Virtual, Really

I've never visited Second Life, or played any MMPORG, for that matter, but the more I read about it, the more I am intrigued by this parallel universe.  If you've never heard of it, Second Life is a virtual world in which you can create an avatar, build stuff, buy and sell stuff, and meet other avatars.  As you can imagine, this being the Internet, it's a pretty crazy place: anonymity makes for bizarre behavior, people trick out their avatar's appearances, and let's just say there's a lot of sex going on. 

Meaningless pursuits aside, more and more people are catching on to the real-world potential of this fake-world platform.  The Swedish government is setting up an embassy for virtual tourists to get info on visiting the real country.  And while some people go to Second Life to trawl for virtual booty, others who are tech recruiters in the real world go there to trawl for employment candidates.

When virtual reality hit what seems like ages ago, I thought it would be "the" killer app to end all killer apps.  But aside from carnival games that leave you dizzy wearing those big space googles, what have your heard about VR?  But maybe apps like Second Life, and more real-world parallels, like Microsoft's Virtual Earth, which is increasingly being used by police departments and urban planners, will give VR a (wait for it) "second life."

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