February 5, 2007
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank


Dear Marketplace Friend, 

     I was living in a parallel universe, for just a second. There they were: the captains - and the token celebrities - circled in the middle of the rainy field, conducting the ceremonial "coin toss," to determine the first-half receiving team for Super Bowl XLI (the only grown-up world use for Roman Numerals, from grade school!). There he was, introduced to the world in that midfield assemblage: Dan Marino! No stranger to huddles or Super Bowls. One of our Bowl viewers declared the alternate reality: "Dan Marino! Isn't he the guy who lost 22 pounds on that diet program?"
     There's the Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins version... and the Dan Marino, NutriSystems version. Which is real? One was trying to lose linebackers; the other is trying to lose love handles. Which is real?
     Both? Neither? It could get even more confused... if Dan has become a citizen of Second Life. You know that he made a few million American dollars making touchdowns. I presume that he got more than a few free days of food - including desserts! - for his NutriSystem promotions. But, I wonder if he has secretly begun to amass a fortune in Lindens, unbeknownst to the rest of us?
     If you're confused, take heart. So was I... when I started to connect-the-dots a few weeks ago. I felt like Jack Bauer (the save-the-world-from-terrorists character from 24), seeing connections that were invisible to my more "real-world" friends. There was a new face that started popping-up in credible places, and he was news to me. Who is Phillip Rosedale... and why is he being featured in Inc., in Fortune... and on the section cover (this morning!) of USA Today? What in the fat is Second Life?
     If you're as out-of-it as I was, you may want to take some notes. Rosedale is the creator of a new world; in fact, USA Today said, "... Rosedale is Second Life's god, or maybe it is Thomas Jefferson: the visionary who set up a system and its ideals, and put it all into motion..." Who is this guy?
     You can Google Second Life for the details, but here it is, in brief: video games are so juvenile. The idea of playing "games" is amateur, at best. What if you could sit down at your computer, and be transported to an alternate reality? What if you could create a new identity, make yourself - in Second Life terms, your avatar - in any form you want? What if you could buy some property, start a company, visit exotic places, interact with other fascinating individuals (other avatars)... and even experience digital intimacy (I've cleaned it up for public distribution), through your moving mouse?
     Don't close the page yet; I'm not kiddin'. Over 2.6 million people have opened Second Life accounts; about 10% of them are regularly active in that environment. IBM has stamped their approval on it; they hold corporate meetings in Second Life, allowing their employees to attend via their avatars. Starwood Hotels is testing a new hotel concept in Second Life, asking avatars to visit their reimagined property and give their opinions (why build a concept with brick and mortar with great risk of US dollars, when you can create one with clicks and bits and just spend a few Lindens? Current exchange rate: $1 US = $275 Linden).
     If you've got it in your geographical world, it's probably already present in Second Life (SL). Real Estate? One broker from Germany has amassed a SL real estate portfolio worth $275 million Lindens, which he could "exchange" for $1 million US.
     How real is it? Here's the ultimate validation: the US government is already considering the activities within SL - using Lindens - to determine if there are tax liabilities present.
     Second Life? I'm active in another parallel reality: it's called the Kingdom. It's founder described his plans when he visited First Life about 2000 years ago. He said, "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:2-3).
     All of the amazing facets of Second Life have already been included in the final version (7.0) of Eternal Life. There are already millions of registered users. They have a big convention planned, in the near future... in an alternate reality called "heaven." Will I see you there?

Bob Shank


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