Second Life Work/FAQs

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General questions

What is Second Life and why is it relevant for enterprises and governments?

Second Life, the leading 3D virtual world, was launched in 2003 as a technology platform that enables millions of consumers, represented inworld as avatars, to imagine and build immersive environments that are easy and inexpensive to create. Second Life is not only one of the oldest virtual world platforms, but it is also the largest with millions of active users residing in more than 150 countries globally. Second Life has always been used by a wide variety of individuals, businesses, educators, governments and nonprofit organizations as an environment for entertainment, education, social interaction, research, shopping, and more. Over the last few years, many large multi-national enterprises and government institutions have realized that Second Life is also a powerful collaboration tool for work such as: meetings, training sessions, and simulations and prototypes.

What advantages does Second Life offer that are unique among virtual platforms?

Second Life owns 90 percent of the virtual world market and is the most flexible, richest, and most advanced virtual work solution that exists today. Here are a few facts to consider:

  • Largest Virtual World: Second Life, the largest virtual world platform, is roughly the size of Houston when all of the individual parcels, known as “sims” or “islands,” owned by various individuals and organizations are taken as a collective.
  • Most Robust: In March 2009, approximately 1 million people logged into Second Life from all over the world and spent more than 40 million hours inworld, with peak concurrency exceeding 88,000 users at a single time.
  • Richest Content and Most Vibrant Digital Goods Economy: Second Life has the richest and largest library of virtual content—avatars, clothing, building elements, etc. — in existence with millions of items already created by inworld residents and more are built every day. This library allows organizations to purchase content easily and cheaply, versus having to pay thousands of dollars in services to build these items in other environments.
  • Most Flexible: As opposed to many other virtual world companies, Second Life allows you to create multiple work solutions within the same environment. For example, you can have a virtual meeting space, a large conference center, a training simulation, and a social gathering space—all on one Region.

Cost and Billing

What does it cost to register for Second Life, and what can I expect immediately upon registration?

Joining Second Life is free. After completing a short registration form and choosing an avatar, you can then explore Help Island —a specialized doorway into Second Life where you can to find other people from hundreds of countries around the world. Today, an organization follows the same registration process that consumers do.

How much does a typical Second Life work environment cost?

If you decide to become a landowner, then please email business@lindenlab.com and we'll be happy to discuss pricing and walk you through the process. In general, for one private region in Second Life (or what is sometimes called an “island”), the initial one-time set-up fee is $1,000 USD and then $295 USD a month in maintenance costs, per region. One region is the equivalent of roughly 2.5 square miles—or 16 square acres—in the physical world. Once your organization owns virtual land, you can then create buildings, meeting spaces, and social spaces yourself (if your organization has Second Life building skills in-house). You can also choose from one of 300 Solution Providers, or inworld developers, who can help you plan, design, and create your space. Depending on the size and sophistication of your space, you can think of it like the cost of building a website; it can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to the mid-six figures and beyond.

How can I buy land?

Unless you’re a Second Life pro, the best way for enterprises or educational institutions to purchase land is to email business@lindenlab.com and we can help walk you through the process.

What billing options do I have?

You can either make your purchase on a credit card or your company can be billed directly.

Avatars

What is an avatar and how do I create mine?

An avatar is a digital, animated representation of yourself in Second Life. When you join Second Life, you have a standard set of avatars to choose from. Once you receive your avatar, then you can go into “appearance mode” and change your hair, skin, shape, and clothing. We encourage you to personalize your inworld representation by purchasing new skin, clothes, and other accessories from thousands of Second Life retailers on the Second Life Marketplace. To view a series of video tutorials about how to create your avatar, click here.

Can my avatar have my real name? Is it possible for my enterprise group to share one surname?

Currently within Second Life, there are two naming options for organizations to choose from. Business enterprise group administrators can permit members to select a surname offered upon registration or choose to purchase a customized group surname from Linden Lab that allows you to set up a corporate last name that you can use to create an unlimited number of employee accounts. For example, Joe Morris is an AT&T employee and can choose to a standard Second Life last name, from a drop down menu available during registration. Or, if AT&T’s administrator purchases the corporate last names option, then Joe Morris have the name of Joe AT&T, to help create a common affiliation and group among AT&T employees. In the last example, everyone who works at AT&T would have the same corporate last name to help employees identify themselves inworld. Regardless of what Second Life name scheme is chosen, all employees can wear inworld “name tags” that clearly display real names. And, later this year, we will be launching Display Names and any Resident can choose to display any name that he or she wishes.

Are there rules about how avatars can behave inworld?

