Second Life, the immensely popular three-dimensional virtual world, is really starting to take on a life of its own. There are things going on in there that have undoubtedly gone beyond the wildest expectations of its developers.
The latest issue to grab my attention is the phenomenon of in-world terrorism and the rise of self-professed freedom fighters. These folks aren't your run-of-the-mill hackers or griefers looking to cause mischief. Rather, these are 'activists' who are working subversively within Second Life (SL) to achieve political ends. Their goal is to extend digital rights for SL users beyond the standard customer-company relationship. Subsequently, by dealing with current in-world problems they are, perhaps unintentionally, looking ahead to the day when Second Life and other virtual worlds play a much more meaningful role in our lives.
Avatars of Second Life, unite!
Specifically, I am referring to the Second Life Liberation Army (SLLA). Their intention is to liberate SL users from the perceived tyranny of Linden Labs, the developer of SL. The group was formed as the in-world paramilitary wing of a national liberation movement. They argue that universal suffrage is a right that should be established within SL immediately. The SLLA, who is led by 'political officer' Marshal Cahill, contends that Linden Labs has gone beyond its mandate and is now functioning as a de facto authoritarian government. Consequently, they see in-world fighting as the "only appropriate response."
Annoyed by the steady encroachment of corporations like Reebok and IBM, the SLLA works to undermine their virtual presence through disruption — what has been dubbed in-world terrorism. They set off "atomic bombs" and fire guns at other users. Their shenanigans are often posted on YouTube.
Obviously no one really gets hurt, but the intention is to create annoyances that will make the gaming experience uncomfortable and bring attention to their struggle. They say they will not seek to harm the normal operation of the world and will only attack "agents of the state" and other strategically important sites within SL.
The SLLA demands are,
The establishment of basic 'rights' for Second Life Players. Having consulted widely we now believe the best vehicle for this is for Linden Labs to offer public shares in the company. We propose that each player is able to buy one share for a set-price. This would serve both the development of the world and provide the beginnings of representation for avatars in Second Life.
A growing concern among users is land scarcity. Second Life has experienced such rapid growth that Linden Labs has been unable to keep up with the demand, which has in turn created land scarcity. Corporations, say the SLLA, are scooping up land and putting up eye sores.