly excited, both to have M, Mark, here with us leading the company and, also, to be able myself to work more on the technology ideas and the direction for new strategy and features and capabilities for Second Life.
I have talked about this before. I am, at heart, a designer and a developer and, for me, it is just incredibly rewarding to just be able to get back to doing that more day-to-day and then have somebody amazing whose heart is aligned with and a part of Second Life and, also, who has the skills and experience to help us grow beyond where we are today, which is pretty big. We are one of the biggest services on the internet right now. As a company, we are about 250 people, so that is huge, I mean it really is — that is a lot of people when you are coordinating and working together on a project as big as Second Life. It is amazing to know, for me, that looking at all of this content out here that I can now focus more on development and thinking and planning and thinking about what the next generation of all of this is going to look like and Mark, M, can help lead us in the company onto bigger and bigger things.
So, having said that, let me ask Mark to come on up onstage here and join me and, like I said in the beginning, I am going to do this funny — I am going to take my microphone off here and hand it to M so that he can talk. We will do that for a little bit and then we will logoff and log back on again and walk around and chat with everybody. It has been great to talk to everybody and I hope it is a great day and here is my comrade, M Linden.
Thank you so much, Philip. It is a great pleasure to be here and the view of the stage is absolutely astounding. It is such an amazing array of talent and creativity. This is my first speech inworld to a large group of avatars and, I have to say, it is much more interesting and visually stimulating than any real-world audience could possibly be. Such an outpouring of creativity is what makes Second Life the amazing phenomenon that it is today. I have spent a little time checking out the exhibits and I am going to spend some more during the birthday celebration to see all of the creativity that has been shared by the Residents. It is amazing when you see such individual and community collaboration going into a project like this and it is really what makes Second Life the rich experience that we all enjoy today.
When Philip asked me to join Linden Lab, I was real excited because it is the perfect intersection of creativity, technology, and business and it is so exciting to see what is possible when great minds come together to create something really, really unique. So, it is great to see the Residents, solution providers, organizations, educators all coming together to create something like this.
We are at a really interesting time in our development here at Linden Lab and Second Life because when a company and a technology go through the growth that we have gone through, it creates both growth opportunities and challenges as we are at a really, really interesting inflection point in Second Life's history now. It is the largest user-generated content virtual world we know of — that is an enormous achievement because of all the effort that needs to go into the content creation, but, also, from a technology perspective. It is an enormous and noteworthy achievement and one that is very, very exciting. We have a lot of work to do and we are focused on doing it to make sure the Resident experience becomes the Resident experience that we want it to be, so we are very, very focused on usability and stability so we can continue to bring new Residents into the fold and allow our platform to grow and the economy to thrive.
One of the fundamental elements of that is around IP rights. It is really, really important that people who create great content are able to enjoy it and protect it and that was one of the things that Philip put in place and has underpinned the economy as we know it today. One of the interesting challenges that we face is that, as Second Life becomes much more international and about 60% of our Residents now are outside of the US, we have a whole set of diverse values, beliefs, and even laws that we have to take into consideration. Nevertheless, we believe in individuality, we prize creativity, and we are going to do everything we can to keep Second Life as open and free flowing as it has always been.
The last five years have been phenomenal; I think they have been history-making in many, many ways. The vision that Philip had for the company for Second Life and Linden Lab is very much alive today and has tremendous momentum for the future. It is very, very exciting to see this thing called Second Life take on a global perspective to become a global economy in its own right.
It is, also, very exciting to see how it is changing the way we work. I find it absolutely compelling to do inworld meetings to connect with people in different places and use Second Life as a place to do business. It is, also, phenomenal from an education perspective and in today's world where we are so resource-constrained in the real world with energy and physical space, the thought of educating and being educated in Second Life is really, really exciting. Also, advancements in medical research and technology are being built on the back of Second Life and that is exciting to see. Philanthropy, too, we can see throughout Second Life.
So, there are many, many dimensions to the experience that make this so evocative and so compelling and these are the reasons that we are all very excited about the future of Second Life and the possibilities ahead as we celebrate our 10th year anniversary, 20th, 25th...
Philip, you will probably have to change your hair to silver by our 25th anniversary because it has been awhile since you have updated your avatar; someone wrote that it has been four years at least. I have to say you have the best hair in Second Life, even if it is the oldest hair, it is terrific. We are all looking forward to our 10th, 15th, 20th, and 25th anniversaries. This is an incredibly exciting phenomenon and it is exciting because of all the hard work, enthusiasm, creativity, and innovation that Residents, like the Residents we are looking at right now, have put into it.
So, it is a great pleasure to be here and I am very, very excited about the prospects for Second Life and the future ahead. Thank you very much for coming today and for sharing all of your great work, we are looking forward to enjoying it.