When joining Second Life, every new member must agree to the Second Life Terms of Service, which outline the rules that all avatars must follow. Some businesses choose to adopt the standard Second Life Terms of Service alone and some opt to create additional terms that outline a specific group, or organization’s rules, such as prohibiting access to inappropriate materials or only allowing human avatars.

How many employees/avatars can I get into one Second Life working environment?

Each region can run optimally with roughly 60 avatars before performance suffers and 100 is the recommended limit. Factors that can affect performance include how complicated the environment is and the intricacy of avatar clothing. To create an environment that can hold more people, we suggest that conference spaces are built at a four-corners area of four separate regions. Doing this, an event can hold roughly 200-300 avatars. If you require more employees to participate in an inworld event, Second Life can easily be streamed live to the web, which means that thousands of people globally can participate in an inworld event through both video and chat.

How do I move around in Second Life?

Although operating within the Second Life environment might be challenging at first, it’s easy to get the hang of all of the movements that you’ll be using in a business environment—walking, sitting, teleporting, etc.

Communication and Collaboration

How do avatars communicate in Second Life?

Second Life is a rich-immersive environment that enables a wide variety of communication channels, including both text chat, and 3D spatial voice. There are other more interesting and dynamic ways that teams can communicate such as virtual brainstorming tools, document sharing, whiteboarding, 3D mind mapping, and many other business tools that take full advantage of virtual workspaces.

What languages does Second Life support?

You’ll find members from over 150 countries and you’ll find hundreds of different languages spoken in Second Life. Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life, has customized Viewer 2, or the 3D browser software that allows you to enter Second Life, for the following languages: French, German, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Dutch, and Italian. Once inworld, Second Life supports most languages used typically used within global organizations. Additionally, team members who speak different languages can communicate via several inworld text translation tools.

What 3D business applications are available today for use in meetings and training environments in Second Life?

Today, there is a wide assortment of business productivity and creativity applications within Second Life. These include widgets for: running Powerpoint presentations, white boarding, brainstorming, dynamic audience polling, and many others. To find business applications, you can search the SL Marketplace.

How can Second Life best be used for networking and building relationships?

We all know that work is much more than meetings, training, and other more formal activities. It’s also about those “water cooler moments” where you can connect and communicate with colleagues, partners, customers, prospects, industry experts, and friends. Second Life was designed as a social networking platform and all of those capabilities are naturally part of the Second Life experience. For example, IBM held a networking event where IBMers shared virtual beers and went virtual jet skiing and hang gliding. Needless to say, experiences like these are not only memorable, but also great business networking and socializing opportunities.

How is collaboration in Second Life different from sharing a conference call, Webex, or video conferencing technologies?

Teleconferencing, Webex, and video conferencing technologies are all important collaboration tools that companies use every day for global and mobile teams to work together and stay connected. Second Life provides a sense of presence that many people find more engaging and compelling than many other types of conferencing, as well as providing a 3D space to share information. In addition, informal discussions are easy to have after a meeting, since your Second Life experience doesn’t end when the moderator terminates a call.

When compared directly to other technologies, Second Life remains a clearly compelling addition to your overall collaboration portfolio of choices. Teleconferencing is great when Internet access is problematic, but staring at a telephone isn’t a very effective way to have a meeting. Webex is a fantastic technology for a few people to broadcast a presentation to a large audience, but falls short as a true brainstorming, planning, simulation, or visualization medium. It’s helpful to see your colleagues’ faces during a video conference session, but the quality of these meetings is often uneven and you still don’t get a sense of a shared environment—particularly helpful in training, simulation, and prototyping activities. And, none of these technologies is useful for informal “water cooler” time that we all know can be so valuable.

Overall, we believe that Second Life is the next best thing to a face–to–face meeting which is usually always preferred, but not always possible due to geographic or budgetary constraints.

Security

How secure is my data (text chat, voice, login, etc.) in Second Life?

Linden Lab does not distribute account information, per our Terms of Service. Regarding login, the Second Life Viewer login uses password-only authentication over an encrypted secure HTTP connection. We do not have access to your password itself. Viewer 2 gives you a connection to Second Life that does not compromise your computer’s security. Text chat and voice chat are not currently encrypted. We keep chat logs for less than two weeks and voice is not saved by our servers. Linden Lab’s servers reside in secure hosted facilities. It is impossible to impersonate other clients or accounts, and we restrict multiple concurrent logins for the same account. Your work environment runs on servers hosted specifically for Linden Lab, as do all backbone data services, including inventory, server logs, communication, and other content. One item of note: Linden Lab employees can go anywhere within Second Life, including your region. However, we make every effort to only enter your region upon request. If a Linden is in your area, the avatar name will show up in the attendee list; no one can go “invisible” in Second Life.

