Philiip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab (makers of Second Life), keynoted the SDForum event on virtual worlds this morning at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. The theme of Philip’s talk was imagination, and how the metaverse help harness the power of imagination to improve our experience of the real world. Philip described the metaverse as “a place where you can reinvent the world to work better for you. We can imagine things with our minds that are impossible to create in the real world, or can only be created with great difficulty.” The point of a place like SL is that those things can be created more easily there. He also released some interesting figures, some of which I don’t believe I’ve seen before.
The hard facts:
SL is now running almost 2,500 servers, each of which supports a 16-acre region, making the entire world 32,000 acres in area — bigger than Boston. The world started with 16 servers, 64 acres, and only 300 paying customers when it went live in 2003.
Each month, $5 million in goods and services are traded between SL users ($60 million a year). 230,000 different things are sold or traded monthly.
The world now holds 10 million objects, 15 terabytes of user-createed data, takes 2 teraflops of CPU simulation. There are over 500 user-planned events every day.
Philip also showed a chart, briefly, graphing the number of users with profitable businesses, distributed across net profit. It was hard to add up the figures, but it looked like more than 2,000 users with profitable businesses, unless I was reading the chart wrong.
Philip showed screenshots of some interesting projects happening in Second Life, in sectors like training, education and entertainment, among other things, and talked about the deep power of creation that the world gives to its residents. One point he stressed is the need for a contiguous metaverse. (This is something I don’t necessarily agree on, but that’s a topic for another post.) “The other critical factor is that if everybody’s making different things, if you do it in a way that all this stuff is continguous, even if that’s a little bit clumsy — like you’ve got a car dealership parked next to a strange gothic nightclub — the power of doing things in a contiguous environment is extreme, it gives a non-linear multiple. When you make something cool, you delight or frustrate all of these neighbors. Solutions to shared 3D that don’t use that kind of contiguity would be like if everyone was running their own version of Internet, you had to download their client — it’s not going to work.”