I have not really taken any kind of in-depth look at Second Life, but I have been reading the various stories that have appeared over the years. I was nevertheless quite surprised by the amount of coverage Reuters is giving it.
I found their Second Life site spooky because I had to keep taking closer looks to find out if this was real-world news or SL news. Exchange rates and economic stats? SL. Mass pillow fight video? RL. Article about John Edwards, presidential nominee? SL. "Granny finds grenade in groceries"? RL. The double-takes made my neck hurt.
Anyway, Warren Ellis is writing a column about SL for Reuters ("Business Community Economy Interviews Lifestyle Warren Ellis" - I figured it'd be about him. But no).
His latest entry, Second Life: Please stop doing that to the cat, talks about cybersex in SL. He finds icky stuff, and if he says that, I believe him - I stopped subscribing to his blog ages ago because of the stuff he links to.
It ends with:
I’m just saying: anyone who says that sexual activity is a tiny part of the SL experience is either stupid or knowingly lying. Further: anyone who thinks it’s not going to lead to trouble down the line is just an idiot.
Well, yeah. SL is bound to im- or explode at some point. It is the place where some of the most interesting cultural issues of our time are being worked out, in an uncontrolled way (Linden Labs may disagree). The unpredictability is awesome. Taxation? A wide range of legal liabilities? The nature of governance in cyberspace? You name it. Over-hyped or not, it is a little pioneering node, freely and frantically experimenting with stuff while culture in general is slowly catching up with it and figuring out what to make of it - what is OK and not OK, what is legal and not legal. Not that different from communes in the 60s.
Of course, I have no personal experience with either 60s communes or with Second Life. Yay for blogs and low standards! \o/