How can I control who is permitted to enter my region, workspace, or events?

Any business, or individual, can buy a Private Region as part of an Estate in the Second Life world. A single Private Region resembles a small island, and can be linked together with other Private Regions to form a larger landmass. These Regions provide a highly manageable environment for conducting private business in the virtual world of Second Life. A Region owner may choose to exercise full control over access to Private Regions in the Estate. The Region’s included administrative tools enable its owner (and designated managers) to create an access list, by individual or group, ensuring that only approved users can enter the Region. A Private Region is secure from eavesdropping. The Region is surrounded by an equivalent void space, represented by water; void space cannot be crossed by walking, running, flying, or by camera.

How do I grant estate rights to other avatars so they can collaborate on building and other aspects of sharing space?

The land and group tools in Second Life enables you and colleagues to collaborate on content creation, editing and access to a shared space. By setting objects to group ownership, you give any member of a specific group to edit content. Additionally, you can also set land permissions to enable or disable content creation.

What are “griefers” and how can they be avoided?

Second Life is not policed, in the traditional sense. Instead, we rely on the community to self-govern and report abuse when it happens. Griefers are, according to Wikipedia, “players who plays a computer game (in this case Second Life) in order to irritate and harass other players.” Griefing behavior—such as violence, bad language, hate speech, harassment, etc.—is considered a breach of the Second Life Terms of Service and can result in an expulsion from Second Life. Thankfully, organizations with Region or Estate controls can prevent griefers from entering their private space altogether.

How can my organization best avoid environments and content that is inappropriate for business use?

Second Life is a virtual world that successfully supports a myriad of environments, some of which mimic the physical world while others are composed of architecture and content that diverges from the laws of physics. The platform successfully hosts communities of all kinds, from business enterprise and education to those with mature themes. Each region has a rating of General, Moderate, or Adult so you always know what kind

I want my employees to go directly to my organization’s space in Second Life. How do I do set this up?

Once your employees are registered as Second Life users, then you can send them directly to your region with a SLurl—or a Second Life URL that teleports avatars directly to a specific place (based on latitude, longitude, and altitude coordinates). It works just like a standard web URL, but instead of clicking and taking you to a web page, it takes you to a destination within Second Life.

Technology

How robust and stable is the Second Life technology platform and how can I find out about scheduled outages?

The Second Life technology platform is very stable and has significantly better up-time in 2009 than in previous years. We do regularly take regions down for maintenance. If you would like to view a current schedule of planned downtime, and view recent platform performance, please visit the Second Life Grid Status page.

What computer hardware, software, and network bandwidth requirements are necessary to run Second Life?

Your organization’s computers and network must meet a certain set of minimum requirements to run successfully Second Life. Visit the Systems Requirements page for additional details.

How do I know if my organization will permit me to access Second Life within my corporate firewall?

Second Life runs on a UDP protocol, as opposed to a standard web protocol such as http. Sometimes, network administrators within large organizations prevent employees from accessing UDP protocols. Please check with your IT department and ask about accessing Second Life for work through the firewall via UDP ports.

Building

How easy is it to build objects in Second Life and can I train my team to do this?

Building objects in Second Life is easy to do. Highly flexible building tools allow manipulation of geometric primitives in a simple interface. Stretch these “prims” into new shapes, change their texture and physical qualities, link them to other prims. From this easy–to–learn process, you can create objects of all kinds and sizes, from a simple box to a five hundred meter skyscraper. Then, you can overlay textures on top of these prims—such as a wood texture to make a wood box or a brick texture for a brick wall. There are may tutorials and inworld lessons that you can find—both from Lindens and inworld experts—that can help you get started.

How can I find someone to help create my organization’s workspace in Second Life?

Today, there are over 300 Solution Providers, or inworld developers and services firms, that can help you strategize, plan, design, and develop Second Life content—from buildings to avatars to customized training environments.

Do you have best practices for working with developers, or solution providers, regarding IP ownership?

We recommend that you are very clear about what IP you own and what the Solution Provider owns. For example, if a Solution Provider builds you a chair, they should grant you IP rights to it. However, tools like voting boxes, presentation screens, or announcers are often used by Solution Providers in multiple projects and will only grant you the rights to use the tool, but not IP ownership. When in doubt, ask questions and make sure that you get specific answers, in writing when possible.

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For more information, contact Linden Lab at business@secondlife.com.