The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

21 November 2006

Get a second life

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown exponentially and today is inhabited by a total of 1,517,472 people from around the globe.And more are joining every day.

Once you enter the world of Second Life, “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 can join for free. The first step as a new resident is to create an avatar, a personification of the person you want to be in your Second World. You decide your character, your look, your personality, your role in your second life.

You can acquire land, but this costs a minimum of US$9.95 per month. Your land is a blank canvas; you choose what you do with it. “Build a dream home, or a thunderdome. Create a dance club or a giant bathtub. Develop a small shop or a gigantic shopping center. Or plant some trees and construct a secluded retreat in the pristine virtual wilderness.”

You can also acquire currency on the exchange (there are official and unofficial exchanges), with US$1 equalling about 250 Linden Dollars, the currency you will use in your Second Life. The exchange rates fluctuate with supply and demand. With your currency, you can start trading. You can buy, sell and even make a profit (convertible back into real currency).

Here are two ways to change the world through Second Life:

1. Second Life is a fantasy world. Many people’s fantasies are to be strong, sexy, super-intelligent, athletic, successful, rich… But why not enter your Second Life with the prime aim of “changing the second world”. Become an agent for good in the second world. Be a charity fundraiser, and try to persuade residents to tithe; or create a catalogue of “Good Gifts” which people can purchase to increase their karma; or develop a carbon offset scheme, to encourage residents to be environmentally sustainable. Become a second life social entrepreneur. Who knows, this might even influence what you do in your real life.

2. Second Life relies on the volunteer support of its Residents to make the world a better place, and offers several Volunteer Programs. Why not become a Second Life Volunteer? To do this, you must be an active Second Life Resident with a desire to help your fellow Residents; you must have been in-world for at least two months; and you must have a relatively clean Linden Rapsheet.

Find out more at:

And if this doesn’t appeal to you, why not try to change the next world. Wash away your sins with a special soap; re-live the ten plagues with finger puppets, such a Testamint, pray with a credit card rosary… For a bit of fun, go to:


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