Spent some time in the virtual world of Second Life last night. It's both exciting and very scary.
Exciting because it gives a glimpse of what a true virtual world can be.
You can assume a totally foreign personality, act on interests that you may not in the "real" world, generate creations, sell them, and interact fully.
There are businesses, leisure spots, real estate, and more. There are people earning real money (the currency in Second Life can be exchanged for US$) selling their products and services.
It's possible to see a day where some people earn a substantial portion (or their entire) income from activities in places like Second Life.
It's fascinating to walk through, see how other people choose to present themselves in dress and appearance, and immerse yourself in a "Second Life."
Which is exactly where the danger lies.
Within minutes, I found myself drawn into the world, trying to figure out how it works, where to go, what to do, and how I would "make my way." I can see how it could become a major addiction.
Beyond making a living there, it's conceivable that people could spend their whole lives there (or at least a bulk of it) to the point where what's real and what's virtual is about as different as your life at work and your life at home.
I'm not saying this is bad-necessarily. This may just be a reflection of the fact that we all live life through our own lenses and now, we've just added another layer to that.
The real winner in all of this, of course, is Linden Labs which has a fantastic business model. They have free and paid memberships. Then, they sell advertising inside of the virtual world (to real world companies). It's a cash cow in the making...