From FAS Virtual Worlds Almanac
|Use and Demographics|
|Primary use(s)||Education, Community, Professional|
|Average users online||40,000|
|Target Audience(s)||Teenagers, Students, Adults, Professionals|
|Language(s)||English, German, Japanese, Korean|
|Similar to||Activeworlds, There|
|Intellectual Property rights for content||Yes|
|Real Money Trading||Yes|
|Graphical and Content Features|
|Complex 3-D, such as a realistic human body||Yes|
|Search Capability||Users, Locations, Events|
|Scripting for objects||Yes|
|Duplication of content for multiple users||Yes|
|Object creation toolkit||Yes|
|Can block users in text chat||Yes|
|Can block users in voice chat||Yes|
|Identification of voice chat speakers||Yes|
|Multiple channels of voice chat||No|
|Management and Privacy|
|Code of Conduct||No|
|Restricted Access in Designated Areas||Yes|
Second Life, established in 2003 by Linden Labs, is one of the first mainstream virtual worlds, as well as one of the largest in terms of registered users. With significant adoption in education, business, and communities worldwide, Second Life is what many envision when the term virtual world is used. It supports customizable avatars, user-generated content, e-commerce with its own currency, and voice chat.
Second Life® is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe.
- From the moment you enter the World you'll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you've explored a bit, perhaps you'll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.
- You'll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents. Because Residents retain intellectual property rights in their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other Residents.
- The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the inworld unit of trade, the Linden™ dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online Linden dollar exchanges.
Community and Demographics
According to Linden Labs, there are over 17 million registered users. However, this number has been disputed because many people create a free account and then rarely use it. As of July 2008, there are about 1.2 million active users, or users who have logged in during the past 60 days.
Second Life accounts can be registered for free, although these basic accounts have limited functionality. Users must convert real-world currency into Linden dollars in order to buy and maintain land, upload their own content, and buy items from others. There exist subscription plans which give users land, a weekly stipend of Linden dollars, and dedicated levels of technical support.
The economy of Second Life is built around the Linden dollar, which is not pegged to any other currency. However, the exchange rate has remained somewhat stable, and as of August 2008 is currently around 265 Linden dollars to one U.S. Dollar. The official currency exchange, LindeX, monitors the exchange rate, and imposes regulations on traders. If the going rate changes either direction by more than 10% in a 24 hour period, there is an automatic shutdown of the system for a certain period of time. Users with a Second Life account can see historical financial data at LindeX.
Second Life is used as a platform for education by many institutions, such as colleges, universities, libraries and government entities. There are over one hundred regions used for educational purposes. Instructors and researchers in Second Life favor it because it is more personal than traditional distance learning.  Research has uncovered development, teaching and/or learning activities which use Second Life in over 80 percent of UK Universities. 
Universities with a presence in Second Life include The University of Queensland, the University of Florida, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, University of Louisville, Princeton University, Rice University, Babson College, Coventry University (UK), University of Derby (UK), Vassar College, the Open University (UK), Harvard, INSEAD, Pepperdine, Saint Joseph's University, Praxis Business School, Drexel, Ball State, University College Dublin, Edinburgh University, Elon, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Bowling Green State University, Ohio University, New York City College of Technology (CUNY), New York University, Ithaca College, University of Houston, University of Colorado at Boulder, Central Michigan University, Michigan Technological University, Case Western Reserve University, Australian Film Television and Radio School, Stanford, Delft University of Technology, and Purchase College (SUNY).
Other institutions include the Info Islands, with library programming sponsored by the Illinois' Alliance Library System and OPAL currently offered online to librarians and library users within Second Life. Another virtual continent called SciLands is devoted to science and technology education. While initially centered around the International Spaceflight Museum, it now hosts a number of organizations including NASA, NOAA, NIH, JPL, NPR, NPL, and a host of other government agencies, universities, and museums. Second Life has also been adopted for foreign language training, with schools such as the British Council (focused on the Teen Grid), the Instituto Cervantes and the Goethe Institut. The annual conference SLanguages is dedicated to language learning in Second Life.
List of Virtual Worlds in Second Life
In the News
- Joel Stein, My So-Called Second Life, Time, Dec. 16, 2006.
- Peter Svensson, Virtual Bernanke Guides 'Second Life', The Associated Press, September 4, 2007.
- Shona Crabtree, Finding Religion in Second Life's Virtual Universe, Washington Post, June 16, 2007.
- PC Advisor staff, Three Minutes With: Second Life Exec, PC World, April 23, 2007.
- Oliver Burkeman, Exploding pigs and volleys of gunfire as Le Pen opens HQ in virtual world, The Guardian, January 20th, 2007.
- Andrew Herman, Rosemary J. Coombe, Lewis Kaye, Your Second Life: Goodwill and the performativity of intellectual property in online digital gaming, Cultural Studies,March 2006.