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Where Does The First Life End And The Second Life Begin?

"My virtual life," our May 1 Cover Story about the virtual worlds of massive multiplayer games, among them Second Life, drew many reader comments on Here are edited excerpts (posted by nickname, as is customary):

"Unlike in the corporeal world, we can make of our second lives whatever we choose." So do we just give up on making our real lives worthwhile and crawl into the box inside our homes? What happens when we have to interact with real people during the day? Do we know how? Is this enhancing our lives or are we rotting away? Entertainment is one thing, but some people are choosing this as their life after work. How about building up the real community down the street instead of some virtual amphitheater? I hate to sound like some old guy, but I just don't get it.

Nickname: Rubba

Apr. 21, 2006, 8:06 p.m.

I'll defend virtual life. I'm disabled and unable to partake of many activities healthy people take for granted. Virtual life helps relieve the boredom, the frustration, of getting left behind. It's a way to stimulate my creativity, as well as to indulge myself in social interaction. Being a senior intensifies the experience.... I love my virtual life. Yes, I have a real life too, but I've learned to balance with one foot in both dimensions.

Nickname: Janara

Apr. 23, 2006, 12:59 p.m.

It sounds a bit freaky and definitely like The Matrix! Will there be, like, virtually married couples next?

Nickname: pk

Apr. 25, 2006, 3:16 p.m.

I fail to understand why the people here find socializing in virtual worlds to be inferior to socializing in the area around you....I know that there's more to do in SL than in my town.

Nickname: Anthony Asturias

Apr. 25, 2006, 11:11 p.m.

Brilliant article with a healthy dose of both wonder and suspicion. I recently joined Second Life (after overcoming some skepticism), and now my son and I are building an institute for advanced studies, an art gallery, and a conference center. We listen to music and go to clubs. We fly throughout various SIMs together. Even though he lives 3,000 [miles] distant in this world, we have a new world in which to share and collaborate. This opportunity would never have happened if it weren't for SL.

Nickname: Trevelian Petrichor

Apr. 26, 2006, 2:21 a.m.

The most provocative aspect of this new medium is how it will have an impact on advertising. No longer do those wanting an online audience with a particular demographic have to rely on not-so-loved banner ads. Instead, they can work with the virtual world to integrate their brand into the world. Whyville -- a virtual world for tweens -- does this with organizations ranging from Toyota Motor Corp. (TM) to NASA to the J. Paul Getty Museum. In all instances, the virtual world is enriched because of the authentic presence of the "sponsor." This takes advertising to an entirely new level.

Nickname: Jay

Apr. 26, 2006, 3:03 a.m.

I love SL. I actually met my boyfriend through the game. We are married in the game as well as expecting a baby in SL.

Nickname: Betty

Apr. 26, 2006, 2:34 p.m.

I am a real-life victim of how SL love affairs encroach upon real-life (RL) family units. Granted, many may say that perhaps our 20-plus-year RL relationship was not viable in the first place if an SL affair could happen. Or, the favorite...SL is only fantasy, and such affairs are not real. It is devastating nonetheless to the unsuspecting RL spouse who always had complete trust and love for the RL partner. Confronted by the choice, my RL spouse chose SL....How can an RL spouse compete with an SL world where every emotional, sexual, visual, creative, intellectual need can be satisfied?

Nickname: brokenheart

Apr. 26, 2006, 8:03 p.m.

Yeah, I can spend all day behind a PC, too. Actually I do in the real world economy. Get a life!

Nickname: Diamon

Apr. 29, 2006, 2:03 p.m.

What you people fail to grasp is the significance of nearly a quarter million people, most of whom are running a self-financed experiment in social capitalism. This "game" is the leading edge that 20 years from now people will point to as the beginning of the blurred [line] that for now separates our First Life and Second Life. The rules that will govern how we all function and interact in a truly global economy without borders is being crafted at Linden Labs.

Nickname: Vanettda

Apr. 29, 2006, 5:35 a.m.

"In tough hands at Allstate" (Legal Affairs, May 8) misrepresents a relationship between Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. and McKinsey & Co. The clear implication of the reference was that McKinsey was providing us with the same advice on claims handling that it allegedly provided to Allstate. That is untrue. As a company that has built its favorable reputation by working diligently to achieve outstanding claims performance -- including our response to the recent Hurricane Katrina disaster -- we feel a "boxing gloves" approach is bad for business. Rather, 143 years of experience tells us that dealing with customers fairly and compassionately is essential to building the loyalty and trust upon which our success depends.

Paul Stachura, Chief Claims Officer

Fireman's Fund Insurance Co.

Novato, Calif.

"Medicare surprise" (News: Analysis & Commentary, May 1) states: "Once seniors spend $2,250 for prescription drugs under Medicare's new Part D insurance this year, they'll have to pay the next $2,850 out of their own pocket." In fact, that $2,250 is the sum of what the senior spends and what the pharmacy spends for the drugs. One plan I talked to regarding how to estimate this cost said to multiply my costs by a factor of three -- when I spend $750 out-of-pocket, I will enter the "doughnut hole."

Donald Howell

La Verne, Calif.

The existence of the hole in Medicare Part D was explained in every possible way. Your article should have said that. Instead, you imply that the program has failed to do what it said it would do. We are just coming out of that annual hole, but overall the program is great for us, compared with anything available before.

Leslie Follett

Bountiful, Utah

Re "Insights for dummies" (Voices of Innovation, May 1) on Patrick J. McGovern: I must challenge the assertion that McGovern's creation, Computerworld, was the "first trade journal for tech types." That distinction may instead belong to Datamation, a magazine I had the privilege to serve as editor-in-chief of in the early 1990s. Datamation was founded in 1957, a full 10 years before Computerworld.

Unfortunately, Datamation ceased publication in the late 1990s. But it continues today as a Web site published by Jupitermedia Corp. If Datamation had had the steady vision and firm hand of a Patrick McGovern, today it, too, would be enjoying its place in publishing history.

David Brousell, Editor-in-Chief

Managing Automation

New York

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