I had started to write this in mid-October but never finished it… and the database crashed at some point while I was in the middle of writing it, losing almost all of the article 🙁 In the mean time, the recent interest in this topic, as well as M Linden’s announcement that they would allow people to register avatars with their real life names, as well as Wallace Linden’s strange article on linking real life data to your avatar, seemed to make everybody write what they thought about this subject, even my dearest friend, Extropia DaSilva. At the same time, the world apparently is moving towards having all your life posted to the public at large with Facebook leading the way, and this is seen as a Good Thing... with only the Alphaville Herald disagreeing. To make things even more interesting, Linden Lab just bought the social networking tool Avatar United, a Facebook clone where you’re not forced to use real names to register and which supposedly will (one day, perhaps) link your profile with your avatar name.
So, well, I recovered what I could from that 3-month article and rewrote the rest… enjoy 🙂 (or not!)
The recent subtle push to increase enterprise and academic acceptance of Second Life® (even though we have to be honest here and remember that SL is 99% residential use, and will very likely always remain like that) has pushed the focus again on identity and privacy; more recently, M Linden’s comments that 2010 would allow people to register avatars with their real name, Wallace Linden’s strange article on real life identity, some SL forum polls, and Linden Lab buying Avatar United, pushed the whole issue back into the foreground — again. It looks and feels like 2007, when Linden lab started to introduce third-party age validation.
Not surprisingly, the stance taken by Facebook on “revealing your real self” might have been a strong incentive for Linden Lab to re-evaluate their policies. Or… perhaps there is more?
One of those reasons has been the push to validate Second Life merchants, in order to turn content theft into the much more serious crime of identity theft or credit card fraud, which — hopefully — will be a stronger deterrent and limit piracy.
The other reason, however, has been for long the “need” for businesses to have an idea with whom they’re dealing with. Also, a few have expressed the idea that relationships can only be formed if you know who’s on the other side of the computer screen. The latter, as said, is not limited to Second Life.
And there is a third reason, which is a bit more obscure and will probably happen “under the hood”. Again, we can point at Facebook and see what it entails.